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06-20-2014, 03:23 PM   #1
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K3 and low light AF

I currently own a K5 and am finding that indoors low light even my FA 43 has difficulty obtaining "In focus" images let alone my DA 21. I'm wondering if the K3 is significantly better at focusing in low light than my K5 and if it would be worth the purchase. I would forgo my purchase of the FA 31 now if the K3 can get me in focus shots in low light with my current selection of lenses.

My current Stable of lenses (same as in my signature)

FA 43

DA 35 2.4

DA 21

F*300

DA*16-50

DA*50-135

F 35-70

Tokina F4 AT-X SD 100-300

06-20-2014, 03:46 PM   #2
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Yes, it will. I moved form K-5 to K-5IIs and AF in low light is really much better so the K-3 should be at least as good. If you donīt need the extra resolution / dual SD you can save some money going for a K-5II or K-5IIs...
06-20-2014, 03:50 PM   #3
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I have an old Kx and can't even afford those lenses, but have no problem with the focus.
Use the center spot and pick the right place to focus on, an edge, spot ect. That has enough contrast and recompose.
Use the Big computer behind the viewfinder, works wonders.
Even if there was a camera that focused in total darkness it would only give black pictures anyways.
06-20-2014, 03:51 PM   #4
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I moved from. K30 to the K3. The K3 can lock focus in virtual darkness whereas the K30 would hunt and fail. The low light "no light" capability of the K3 is simply amazing, IMHO.

06-20-2014, 03:57 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Driline Quote
I currently own a K5 and am finding that indoors low light even my FA 43 has difficulty obtaining "In focus" images let alone my DA 21. I'm wondering if the K3 is significantly better at focusing in low light than my K5 and if it would be worth the purchase. I would forgo my purchase of the FA 31 now if the K3 can get me in focus shots in low light with my current selection of lenses.
It's a lot better. The comparison tables in in the review below should give you some insight:
Pentax K-5 II / IIs Review - Autofocus - PF Reviews

In low light the K-3 is just as sensitive as the K-5 IIs, but with screwdrive lenses it can actually deliver even faster focusing.

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06-20-2014, 04:12 PM   #6
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Technically, the low-light performance capability of recent Pentaxes looks like this:


While both K-3 and K-5II have very sensitive -3 EV AF metering, K-3 has the edge over K-5II in several areas: it's exposure metering is also more sensitive, and it it also has 3 (instead of 1) very sensitive f2.8 AF points in the centre, which can help a lot when using some lenses.

Having said all that, as I can personally attest, the K-x and K-5 are still very capable low-light shooters. It just takes a bit more technique to use them effectively when the light gets dim, compared to the K-3, which is a real night hawk.
06-20-2014, 05:00 PM   #7
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Let me share two comments:

*I do not own a K-5, but I have a K-7, K-01 and K-3. I worked this week in a basement with my K-3 + FA31 mm and I was impressed by the high ISO and AF performances of the setup. Definitely much better than with the K-7 and K-01.

*In very low light, I believe that we are best using MF lenses. Having work a lot with the K-7 (known for poor high-ISO performances), the K-01 and K-3, I strongly think that fast MF lenses are the best way in very low light, although I fully appreciate that there are situations when AF is preferable.

In low light conditions, I shot many indoor and outdoor situations with my K-7 + MF lenses, when others (with Canikon + AF lenses) would stop. In one case, a guy with a Canon FF and AF lens could not autofocus and gave up at sunset, when I was still shooting with my K-7 and VL58mm f1.4 (MF).

Hope that the comment may help you and others...

Last edited by hcc; 06-20-2014 at 08:08 PM.
06-23-2014, 05:43 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by carrrlangas Quote
Yes, it will. I moved form K-5 to K-5IIs and AF in low light is really much better so the K-3 should be at least as good. If you donīt need the extra resolution / dual SD you can save some money going for a K-5II or K-5IIs...
That's what I'm thinking right now. So you did notice the K5IIs is better in low light compared to the K5? What about resolution with the removal of the AA filter. Was that noticeable as well?

06-23-2014, 07:41 AM   #9
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K5IIs without the AA filter is very sharp indeed. Even sharper than the K5. With improved AF over the K5, the low light capability is better. Add to this, the K3 is a big improvement over the K5IIs.
06-23-2014, 08:00 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by felixkh Quote
K5IIs without the AA filter is very sharp indeed. Even sharper than the K5. With improved AF over the K5, the low light capability is better. Add to this, the K3 is a big improvement over the K5IIs.
Ahh decisions decisions......too much to comprehend
06-24-2014, 03:47 AM   #11
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I now have both the K5IIs and the K3 as I traded my DA* 50-135/2.8 for the K5IIs to another Pentaxian.
06-24-2014, 03:59 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Driline Quote
That's what I'm thinking right now. So you did notice the K5IIs is better in low light compared to the K5? What about resolution with the removal of the AA filter. Was that noticeable as well?
Absolutely the K5IIs is better in low light. Resolution without the AA filter is great too. I use my K3 now mainly for wildlife and action stuff due to its better focus tracking. the K5IIs is used for most everything else. Great camera and a bargain these days.
If I were going to have only one camera though, It would be the K3. It is a little noisier in low light when viewing the image at 100% but at normal viewing it is still as sharp or sharper than the K5IIs
06-24-2014, 04:33 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by GaryH Quote
Absolutely the K5IIs is better in low light. Resolution without the AA filter is great too. I use my K3 now mainly for wildlife and action stuff due to its better focus tracking. the K5IIs is used for most everything else. Great camera and a bargain these days.
If I were going to have only one camera though, It would be the K3. It is a little noisier in low light when viewing the image at 100% but at normal viewing it is still as sharp or sharper than the K5IIs
When you say viewing the image at 100% do you mean zoomed in pixel peeping or just normal size?

---------- Post added 06-24-14 at 06:40 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by felixkh Quote
I now have both the K5IIs and the K3 as I traded my DA* 50-135/2.8 for the K5IIs to another Pentaxian.
Great trade! So do you have any impressions yet between the two cameras shooting in low light? Are they identical or do you see the K3 capturing more in focus shots as compared to the k5iis?

My problem with the K5 is I don't want to use a flash for family gatherings inside. I am relying solely on that cameras ability to focus accurately and quickly in just evening lit room situations. It's not dark inside by any means but there is only the average room ambient light available.
06-24-2014, 05:58 AM   #14
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Will need to do a test these few days. Then will post results here. I had the K5 and indoors I used to bump ISO up to 1600 or 3200 to get results without flash. Then I got the K30 because it has better AF and low light capability and then someone offered me a 2nd hand Silver Limited Edition at a great price. Got the K5IIs only yesterday.
06-24-2014, 11:55 AM   #15
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"When you say viewing the image at 100% do you mean zoomed in pixel peeping or just normal size?"


Pixel peeping. If you do not pixel peep, the K3 will produce a sharper image. Funny how it works. However the extra pixels help with some sharpness. Both cameras are very good. It just depends on the individual features you are looking for.
I would consider the focus abilities of the K3 just a little better than the K5IIs is in low light. However, the K5IIs is a great improvement over the K5 low light performance.
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