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02-22-2011, 01:45 PM   #1
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interaction with pentax support on K-r

My Pentax K-m was stolen over Christmas, with all my best lenses (FA35, Tamron 17-50, DA50-135).

Since then, have been trying to make the decision of how to get back in the game. Pentax makes the list again, as they are (still) a great value in my opinion.

As with other potential buyers, I have read the posts on the FF issue, though I'm not an expert on all of the information.

Here is a note I sent to the U.S. support team:

Hi, planning a dslr purchase, previous pentax customer (k2000/k-m). Am considering the k-r, but there is evidence on photography community sites of a front-focus issue under low light.
My questions:
1. is pentax aware of this issue?
2. do they plan to resolve it via firmware patch?
3. if so, when would the fix be available?


Here is the response I received:

Dear Mr. N,

Thank you for contacting Pentax.

PENTAX is aware that some people are posting on the internet that their K-R cameras are not accurately autofocusing in low tungsten light shooting conditions. However, very few people have sent their cameras in to us for examination. In fact, in most cases where we have examined sample images sent in demonstrating this issue we found the user was trying to shoot when the ambient light level was so low the autofocus could not function. To date PENTAX Japan has not informed us of any known issue in the K-R autofocus system that would require a firmware upgrade. If you were to purchase a K-R and experience an issue with the autofocus we would advise you to send the camera in to us to be examined by a technician.

If you are in need of further assistance, please respond to this email or call our technical support center at 800-877-0155.

Sincerely,

Randall S.
Pentax Imaging Technical Support


I'm not trying to start another fire here or invite people to assail Randall's response. I actually have some questions in light of what he said, maybe they can organize actual information on this topic in a single concise place:

1. Has anyone sent in their camera to be examined? What was the response from CRIS on the issue?
2. How low is the light required to evidence this phenomenon? It seems like it can't be below the expected threshold for autofocus, as it I understand it is reproducible in conditions prior to the AF assist activating (is that true)? In other words, are these extreme conditions according to the camera's light meter (presumably that threshold is reached when the AF lamp illuminates)?
3. Is it always true that live view is able to achieve accurate focus under the same conditions? Is phase detect usually more accurate in low light conditions?
4. Is this tungsten only, or all low light? Is the camera able to achieve proper focus in the same EV with other light sources?
5. Is there any evidence that Pentax Japan is actually at work on a firmware fix, despite Randall's information?

Thanks in advance for useful replies!

-s

02-22-2011, 02:17 PM   #2
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Keep in mind these answers are based on my K-r and my shooting conditions. Other posters may come up with different answers yet we can both be correct.

QuoteOriginally posted by skoobie Quote
1. Has anyone sent in their camera to be examined? What was the response from CRIS on the issue?
I have not sent my camera. Pentax asked for "my camera and all lenses with the issue". I'm afraid they might somehow adjust all my lenses for tungsten, creating new problems in non-tungsten light. I want to know more about what CRIS will do before having them try to fix what is, for me, a minor inconvenience now that I know I have to watch out for tungsten.

I have hope (but no evidence) for a firmware fix. If none comes I might send my camera for service just before the warranty expires.

QuoteQuote:
2. How low is the light required to evidence this phenomenon? It seems like it can't be below the expected threshold for autofocus, as it I understand it is reproducible in conditions prior to the AF assist activating (is that true)? In other words, are these extreme conditions according to the camera's light meter (presumably that threshold is reached when the AF lamp illuminates)?
My problem is not low light but tungsten/incandescent light. Bright and medium-bright tungsten light has an AF issue where similar fluorescent lighting focuses fine.

QuoteQuote:
3. Is it always true that live view is able to achieve accurate focus under the same conditions? Is phase detect usually more accurate in low light conditions?
I can't say always because I personally only took a few test shots, but live view did give better focus in tungsten light.

QuoteQuote:
4. Is this tungsten only, or all low light? Is the camera able to achieve proper focus in the same EV with other light sources?
For me, tungsten only. Other lighting types, whether bright or dim, seem to focus well.

QuoteQuote:
5. Is there any evidence that Pentax Japan is actually at work on a firmware fix, despite Randall's information?
I have no information on this one.
02-22-2011, 03:32 PM   #3
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For me same as the poster above.

I can confirm that Live View is dead on accurate in Tungsten.
02-22-2011, 05:11 PM   #4
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I can pretty much confirm everything that is two posts above. For me, the minor FF issue in pure tungsten lighting is not worth sending my camera for service. Live View is perfectly fine. The tungsten light in which I have the FF issue is such crappy light anyway that I shy from shooting in it.

02-22-2011, 10:05 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by skoobie Quote
1. Has anyone sent in their camera to be examined? What was the response from CRIS on the issue?
I sent it back to Pentax dealer. They agreed with me concerning the issue, but were not able to corect it, neither to replace with another camera, because all had the issue.
QuoteOriginally posted by skoobie Quote
2. How low is the light required to evidence this phenomenon?
Paradoxicaly, Kr focuses better in low light, even tungsten. I made tests under bright tungsten light and I've got ff.
QuoteOriginally posted by skoobie Quote
4. Is this tungsten only, or all low light? Is the camera able to achieve proper focus in the same EV with other light sources?
I've got ff in fluorescent too, but not so severe as in tungsten.
QuoteOriginally posted by skoobie Quote
5. Is there any evidence that Pentax Japan is actually at work on a firmware fix, despite Randall's information?
There are all evidences that Pentax deny the issue. I really hope that a new firmware will solve the problem, but I doubt it.

If you put yourself such of questions, probably you would be unhappy with your ff camera. Be aware!
02-23-2011, 03:43 AM   #6
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Same as above. All of the tests I did were in relatively bright Tungsten. Much lower daylight and non-tungsten were either fine or the FF was barely appreciable. LiveView focusing in Tungsten was completely accurate. I returned my first K-r on the advice from Pentax that the problem only affects individual units. Second K-r had the same exact issue. I've returned it and am now waiting to re-purchase it until either a firmware fix is released or there is evidence that servicing the camera can resolve the issue.
02-24-2011, 09:18 PM   #7
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The Randall guy was the one who talked to me as well. He talked the same exact things as above.

He said Pentax Japan doesn't know of these issues which seemed lame answer to me. Why did he refer to Pentax Japan? There is no Pentax USA? Then he said I could be using inadequate light source. All the same.

I can't continue with the hope that Pentax will fix this issue. I am buying another camera, no loss for me though.
02-24-2011, 10:16 PM   #8
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I also thought about shipping charges and hassle of dealing with them for several months. It is inconvenience which I avoided.

The support guy was fine, I don't think it is his mistake not to identify the problem. But, I thought "one who doesn't recognize the problem, what guarantee is there that there will be a firmware fix?"

The transcript

QuoteQuote:

Please wait while we find an agent to assist you...
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience.
You have been connected to Randall S.
Randall S: Thank you for contacting Pentax chat support , how may I help you?
xxxxx: Hi, My name is xxxxx
xxxxx: I bought a New Pentax K-r last week. The camera has focussing issues in indoor tungsten light. I am not able to focus. It is big error in fact
Randall S: are you sure that you just don't have enough light for the autofocus to work?
xxxxxx: I have enough light, that is not the problem
Randall S: if you suspect a problem with your K-R I would advise you to send it in to us for examination or try to exchange it with your dealer.
Randall S: here is the procedure to use to send it in....
Randall S: Remove the battery, lens and memory card. Send just the camera with a note describing the problem.
If you purchased the camera new in the last 12 months include a copy of your sales receipt.
Our service department address is:

PENTAX Service Department
250 North 54th St.
Chandler, AZ 85226

If your camera is out of warranty, or the repair is not covered under the warranty, we will examine your camera and supply you with a written estimate (this estimate is provided at no charge). Upon approval (and payment in full) of the estimate, we will proceed with the repair. Approvals may be given by phone with a Visa, MasterCard, or Discover. If you decide against the repair estimate, your camera will be returned to you for a $12 shipping and handling charge.
xxxxxxx: Will exchange work? Me and my friend bought the camera at the same time from the same dealer. The problem exists on his camera too. We researched on google and found that many users have the same problem documented
Randall S: I can't guarantee it wouldn't happen with an exchange. You can send it in to have our techs look at it.
xxxxxxx: If this problem is happening to every K-r, how would sending it help? Is Pentax working on a firmware fix?
Randall S: I don't believe it is happening with all K-R cameras. We have not heard of this as a known issue from Pentax Japan and neither are we aware of if they are planning a firmware upgrade that would address any autofocus issue in the camera.
Randall S: At this point we have to advise you to send it in to be examined so we can find out what might be the problem with your camera.
xxxxxxx: Unfortunately, it means Pentax is not even looking at this as an issue despite complaints from many users'
Randall S: Again, send it in and we'll be happy to take a look at the camera.
xxxxxxx: Thank you.
Randall S: Thank you for contacting Pentax chat support, have a great day!
Thank you for using InstantService. You may now close this window.
Your session has ended. You may now close this window.


02-24-2011, 11:13 PM   #9
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This is concerning me quite a bit -- given that both the K-5 and K-r are having similar low light front focus issues, I had assumed that when the rumored K-5 firmware fix was coming out that there would be a similar firmware fix out for the K-r. What are the chances that only a firmware fix for the K-5 is released? (Shorthand for -- people paid more and expect more from the "pro" K-5 and complained more loudly.)

In the short term the FF issue is livable for me, but I do not foresee continuing to own the Pentax system if this is not fixed in the foreseeable future.
02-25-2011, 01:07 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by TeamFleury Quote
This is concerning me quite a bit -- given that both the K-5 and K-r are having similar low light front focus issues, I had assumed that when the rumored K-5 firmware fix was coming out that there would be a similar firmware fix out for the K-r. What are the chances that only a firmware fix for the K-5 is released? (Shorthand for -- people paid more and expect more from the "pro" K-5 and complained more loudly.)

In the short term the FF issue is livable for me, but I do not foresee continuing to own the Pentax system if this is not fixed in the foreseeable future.
No such chances, if they fix the K-5 they will be able to fix the K-r. The logic that users expect more from K-5 does not concern the common features of the cameras, like auto focusing. When you buy K-5 instead of K-R you expect more from ergonomics and extra features. I personally deliberatly bought K-R as it is smaller and to safe money for my limited lenses. So I use it with lenses worth more than 2000 dollars. So in this situation K-R is by itself a very serious tool which should work flawlessly when covering its own specifications.
02-25-2011, 02:18 AM   #11
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If they don't fix the issues, Pentax losses will be more than they can anticipate. Here's my example: me, former owner of Canon, with two remaining Canon lens and one remaining Canon flash. For some reasons, I wanted to change the system (the boat, as you say), I even bought a Kr, but I was very (but very) disappointed by its AF issues. Like me, many others. At least I give them a chance and MAYBE I'll re-buy the Kr, IF they manage to solve the issue. Otherwise, I'll NEVER want to hear about Pentax. So, the ball's in their court.

Last edited by ursamajor; 02-25-2011 at 02:39 AM.
02-26-2011, 07:20 AM   #12
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Having worked in this type of Technical support setting I can assure you that this tech should never have said that a fix for the Kr isn't in the works. First; he doesn't know that it isn't in the works unless Pentax came right out and said so and that hasn't happened, second; even if he did know it would be highly unusual for him to have the authority to release that info. He pretends to know an awful lot of things that make no sense especially what Japan knows and is or not doing.

He's probably a contract tech and doesn't work for Pentax. Most large companies contract out their phone tech support it's much cheaper.

If I had a tech call and responded like this individual I'd have been written up and if it happened again I'd have been fired.
02-26-2011, 08:25 AM   #13
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From what I've heard, the firmware fix is coming to both cameras. One thing is certain- Pentax isn't denying the development of such a fix.
02-26-2011, 09:05 AM   #14
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Don't get your hopes up with this brand. That's all I can say.

I would take this tech's comments with a grain of salt.
02-26-2011, 10:29 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
From what I've heard, the firmware fix is coming to both cameras. One thing is certain- Pentax isn't denying the development of such a fix.
That would be great.
Trouble is, then certain people will have to find yet another thing to whinge about rather then saying "whoopee, look canikon fans, Pentax care and try to address the issues!" and getting on taking photos with the best kit on the market.

woody
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