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View Poll Results: Does the AF Assist Light on the K-5 affect "low light focusing issues"?
Yes. The AF Assist lamp improves AF Accuracy 1878.26%
Yes. The AF Assist lamp degrades AF Accuracy   00%
No. The AF Assist lamp has no effect. 14.35%
N/A : I don't use the AF Assist lamp (please provide reason) 417.39%
Voters: 23. You may not vote on this poll

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06-22-2012, 07:31 AM   #1
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Looking for A-F Consensus - Focus Assist Lamp content

As much as I hate to start a new "K-5 Focus Issue" thread, I'm on the cusp of buying either a K-5 or a K-30. Odds are that the K-30's autofocus is improved from the K-5. However, I'm still not convinced that the K-5's autofocus is flawed enough to prevent me from being satisfied with it. Here are what I have are the prevailing opinions based on reading nearly all the threads on the subject. Please feel free to correct anything I have wrong.
  • Phase Detect AF displays front (or sometimes back) focus in low, tungsten light
  • Firmware updates may or may not help
  • Sending camera for service may or may not help

Many of the more recent threads have gotten me thinking, because those reporting problems haven't always been consistent in their testing methodology ( e.g. ambiguity of whether they're using multi-point, focus-and-recompose, etc), and some don't seem to be completely fair to the camera (e.g. expecting center-point AF to be a laser-precise, "I aimed at x, it focused on y right next to it").

But there's one other big missing piece for me. I'm coming from a K-x, and about 20% of my shooting is in low or tungsten light. In those situations, my K-x rarely locks focus. On my K-x, I only use center point, because anything else without visible AF confirm dots is guesswork. Hundreds of times, I've cursed the lack of an AF Assist lamp. I understand that in some situations, the assist lamp would be counter-productive (wildlife), and in others it would be ineffective (faraway subjects). But for me, the AF light should in theory be effective, and would not be obtrusive.

Yet, when discussing the AF problems, the AF assist light rarely comes up. So I'm hoping those with first-hand knowledge of the focusing issues can answer in the poll above.


Last edited by Ryan Trevisol; 06-22-2012 at 07:37 AM.
06-22-2012, 10:48 AM   #2
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I'll skip voting, as I have a K-r rather than a K-5, but I'll toss in an anecdote.

The lamp seems to help for close subjects. It seems useless for anything more than maybe 12 feet away. I can usually get a lock in near darkness if the subject is close enough (6 feet or less, maybe?). Sometimes it works better than others. I haven't had any significant front focus in low tungsten issue, but I don't shoot under those conditions all that often.

I find a small LED flashlight works better in every way. You could try that with your K-x. I just hold it underneath the lens and use it for spotting. I can get decent macro results outdoors at night with this method, just flicking the light off right before I shoot with a flash. Of course, that's MF, not AF, but it's bright enough that I get the beep most times.
06-22-2012, 10:58 AM   #3
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Took numerous shots in near darkness - people around camp fires, front porch at nite, plants and flowers - down to almost -3EV...no way would the K-5 even find focus w/o the AF lamp...and with the lamp the focus has usually been fine.
06-22-2012, 11:12 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ryan Trevisol Quote
As much as I hate to start a new "K-5 Focus Issue" thread, I'm on the cusp of buying either a K-5 or a K-30. Odds are that the K-30's autofocus is improved from the K-5. However, I'm still not convinced that the K-5's autofocus is flawed enough to prevent me from being satisfied with it. Here are what I have are the prevailing opinions based on reading nearly all the threads on the subject. Please feel free to correct anything I have wrong.
  • Phase Detect AF displays front (or sometimes back) focus in low, tungsten light
  • Firmware updates may or may not help
  • Sending camera for service may or may not help

Many of the more recent threads have gotten me thinking, because those reporting problems haven't always been consistent in their testing methodology ( e.g. ambiguity of whether they're using multi-point, focus-and-recompose, etc), and some don't seem to be completely fair to the camera (e.g. expecting center-point AF to be a laser-precise, "I aimed at x, it focused on y right next to it").

But there's one other big missing piece for me. I'm coming from a K-x, and about 20% of my shooting is in low or tungsten light. In those situations, my K-x rarely locks focus. On my K-x, I only use center point, because anything else without visible AF confirm dots is guesswork. Hundreds of times, I've cursed the lack of an AF Assist lamp. I understand that in some situations, the assist lamp would be counter-productive (wildlife), and in others it would be ineffective (faraway subjects). But for me, the AF light should in theory be effective, and would not be obtrusive.

Yet, when discussing the AF problems, the AF assist light rarely comes up. So I'm hoping those with first-hand knowledge of the focusing issues can answer in the poll above.
maybe I'm showing my age, but I was happy with the PZ-1 auto focus, and have been happy with the performance of all the DSLRs I have had (*istD, K10D, K7D and now K5D) and I am not disappointed today with the AF performance of my *istD when I take it out and use it. WHile I might agree that the K5 AF is better, in most instances, my impression is that the improvements are not significant.

Perhaps it is because my AF lenses are all F2.8 lenses, has something to do with this and I agree an AF assist light helps, especially the ones that can go into a flash like the AF500FTZ which was a big help with the PZ-1 in low light, but overall i think the AF issue is way over blown. We expect the camera to focus in light that we can't see in any way.

06-22-2012, 01:58 PM   #5
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Thanks for the responses. It seems like the reviews for the K-30 are about to come pouring in. It behooves me to wait at least until that happens to make my choice, but I think the K-5 would probably be my best bet.
06-22-2012, 02:31 PM   #6
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I have my AF assist light turned off literally 99.9% of the time.

While it may no doubt be useful, it's usually just too instrusive having that darn flashing light going off all the time. Especially in some shooting locations.

It's the same with all my cameras that have AF assist lamps - eg my point and shoot - I turn the feature off on all of them. And using the K-x or K200D without such a feature was rarely a problem.

With centre-spot AF even in low light it's not too hard to get focus most times.
06-24-2012, 03:28 AM   #7
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I use AF-lamp but sometimes lamp start luminating too late after K5 tried allready focusing without any luck...so lamp is ok but it should go on more earlier in low light cos no need to put lamp on if camera did focus and failed allready.
06-26-2012, 04:24 PM   #8
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I haven't had a need for it too often, but it does seem to work fine when I do.

It came on last night when I opened the back door and shot this Mama Raccoon which was dimly lit by a nearby porch light. Not the best of shots, but that is more my fault than the camera or lens.




Regards!

06-26-2012, 04:28 PM   #9
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Cute shot!
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