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02-21-2014, 07:04 AM   #46
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QuoteOriginally posted by Matthew Saville Quote
Hey guys,
As an astro photographer who is very keen on soon purchasing the K-3 for the (almost) exclusive purpose of timelapse recording, I have a few questions on this subject!
Hey Matthew... I'd love to talk to you more about this just from the personal angle. I've been shooting time-lapse professionally, but am also working on a personal project and really want to get into astro photography more

QuoteOriginally posted by Matthew Saville Quote
First, can anybody give me a TLDR cliff notes on the current conditions, hypothesis and potential culprits here? I read through as much as I could, but I can't tell if anybody has narrowed things down to the battery / power for sure, or only tentatively.
CLIFF NOTES:... I can reproduce the problem almost every day I'm out shooting, which is at least 2-3 times per week. I've used a variety of batteries, all Pentax genuine ones, from old (original K5) to new (Pentax sent me a brand new one to try). I've used a few different SD cards, three actually, all different brands and speeds, even a brand new one, and the problem has happened with each. I've been in weather from 10º(F) to 50º+ weather and it has happened. I've been inside and outside. I've been in wet and dry weather. Basically, in all scenarios I've had the problem crop up at least once every day I'm out shooting. The common way it seems to happen is within 20 minutes of inserting a newly charged battery, after shooting for 5 or more hours in 1/2 hours "sessions" (500 shots, every 3 seconds). It has happened outside the "common" zone, but this seems to be the most routine occurrence.
And an interesting side-note is that with the K5-II I do not have this problem. It's been absolutely solid at all the same shoots. (I'm almost always shooting with two cameras)

QuoteOriginally posted by Matthew Saville Quote
Also, has anyone proven that this issue occurs only when using the built-in intervalometer, and not external control devices? (Unrelated to external power)
I have not. Part of the convenience factor for me in the built-in intervalometer... so though it might be good information to have, it wouldn't be much of a solution for me. Same thing with the AC adaptor. If it turns out I have to use an external intervalometer or power chord, I might as well use any brand camera for this purpose, not Pentax.

QuoteOriginally posted by Matthew Saville Quote
Lastly, has everyone been using relatively fast shutter speeds? With relatively rapid intervals? (I ask because I do a lot of 30 sec exposures at 30-60 sec intervals)
I have done no testing with long exposures. I did go out the evening of the multiple satellite launches to try to capture them and do some long exposure time-lapse, but I wasn't out for very long and didn't have a problem. Would require a lot more testing I think. Most of my professional time-lapse is happening outside in bright daylight, so I'm generally set up for fast shutter speeds and shorts interval time lapses (every 3-4 seconds).

QuoteOriginally posted by Matthew Saville Quote
I just did a timelapse with my (loaned) K-3 last night actually, testing long shutter speeds for 360 images using an external device. (I'm currently reviewing the Syrp Genie for SLR Lounge) I didn't have any problems, but then again my battery died at about image 270. (135 min of total exposure on a single battery, not bad!)
Battery life on the Pentax cameras is quite amazing. I routinely shoot time-lapse for 5-8 hours with two cameras going. The K3 goes through batteries faster, but even so with both the K3 and K5-II I can easily get through 50-70% of the day with a single battery.

QuoteOriginally posted by Matthew Saville Quote
BTW, I was shooting RAW and using a 3rd party (Watson) battery. I was using a Sandisk 32 GB SD card in slot 1, triggering the camera via the usual external accessory port.
We MIGHT be narrowing the problem down at this point... there seems to be some suggestion that having multiple cards in the camera (occupying both SD slots) could be triggering the issue somehow, so I am going to do more testing next week to see what happens with only one card inserted. Someone also suggested that when they experienced the same run-away mirror lockup, pressing the SD card button stopped the problem. I'd like to see if that's true for me as well. Considering I can't get through an entire day without this problem happening, it should be fairly easy for me to test both.

QuoteOriginally posted by Matthew Saville Quote
I plan to make another trip to Joshua Tree over this weekend, for additional testing. Except I was thinking of using the Syrp genie with a different camera and using the K-3 to record both a regular timelapse, as well as one of those awesome progressive RAW stacks for a star trail. However it sounds like I might run into a problem if I use the built-in intervalometer? Should I play it safe and use an external intervalometer instead?
I'm not sure it's the internal intervalometer that is the problem. If you will be monitoring the camera the entire time, I'd suggest seeing if you can reproduce the problem yourself but putting two SD cards in the camera and firing away. The worst that happens is you have the problem, which basically just means popping out the battery, and popping it back in. You can usually proceed from there. The reason this is a big problem for me at least, is because I can't always monitor the camera 100% of the time (I'm back and forth between multiple camera setups and also shooting still photography around the location as well). If you are essentially sitting with the camera the whole time, the most you'll lose is a frame or two of continuity.

QuoteOriginally posted by Matthew Saville Quote
I've already published pt1 of my review of the K-3, and I really wanted pt2 of my review to focus on the K-3's abilities in astro photography and astro timelapse photography. Part of me wants to intentionally try to replicate this issue for the sake of full disclosure in my review, (albeit with possibly different shutter speeds and intervals?) ...but part of me wants to just get a good night of awesome imagery, intentionally avoiding any bugs.
I'm going to be working on a review myself, on my experiences with all this... and with Pentax. I'd like to come to some sort of conclusion before I do... and I would hate to think the resolution is to send the camera back and get a K5-IIs or K5-II instead. That isn't much of a solution, but it's what Pentax is recommending to me right at the moment.


QuoteOriginally posted by Tjompen1968 Quote
I have had no problem with astro photography, timelapse or running mirror with my K-3- It is a black edition using two Sandisk Extreme 16GB 45MB/s and 8 GB 30MB/s, using the O-GPS1 for some work. I have been shooting in -20 degrees celsius with the camera outside for over 12 hours. It has just been working. Shutter count today is about 14500 since mid november. Reading these threads makes me have doubts if I can trust my camera to perform but I read similar problems with the K-5 but the only problems I ever had with my K-5 was one camera lock up, the release button for the lens got loose and dead pixels when shooting video.
I am not worried.
I'm honestly glad you haven't had this issue crop up yet... however, I'm shooting that many frames probably in a weeks time and can reproduce the problem every time I'm out. I'm even on my second K3, just to rule out that it was my first camera having some extreme version of the problem. Brand new 2nd camera ran into the issue basically right out of the box, 5-6 hours into it's first day of shooting time-lapse.

02-21-2014, 09:24 PM   #47
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbinpg Quote
Matthew - Stayed tuned to this thread. Amy (drabbit) was the one who blew the whistle on the interval shooting/runaway mirror problem originally since she does a lot of short exposure/short interval timelapse work and can trigger the problem routinely. She will be trying another couple of SD card and power configurations over the next while and will report back. I am starting to think that it may be an SD write logic problem since apparently one can stop the runaway mirror dead in its tracks by pressing the SD card select button. We will see if we can piece it together. Hope it is a simple firmware fix.

As for astro work, I do a lot of astro stuff but do not use interval due to there being no provision for mirror lockup in interval mode which kills it for my astro work. I have had a couple of runaway mirror events at very cold temperatures. One of these was when I had a catastrophic loss of power when a cable to an external power supply blew apart. So the mirror issue may also have a power angle to it. But don't be put off as far as using the K-3 for astro. It actually excels here due to the low readout noise of the Sony sensor in addition to the 24mp resolution. Noise issues are moot for most astro work, at least any that involves stacking.

Jack
Thanks for the info! I actually do less true astro work, and more astro landscape type work. You can see some of my latest endeavors in this video of a trip around the American Southwest. The clip of Andromeda moving through the sky at 10:20 is mine, it was made on the Nikon D5300 (which has a sensor akin to the K-3) at ISO 6400 or 12800...


This type of photography does make high ISOs a little more useful, as you might imagine.

I'll definitely be posting my final review (and maybe a timelapse clip or two) in the next few weeks!

=Matt=

---------- Post added 02-21-14 at 08:33 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by DRabbit Quote
Hey Matthew... I'd love to talk to you more about this just from the personal angle. I've been shooting time-lapse professionally, but am also working on a personal project and really want to get into astro photography more
I'm happy to chat about anything along these lines! I may be producing a set of timelapse tutorials in a DVD workshop eventually for my website, as well. :-)


QuoteOriginally posted by DRabbit Quote
.....
I'm honestly glad you haven't had this issue crop up yet... however, I'm shooting that many frames probably in a weeks time and can reproduce the problem every time I'm out. I'm even on my second K3, just to rule out that it was my first camera having some extreme version of the problem. Brand new 2nd camera ran into the issue basically right out of the box, 5-6 hours into it's first day of shooting time-lapse.
Have you considered purchasing a cheap Nikon DSLR? The D5200 for example has a similar sensor to the K-3, and has a simple built-in intervalometer as well. I just sold a used D5200 for $450 lol.

Of course it would probably be whole lot easier to just get an external intervalometer for your existing system than to get a whole new camera system. Unless the issue is caused by power or the SD card, in which case an external intervalometer wouldn't help. That was one of the things I was wondering, so thanks for answering the questions as best you can.

=Matt=
02-22-2014, 07:33 AM   #48
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QuoteOriginally posted by DRabbit Quote
We MIGHT be narrowing the problem down at this point... there seems to be some suggestion that having multiple cards in the camera (occupying both SD slots) could be triggering the issue somehow, so I am going to do more testing next week to see what happens with only one card inserted. Someone also suggested that when they experienced the same run-away mirror lockup, pressing the SD card button stopped the problem. I'd like to see if that's true for me as well. Considering I can't get through an entire day without this problem happening, it should be fairly easy for me to test both.
The one time I have had the run-away mirror problem, I was using a single SD card in slot 1 (a Sandisk Extreme Pro 64G). It was with a 2 Second timer rather than interval though.
So dual SD cards might not be THE problem, could just make triggering the fault more likely maybe.

Last edited by jhmos; 02-22-2014 at 07:54 AM. Reason: (edited to add "not THE'' rather than 'THE', whoops)
02-22-2014, 08:50 AM   #49
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It would be great if we could point to a trigger for this fault, but its probably worth a reminder that other people have had this fault without using any interval or any other timer based shutter release mode. I suspect other strange behavior that people have reported, like freeze problems and SD card corruption might be signs of the same problem of the firmware loosing its way and maybe executing out of its proper code space. Just have to hope Pentax starts taking this seriously.

The stats for the number of people reporting this particular fault on pentax forums are:
5 unique people in this thread
32 others in the thread 'Odd shutter issue - "firmware 1.0" problem?"'

So 37 people in total (unless there are others in threads I haven't looked at). There are probably other unique reports on dpreview but its hard to work out just from user names.


Last edited by jhmos; 02-24-2014 at 05:42 PM. Reason: Updated stats
02-24-2014, 06:58 AM   #50
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QuoteOriginally posted by Martin_C Quote
I had a similar situation over the weekend but I wasn't doing any time lapse shooting. I pressed a couple buttons after taking an image and off it went. It lasted between 6-8 seconds and no images were recorded. It finally stopped when I hit the button that switches between SD cards (I think that's what stopped it).

I called Ricoh this morning and the person I spoke with said the issue was new to him on the K-3. He had "heard" of this happening on the K-5. I mentioned that it was something that was picking-up steam on the forums. I'm not sure how valuable my phone call was but I figured it couldn't hurt. I'm guessing they have an internal system to keep track of these issues and are trained to play dumb (to a certain extent) when they are reported.

Since the camera is a month old, he suggested I mention this to my local camera store and consider exchanging the product, or have Ricoh look at it.

Other than that, it's a great camera.
A quick update on my situation outlined in the quote above. This weekend while shooting my daughter's volleyball tournament, the camera started acting up on me. I would turn the camera back on from the off position and it was unresponsive. It would turn on but I wasn't able shoot or access the menus. I had to turn it off and on again for it to work.

That was the last straw for me. I went to the store yesterday. The camera was a little over a month old and I didn't want to put up with constant issues going forward. The gentleman at the store had no hesitation. He exchanged it for a new K-3.

I'm not an extended warranty kinda guy but I'm glad I initially bought one for this camera. It was fairly cheap and they dropped the price of the camera to sweeten the deal a bit. This is the 3rd K-3 I've had since January. The first one had a back focus problem that was easy to replicate on any lens and not fixable by the in-camera lens tweak. I didn't even have to convince the sales person to give me a new one. Now this one had the problems I've described in this thread. Let's hope the 3rd one is flawless.

I can say that I already notice a difference with the new one. It powers on/off quicker than the one I just returned. Overall, I'd say it's just a bit more responsive. Sounds like I might have been dealing with buggy software.

Fingers crossed!
02-24-2014, 06:06 PM   #51
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Update on SD Card Testing

I was out shooting a sunset time-lapse tonight and after turning the camera on and switching to live-view, it locked right up. Everything froze and I had to pop the battery.

Once I put the battery back in, I set up for time-lapse. After about 20 minutes of shooting (every 3 seconds), run-away mirror happened. This was with two SD cards in. Pressing the SD card button did nothing to stop it. Turning the camera on and off 5 times stopped it... and I popped out the battery again for good measure.

So, verdict: pressing SD card button doesn't stop the problem. That may have been a fluke reported by someone else.

Next test will be with only 1 SD card in. I will be out shooting for a client again Wednesday and Thursday. We'll see what happens. Not hopeful.
02-24-2014, 10:04 PM   #52
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I just tallied up the number of various timelapses that I've done so far with my K-3. (Alas, it has since been sent back...)

At faster intervals, in the range of 3-6 sec, I did 2-3 sets of ~200 images, without any issues. At all times I was using the built-in intervalometer with a single SD card in slot 1.

At slower intervals, with shutter speeds ranging from normal to 30 sec, I did 4-5 sets of 300+ images, without any issues. Some were using the built-in intervalometer, some were with an external device, again with a single SD card in slot 1.

=Matt=
02-24-2014, 10:41 PM   #53
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The K-5 had a series of units that had the mirror flop problem that usually required sending in to have the main board replaced.
I wonder if the faults being seen here are a similar group of faulty boards.
Have those reporting problems been recording their serial numbers in the forum database to see if it looks like trend with a particular group of units?

03-02-2014, 11:03 PM   #54
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Finally tried a couple of timelapses with a K-3 and ran into the mirror flop too. 30 second exposures, temperature was probably near freezing, external trigger, all batteries were OEM Pentax, though some are several years old, both card slots filled.

For the first timelapse, I had one battery in the body, and the second connected through the DC in port. It went out of control after 461 shots. External battery was low, the internal one still had power. I was able to get the mirror to go out of control two more times by toggling live view when it was powered by the drained external battery, but not when it was running off the internal battery.

For the second timelapse, I used two batteries (in series, stepped down to 8.3V) connected to external power and one internal battery. It took about 700 pictures without any issues.
03-03-2014, 06:13 AM   #55
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I also experienced a K3 lockup once today.

Using a Pentax battery that was running low shooting a single JPEG frame with a PENTAX GPS device connected. I couldn't turn-off the K3 after waiting 5 mins and had to pop the battery. I did experience a few time during the day after shooting single JPEG's the K3 wouldn't turning off for a few minutes. I assumed it was still processing. Using firmware 1.02.
03-03-2014, 07:09 AM   #56
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QuoteOriginally posted by Geoff Ince Quote
I also experienced a K3 lockup once today.

Using a Pentax battery that was running low shooting a single JPEG frame with a PENTAX GPS device connected. I couldn't turn-off the K3 after waiting 5 mins and had to pop the battery. I did experience a few time during the day after shooting single JPEG's the K3 wouldn't turning off for a few minutes. I assumed it was still processing. Using firmware 1.02.
If you have "Slow shutter speed NR" on, the camera will make a "black frame" that takes the same amount of time as the exposure. 5 minutes exposure + 5 minutes black frame and if you turn the camera off it will keep on making the "black frame" until it has been processed.
03-04-2014, 09:55 AM   #57
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QuoteOriginally posted by DRabbit Quote
I'm honestly glad you haven't had this issue crop up yet... however, I'm shooting that many frames probably in a weeks time and can reproduce the problem every time I'm out. I'm even on my second K3, just to rule out that it was my first camera having some extreme version of the problem. Brand new 2nd camera ran into the issue basically right out of the box, 5-6 hours into it's first day of shooting time-lapse.
-------------------------------------------------------------

You replicated this on TWO out-of-box K-3 cameras.

I replicated it on an OOB K-3 also, but I wasn't doing time lapse. I was shooting off of 'AA' batteries using the attached battery grip.

Still, it should not occur.

We can confirm the K-3 is defective. I'm not sending mine back yet, since I want to keep it, and Pentax has not found a resolution to the problems yet (time lapse and near-depleted batteries both are causing mirror flutter camera shutdowns).

I am keeping my fingers crossed that since this is so widespread, a FIRMWARE fix can correct it.

See also: Shutter Flutter Panic using BG-5 Battery Grip On Low Battery

Rite ..
03-05-2014, 01:42 AM   #58
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbinpg Quote
Third set ran into the runaway mirror condition at shot 219. So you now have independent confirmation that there is a problem. BTW, I just turned off the camera to stop the runaway mirror. The fact that it took a few seconds for the mirror to stop suggests that there may have been a capacitor that needed to discharge before it stopped.

Jack
------------------------------------------------------------------

Jack. Unless you are standing in front of the camera during the TL sequence, how do you know the camera mirror went into the flutter error? Just curious. Let's say you hadn't noticed the mirror fluttering. Would the mirror continue to flutter until the battery was depleted? If so, that sounds like a very damaging effect on the shutter motor to the point one would not want to use it anymore unless they could intercept the bad TL sequence in time to prevent it from damaging the camera.

Rite ..
03-05-2014, 10:58 AM   #59
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You become quite familiar with the sound of the mirror flop after it happens to you a few times...

Jack
03-05-2014, 07:58 PM   #60
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Update:

So, I haven't yet returned my second K3, but have still been testing and observing. The crazy-mirror issue still rears its ugly head quite often, and I've noted a few things now. I'm also going to include earlier observations in this list.

- Temperature doesn't matter. Happens in 10º to 55º (F) with varying humidity (very dry and super foggy/moist day).
- It happens whether the camera is inside or outside (completely eliminating temperature problem).
- It happens with various SD cards.
- It happens with various batteries, new and old (all genuine Pentax though). It happens fully charged or partially depleted.
- It happens with battery grip (as confirmed by someone else) and with no grip, just a battery inserted.
- It happens in M (manual) mode and A (aperture priority) mode.
- It happens with image stabilization on or off. Doesn't matter.
- Pressing the SD card button when it happens appears to have no effect in stopping the crazy mirror (as suggested by someone). I've tried this twice, and it did nothing to stop it.
- Popping battery stops it. Turning the camera on and off multiple times (5 or more) sometimes stops it.
- This is a K3 issue. I've shot the K5-II side-by-side with the K3 nearly every day I've done time-lapse and have had zero problems with the K5-II.

What has yet to be fully tested by me is shooting with just one SD card.

I had an all day shoot today. I started with a very slightly depleted battery (not fresh off charger, had been used a tiny bit the day before).
I had both SD cards inserted.
30 minutes or so into starting my time-lapse, the crazy-mirror lockup started. Popped battery. Resumed.
15-20 minutes later (or so) it happened again. Popped battery... And this time I also popped the second SD card out.
Only one SD card inserted in the camera the rest of the day... which was at least 6-7 more hours of shooting.
For the rest of the day I had no problems. No run-away mirror lockup or any other kinds of lockups. This doesn't yet prove to me the 2nd SD card being inserted is causing the problem, but it's at least a little promising.
I will be shooting time-lapse again all day tomorrow, so will see if the camera runs all day without any problems.
Keep in mind, I've yet to have one complete day out shooting time-lapse where this problem didn't occur, so if it runs all day with just one SD card in and it doesn't have crazy-mirror lockup, this will at least be a step in the right direction.

Will keep you posted.

Last edited by DRabbit; 03-06-2014 at 04:56 AM.
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