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11-14-2018, 07:51 PM   #1
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Wildly inconsistent K-30 performance...dark yellow bars across most photos

I know, it's 2018. I'm still using my K-30 I bought as soon as it came out five years ago. It's all I have, and right now it is (and HAS BEEN) giving me fits. I am having to depend on it to take photos for eBay. I am having to rely on eBay for survival right now, and I have to take a LOT of photos, of many different types of items, from jewelry to vintage radios.

I am limited in my setup. I only have two 18" dual-fluorescent-tube Dazor desk lamps on articulating arms (from the '50s) to use as lights. I position the lights as close to the items as I can, and can usually get the item lit well, but the K-30 just doesn't work consistently.

What happens is sorta encapsulated in the screenshot i've att'd. One pic will be ok, and "true" as far as color goes, then without any warning, or moving of the camera, the next photo will have this huge dark yellow band at some point across it. The band can be either at the top or in the middle, or on both top and bottom.

I'm able to finagle with the sliders in "Levels" in photoshop to get the "color correct" finished photos brightened and presentable. Even with the initial photos being as dark as they are, I have taught myself a little trick with the sliders in "levels" using the histogram, and it generally works every time. However, on the photos with the dark yellow bands, that does not work to get the yellow out.

This is getting more frustrating for me, the more I'm having to use the camera, as you can see from the screenshot, I'm having to take 5 or 6 times the number of shots than I would if the darn thing would just WORK CONSISTENTLY. It's actually slowing me down tremendously, as far as getting items listed.

I use "auto" setting, because I really don't have the expertise or time to adjust settings between each shot.

Can anyone tell me what the heck is wrong with the K-30? or is it just "how they are" with this kind of light? Or is it me? It almost looks to me like the "rolling" effect you get when trying to film a tv screen...it seems to progress from top to bottom as the shots progress. I'm almost about to ask my buddy if I can borrow his Canon. I don't remember this "dark yellow band" thing happening when i first got the K-30, but then I wasn't doing this specific type of photo, either. Thanks in advance.

Well, I tried to attach a screenshot, and it won't let me. It says I am at my limit. I haven't "attached" anything to a post since 2014. I went in and tried to delete some attachments, and it won't let me do that, either. So, I went in and deleted all the old albums I had up and put the screenshot in an "album". I guess folks can somehow navigate to that to see what I'm talking about.



11-14-2018, 08:05 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by beebs Quote
18" dual-fluorescent-tube Dazor
This is probably the issue. If you set your shutter speed to 1/50s or less, you should be able to ensure you don't see a flicker.

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11-14-2018, 08:10 PM   #3
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Ah, OK. I will see if that is workable, in the way I'm having to do these photos. I have tried to "pin it" to either distance away from the lights, or relation of distance of light to item, etc., and it's just so inconsistent I couldn't really attach it to any one factor. I will see if using 1/50s or slower is feasible. Thanks.
11-14-2018, 08:17 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by beebs Quote
Ah, OK. I will see if that is workable, in the way I'm having to do these photos. I have tried to "pin it" to either distance away from the lights, or relation of distance of light to item, etc., and it's just so inconsistent I couldn't really attach it to any one factor. I will see if using 1/50s or slower is feasible. Thanks.
Can you use a tripod? This should greatly boost the resulting image quality as it'll ensure that the lighting is strong enough.


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11-14-2018, 08:22 PM   #5
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If I go with a slow shutter speed, I will have to use the tripod a lot more than I do. That will be a bit awkward, as I'm constantly shifting angles and zooms to get detailed shots...sometimes I'm shooting from above, other times from the side, etc. I will experiment; it might mean a big change in how I do things.
11-14-2018, 08:31 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by beebs Quote
If I go with a slow shutter speed, I will have to use the tripod a lot more than I do. That will be a bit awkward, as I'm constantly shifting angles and zooms to get detailed shots...sometimes I'm shooting from above, other times from the side, etc. I will experiment; it might mean a big change in how I do things.
You should also try to crank up the ISO. What shutter speeds do you normally use?

Also, since the background is flat, have you tried using the on-board flash instead?

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11-14-2018, 08:41 PM   #7
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I had left the ISO as "variable", with a low of 100 and the max at whatever the max is. I know from the old days that 400 was what you used in a film camera for "low light", but that wasn't consistent either. I tried setting it at 3200 and at 6400, same. I can't really use the flash; it's just way too harsh for most of the items like the jewelry, and the reflections are usually too much for most other items. I've been through a lot of trial and error with this...that last said with a wry chuckle. I will try the slower shutter speed and tripod, and will just have to try repositioning the item, instead of myself and camera, to get all the angles.
11-14-2018, 08:59 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by beebs Quote
Ah, OK. I will see if that is workable, in the way I'm having to do these photos. I have tried to "pin it" to either distance away from the lights, or relation of distance of light to item, etc., and it's just so inconsistent I couldn't really attach it to any one factor. I will see if using 1/50s or slower is feasible. Thanks.
In the US, electricity usually alternates at 60 cycles/sec, so I would start off using a shutter speed of 1/30 since that should catch 2 full cycles. Another choice would be to use light from an incandescent source, since those bulbs don't cool off enough between cycles to show an effect. You should be aware that any artificial light source will bias the color of your photo, so either you will need to fix that or else {being in sunny California} you could take your photos by natural daylight {my understanding is that the movie industry originally settled in Southern Calif because of the opportunities provided to use natural daylight for filming}.

11-14-2018, 09:09 PM   #9
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I'm just going to throw this out there. This is just a down and dirty flash modifier.

If you would like to try the on board flash again, get yourself a Kleenex, (only one layer), or some tissue paper and tape it in front of the flash so it forms an arc. Just make sure whatever you use is not touching the front of the flash. Old trick I picked up from somewhere.
11-14-2018, 09:41 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by reh321 Quote
In the US, electricity usually alternates at 60 cycles/sec, so I would start off using a shutter speed of 1/30 since that should catch 2 full cycles. Another choice would be to use light from an incandescent source, since those bulbs don't cool off enough between cycles to show an effect. You should be aware that any artificial light source will bias the color of your photo, so either you will need to fix that or else {being in sunny California} you could take your photos by natural daylight {my understanding is that the movie industry originally settled in Southern Calif because of the opportunities provided to use natural daylight for filming}.
reh321: lol on "outside" right now...we've had a solid week of smoke and haze from the big fire 120 miles away. And I did try incandescents, and the results were not great. They are harsh and cause too much glare for most things. I actually settled on the fluorescents because 1. I had 'em, and 2. When they play nice with the K-30, the color is almost spot-on. I have to adjust the levels to get the highlights, midrange and lows all balanced, and the color generally "rights itself" when I do that. The trick I use is to crop the shot, call up "Levels" in PS, and look at the histogram. First I'll take the far right slider and slide it to where it makes contact with the right edge of the curve. Then I take the middle slider and slide it to the left, until the pic just barely starts to look "washed out". Then I take the far left slider and slide IT to the right, until it just touches the curve. That results in a useable shot, most of the time...unless this yellow bar thing happens. Thx for the idea of using 1/30...that makes total sense.

bigdavephoto: thanks for that tip as well. I will try the tissue idea with the flash and see if that makes a diff.
11-15-2018, 12:01 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by beebs Quote
bigdavephoto: thanks for that tip as well. I will try the tissue idea with the flash and see if that makes a diff.
Another option might be to use slow speed sync. This way the flash simply fills dark parts of the scene rather than being the main source of illumination.

Also going to throw this out there, there are affordable LED lighting kits on Amazon which would solve the flicker issue:
amazon.com : Emart Photography 24 x 24 Inches Table Top Photo Studio Continous Lighting LED Light Shooting Tent Box Kit, Camera Tripod & Cell Phone Holder : Camera & Photo?tag=pentaxforums-20&

I got the 2 LED version of the above, which casts too many shadows for my taste, but with 3-4 lights you should be set from just about any angle.

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11-15-2018, 12:25 AM - 1 Like   #12
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Wow...that would certainly make all this nonsense vanish in an instant, wouldn't it?

I hadn't looked into a "light box" setup like that...it certainly seems to cover all the bases. I will definitely look at all the ones Amazon has; but it will have to wait until I can spare the $60. I'm a Luddite, sure, I love old stuff, but my choice of '50s-era lighting here was strictly out of necessity. lol. Thank you for all the suggestions. I will see what I can do to make what I have work until I can grab one of those groovy setups.
11-15-2018, 03:25 AM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by beebs Quote
I will definitely look at all the ones Amazon has; but it will have to wait until I can spare the $60. I'm a Luddite, sure, I love old stuff, but my choice of '50s-era lighting here was strictly out of necessity. lol.
I think you should leap into action when you get that sixty dollars, Beeb. You've got a nice camera and a nice lens, but there's nothing nice about the lightbox purchase, it's a revenue earner for you, making sure your products look as good as everyone else on eBay, and giving potential customers the feel that they're dealing with someone of professional standards. Go for it!
11-15-2018, 04:02 AM   #14
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Beeb, I have done some selling on eBay for many years, usually utilizing a two flash set-up. But recently I purchased a light box, from an eBay seller, which came with 3 different color backdrops, and a 4 light kit for less than $40. Mind you, it’s cheap, but does a good job and the light color/temperature is consistent, making edits and uploads quick and easy.
11-15-2018, 06:34 AM   #15
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More often than not, fluorescent lighting is really bad for photography. It's one of those case where using a flash or lightbox would greatly improve the results. If you already have a flash, you can add a ring flash modifier on it and it will do wonders for the kind of pictures posted above. They can be had for about 20$ on ebay or you can even make one yourself (plenty of DIY tutorials are available)...
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