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10-12-2013, 09:26 AM - 3 Likes   #1
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The K-3 -APS-c and cropped wildlife images

With the release of the K-3 once again, Pentax has an APS-c offering that is a better all around solution to cropped wildlife shooting. The D800 with it's 15 MP crop image was essentially the same as a Pentax or D7000, with the same lens. With the release of the D7100 it became the camera of choice for cropped wildlife images. Now, once again Pentax is back in the game.

Quite simply stated for a cropped image 24 MP compared to 15 MP for the same area of sensor is a no-brainer if you're shooting with portable long lenses. You get much higher resolution from the cropped 24 MP APS-c image. With the much superior 8 frames a second, burst mode, often employed by wildlife photographers it really puts Pentax back in the game. And the low light focusing capability puts Pentax systems ahead of any other manufacturer in terms of ability to lock focus at sunrise and sunset, the most productive times for wildlife photography.

I'm anticipating my two biggest K-5 problems to be much improved. Low light focus lock and relatively slow AF.

I've watched as some of the most respected guys on the forum picked up D7100s and disappear into Nikon land.

It's great to have Pentax back in the game, and once again, in terms of portability and low light focus and reach, ahead of the pack. It's nice to be a Pentax user, but it's even nicer when it's actually the best system for what you do. Since the D7100 D600 release, I've sort of been sitting here waiting for the Pentax answer. At this point all I can say is "finally."

10-12-2013, 09:32 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
At this point all I can say is "finally."
Hopefully Pentax will also release a firmware update to implement the same style of 15MP mode Nikon has in the D7100, thereby expanding the AF point coverage, and delivering an effective 1.8 crop too. That would be awesome.
10-12-2013, 09:42 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by rawr Quote
Hopefully Pentax will also release a firmware update to implement the same 15MP mode Nikon has in the D7100, thereby expanding the AF point coverage, and delivering an effective 1.8 crop too. That would be awesome.
Since in many cropped images, framing is an issue, I'm not sure I'd use that. I generally want the full frame, giving me more opportunity to change my crop afterwards. To me one of the biggest advantages of 24 MP is the ability to crop after shooting, an extra 1000 pixels of croppable image. It would be interesting to hear from an D7100 users if they actually use that mode and why. To me, if Pentax asked me if they'd should implement that mode, I'd probably say don't waste the resources. Cropping is just one of those things better done with more information, not less. Especially in BiFs where the subject often isn't n the same spot in the finished image it was in when you pressed the shutter release.

But hey, maybe someone will explain what situation they use this feature in. I certainly don't see how for myself it could make up for 2 stops less AF capability in the low end.
10-12-2013, 10:19 AM   #4
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I asked a friend who has a D7100 about this. He is very happy with the increased resolution. From my experience it is common to crop away half the resolution, so the added detail will be nice.

10-12-2013, 10:45 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Since in many cropped images, framing is an issue, I'm not sure I'd use that. I generally want the full frame, giving me more opportunity to change my crop afterwards. To me one of the biggest advantages of 24 MP is the ability to crop after shooting, an extra 1000 pixels of croppable image. It would be interesting to hear from an D7100 users if they actually use that mode and why. To me, if Pentax asked me if they'd should implement that mode, I'd probably say don't waste the resources. Cropping is just one of those things better done with more information, not less. Especially in BiFs where the subject often isn't n the same spot in the finished image it was in when you pressed the shutter release.

But hey, maybe someone will explain what situation they use this feature in. I certainly don't see how for myself it could make up for 2 stops less AF capability in the low end.
The only advantage of the 15MP crop mode is saving space on the SD card - which isn't as meaningful nowadays as it used to be ten years ago. If write speed is a bottlneck for continuous shooting the crop mode might allow for faster sustained shooting because there is less data to write.

Many P&S cameras used to have that, calling it 'digital zoom'. All it did was crop the image (as does the Nikon in the 15MP mode). When you view it on the LCD or even on the computer it appears enlarged for the simple reason that the viewer always shrinks/enlarges the image to fit the screen, no matter the size of the picture.

Unless you are short of storage space is always better to shoot the whole image and crop later.
10-12-2013, 11:39 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Cropping is just one of those things better done with more information, not less.
Agree emphatically.
10-12-2013, 12:08 PM - 1 Like   #7
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I suppose in Nikon Land, "Crop Mode" is code for "Buffer Depth Mode". I run a couple V1's, and one of the fun aspects of them is their deep buffer. I HAD been looking over to Nikon from my K5 with a mind toward simplifying my kit and swapping lenses. I'd have jumped into a Nikon DSLR months ago, but in a world of compromises....Nikon offered me no solution. The old taketh away problem has landed Nikon in a bit of a poke with me. Pentax just delivered me the D400 I was looking for. I already have have the lenses! It doesn't matter what Nikon puts out, should they choose to do so, as a real D300 replacement. Pentax just trumped them, and possibly Canon as well.
All I do now is sit and wait for the reviews to come out by our own people on our own forum...(feelin' that, DP?)....before I swiftly and with great joy send money to Pentax.

Really, a shame about Nikon. I'm shaking my head as I type this. Pentax gives it the beans, while Nikon constantly tries to upsell me by holding back on reasonable functionality.
10-12-2013, 03:03 PM   #8
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According to Imaging Resource: "When in 1.3x crop mode, the camera displays an inset frame guide to indicate the smaller size image. ... It's nice in that it not only helps you with composition, but it also serves as a reminder that 1.3x crop mode is activated ... The downside I found is that the rest of the frame is still in view"

Pic related, from the D7100 brochure PDF:



In this mode, the advantage for tracking AF is apparent, in that the D7100's 51 focus points cover almost the entire shooting frame.

From these descriptions, I guess for Pentax to implement this feature in a similar way would require more than just a firmware fix. Since the K-3 viewfinder is optical, the D7100's visible 'DX-crop' framing guide and icon in the viewfinder would require hardware changes to the viewfinder overlay (unless Pentax anticipated introducing this feature at some future point, and have already accomodated it in some not-visible way).

The K-3 AF would probably have no problems working with a 'DX crop' mode though, without any alterations, since all the 27 K-3 focus points are pretty much bunched together in the frame centre, just like the D7100's.

10-12-2013, 03:30 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by rawr Quote
Hopefully Pentax will also release a firmware update to implement the same style of 15MP mode Nikon has in the D7100, thereby expanding the AF point coverage, and delivering an effective 1.8 crop too. That would be awesome.
It's 1.95x.

1.5*1.3=1.95

More or less turns a 300mm lens into a 600mm.

I have been waiting for the K-3 to decide if I'll buy one or go with a D7100 for the same reason. I tried a D7100 recently and didn't like the way it felt at all. My thinking is that I'll possibly sell my AF-s 300mm f4 and go with a DA*300 and a K-3. The Pentax TC 1.4x converter would help sway my decision as well, depending upon it's quality. One point to consider though, is that a TC won't probably gather any extra detail at 24MP but just make bigger images than cropping to the same FOV with the lens alone. Cropping may well be a better way. I was surprised that Ricoh didn't include a 1.3x crop mode in the K-3. I also feel that there is room for one more high end camera above the K-3, perhaps another APS-C like a more modular GXR which may include a FF sensor module.

At the moment I don't have SR/VR on my AF-S 300 and Nikon is about to release an updated "G" model (rumoured to have diffractive optical elements) and the latest VR but it'll probably cost an arm and a leg, hence the need to sell my lens before it loses value completely.

Last edited by bossa; 10-12-2013 at 07:22 PM.
10-12-2013, 03:32 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Since in many cropped images, framing is an issue, I'm not sure I'd use that. I generally want the full frame, giving me more opportunity to change my crop afterwards. To me one of the biggest advantages of 24 MP is the ability to crop after shooting, an extra 1000 pixels of croppable image. It would be interesting to hear from an D7100 users if they actually use that mode and why. To me, if Pentax asked me if they'd should implement that mode, I'd probably say don't waste the resources. Cropping is just one of those things better done with more information, not less. Especially in BiFs where the subject often isn't n the same spot in the finished image it was in when you pressed the shutter release.

But hey, maybe someone will explain what situation they use this feature in. I certainly don't see how for myself it could make up for 2 stops less AF capability in the low end.
I use 1.5x crop mode on my D800E's for wildlife and Macro every day and would definitely use 1.3x crop mode on an APS-C. Remember that the focus points would effectively cover the entire image making for edge to edge tracking.
10-12-2013, 03:40 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by lister6520 Quote
The only advantage of the 15MP crop mode is saving space on the SD card....
Not really.

Cropping for macro allows working at a greater DTS with the same lens thus increasing DOF or with a shorter lens at the same DTS also creating greater DOF.

Cropping for birds may well be better done after shooting with the full frame (I tend to go 100% in many cases) but it still has it's merits to actually shoot in crop mode for the same reasons that Macro gets DOF benefits.

PS> A 200mm F2.8 lens on APS-C has the equivalent FOV to a 300mm F4 on FF but has that extra stop advantage for exposure... an added bonus for Wildlife and sports.

Last edited by bossa; 10-12-2013 at 03:51 PM.
10-12-2013, 04:48 PM   #12
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I still don't see what the advantage is over using the whole frame and then cropping afterwards....you don't get any more AF points, and they're not in any different positions, the deeper buffer is the only physical advantage I can see. Shooting a D800 in crop will give you considerably less resolution than shooting an APS-c in 24 Mp mode, probably as much as 25% less resolution.
10-12-2013, 06:35 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
I still don't see what the advantage is over using the whole frame and then cropping afterwards....you don't get any more AF points, and they're not in any different positions, the deeper buffer is the only physical advantage I can see. Shooting a D800 in crop will give you considerably less resolution than shooting an APS-c in 24 Mp mode, probably as much as 25% less resolution.
I'm probably thinking more of macro usage when I say all of these things but the same still holds true for birding and sports I believe.

Depends on the purpose of the shoot but I believe it's always beneficial to compose for the shot at the time of shooting and you may also be using a DX lens on FF so that just standardizes the process.

Yes you don't get any more AF Points but they are in different positions relative to the virtual frame edges. They cover most of the virtual frame and are more likely to track to the edge of the output image format.

That really depends on your output size and medium. Absolute resolution will always be on the side of the 24MP camera but what the eye can perceive depends on a few parameters apart from the actual image so that's also relative.
10-12-2013, 06:38 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by bossa Quote
I'm probably thinking more of macro usage when I say all of these things but the same still holds true for birding and sports I believe.

Depends on the purpose of the shoot but I believe it's always beneficial to compose for the shot at the time of shooting and you may also be using a DX lens on FF so that just standardizes the process.

Yes you don't get any more AF Points but they are in different positions relative to the virtual frame edges. They cover most of the virtual frame and are more likely to track to the edge of the output image format.

[COLOR="rgb(255, 0, 255)"]That really depends on your output size and medium. Absolute resolution will always be on the side of the 24MP camera but what the eye can perceive depends on a few parameters apart from the actual image so that's also relative.[/COLOR]
That's really cool what you did with those colors, it sure makes it easier to flip back and forth between point question and answer.
10-12-2013, 06:41 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
That's really cool what you did with those colors, it sure makes it easier to flip back and forth between point question and answer.
Thanks. I've tried it a few times and each time I get one line that misbehaves for some reason.
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