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10-30-2011, 04:49 PM   #1
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Pentax K-r FF and serial number

Hi All,

I just picked up my Pentax k-r with 35mm lens refurbished from best buy. Great performance so far but I did shoot significantly under tungsten light at a Halloween party. Some shots were sharp but under bright tungsten light it consistently had front focus. First off I don't really like how cool a custom tungsten white balance looks so I am using AWB with strong correction. I printed a Focus chart and with the micro-focus adjust my K-r FF's about -7 under strong tungsten. I had some issues with CFL lights as well but I only have a few in the house. Sunlight is tack sharp at 0 correction. The SN# is 3800768.

I am assuming this is an older camera that Pentax fixed and sold as a refurbished model. No other problems once the e-dial got used a bit it was perfect. Has anyone had any better luck with newer K-r's? I am thinking about returning it and buying a brand new one as I have 14 days to do it. Or should I just buy a t2i :confused or K-x, K-7: I have loved every Canon I have had but everyone on planet earth seems to own a rebel and I don't like the idea of no sensor stabilization.

Update:
I have decided to return. Live view is just much sharper at the same f number even when using a -7 adjust. This is mixed CFL, tungsten and halogen. Just seems dumb to have a camera that can't focus properly inside. Contrast focus was just as sharp as the daylight focusing. Also I updated the firmware to 1.11 - no change.


Should I give the K-r another go?


Last edited by flyingP; 10-30-2011 at 05:50 PM. Reason: Update
10-30-2011, 07:13 PM   #2
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Aside from the FF issue, did you enjoy using the camera? If so, I would give it another go, but I'd test the new one as soon as you get it. That way you can return it if you should find any issues. There's a poll around here with about 70% of users reporting no issues with their K-r, while about 30% reporting problems. That is not a very good ratio to me, especially since I have encountered the same FF issue you mentioned in addition to e-dial and flash problems. Sending the camera back and forth to Pentax repair adds up in terms of shipping costs. That's why I suggest you immediately test the camera within your return period. If the 2nd one exhibits the same problem, I'd say it's time to look for an alternative.
10-30-2011, 08:44 PM   #3
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Returned

I returned the camera. The e-dial worked fine but was initially a little flaky. The problem with not focusing properly under artificial light is a big one (mine seemed to struggle some with Halogen, CFL and Tungsten). Usually it appears to be limited to Tungsten. It was just so spot on in the natural light that I would think that it has to do with the focusing module and/or software. I got soft facebook sized photos with focus confirmation on the correct part of the subject and f3.2 aperture with flash. I just decided that was totally unacceptable. Out of 50 shots I probably missed 20, 10 were kind of soft but good enough for online and 20 were pretty sharp.
I took another few photos with live view all completely sharp with the same shutter speed/aperture.


This seems like too many misses. I was trying to convince myself that I should just set it to -7 indoors but even that was worse than Contrast detect so back it went.
10-30-2011, 11:28 PM   #4
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So you knew going into it that AWB causes issues with tungsten light, and rather than set your WB manually, go on using AWB until you return the camera. From various postings around here, it isn't just tungsten WB that fixes the issue (which I agree is a bit harshly blue), you just have to set it manually.

Seems too bad when there's like four or five ways to work around this. I also think people who are aware of this issue tend to think every OoF shot is due to the AWB, when realistically, nobody nails every shot.

10-31-2011, 12:10 AM   #5
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Just wanted to get it right

To Philoslothical:

It is true that this has been discussed ad nauseum so perhaps I would be better off just letting it go.

Does setting the WB manually seem to fix the problem better? I decided I would rather have a newer copy in any case. I get that every shot is not necessarily going to be in focus but at the same time standing there shooting a newspaper and a focus chart under excellent light I would think that the focus should be something resembling the contrast detect auto focus. It is more like the variability of people's experiences that got me thinking a newer serial number might have had some hidden improvements in it. I reviewed the serial number comments on the forum here and some people seem to have no problems under any conditions with AF. I was getting a lot of FF focus shots in excellent artificial light. If the K-r is going to consistently do that than perhaps I should buy a different model.

I am thinking of giving it another try and if being smarter about custom white balance would help then that is something I will make sure to explore. I am thinking of just buying a kit from amazon.

Last edited by flyingP; 10-31-2011 at 12:14 AM. Reason: Update
10-31-2011, 02:12 AM   #6
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Two little disclaimers first: I didn't mean the above to sound as snarky as it may have. I also haven't had any problem with tungsten, yet anyway, but I've only shot using AF under it a handful of times. Most of my interest is outdoors.

That all said, I've read extensively on this, and I think the issue in general is overblown. Probably half the people that I've seen come on this board and complain about the K-r's AF have posted information showing they were simply having trouble using their camera, and not the tungsten "bug". So, I'm a bit skeptical, and I think the problem probably does/did exist for some people, but that it's not nearly as common as we tend to think.

A couple people have said that setting their WB manually completely fixes any issues they had. It makes sense, since the problem is directly related to the AWB setting. It's definitely worth investigating if having problems.

As to the serial numbers and age of camera, I have no clue if this has any impact on the issue. There does seem to be a lull lately in posts complaining about it, but I can't say if that's because the issue is less common, or if people switched models/systems, or what. There is certainly not going to be anything worse about having a newer copy.

Another option is to have Pentax service a K-r affected by this. Several people have posted positive results from having Pentax recalibrate their K-r. There's the time and hassle involved in this to consider. Pentax will also suggest that you not use AWB under tungsten, I've seen that in several quoted emails.

Shortly after I got my K-r, I thought I was having problems along these lines, with warm evening light. It turned out to be the lens I was using, it's crap, to put it simply. The thing will not AF true now under any circumstances. It was an older Sigma zoom, so no commonality with your 35mm, but I'm wondering if you're basing your assessment of the camera on a single lens? That does potentially leave you open to error. If the lens is performing poorly for whatever reason, the effect could well be amplified by tungsten and AWB, I think. Maybe.

Lots to think about, apparently. Another point I've seen made is about becoming obsessive with focusing charts. It's really easy to introduce variables to informal test shots, and if you're looking for problems... you may well find some. It's generally sound advice to measure your camera's performance on real world shooting first, and any tests second. Focusing on a chart with AF isn't as easy as you'd think, considering the size of the focus "points" we have. They're zones, not points, so if the camera latches on anywhere but where you expect, you get different results.

If you're thinking of trying another copy, is there a brick and mortar store you can go to that will let you give the copy a workout in-store before you buy? I made sure to do that when I bought mine, in fact I worked over both their demo model and the one I went home with, before pulling out my wallet.

Sorry for rambling, hope it's more constructive at least.
10-31-2011, 03:54 PM   #7
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Well I took free shipping from Amazon on new kit.

This time I have 30 days and it is brand new. I finally found the serial number database on the fourms here and it would be fair to say the earlier serial numbers had significantly more returns so I am hoping that bodes well here. I did play with a D90 and the focus and viewfinder seemed very good but can't imagine paying an extra $200-300 at this point (the wife might have an issue with it) and I liked my first K-r well enough to try it again.
10-31-2011, 04:12 PM   #8
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I hope this one works out better for you. Keep us posted.

10-31-2011, 04:29 PM   #9
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Have you guys checked/updated the serial database?
10-31-2011, 04:35 PM   #10
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Adam, when adding serials for camera bodies, should it be the one stamped on the body itself, or the one shown in the EXIF data?
11-08-2011, 10:41 PM   #11
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Well after thorough testing on detailed human and flat objects the new k-r had identical issues with FF in tungsten light. In all other artificial light the second copy was dead on. For me it was nothing the AF adjust could fix either. Sent it back and bought a used k-x which just got here today. The same tests with 3 lenses (F28 2.8, 18-55, 55-300) were all much better with the k-x. It misses sometimes which I am totally OK with but the second time on the same object in the same place the k-x always seems to hit its mark. I ended up save a couple hundred dollars which made me pretty happy.
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