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10-20-2013, 08:16 AM   #1
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Firmware and focusing

After much experimenting, I am still not happy with the focusing on my K-5. It just seems like what I focus on is never what ends up being in sharp focus. Sometimes it seems that there is NOTHING in the image that appears to be in sharp focus. I've done MUCH photography in the past with regular film SLR. I feel I have good understanding of Shutter Speed, Aperture, etc. This is my FIRST venture into DSLR. I've had this camera for 18 months now. I have used/borrowed another (Brand) of DSLR and had much better success. Any suggestions? I am on Firmware 1.13. Should I install the latest? Someone mentioned turning off noise reduction. As a note, I have the DA 18-135 lens. Could that be the issue? I've not invested in much else, until I can get this problem resolved. I also have a much older Pentax-A 1:1.7 that I use. I have better luck with the focusing on that. Any suggestions? Any settings I should be looking at? Perhaps a setting is causing this issue? Thanks for any help you can provide.

10-20-2013, 08:38 AM   #2
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I don't have a K-5 ,but I have read that sometimes there can be a front or rear focusing issue with some lenses. I believe that that can be calibrated in the camera . I would check the owners manual for the instructions. Or someone here can probably walk you thru it. The 18-135 is suppose to be a good lens.. Anyways I am looking to get one for my K-30.
10-20-2013, 09:24 AM   #3
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AF is not magic, the camera will often focus on something other than what the operator wants. However, there are a number of things you can do to improve the results.

First are you using AF.C or AF.S? I always use AF.S, never AF.C, I understand that many of the complaints about Pentax AF are regarding the AF.C mode but I wouldn't know, I never use it for my photography.

Second, the camera has a number of AF 'areas', these are often called 'points' but that can be misleading. Often the AF area is larger than what you intended to focus on, the camera can lock onto anything in that 'area' and be happy. But if it focuses on the nose and you wanted the eye, well you are not happy. In this case manual focus might be your friend. I have a trick that seems to help, not 100% but it does help. I focus on the subject, and after the camera gets a lock, release the lock and re-focus. Maybe I'm just lucky but I find in a good percentage of images this results in a better focus than single focusing. Of course you don't always have time to do that.....

Third, the k-5 has the ability to fine tune the AF on up to 20 different lenses, or if you only use one then it has a global AF adjustment. AF fine tuning needs a precise test, with tripod, carefully aligned target and many repeated trials. If done in a sloppy manner you are just guessing and are just as likely to make things worse than better. But it can make a marked difference if your lens / camera combination is off a bit. As I understand it, both camera and lens are made and adjusted within 'tolerances'. Say this is +/-5 on both. If the camera is +5 and the lens is -5 then the differences cancel and you might have a perfect match but if the camera is +5 and the lens is +5 then you might be +10 out and the miss-focus is noticeable. There are a number of methods to fine tune and a quick search will turn those up.

Fourth, the k-5 has a bad reputation for focus in certain light conditions. In particular low, incandescent light has caused a lot of complaints. If you are shooting often in those conditions then the camera will have problems.

I have never really had focus problems with the k-5. In fact I'm usually confused as to why there are so many complaints about it. I rarely if ever get an image that is not focused properly that I can blame on the camera. I make plenty of errors, but that's my fault not the camera. I realize that I use a particular style of shooting that seems to avoid the issues others have but it works well for me.

Here is my method:
Always use AF.S never AF.C
Always use center point AF only. Focus on the subject using the center point and then (without losing focus lock) re-compose to take the shot.
Don't shoot in poor light or tungsten light. Not always possible of course...
Use AF fine tune on all lenses, I use a Lens Align system on mine but there are other methods.
If all else fails, or I'm trying to shoot an apple in a tree and the camera 'likes' the branch better, well that's why we still have manual focus.
10-20-2013, 11:09 AM   #4
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Likewise, I purchased my first DSLR (K-5 and lenses) about 18 months ago. It took me a few months to get things sorted out (e.g. had a lens that could not focus to infinity), but like Jatrax's experience I have since been having very good to excellent results. So in the spirit of continuing from his posting...

Here is one more helpful tip regarding usage...

When using the center AF spot, keep in mind that:
- The ends of the center horizontal and vertical AF sensors '+' extend almost to the center circle ( ) markings of the original equipment focusing screen.
- Any line of greatest contrast with in the ( ) is going to grab the attention of the sensors, regardless of whether it is the intended subject or not.

As a good exercise: tape a penny to a blank bright contrasting wall. Set the camera on AF center spot- then stand back a distance, zoom in and pan the camera from the side, top and bottom moving towards placing the penny in center position. Watch for when and where the camera can confirm focus. Then play with this to find the edges of actual sensor + cross hatch lie relative to the ( ) markings.

Also, Iíd recommend updating your firmware to at least V1.14. Iíve been using it without any issues since it came out. There is a possibility that it improves performance slightly- however I donít think any of us have proven it (although is perhaps suspected). Updating firmware isnít going to solve your issue, and personally I believe that you should try to address this via AF fine adjustment.

Iíll come back with some comments based on my personal experience with AF fine adjustment shortly. A purchased system is surely a good route to go, but it is also possible to do it using crude yet equally effective techniques.

10-29-2013, 08:26 PM   #5
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I noticed some other great input from some other members in a different thread... so I'm going the post my additional comments there- in order to maintain that collection of input all together. Therefore, I recommend to search thread: 'k-5 focus problems' originated by 'RickyFromVegas'.

Last edited by One3rdEV; 10-29-2013 at 08:28 PM. Reason: removed previous message quote
10-30-2013, 01:32 AM   #6
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K5's focusing sems to be changing easily when light conditions change. Its very irritating. Need to check focus often and adjst if needed. I have not found better solution.
10-31-2013, 07:20 PM   #7
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Firmware and Focusing

Thank you so much for your helpful advice. I appreciate all of you taking time to help me figure this out. I've still been experimenting with the suggestions, but still have not been happy with the results. I have not calibrated my lenses yet. I guess I should. I have a couple of older Pentax fixed lenses and am much happier with the results I get from those. Of course I usually manually focus those so that makes a difference. I have yet to get good sharp images from my Pentax WR18-135... until today. Today, I decided to reset things back to the original factory settings and then update the firmware. I was still at 1.13. I took a deep breath and updated to 1.15.
I went out and experimented this evening. Time was limited, so I only shot about 15 images. My first impression was that they looked markedly sharper. Even the color seemed better. Before I always felt that the images looked washed out. Could the Firmware have corrected these issues? Is that possible? The verdict is still out. I need to try it in various lighting situations. It seems like with the zoom I have to really watch my shutter speed carefully and either open up the lens or adjust the ISO. It seems to cut out alot of light. Sometimes more than I would expect. When I was experimenting with the advice I received last week I turned off Shake Reduction as was suggested. Yikes! It looked as though I was taking photos during an earthquake. My shutter speed was not particularly slow. I was in a stable position for shooting, but not on a tripod. I was careful on how I pressed the shutter. I wasn't even drinking! Any thoughts on that issue? The Shake Reduction not the drinking.

Thanks again!
11-01-2013, 07:10 AM   #8
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What do you consider a shutter speed that is "not particularly slow?" I've been lulled by the great sensor on the K5 into ditching flash in situations where the benefits are mixed. I'll just pop up the built-in flash at the same shutter speed, and am amazed at the difference in sharpness (though the lighting may not be what I wanted).

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