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01-10-2014, 12:30 AM   #1
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New K3 - Focus/Soft Image Issues

Hello,

I am brand new to Pentax, but am a seasoned and experienced photographer. I have used many systems over the last 10 years or so. Just stating that so that I am afforded some credibility (I hope )

I received my brand new K3 today from B&H, and unfortunately I think there may be some softness issues with the camera, or maybe the lens. Not sure as I only have the 50 1.8 lens that came bundled with this camera. There just doesn't appear to be a lot of bite and pop from the images, almost like the JPG engine is really knocking the sharpness down.

I have read the other threads pertaining to this problem, and have set up my camera with High Noise Reduction to be OFF (not Auto and not Custom). The images I am taking are of non-moving objects at 1/200s, F2, and 3200 ISO. I have tried doing the lens correction with -10, -5, 0, +5, and +10 settings (and some in between as well) and the softness only gets worse. I am shooting in JPG.

I paid for overnight shipping so I am a little bummed that I may miss $55 on my exchange if that should occur. I am hoping there is a fix or that this can perhaps be attributed to the lens - but I am not certain that is the case.

I have a Ricoh GR (the new one) and absolutely love it. The image sharpness between the two cameras is incomparable at this time. I know the GR is VERY special in that regard, but even so they are not close - and that is very disappointing.

I should also note that the camera arrived without any of the plastic on the back screen or the top LCD - not sure if that is normal for Pentax? Every new Canon and Nikon, etc. have had little plastic films that were peeled away once the camera was used. Also, there is a spec of dust (a tiny little fiber, not a spot) under the top LCD - a minor annoyance, but it should be noted.

01-10-2014, 01:54 AM   #2
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Hmm this sounds strange, as the 50mm lens is really quite sharp, though obviously not razor-sharp at F2. Have you tried focusing with it in live view and shooting at a variety of apertures?

Also, if you could post some samples with the exif intact, that would help us diagnose the problem. It's more likely that there's something wrong with the lens than with the camera.

QuoteOriginally posted by Red Solo Cup Quote
I should also note that the camera arrived without any of the plastic on the back screen or the top LCD - not sure if that is normal for Pentax?
Yup that's normal.

Adam
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01-10-2014, 02:18 AM   #3
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ISO3200 may be the culprit. Take a flash picture of something close at f/5.6 and ISO100 to start with and see if there is sharpness. You will have a learning curve with the K-3. My first shots were not as sharp as with my K-5 but now it is the other way arround.

EDIT: Also try to remove the lens, clean the contacts on the lens and body and reattach. I found this to help on one of my lenses. Maybe there where some grease or dirt that gave the camera a false reading,

Last edited by Tjompen1968; 01-10-2014 at 02:23 AM.
01-10-2014, 06:09 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Red Solo Cup Quote
There just doesn't appear to be a lot of bite and pop from the images, almost like the JPG engine is really knocking the sharpness down.
You do realize that if you are shooting .jpg, that the K3 for every color/profile comes with the sharpness in the middle range?

Go into the settings and change it to sharp or extra sharp.



Most folks who are concerned with sharpness shoot RAW and tidy things up in post.


Last edited by LaurenOE; 01-10-2014 at 06:36 AM.
01-10-2014, 06:11 AM   #5
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I would suggest to do a focus test first in order to determine whether it's front focus or back focus.

Last edited by souless; 01-12-2014 at 02:11 AM.
01-10-2014, 10:38 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
Hmm this sounds strange, as the 50mm lens is really quite sharp, though obviously not razor-sharp at F2. Have you tried focusing with it in live view and shooting at a variety of apertures?

Also, if you could post some samples with the exif intact, that would help us diagnose the problem. It's more likely that there's something wrong with the lens than with the camera.
It is quite strange indeed. I have used various 50mm wide open, and this one is not holding par even at F2.

I will post some samples either tonight or tomorrow.

QuoteOriginally posted by Tjompen1968 Quote
ISO3200 may be the culprit. Take a flash picture of something close at f/5.6 and ISO100 to start with and see if there is sharpness. You will have a learning curve with the K-3. My first shots were not as sharp as with my K-5 but now it is the other way arround.

EDIT: Also try to remove the lens, clean the contacts on the lens and body and reattach. I found this to help on one of my lenses. Maybe there where some grease or dirt that gave the camera a false reading,
I took a flash photo of my daughter and it was sharper. It was at F2 as well, but sharper than non-flash. I know that this may seem like "oh, it's just movement then" but I was mostly taking photos of static things (a table, book text, a bottle of scotch, etc.) and getting the same soft result.

QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
F/2 and 3200 ISO is less than ideal to test the sharpness of a camera.
While that may be, my experience has yielded far better results from other cameras and similar lenses using these settings. I mean, F2 and 3200 ISO is pretty standard for low light photography, don't you think? It honestly almost looks like the JPG engine is mushing details even though NR is set to off and the AA filter is set to off. I am also using SR on.

QuoteOriginally posted by LaurenOE Quote
You do realize that if you are shooting .jpg, that the K3 for every color/profile comes with the sharpness in the middle range?

Go into the settings and change it to sharp or extra sharp.



Most folks who are concerned with sharpness shoot RAW and tidy things up in post.
I realized this right after I posted this thread late last night. In my experience with other cameras with this type of adjustment capability, I was always weary of over-sharpening and was told on other forums that either the sharpness can be bumped up 1 notch, or not at all as it was not needed. After testing I found that to be true. With the K3, do you find that you need to bump it up 2 notches or more to get acceptable sharpness with JPGs?

QuoteOriginally posted by souless Quote
I suggest that to do a focus test first, to determine whether it's front focus or back focus.
I will be doing this.

I did try putting my camera on a table and photographing a bottle of scotch using Live View, being careful not to move anything. This yielded my best result but it was still not tack sharp when viewed on my computer. Are my expectations too high, perhaps? For example, I used a Canon 7D briefly with a Canon 28 2.8 IS (this is a new lens) and it was just incredibly sharp even wide open at F2.8.
01-10-2014, 12:37 PM - 1 Like   #7
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I'm always surprised when people are trying to track down the source of a "softness" issue and they start talking about AF adjustments (and other things).

Lock the camera down, put in on the lowest ISO, and *TURN AF OFF*. Then achieve critical focus manually on the screen in live view (which means you are seeing exactly what the sensor sees and therefore no error from optical viewfinder or focusing screen can be introduced.). If you are still having problems, you've just eliminated focus as one of them, and if it looks great then you've just found your problem. This should be the very first step always! If you are wondering if the camera/lens combo can make a sharp image AT ALL, then test that. Don't keep shooting under field conditions where there are a million variables. Lock it down, focus yourself, see what it looks like. If you can't get a sharp image doing that, something really is wrong -- send back your camera or lens. If you can get a sharp image under those ideal conditions, then you know the basic optical system is fine. Then move on to testing AF adjustments, hand-holding technique, etc etc
01-10-2014, 12:56 PM   #8
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Remember to turn off image stabilization when testing the sharpness.

I found that my slight softness issue culprit was the simulated AA filter. Turn that option off for testing, too.

01-10-2014, 12:59 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Red Solo Cup Quote
I took a flash photo of my daughter and it was sharper. It was at F2 as well, but sharper than non-flash. I know that this may seem like "oh, it's just movement then" but I was mostly taking photos of static things (a table, book text, a bottle of scotch, etc.) and getting the same soft result.
The problem might be that YOU are moving to much so use a tripod, manual focus etc as described in an earlier post and use 2s time delay when shooting.
01-10-2014, 05:16 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Red Solo Cup Quote
I realized this right after I posted this thread late last night. In my experience with other cameras with this type of adjustment capability, I was always weary of over-sharpening and was told on other forums that either the sharpness can be bumped up 1 notch, or not at all as it was not needed. After testing I found that to be true. With the K3, do you find that you need to bump it up 2 notches or more to get acceptable sharpness with JPGs?
I no longer shoot in .jpg so I don't really know, but I would say "EX sharpness" if I was shooting in .jpg now.
When I *did* shoot .jpgs pre-lightroom, that is what I did.

Since you are new to Pentax, you can't take what you did with *other* cameras and apply that to a Pentax.
We are different and Pentax doesn't really care too much what other makers do.
Canikony are competitors, Pentax does it's own *thing*.

As for "other forums", there are few credible Pentax forums out there besides here.
They exist, sure, but I wouldn't put much credit on what non-Pentax users say.

Believe me, there is nothing wrong with your K3.
You probably need to start using a tripod and dial in your settings.
The K3 is not a beginner's camera no matter what the Canikony crowd wants you to believe.

Finally, B&H moves through so much Pentax gear that you do not have to worry that you are getting some off-brand or returned gear or whatever.

B&H has the "freshest" Pentax inventory on the planet.
01-11-2014, 03:52 PM   #11
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Interesting essay here:- Clearing up the myth of higher resolution, shot discipline and image quality once and for all ? Ming Thein | Photographer on the subject of sharpness and high 'mp' sensors such as found in the K3. Make of it what you will....

Last edited by Pedrodelta; 01-11-2014 at 03:54 PM. Reason: typo error
01-11-2014, 04:10 PM   #12
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Well I guess you first test it proparly. So with some descent light and focussing in liveview. With iso100 and say f2.5 you should get some very descent sharp images, and only if not then there is something wrong with either lens or camera.
01-11-2014, 05:23 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by vonBaloney Quote
I'm always surprised when people are trying to track down the source of a "softness" issue and they start talking about AF adjustments (and other things).

Lock the camera down, put in on the lowest ISO, and *TURN AF OFF*. Then achieve critical focus manually on the screen in live view (which means you are seeing exactly what the sensor sees and therefore no error from optical viewfinder or focusing screen can be introduced.). If you are still having problems, you've just eliminated focus as one of them, and if it looks great then you've just found your problem. This should be the very first step always! If you are wondering if the camera/lens combo can make a sharp image AT ALL, then test that. Don't keep shooting under field conditions where there are a million variables. Lock it down, focus yourself, see what it looks like. If you can't get a sharp image doing that, something really is wrong -- send back your camera or lens. If you can get a sharp image under those ideal conditions, then you know the basic optical system is fine. Then move on to testing AF adjustments, hand-holding technique, etc etc
What he said x100.
  • On tripod
  • Manual focus using live view. A magnifying loupe or focus peaking is helpful here.
  • Low ISO
You might also want to add "Shoot in RAW" to the list to remove the in-camera JPEG engine from the mix.

If your results are still soft, the most probable cause would be the lens. If you purchased the two together as a kit return them both for exchange.


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 01-11-2014 at 05:35 PM.
01-11-2014, 07:59 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
What he said x100.
  • On tripod
  • Manual focus using live view. A magnifying loupe or focus peaking is helpful here.
  • Low ISO
You might also want to add "Shoot in RAW" to the list to remove the in-camera JPEG engine from the mix.

If your results are still soft, the most probable cause would be the lens. If you purchased the two together as a kit return them both for exchange.
I'd even switch out tripod to hard table -- indoors, with absolutely no chance of wind or vibrations (which can still mess up tripod shots) -- triggered with remote or on delay. Make it ROCK SOLID.
01-12-2014, 03:09 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Red Solo Cup Quote
Hello,

I am brand new to Pentax, but am a seasoned and experienced photographer. I have used many systems over the last 10 years or so. Just stating that so that I am afforded some credibility (I hope )

I received my brand new K3 today from B&H, and unfortunately I think there may be some softness issues with the camera, or maybe the lens. Not sure as I only have the 50 1.8 lens that came bundled with this camera. There just doesn't appear to be a lot of bite and pop from the images, almost like the JPG engine is really knocking the sharpness down.

I have read the other threads pertaining to this problem, and have set up my camera with High Noise Reduction to be OFF (not Auto and not Custom). The images I am taking are of non-moving objects at 1/200s, F2, and 3200 ISO. I have tried doing the lens correction with -10, -5, 0, +5, and +10 settings (and some in between as well) and the softness only gets worse. I am shooting in JPG.

I paid for overnight shipping so I am a little bummed that I may miss $55 on my exchange if that should occur. I am hoping there is a fix or that this can perhaps be attributed to the lens - but I am not certain that is the case.

I have a Ricoh GR (the new one) and absolutely love it. The image sharpness between the two cameras is incomparable at this time. I know the GR is VERY special in that regard, but even so they are not close - and that is very disappointing.

I should also note that the camera arrived without any of the plastic on the back screen or the top LCD - not sure if that is normal for Pentax? Every new Canon and Nikon, etc. have had little plastic films that were peeled away once the camera was used. Also, there is a spec of dust (a tiny little fiber, not a spot) under the top LCD - a minor annoyance, but it should be noted.
Despite the good advice given you should also consider that you may have a lemon , rare & dis-appointing, but also possible. I once had a brand new lens' sdm fail out of the box, so it does happen.
If you have a return option I would use it because my K3 is sharp out of the box and I can compare that to another brand.

Cheers
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