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06-10-2014, 11:46 PM   #1
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And the Costco packaged arrived today

And lo, out came the K-50 with its two kit lenses, my first DSLR after years of disposable ultrazoom point-and-shoots. Upon which I swiftly put a little juice into the battery and found out that you can take bad photos with a good camera just as easily as you can take bad photos with a bad camera . But after taking about forty photos while playing with the settings I did manage to get three photos of my cats that were keepers. I also discovered that the built-in flash is as atrocious as on the point-and-shoots, it is very blue and has a woeful field of illumination along with annoying the cats. I guess that hot shoe on the top isn't for decoration.

First impressions of the Costco package:

I'll need to go grab some tethers for the lens caps. No big deal.

No hood for handling lens flare shooting into the light. Guess that goes onto my to-buy list too. Filters and the 55-270 lens for shooting wildlife are in the works, that's the intended use for the camera (not cat photos with the kit lens, heh!).

In low light the 18-55mm kit lens seems to have a lot of problems autofocusing, even with the autofocus lamp annoying my cats. That may be a problem of me choosing the wrong autofocus mode though, I found when digging through the menu that the camera has several. I resolved the problem by flipping the switch on the side down to MF and doing it old school.

The Pentax seems very old-school in many ways, with a loud ker-snack when it actually shoots a shot that is reminiscent of my old film cameras. There apparently are some modern features like HDR hidden in the menus, but traditional film camera settings are pretty much right on top and easy to access. This is clearly a camera that is serious about photography, not about marketing bullet points. (Which, alas, do sell, which is why Sony Alphas sell so well, Sony is good at creating new features / marketing bullet points and selling them to novices, for example HDR is a dial setting on the Sony cameras, the iA+ setting).

Which brings to mind the fact that I have 13 years of digital photographs cluttering my hard drive and really need to organize them and prune the thousands of blurry, out of focus, redundant, or just plain bad photos in the process. What's your favorite Windows program for doing that?

06-11-2014, 12:37 AM   #2
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Welcome! I'm sure you'll have loads of enjoyment from the K-50!

QuoteOriginally posted by badtux Quote
I'll need to go grab some tethers for the lens caps. No big deal.
Just a friendly suggestion: forego the tethers. There's nothing better to set a veteran photographer rolling on the floor laughing than to see someone holding an SLR with a lens cap dangling on a string.

QuoteOriginally posted by badtux Quote
What's your favorite Windows program for doing that?
The general consensus would be Lightroom. Besides organizing your photos, it has a powerful RAW development engine.
06-11-2014, 12:49 AM   #3
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Custom Settings (C menu) > WB When Using Flash > Flash (option 3)

Re: Old school
The camera you are holding is identical in basic design to those old SLRs, so there's your explanation. Except IMHO much better . Try using Picasa for viewing images, since it has nice photo-database features and interface (there's also a very simple editor built in).
06-11-2014, 01:30 AM   #4
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A typical guideline for flash on any brand of DSLR is to set the flash to between approx. -1 and -1.5 EV to avoid overexposure.

Also, believe it or not, flash is one time it can make sense to use green mode or P mode, even if you use something else (typically Av) the rest of the time.

06-11-2014, 01:54 AM   #5
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Congrats!

Save those first shots. Look back at them every year and be amazed at how much you are improving.
06-11-2014, 03:01 AM   #6
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Welcome!

Hello badtux, welcome to the Forum! And good luck with your new gear, this is an exciting time to learn DSLR photography.
For processing and organizing your old photos, any of the free programs like Picasa, Faststone or Gimp will do. And after you use one for a while, you'll want the real thing, Lightroom. LR is to processing apps, what your new gear is to the compacts. That much better, more professional and feature-laden.
But for now, a free program and working on the old shots will teach you the basics of PP.
I'd skip the dangling lens-cap gizmos and invest in the right hoods, first thing. A quality camera bag and Rocket Blower, second. Also, look into circular polarizing filters and a tripod. Scan the forums like 'photo techniques' and 'field accessories' for relevant articles.
Post some photos soon,
Ron
06-11-2014, 07:37 AM   #7
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Welcome and a +1 for lightroom, you might also look at the 55-300 Pentax Zoom, Love mine
06-11-2014, 08:06 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by badtux Quote
I'll need to go grab some tethers for the lens caps. No big deal.

No hood for handling lens flare shooting into the light. Guess that goes onto my to-buy list too.
You will probably want to pick up a wide-flange rear cap as well. The ones they ship with the lenses fall off at even the suggestion of a touch. As for the hoods, they are the same part number as for the non-L WR lens versions. I will save you the time to look them up:

PH-RBC52 (for the 18-55)
PH-RBD49 (for the 50-200)

Enjoy your new camera! It is a great tool.


Steve

06-11-2014, 10:21 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by OregonJim Quote
Welcome! I'm sure you'll have loads of enjoyment from the K-50!



Just a friendly suggestion: forego the tethers. There's nothing better to set a veteran photographer rolling on the floor laughing than to see someone holding an SLR with a lens cap dangling on a string.



The general consensus would be Lightroom. Besides organizing your photos, it has a powerful RAW development engine.
Regarding tethers, I'm not interested in being a professional photographer. I'm interested in not dropping a lens cap off the side of a frickin' mountain! Don't laugh. Been there, done that. I have some great shots from standing on tiny ledges on the sides of mountains, but that also implies other things (like, no tripods on the side of a mountain -- that's where you definitely want a monopod like my modified one that doubles as a walking stick). And the lens cap doesn't dangle (it can get in the way when I'm pointing off the edge of a cliff or down at a bug that I'm macro'ing), it ends up sort of looped around my left hand. Remember, I'm shooting in deserts and beaches and other sandy environs (yes, there are desert mountains). The lens cap comes off for the shot, and *immediately* goes back on. It was the only way I could make a P&S ultrazoom last more than a few months.

Regarding Gimp, I've been using it to process my photos for years for publication on web sites. It has its limits but does most of what I need for that purpose, which is cropping, scaling, and basic contrast and color adjustments (color adjustments can be a bit annoying though compared with a "real" photo editor, since there's no presets to get you started and the UI is really terrible). The main problem is that Gimp isn't a photo management tool. Dropping photos into date-arranged folders and using the Windows Photo Gallery program to browse through them isn't really a photo management tool either. There's shots I know I have that take a long time of "so, was that the Death Valley trip of 2007, or the Mojave Road trip of 2009, where I took that awesome picture of the sun setting over the mountains?" of digging thru folders to find them. I envy the Mac folks, even iPhoto lets you arrange and categorize your photos without physically moving and copying them on the disk and Aperture adds in all the photo ops to that, but I don't want a laptop just for photography, I have actual work that needs doing and Apple doesn't make anything with the horsepower I need (they're all about low power consumption consumer hardware and what I do for a living requires some serious horsepower and more storage than fits in a Mac). Tried Picasa, didn't do what I needed it to do. I'll take a look at Faststone. I had avoided Lightroom due to bad experience in the past with Adobe's software activation mechanisms, sometimes at work it seems I spend more time on the phone fighting with Adobe to get software our company bought and paid thousands of $$$ for to run despite activation insisting that it was already installed on a machine that died years ago than I spend doing my actual job, but it appears Lightroom doesn't use that deranged activation scheme? Anybody?

The 55-300 zoom should arrive today. I'll take it out this weekend and will see what happens. I know where there's some hummingbirds that I can try it out on. Catching a hummingbird in mid flight is difficult, I've shot hundreds of shots of hummingbirds but only a half dozen "keepers", the rest have the bird facing the wrong way, out of focus, obstructed by a piece of brush, already flitting out of frame by the time the camera shutter clicked, or blurry. I don't imagine having better gear will make it much easier, but it certainly won't make it more difficult .
06-11-2014, 06:20 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by badtux Quote
Regarding Gimp, I've been using it to process my photos for years for publication on web sites.
The Gimp is great for what it does, but I would still suggest that you download the trial for Lightroom. LR is not an image editor, but it is one excellent wrapper for the excellent Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) component. The ACR functionality is sufficiently comprehensive that I seldom use my available image editors. I would not be concerned about the LR activation. I have been user since 1.x and as long as you have your product serial numbers both the initial install and upgrades happen pretty seamlessly. My latest install was both an upgrade and an install to a new computer. There was no problem with license despite the previous workstation still having a working install of the previous version. One of the nice things is that LR allows pass-through to image editors such as The Gimp and Photoshop as part of its design, so you can still use your favorite tools for the heavy tasks.


Steve
06-11-2014, 06:38 PM   #11
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For Windows, the two RAW editors you want to look at with an image catalog are Lightroom and Capture One. I chose the later. Capture One's catalog was purchased from Microsoft (but you can use it on a Mac too). DxO essentially doesn't have a catalog, which is mostly what this recent announcement was about: DxO Optics Pro 9.5 now integrates with Adobe Lightroom: Digital Photography Review


I'm sure DxO chose to integrate with LR's catalog because it's more popular - not necessarily because it's better. I think both cataloging solutions are good enough that you should choose based on which editor you prefer. As I mentioned, I chose Capture One for this reason.
06-12-2014, 12:25 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
The Gimp is great for what it does, but I would still suggest that you download the trial for Lightroom. LR is not an image editor, but it is one excellent wrapper for the excellent Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) component. The ACR functionality is sufficiently comprehensive that I seldom use my available image editors. I would not be concerned about the LR activation. I have been user since 1.x and as long as you have your product serial numbers both the initial install and upgrades happen pretty seamlessly. My latest install was both an upgrade and an install to a new computer. There was no problem with license despite the previous workstation still having a working install of the previous version. One of the nice things is that LR allows pass-through to image editors such as The Gimp and Photoshop as part of its design, so you can still use your favorite tools for the heavy tasks.


Steve
Thanks, I spent some time today looking at the feature list of Lightroom. I was mostly interested in whether it could create categories and smartfolders and such like iPhoto will on the Mac, and it looks like it will. It also appears that they aren't using the deranged activation scheme for Lightroom that they use for their big "professional" programs. Phew!

The Gimp is ugly and nasty but more capable than is obvious from just looking at its primitive user interface. Still, it is not a photo organizing program and doesn't have pre-packaged photo processing features, it's all primitives. So I suspect I'll continue to use The Gimp mostly as a quick way of doing crops and scales for the web and that's it. I really didn't use it for photo processing as such, I mostly relied on knowing the capabilities of the P&S cameras I was using (and lack thereof in many cases) and taking a well framed photo in good light to begin with. Subject is backlit? Half in shadow? Eh, move on (well, *certain* backlit subjects make a great shot, but that's a different tale). Or maybe try a shot with the HDR on to deal with the shadows, but without much expectation of good results. The sensors in these P&S cameras are too bad for post-processing to pull any detail out of a single photo that wasn't immediately obvious (all you'd get was noise) so anything better than The Gimp would have been a waste of money. But now that I have a camera with a sensor that's bigger than gnat's belly? Yeah, I need something better.

My package with the 55-300mm lens and various accessories did not arrive today. FedEx says it's stuck in sorting in San Jose. Sigh. Tomorrow, hopefully. What did arrive today was the screen protector for the back screen. Following the threads here the AC-Maxx one appeared to be thought of well, after cleaning the back screen well I stuck it on there and really can't tell that it's not part of the camera. No idea how sturdy it is, but can't be worse than no protector at all...
06-27-2014, 12:27 PM   #13
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Just wondering how this thread ends (like a tethered lens cap over the edge ? Did you get the 55-300mm?
06-28-2014, 09:30 PM   #14
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Yes, I got the 55-300. It takes good sharp pictures at full zoom even at 5.6 . And yes, the lens cap is tethered, It rests in my left hand when shooting.
People who shoot in controlled environments can say all they want about tethers on lens caps, when I'm out there in a 40mph wind trying to get a picture of sea gulls while standing on the edge of a cliff, I need all the help I can get!
06-30-2014, 05:08 AM   #15
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Nice shot. BTW I put lens caps in my pocket, but whatever works for you is best.
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