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06-16-2019, 08:30 AM   #1
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K5IIs Perfect Camera for Me, Except the Low Light Focus Thing, Alternative?

Hey folks-

Haven't posted in a while, looking to ramp my photography back up this summer.

Even though it's now a few generations old I think my K5IIs is about perfect with things that count to me: feel and handling, rugged, dynamic range, battery life, etc.

One think that is sometimes frustrating, and always at the wrong time, is the low light focus hunting. I'm pretty sure I've blown a lot of shots because of it.

I'm sure this has been discussed a lot, but which body really shines in low light focus? I might keep the K5IIs as a backup anyway as the resale value to me is no where near it's functional value to me.

Preferably the low light body still would have many of the K5IIs' attributes I appreciate.

Thank you, and sorry if this is an old question.

06-16-2019, 08:35 AM - 1 Like   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Biff Quote
Hey folks-

Haven't posted in a while, looking to ramp my photography back up this summer.

Even though it's now a few generations old I think my K5IIs is about perfect with things that count to me: feel and handling, rugged, dynamic range, battery life, etc.

One think that is sometimes frustrating, and always at the wrong time, is the low light focus hunting. I'm pretty sure I've blown a lot of shots because of it.

I'm sure this has been discussed a lot, but which body really shines in low light focus? I might keep the K5IIs as a backup anyway as the resale value to me is no where near it's functional value to me.

Preferably the low light body still would have many of the K5IIs' attributes I appreciate.

Thank you, and sorry if this is an old question.
On paper, the K-5 IIs is sensitive to -3EV; the best cameras out there at the moment, I believe, can do -4, which isn't a big difference. Newer Pentax models can focus a bit quicker, but the low-light sensitivity remains unchanged.


So, if the camera is hunting, there might simply not be enough contrast in the scene. Another remedy would be to use a faster lens or enable the AF assist light.

Adam
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06-16-2019, 09:21 AM   #3
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Thank you Adam, very helpful.

I'm going to pay attention more closely to the areas you've mentioned. Great points.
06-16-2019, 10:23 AM   #4
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In very low light any auto focus system is facing a formidable challenge. The AF assist light is the easiest solution, but in some cases you don't want it. In street photography you are literally broadcasting what you are up to. At a concert or sports event you will be disturbing the event and people participating in it.

You don't say what lenses you are using. Something like the 18-55mm will be an uphill struggle. At long end you only have f/5.6 to work with. Not ideal.

On the other hand, faster lenses can be a double edged sword. The shallower depth of field creates additional problems, especially in low light. The 50-135mm f/2.8 gets marked down in reviews for focus speed, by way of example.

SMC Pentax-DA* 50-135mm F2.8 ED [IF] SDM Reviews - DA Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

Experience has taught me to leave my F 70-210mm f/4-5.6 at home after dark.

This leaves manual focus. I have a number of old school MF lenses that just loves to play in the dark. My M 50mm f/1.4 and Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 are just wonderful. Even the M 28mm f/2.8 is pretty good. Live view helps to nail focus by hand.

At this point I could add that an EVF is really useful for low light MF but there is not a lot of love for them new fangled mirrorless things on this forum, so I will not say that.

06-16-2019, 10:33 AM   #5
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Agreed on the question of lens when this is an issue. Also wondering how dark the scenes are when this happens.

I've use my K-5 II a lot in dark scenes and it does quite well there but I try to pare those situations with lenses that are faster than f2.8.
06-16-2019, 11:17 AM   #6
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I'm hoping this summer to use my 77, 43 and 31 Limiteds more, than say the 18-135, so that will certainly help. Although I've had a little issue with the 77 at concerts, but maybe that's more lack of practice. I may also switch more to manual focus, which was what I relied on anyway when I had my old manual Nikon system.

I do love the dynamic range it has.


Thanks all.
06-16-2019, 12:43 PM   #7
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if you wanted to spend some $, you could consider renting other camera bodies to do your own testing:

Information on Businesses that offer cameras and lenses for rent - PentaxForums.com

however if it was me, I would look at the issues raised by Adam and the other posters first

and use the forum's comparison tool to compare different camera bodies

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-cameras-compared/?c1=Pentax+K-5+I...&c4=Pentax+K-3

before spending the money on a rental
06-16-2019, 01:20 PM   #8
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The 77 Ltd with K5 II should do well in low light. Technique can help to overcome the limitations of technology to n extent. I would switch the AF are to the centre of the viewfinder, look for the spot with the most contrast, autofocus on that and adjust the composition. For example, the strings of a guitar are nice and shiny and provides contrast for AF to work. The player's shirt or his face might not have adequate contrast.

06-16-2019, 02:03 PM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Biff Quote
Hey folks-

Haven't posted in a while, looking to ramp my photography back up this summer.

Even though it's now a few generations old I think my K5IIs is about perfect with things that count to me: feel and handling, rugged, dynamic range, battery life, etc.

One think that is sometimes frustrating, and always at the wrong time, is the low light focus hunting. I'm pretty sure I've blown a lot of shots because of it.

I'm sure this has been discussed a lot, but which body really shines in low light focus? I might keep the K5IIs as a backup anyway as the resale value to me is no where near it's functional value to me.

Preferably the low light body still would have many of the K5IIs' attributes I appreciate.

Thank you, and sorry if this is an old question.
You already received some good advice.

I will share a different yet relevant comment. I have 3 Pentax bodies: K-7, K-01 (same sensor as K-5) and K-3. I believe that the K-01 (and K-5) is a good camera for low light, but too many people forget the importance of a good fast lens in low light. A large aperture AF/MF lens (f1.4) will give you a great advantage to shoot in low light. And a large aperture (f1.4) MF lens will give you an edge in very-low light conditions when the AF cannot confirm.

I know that my K-3 body is better at high ISO than my K-01, which itself is better at low light than my K-7 camera. But, I continue to shoot in low light with my K-7 with a fast MF lens and bet happy with my shots. I know that I use a 'trump card', my loved VL Nokton f1.4. But the combo of K-7+fast MF lens will give me a better low light capability than my K-3 with a kit lens. (Sorry to be honest and blunt.)

To sum up, if you are not happy with low light shots, get a fast lens. Your K-5 with a fast lens will deliver....

My 5 cents.
06-16-2019, 04:22 PM   #10
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Great advice everyone.

I'll stick with the K5IIs, think more about the higher contrast areas while in AF, but also use MF more. And practice more. . . and in concerts, with the nice and quiet shutter. . .

I haven't read about the lately about the current 50-135's, may look into them again, if they're less buggy.
06-16-2019, 04:33 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wasp Quote
Live view helps to nail focus by hand.
In low light, my KP will auto focus using LV when it won't focus using the OVF .... often I don't have to go to manual focus.
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