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08-15-2015, 12:54 PM   #331
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QuoteOriginally posted by starbase218 Quote
I'm actually curious if him saying Canon/Nikon only offers better AF if you pay more is more than an assumption. I think I'd like to know.
I shoot with people who have Canon and Nikon equipment. Everyone complains about focus. Sometimes I get the shots, sometimes they do. I remember an occasion a couple years ago when a short eared owl flushed in front of us. I was shooting manual Tamron 400 f4, and I was the only one who got a shot.

I'd say Pentax bodies are behind Nikon and Canon a bit, but the lenses are nowhere near. The DA*300 is nice rendering, small and handles very nicely but focus is slow. I suspect it will be upgraded in a surprise announcement when the old stock is diminished. It seems the newer long lenses are pretty good. At one point the marginal improvements mean less than skill.

And the complexity of the various settings mean that skill matters much more than capability. The k3 settings can ruin your day, and the Canon ones are very complex to the point of a misconfigured body means failure. Getting a working setup along with practice to master the limitations and quirks matters.

08-15-2015, 01:09 PM   #332
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
I have no problem saying that Nikon and Canon probably do better than Pentax at auto focus. I just hate (a) blanket statements that Nikon/Canon are better and (b) the constant running down of Pentax auto focus (it is adequate for most situations). Most of the problems I see with auto focus are user error and not camera/lens faults.
I would also add that I believe we all do a disservice to Pentax by constantly stating (as fact) that the AF is not as good as other brands. This is simply untrue. I shoot with k-3 as my primary and a k-5IIs as my backup. With k-3, I DO NOT MISS focus. Maybe 1 shot in 100. How much better can the AF be? As Rondec stated if you are not getting constant, reliable AF success with Pentax, at least with the k-3, it is camera settings inappropriate for the shot or user error.

Now I hasten to add, I do not shoot anything that moves. So for my purpose Pentax is near perfect. Other photographers, shooting sports or birds for example may have a different opinion and I respect that. If you want to say "Pentax tracking AF is not as good as the competition", that is likely correct. But making blanket negative statements about the AF is not any indication of how Pentax actually performs in this area.

I wonder how many prospective Pentax purchasers have been put off by constantly seeing this myth about Pentax AF being bad? When as an average photographer shooting for vacation or family they would never use tracking AF anyway?
08-15-2015, 03:15 PM   #333
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
If you want to say "Pentax tracking AF is not as good as the competition", that is likely correct.
Predictive autofocus. [EDIT: Rondec says] pure straight line tracking auto focus, once locked, is actually pretty good,

Seemingly random motion such as BIF, fast Sports / Action, Airshows - those people complain a lot.

Last edited by monochrome; 08-15-2015 at 06:59 PM.
08-15-2015, 03:22 PM   #334
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
Predictive autofocus. Pure straight line tracking auto focus, once locked, is actually pretty good, Seemingly random motion such as BIF, fast Sports / Action, Airshows - those people complain a lot.
OK, I wouldn't know. Nothing I shoot moves. And if does move, I don't shoot it.

But doesn't everybody complain about that? I don't spend a lot of time on other forums but the few visits I have made seems the major topic on Canon or Nikon forums is the lousy AF.

08-15-2015, 03:51 PM   #335
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
OK, I wouldn't know. Nothing I shoot moves. And if does move, I don't shoot it.

But doesn't everybody complain about that? I don't spend a lot of time on other forums but the few visits I have made seems the major topic on Canon or Nikon forums is the lousy AF.
I don't really know about the other brands

Heck, I barely know about autofocus. The stuff I shoot only moves when there's a breeze (which can be quite vexing).

Actually, I shoot quite a bit of high school lacrosse but I do sideline candids. The action shooter is a Nikon guy and he swears all he needs is one click. A lot of the time his AF is turned off and he pre-focuses. You'd be surprised how many shots he gets with a lacrosse ball moving at 100 mph, attack stick frozen in follow-through and goaile moving to block. At least once a game he gets the ball still on the back of the net, pushing it out, or skipping up across the goal line.

One click.

But he's as old as I am.
08-15-2015, 03:53 PM   #336
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
doesn't everybody complain about that? I don't spend a lot of time on other forums but the few visits I have made seems the major topic on Canon or Nikon forums is the lousy AF.
Very true. Sometimes visiting the Nikon or Sony forums on DPR, with all the complaining going on I feel like I'm back in PentaxForums .
08-15-2015, 04:17 PM   #337
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
OK, I wouldn't know. Nothing I shoot moves. And if does move, I don't shoot it.
But doesn't everybody complain about that? I don't spend a lot of time on other forums but the few visits I have made seems the major topic on Canon or Nikon forums is the lousy AF.
In fact, I'm involved right now on another photography discussion forum with Canikon users who are obsessing about getting Tamron to service lenses that regularly front/back focus. I'll be honest and say that I don't understand why this is a problem; if I can see that the focus points aren't quite in focus, I don't understand why the most wonderful cameras ever made cannot see it.

QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
Actually, I shoot quite a bit of high school lacrosse but I do sideline candids. The action shooter is a Nikon guy and he swears all he needs is one click. A lot of the time his AF is turned off and he pre-focuses. You'd be surprised how many shots he gets with a lacrosse ball moving at 100 mph, attack stick frozen in follow-through and goaile moving to block. At least once a game he gets the ball still on the back of the net, pushing it out, or skipping up across the goal line.

One click.

But he's as old as I am.
Is the DOF of modern lenses much shallower than the older ones or have we become much much more fussy and demanding?? If I pick a reasonable aperture, like f/8, my Pentax-A 50mm lens claims that the right setting would put everything beyond 8' in focus; of course, zoom and telephoto lenses were less forgiving, but even so ... In the days before auto-focus we managed to get lots of moving things in focus all by ourselves.
08-15-2015, 04:19 PM   #338
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in the old days pixel peeping was just too darn expensive

08-15-2015, 04:23 PM   #339
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
OK, I wouldn't know. Nothing I shoot moves. And if does move, I don't shoot it.

But doesn't everybody complain about that? I don't spend a lot of time on other forums but the few visits I have made seems the major topic on Canon or Nikon forums is the lousy AF.
Don't you know that those folks are just Pentax Forum moles sent to stir up strife in competing fora? It is all part of Ricoh's master plan (my cousin's friend told me all about it, but I can't share it with the rest of you... yet).
08-16-2015, 01:41 AM - 1 Like   #340
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
I don't spend a lot of time on other forums but the few visits I have made seems the major topic on Canon or Nikon forums is the lousy AF.
That's why any AF-related discussion would need an objective testing methodology to start with. Because it is lacking, its all opinions only.

Nevertheless, in reply to the above comment ... I participate in a German Nikon forum too and it is true, AF there is debated just as much as it is here. But complaints seem to be on a different level, relating to situations which most here would consider very challenging (or to AF fine tuning with 36MP at large apertures).

At the same time, in that forum, I see tons of photos which are jaw dropping and rather difficult to get (and of a kind I don't see here at PF). The group of 3 bikes in a motor bike race curve with just the middle bike in focus (ok, technically feasible w/o AF too), the flying eagle with all head feathers, the dog running towards you with everything but the dog out of focus, you name it. OTOH, I met a few of those guys in real life and some are full time pros loading gear into their cars worth more than the car ... So, results may more be a sign of passion, experience, value of gear and time invested than a brand difference in AF performance.

Nevertheless, it remains as a fact (imho) that people who depend on best AF performance for a living don't shoot Pentax as a first system. This does not mean that pros requiring good AF avoid Pentax. There are many less challenging domains which remain, such as fashion, fashion shows, studio, event, landscape etc.

I wonder why we discuss it in this thread?

The only reason I would see is if Pentax could try to do a 7Dm2 competitor. IMHO, they cannot.

Last edited by falconeye; 08-16-2015 at 01:51 AM.
08-16-2015, 02:33 AM   #341
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QuoteOriginally posted by falconeye Quote
That's why any AF-related discussion would need an objective testing methodology to start with. Because it is lacking, its all opinions only.

Nevertheless, in reply to the above comment ... I participate in a German Nikon forum too and it is true, AF there is debated just as much as it is here. But complaints seem to be on a different level, relating to situations which most here would consider very challenging (or to AF fine tuning with 36MP at large apertures).

At the same time, in that forum, I see tons of photos which are jaw dropping and rather difficult to get (and of a kind I don't see here at PF). The group of 3 bikes in a motor bike race curve with just the middle bike in focus (ok, technically feasible w/o AF too), the flying eagle with all head feathers, the dog running towards you with everything but the dog out of focus, you name it. OTOH, I met a few of those guys in real life and some are full time pros loading gear into their cars worth more than the car ... So, results may more be a sign of passion, experience, value of gear and time invested than a brand difference in AF performance.

Nevertheless, it remains as a fact (imho) that people who depend on best AF performance for a living don't shoot Pentax as a first system. This does not mean that pros requiring good AF avoid Pentax. There are many less challenging domains which remain, such as fashion, fashion shows, studio, event, landscape etc.

I wonder why we discuss it in this thread?

The only reason I would see is if Pentax could try to do a 7Dm2 competitor. IMHO, they cannot.
I would guess that customers generally have got used to the prevailing expectation of Just Works TM and so tend to judge results by the best of breed, overlooking a possible hefty price difference between top and bottom and the fiendish complexity of the whole business from a programmer's POV. In addition plenty of folks may not realise that everything being in focus on their smartphone and not so often on their camera is the result of depth of field not AF. Either way the camera-makers have been saddled with tough expectations (I want it all and I want it now) and those outfits which can't meet them will be sent to the naughty corner, imho. I am sure Ricoh is 100% aware of this and I would expect their AF stuff to improve continually. At the mo, a more pressing weakness is the lenses some of which are lagging behind the bodies to judge from user comments.
08-16-2015, 06:43 AM   #342
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As I see it, tracking AF is the mechanism that attempts to select the appropriate focus point based on information provided by the light metering sensor. Except for the increase in AF points, the rest of the autofocus mechanism, at least to me, feels largely unchanged between the K-5 and the K-3 (except that the K-3 doesn't FF in tungsten light anymore). Lenses don't necessarily focus faster. In fact, where SDM is concerned, I don't think that has changed since the K10D, because the motor is in the lens. At least when we are talking about pure rotational speed, e.g. how fast does a given SDM lens go from closest focus to infinity.

What has improved is that the AF doesn't stop as much on the way. I think that older Pentax bodies used to stop a few times on the way to correct focus, presumably so that the camera could get a bearing on how much further the focus needed to be. This was actually independent of the AF motor itself, as it occurred both with both screw-driven and SDM-driven lenses. I remember, when I had a K100D Super and got to play in a shop with the K-7 for a minute, how much snappier it was. Newer cameras are probably a bit better still. Also, the in-body motor has been upgraded over time to be faster. The one in the K-3 is much faster than that in my old K100D Super.

However, most of the time, my K-3 still has to adjust focus at the last moment. So the lens does not stop where it should. It either over- or undershoots, then gets to the correct position, and focus is confirmed.

I have recently played with e.g. the 16-85 DC lens in a shop for a few minutes, and I did notice much less over/undershooting. I think the DC motor has greater torque, so it has greater control over the focusing mechanism, and stops where it should.

As for this new APS-C camera, what I hope for in terms of autofocus is a) that the AF points cover a greater horizontal area and b) that the active AF point is always illuminated while using the tracking mechanism. If they could implement SR on the AF array, that could also be awesome, but I'm not counting on it. That's about it. I think AF on the K-3 is already very accurate, if it gets the time to focus.

Any further improvements would come in the form of new lenses. I feel that the 50-135 and 60-250 especially would benefit from a better AF motor, both in terms of torque (minimizing over/undershooting) and in terms of rotational speed, so that once the tracking mechanism has selected the correct AF point, the AF gets there more quickly, it doesn't have to adjust as much at the end, and focus is still accurate when the shutter is released. The 16-50 isn't really slow to start with, and it's not a tele lens, so I feel there's less of a need for blazingly fast autofocus on that.

Just my perception and my thoughts, for what they're worth.

---------- Post added 08-16-2015 at 04:02 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by falconeye Quote
At the same time, in that forum, I see tons of photos which are jaw dropping and rather difficult to get (and of a kind I don't see here at PF). The group of 3 bikes in a motor bike race curve with just the middle bike in focus (ok, technically feasible w/o AF too), the flying eagle with all head feathers, the dog running towards you with everything but the dog out of focus, you name it. OTOH, I met a few of those guys in real life and some are full time pros loading gear into their cars worth more than the car ... So, results may more be a sign of passion, experience, value of gear and time invested than a brand difference in AF performance.
I also sometimes see shots like that. And it does make me wonder, "in choosing Pentax, am I missing something"?

QuoteOriginally posted by falconeye Quote
I wonder why we discuss it in this thread?
Good question. I actually joined the discussion without knowing how we got here.

Last edited by starbase218; 08-16-2015 at 06:48 AM.
08-16-2015, 07:39 AM   #343
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QuoteOriginally posted by starbase218 Quote
tracking AF is the mechanism that attempts to select the appropriate focus point based on information provided by the light metering sensor.
It's a complicated formula and it's all working together in the K-3 (and similar cameras) - colour information from the RGB sensor assists with object tracking/isolation (red jersey against a green background) + face/skin tone detection, the matrix of AF points provides movement, velocity and directionality, which helps track subjects and can feed predictiveness.

QuoteOriginally posted by starbase218 Quote
I also sometimes see shots like that. And it does make me wonder, "in choosing Pentax, am I missing something"?
Sigh. Such shots are certainly doable with Pentax, and I've achieved similar. They were even doable in the film days before AF. But if you want to spend $10000+ on a D4s and a Nikkor 100-400 f4, gear like that certainly might make it easier for a shooter to get such shots than using a K-5 or K-3, provided they have the right shooting experience.

This conversation is beginning to sound a lot like: 'gee, Cartier-Bresson's camera takes good photos, if I buy one like his I bet my photos will be as good as his too'.
08-16-2015, 07:45 AM   #344
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QuoteOriginally posted by rawr Quote
Sigh. Such shots are certainly doable with Pentax, and I've achieved similar. They were even doable in the film days before AF. But if you want to spend $10000+ on a D4s and a Nikkor 100-400 f4, gear like that certainly might make it easier for a shooter to get such shots than using a K-5 or K-3, provided they have the right shooting experience.
One particular shot I was talking about was taken with a D7200. I don't remember which lens.

QuoteOriginally posted by rawr Quote
This conversation is beginning to sound a lot like: 'gee, Cartier-Bresson's camera takes good photos, if I buy one like his I bet my photos will be as good as his too'.
It's not that I haven't tried to get those shots with my current gear.
08-16-2015, 07:51 AM   #345
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QuoteOriginally posted by starbase218 Quote
It's not that I haven't tried to get those shots with my current gear.
How does one get to Carnegie Hall? ...
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