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05-04-2014, 12:30 PM   #1
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Using the K5iiS for Prom

I teach at a high school and last night was our annual Prom. It's always a challenge with low light, flashing lights, and lots of movement. In particular, we have a tradition of a "Senior Walk" where the seniors and their dates are announced and recognized. It moves pretty quickly and in the past my best option was to prefocus and then set the camera to manual and shoot the shots. I would have to refocus from time to time as they would drift to a different spot to stop and I would have several blurry shots.

Last night I took a few lenses including a Sigma 28-70 f/2.8 that has worked pretty well outside for me but I've not been real happy with it inside in just normal conditions. I also took my Sigma 18-50 f/2.8 and my Pentax FA50 f/1.4. The 28-70 ended up being my most reliable in catching focus pretty quickly despite conditions so I used it for the Senior Walk. Next to me was a photographer from the local newspaper using, I suspect, an older high end Nikon. She was frustrated throughout the Senior Walk trying to get focus locked before the next couple was announced. I kept my K5iiS on AF-S and was able to lock all 91 couples. There were a few that didn't lock until they were moving forward but the only shot I had to retake was one where apparently my flash and the news photog's flash went off at the same time resulting in a very overexposed image, You can see the results at Prom 2014 Senior Walk

05-04-2014, 02:22 PM   #2
KGH
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I take lead-out photos at proms for yearbooks. We use Canon at these events and usually have no problems focusing, but have inconsistent results in ETTL due to the dresses and tuxes being different in each frame. I tried my Pentax K200D at a similar event light wise and had a hard time locking focus. I understand newer K cameras like yours have improved low light focus. They look very consistent in exposure, very nice.
05-04-2014, 02:48 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by KGH Quote
inconsistent results in ETTL
It's refreshing to read this, after all of the slagging P-TTL gets. I find candid flash photography to be a real challenge because you don't have time to set up each shot and there usually isn't anything to bounce your flash off of. Based on my experiments with a K-30, I think the OP could have had better flash coverage on faces by adjusting the camera's EV compensation to -1EV and increasing the flash output by the same. Hopefully that would reduce the impact of coloured lighting as well.
05-04-2014, 05:06 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by RGlasel Quote
It's refreshing to read this, after all of the slagging P-TTL gets. I find candid flash photography to be a real challenge because you don't have time to set up each shot and there usually isn't anything to bounce your flash off of. Based on my experiments with a K-30, I think the OP could have had better flash coverage on faces by adjusting the camera's EV compensation to -1EV and increasing the flash output by the same. Hopefully that would reduce the impact of coloured lighting as well.
Thanks for the suggestion. I will try this next year. I had the flash set to -1.7 EV since it was looking a little hot at full strength plus I've had some problems with the flash (Pentax 540). I did have more problems with the FA 50 and the Sigma 18-50 in locking in the focus quickly but didn't use either very long. My other shots at the Prom (including most of the candids) can be seen at Prom 2014

05-04-2014, 05:19 PM   #5
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I never like the result of direct flash as it seems too harsh (as you can see the shadows). I also think that you need a little more ambient light to balance it out with the flash so they look a bit more natural. I also don't like turning the flash on the side to take a vertical shot of people; if that is the case, I rather have the flash in a wireless mode (off the camera). IMHO anyway... good try. I agree that the k5II/s are very good in locking focus even in less favorable lighting conditions.
05-04-2014, 06:59 PM   #6
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Quite a few of the shots look significantly back focused to me, which is hardly surprising with people walking towards you. You might have done better using AF-C and using the back AF button independent of the shutter release.

I agree with the comments about direct flash too.
05-08-2014, 12:51 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by GvilleRick Quote
Thanks for the suggestion. I will try this next year. I had the flash set to -1.7 EV since it was looking a little hot at full strength plus I've had some problems with the flash (Pentax 540). I did have more problems with the FA 50 and the Sigma 18-50 in locking in the focus quickly but didn't use either very long. My other shots at the Prom (including most of the candids) can be seen at Prom 2014
I have found with my digital TTL work a lot of the time I have to compensate to the +side. Lately I have gone back to using auto thryristor flash. With my 645D the DR is in line with the film results I used to get. Using my Nissin handlebar unit I get very consistent results, but would like to try the Metz digital handlebar units that accepts the P-TTL module as well as Auto mode (options are good). I like the durability of these old potato masher units. A good drop to the pavement does a lot of damage to my shoe mount units, but parts are getting hard to locate for my old Nissin, another reason to try Metz.
05-10-2014, 03:15 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by GvilleRick Quote
I teach at a high school and last night was our annual Prom. It's always a challenge with low light, flashing lights, and lots of movement. In particular, we have a tradition of a "Senior Walk" where the seniors and their dates are announced and recognized. It moves pretty quickly and in the past my best option was to prefocus and then set the camera to manual and shoot the shots. I would have to refocus from time to time as they would drift to a different spot to stop and I would have several blurry shots.

Last night I took a few lenses including a Sigma 28-70 f/2.8 that has worked pretty well outside for me but I've not been real happy with it inside in just normal conditions. I also took my Sigma 18-50 f/2.8 and my Pentax FA50 f/1.4. The 28-70 ended up being my most reliable in catching focus pretty quickly despite conditions so I used it for the Senior Walk. Next to me was a photographer from the local newspaper using, I suspect, an older high end Nikon. She was frustrated throughout the Senior Walk trying to get focus locked before the next couple was announced. I kept my K5iiS on AF-S and was able to lock all 91 couples. There were a few that didn't lock until they were moving forward but the only shot I had to retake was one where apparently my flash and the news photog's flash went off at the same time resulting in a very overexposed image, You can see the results at Prom 2014 Senior Walk
Hi, I had a look at the party pictures. Here are some things I learned while taking photographs at salsa parties:
The flash is harsh in your portraits. Using an Stofen omnibounce makes it a bit softer and I just loaned an imitation Lightsphere from a friend and start experimenting with that. The point is creating a larger surface as the source of light. When I stand close to a white wall I turn my back to the wall, point the flashhead back to the wall and up at 45 degrees, this creates a large source of light. Have a look here for a lot of ideas:
http://neilvn.com/tangents/wedding-photography-adapting-photographic-light-lighting/ and google flash modifiers to get some ideas.
You have portraits with the dance floor as background and others with brick walls. The first type look much better. Even when the subjects are standing with their back against the wall I always ask them to turn around and position myself between them and the wall.
I think you balanced flash and ambient light well.
I avoid turning the camera vertical because I don't like the shadows the flash throws to the side of the subjects. Some photogs use brackets to bring the flash above the camera but I just shoot landscape and crop. 18 MP is more than enough to crop and still have plenty resolution for publishing on the web.
I liked your series, it gave a good impression of the party.
Karet

05-10-2014, 01:56 PM   #9
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Perhaps, use a shorter lens and take advantage of hyper focal distances? You can calculate these distances using DOFMaster. For example, setting your 28-70 at f8, and your focal distance at 10 ft will mean that everything from 5.9 feet away from you to 32 feet from you will be acceptably sharp. You can even use a slower shutter speed combined with 400 - 800 iso to get more ambient light. I used a similar technique for a recent prom. Here's a few sample images with very erratic light to focus by...



Pentax K-5IIs, Pentax smc P-DA Fish-Eye 10-17mm F3.5-4.5 ED (IF), 10 mm, 3.00 sec, f/9.5, ISO 200



Pentax K-5IIs, Pentax smc P-DA Fish-Eye 10-17mm F3.5-4.5 ED (IF), 10 mm, 3.00 sec, f/9.5, ISO 200

Last edited by HawaiianOnline; 05-10-2014 at 01:59 PM. Reason: Added content
05-11-2014, 12:42 PM   #10
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Hawaiian, these are fantastic, but is 3.00 sec correct?
05-12-2014, 12:17 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by lenp Quote
Hawaiian, these are fantastic, but is 3.00 sec correct?
Thank you. Yes, 3 seconds is correct. The flash freezes the action, especially at such a small aperture. I deliberately use a slow shutter to either get more ambient light in the background or to get those "disco blur light effects" like in the two examples I posted earlier. Also note that I'm using an AF540FGZ set to manual power (1/2 or 1/4 power if I remember correctly), and manual zoom (58mm???) to only light the middle of the frame. In both examples, the scene is extremely dark with bright disco type lights (moving spots, mirror ball, etc.) to light it. This kind of light will drive any autofocus system nuts just trying to lock. I avoid the whole focus issue by using hyper focal distances.

Last edited by HawaiianOnline; 05-12-2014 at 12:17 PM. Reason: Added content
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