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02-24-2014, 12:02 PM   #1
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Tips for a Beginner

Hey all,

The Pentax K-3 will be my first SLR. I've had my RX100II since September, and fallen in love with photography, and wanted to step into the DSLR market.

As someone who is relatively new, I bought the Friedman Archives "Guide to the RX100II" which has been an awesome resource whenever I have questions about what certain functions of the camera do.

I know that the K-3 is going to be quite a beast to tame for someone pretty unfamiliar with all of its controls and settings.



Does anyone have any tips (for example, I read in another thread turning off high ISO auto NR) that will help a beginner? Or perhaps a link to a professional guide book more in-depth than the standard owner's manual?

Thanks, everyone! I appreciate it immensely.

02-24-2014, 12:05 PM   #2
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My first thought (as someone who has shot for a few years but certainly is no pro) is to select one setting to work on and develop your skills there. What I'm saying is choose to work on your depth of field by playing with the aperture. Set your camera to Av and then use the rear dial to adjust the aperture. Do this and learn depth of field. Once you've learned this, try something different, like shutter speed.
02-24-2014, 12:10 PM   #3
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Hey mattieyp3,

Thanks for the advice. I'm pretty well-versed on the basic things like P, A, S, M and how aperture and depth of field work.

What I'm more wanting to know are the "optimal" settings within the camera itself that most people use. The high ISO NR example I mentioned above is one example. I'm going to be using the 50mm 1.8 lens, and I read a thread earlier about lens calibration. Do all lenses need to be calibrated? How do I know?

Those kind of things. Like I said, if a professional has written a guidebook, please let me know. I haven't been able to find any for this camera.
02-24-2014, 12:54 PM   #4
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Shoot RAW+ if you're new to RAW format shooting. That way you have an in-camera jpg and the RAW file (unless you already just do RAW).

Take advantage of Pentax's TAv mode - a wheel for aperture and a wheel for shutter speed which lets you balance for ISO range. To me this has the most feel of the old manual camera use. You get to weigh the advantages of the variables.

There may not be one for the K3 yet, but there are books for the K5 if you're new to Pentax these are still useful for menu explanations. Magic Lantern's K5 book is pretty nice.

Most lenses are pretty good on the cameras, if you want to calibrate you should get the setup correct before making adjustments. There are plenty of threads here you'll find with a quick search. One thing you can quickly do though is just judge for yourself with an object prominent from the background like a fence post, or an object on the ground at an angle so you can see where you're focusing. Remember as you increase your f/stop aperture your Depth of Field wil increase, so you want to do this wide open. This is all the quick-and-dirty method I'm sure you're familiar with.

You'll know if the lens needs to be calibrated if you consistently front or back focus with these controlled tests. Turn shake reduction off if you do this on a tripod, or just use the timer which does this automatically.

Have fun!

02-24-2014, 01:13 PM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by TER-OR Quote
Shoot RAW+ if you're new to RAW format shooting. That way you have an in-camera jpg and the RAW file (unless you already just do RAW).

Take advantage of Pentax's TAv mode - a wheel for aperture and a wheel for shutter speed which lets you balance for ISO range. To me this has the most feel of the old manual camera use. You get to weigh the advantages of the variables.

There may not be one for the K3 yet, but there are books for the K5 if you're new to Pentax these are still useful for menu explanations. Magic Lantern's K5 book is pretty nice.

Most lenses are pretty good on the cameras, if you want to calibrate you should get the setup correct before making adjustments. There are plenty of threads here you'll find with a quick search. One thing you can quickly do though is just judge for yourself with an object prominent from the background like a fence post, or an object on the ground at an angle so you can see where you're focusing. Remember as you increase your f/stop aperture your Depth of Field wil increase, so you want to do this wide open. This is all the quick-and-dirty method I'm sure you're familiar with.

You'll know if the lens needs to be calibrated if you consistently front or back focus with these controlled tests. Turn shake reduction off if you do this on a tripod, or just use the timer which does this automatically.

Have fun!
Thanks a ton, Ter-or!

I just found a guide Pentax K-3 e-book

Hopefully it's worth it.
02-24-2014, 02:06 PM   #6
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Borque's Books are well-regarded. Buy in confidence.
02-24-2014, 05:04 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by zode1 Quote
Thanks a ton, Ter-or!

I just found a guide Pentax K-3 e-book

Hopefully it's worth it.
+1 on the ebook. I'm sure you'll find it a good resource. As for lens calibration, I wouldn't worry about that for now. I've never had any focusing issues with any of my lenses, though, they may happen. Bourque addresses the topic in his book. Cheers

Last edited by sundr; 02-24-2014 at 05:10 PM.
02-24-2014, 05:32 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by zode1 Quote



Does anyone have any tips (for example, I read in another thread turning off high ISO auto NR) that will help a beginner? Or perhaps a link to a professional guide book more in-depth than the standard owner's manual?
Best tip I had received years ago - this is a DSLR - you have nothing to lose - keep experimenting and note your settings and results. You will get the hang of it in no time....

02-24-2014, 06:07 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by manishved Quote
Best tip I had received years ago - this is a DSLR - you have nothing to lose - keep experimenting and note your settings and results. You will get the hang of it in no time....
With my previous camera, a K100D, I took about 10000 frames in 6 years, my K-3 has done 5000 this year! Mostly test shots working out how to use the camera, which I'm still coming to grips with. Its a complicated camera that, in me at least, encourages attention to detail and worrying about lens qualities in way I never did before. It's given me the impression my skills have gone backwards over the years.
For me at least, I have enjoyed using the camera most earlier on using an old manual lens, perhaps because I felt more in control not worrying if the aperture, shutter speed, ISO and AF have gone where I don't want them to be. So I would agree the suggestion that TAv mode is a good start.

Have fun.
02-24-2014, 08:31 PM   #10
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The most important realization was that the K-5 (my first serious dslr) would do exactly what I told it to do. Which meant that I produced enormous amounts of junk for quite a while. Then things started coming together.

The best thing I did was to make friends with a man who had years of experience in photography who set a standard of excellence for me to try to attain. There are excellent forums here full of people who produce great work, and are willing to share ideas. Even to meet in person. Having a standard of excellence to measure against is of enormous help. It urges me to understand the technical skills needed to get the results I want. Some people have a natural eye, which I'm still working on developing, and seeing their work, wondering what it is about a shot that touches me, that is the best learning possible.
04-18-2014, 06:15 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by TER-OR Quote
Borque's Books are well-regarded. Buy in confidence.
At first blush I find it disappointing. A 300+ page technical work without an index?

And imagine you're an immigrant to Pentax land & want to know what Live View is, why it matters & how you 'drive' it - good luck.
04-19-2014, 10:26 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sigmund Quote
At first blush I find it disappointing. A 300+ page technical work without an index?

And imagine you're an immigrant to Pentax land & want to know what Live View is, why it matters & how you 'drive' it - good luck.
Ctrl+F works great when you want to search in a pdf-file.
04-19-2014, 02:28 PM   #13
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Not on par with a professionally done index. It's like fishing with a big net: you get all sorts of stuff you don't choose and don't want ;-)
04-19-2014, 03:16 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by zode1 Quote
Does anyone have any tips (for example, I read in another thread turning off high ISO auto NR) that will help a beginner? Or perhaps a link to a professional guide book more in-depth than the standard owner's manual?
I suggest reading completely the manual (you know "the read the f***ing manual" thing ).

Why ? To know how to set the K3 by the INFO button (color, SR, etc ...) and also the menu in the MENU button. There is many many things that can be setup, to allow the body to act exactly as your style of photography requires it to act. For exemple : when you press the shutter, do you prefer the body to fire after the focusing, or no matter the focusing ? Do you want the body to bip when AF is done ?

When you'll have setup your body according to your taste, playing with it will be even better. It will be the natural extension of your arm
04-19-2014, 05:24 PM   #15
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Just to continue with the aside, technical writing is a great skill, and Pentax (and Borque) could learn something from Ricoh - they do it well in the two manuals I've had, dealing not only with how to use a control but why. Then there's whether the manual structure matches user needs. We know that few people pick up a reference work and read it cover to cover. They are more likely to jump around seeking to answer a question or follow an interest. That's where a good index helps.

(Just as a BTW, the K100D Super manual had a labelled diagram of front and back controls; the legend for the trash can was, guess what, a trash can!)
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