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11-27-2014, 11:21 AM   #1
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K-3 - Selecting The More Advanced Settings

The other day I tried my new K-3 photographing trains during late afternoon and even a little after dark. I used a Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 lens. No flash. I chose Auto ISO not to exceed 6400 (A few other users said they think this is the useable ceiling for this model?)

And I am not that excited by the results! (A few samples below)

So I went back to DPR's K-3 review to look at the test widgets for noise, highlight, and shadow correction, features which honestly I've typically glossed over in the past, simply because the possible combinations seem so complex, but now I've decided I'm going to have to figure this stuff out if I really want to get the best results from the K-3.

And these widgets still baffle me somewhat, in terms of understanding the settings I need to choose when using the K-3 in various situations.

ISO NR auto, or Level 1-2-3, off etc.
Highlight Correction
Shadow Correction
HDR Capture

Does each shooting condition warrant fine tuning of these settings for the very best results the K-3 can produce? What settings would you tweak for capturing moving trains in sunset/low light/early darkness, as I was trying to do in the images below?

And also...

Lens Correction

For example would lens correction correct the "bloating" effect I find in some of my wide angle shots? (See the Amtrak shot)

Also, was I seeing motion blur, camera shake, or just softness from using the 28mm widest focal length of this lens at the maximum f/2.8 aperture?

Granted I realize I may have made these images even worse in Photoshop, which I am also still learning.

Would it have been wiser to use my DA 35mm f/2.4 or DA 50mm f/1.8?

I expect this is all quite a lot to explain to a new user, so thank you if you answer! These photos could be better, right?


Lastly, Anybody have superlative low light samples from their K-3 to encourage me? Tell me how you did it, too! LOL

SAMPLES


These are jpegs, but I edited using the RAWs...
You can see the .EXIF data if you click on each photo and scroll down, except for the photo of CSX 5248, for which the metadata somehow has disappeared.



UGH!!! Worst IQ of the bunch? In addition to tweaking the advanced settings, would Noise Ninja or Topaz Denoiser help here?




Highlights got blown at the back of the train. Would the HDR prevent this?



Uncropped and Unedited... By the way, anybody have any ideas how I might have lost the metadata for this photo?




After cropping and editing...




Here is the "bloating" I'm talking about... (Unedited original jpeg)




Here is the original - notice the blurry details



Here is the photo after cropping, some real heavy sharpening, and quite a bit of added color saturation...The Quick Selection tool missed some spots around the top of engine! What is a good Tolerance for selecting edges?



Last edited by DavidSKAF3; 11-29-2014 at 09:45 AM.
11-27-2014, 11:57 AM - 1 Like   #2
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I think your pics look good to me.


There is no Exif data so it is hard to determine what shutter speed you shot at or what actual ISO you used for each pic. ISO1600 is fine for the K-3 and you could easily go beyond that without a problem. Since you are using shadow and highlight correction, I am assuming you shoot in Jpg, correct ?.
11-27-2014, 12:02 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by JimC1101 Quote
I think your pics look good to me.


There is no Exif data so it is hard to determine what shutter speed you shot at or what actual ISO you used for each pic. ISO1600 is fine for the K-3 and you could easily go beyond that without a problem. Since you are using shadow and highlight correction, I am assuming you shoot in Jpg, correct ?.
You can see the.EXIF data if you click on each photo and scroll down, except for the photo of CSX 5248, for which the metadata somehow has disappeared. Thanks! And Happy Holidays, BTW!

Last edited by DavidSKAF3; 11-27-2014 at 12:38 PM.
11-27-2014, 12:10 PM   #4
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Hi David, I am NOT an expert so take this with a pinch of salt but it looks to me like the K3 and the lens aren't working well together. It seems like the lens is back focusing in all the pictures and I'm not sure if that's the correct description but it looks like the focus point is behind the likely center focus point of the camera. I know that you can make that adjustment with the K3 But I've never done it. It also looks like a couple of the pictures suffer from camera motion. Just my best guesses as I'm a fairly new K3 owner and its my first digital SLR so the learning curve is steep. Love the train pictures. Wish I lived near one of their bust paths...


Bob

11-27-2014, 12:19 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by woodywesty Quote
Hi David, I am NOT an expert so take this with a pinch of salt but it looks to me like the K3 and the lens aren't working well together. It seems like the lens is back focusing in all the pictures and I'm not sure if that's the correct description but it looks like the focus point is behind the likely center focus point of the camera. I know that you can make that adjustment with the K3 But I've never done it. It also looks like a couple of the pictures suffer from camera motion. Just my best guesses as I'm a fairly new K3 owner and its my first digital SLR so the learning curve is steep. Love the train pictures. Wish I lived near one of their bust paths...


Bob
Thanks Woody. I guess I did okay for a relative novice, but I'm sure this camera can do better! Maybe it is the lens. I bought it used, but it's new to my kit. I dunno. But I figure at f/2.8 the entire photo will never be in focus because of the limited DOF at that aperture? I'm mostly looking at the focus point, the nose of the engine.


These photos were taken in Syracuse, NY along the New York City-Chicago mainline. You're right, it is a very busy route!


Dave

Last edited by DavidSKAF3; 11-27-2014 at 12:33 PM.
11-27-2014, 01:16 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by DavidSKAF3 Quote
Lastly, Anybody have superlative low light samples from their K-3 to encourage me? Tell me how you did it, too! LOL
There is no secret. When you get a new camera body, you need to learn to use it. Your shots are unlikely to be great the first time and it may takes a few weeks to improve. This is normal and you should be encouraged to read the manual.

Low light: you need to have the right lens. A fast prime will give you the best results.

Which one?

Cheap AF: DA50mm f1.8 'plastic fantastic' - All plastic, but a very good entry option
Cheap MF: there are plenty of Pentax A and M lenses available second hand which will work fine

Top tier AF: FA31mm f1.8, DA*55mm f1.4, FA77mm f1.8 - These are great lenses (not just for low light) which will work well in low light
Top tier MF: my favourite is the Voigtander Nokton 58mm f1.4 - A great lens in low to very-low light

More generally, a MF lens is the only way t go for low to very low light, when the AF can no longer work. I personally used the FA31mm and FA77mm at sunrise and sunset with great results. But the VL58mm is the 'ace' when it comes to very low light.

My 5 cents.
11-27-2014, 01:37 PM   #7
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Hi,

you already got some hints and now I want to add my shallow knowledge (I also just recently got my fist DSLR - a K-3).
So with the lens correction setting you are right. This possibly could help you prevent distortion in your images. However, this feature (as far as I know) only works with genuine Pentax lenses. So for your Tamron you won't get it; nonetheless you probably can do this afterwards in your image post-processing software.

I usually keep the Highlight and Shadow correction settings enabled although I do not know what exactly their impact is.

The HDR setting I would only use if you want to get a first impression on what a HDR picture could look like in this particular situation. I have done a lot of manual HDRs before and my short experience is that the k-3 does a good job for standard scenarios but for effectful HDR images you definitely should use the bracketing functions (e.g. 5 images each one step apart - but this definitely depends on the scene) and do the processing afterwards in a software dedicated to this special technique.

One last thing I observed in my own images with the k-3 is, that you need to be veeery calm when taking pictures if you are going to account for maximum sharpness. Obviously this is true for all cameras, but for me it seems like that the bigger resolution of the k-3 makes it even more prone to blur from shaking. So keep this in mind if you want to get the best out of it.
However this is probably not the problem with the images you posted. Unfortunately I cannot tell you what went wrong. On the next try I would especially care about keeping calm when taking your shot. If the trains were actually moving then it could also be wise to try the continuous autofocus (although I did not use it a lot so far) because it could be that the delay between the af measurement and the moment your shutter is released causes the image to be focused at the wrong point. You can also try to prefocus manually and then just take your shot once the train is in focus. And if all that does not help then you could also try to either use your lens at even smaller aperture settings (5.6-8/11) because the DOF at large apertures is quite small and can make it even harder to get really sharp shots.

So, I think that's enough for the moment. Have a nice time with the K-3.

Peter
11-27-2014, 03:30 PM   #8
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Hello David,

For low light and high ISO with the K-3, I would avoid its JPG's like the plague. I've found either you get either golfball grain or smudging. Somehow, they skipped on the pixie dust in their JPG engine. The DNG files are the only way to go and then use carefully apply noise reduction in post. Any camera, even full frame, will show luma noise at ISO 6400. Whether you shoot JPG or use a raw converter, noise reduction will be applied at high ISO and not too lightly either. I think the K-3 responds well to moderate noise reduction in Adobe Camera Raw (photoshop or lightroom).

I have attached a sample at ISO 4000, not the best pic, but it's one I had handy at this instant. It was developed from DNG in Lightroom 5 using very moderate noise reduction and minimal sharpening. Even at 24 MP fullsize, one is hard pressed to see grain.

I second some of the other comments about your lens possibly having some back focus issues. I would strongly recommend you do the AF fine settings in the K-3. There are lots of threads on this, but the easiest way to do it, is stick some newspaper on a wall, put your camera on a tripod and shoot the newspaper with lens wide open, say at 50mm. Then try either -2 or +2 AF tuning and see which one is sharper. Then go in the direction which is sharpest and increment by either +1 or -1 until it's tack sharp.

If you develop your raw files in Lightroom, have you checked to see if someone made a profile for your lens? If so, apply it your development. If there is no profile, then you will have to either deal with the barrel or pincushion distortion and try to correct it by hand in the lens corrections panel.

BTW, for all my DA primes and DA* lenses, there are lens profiles already built into Lightroom and they do a good job of correcting distortions, vignetting and C/A.

I hope this helps.

Cheers,
Rob

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11-27-2014, 05:12 PM   #9
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You probably lost the exif if you "saved for web" in photoshop using the default or from Camera Raw if save as was set to exclude exif.

The K-3 has so many pixels that camera shake is an issue in the beginning if you are used to a K-5 or older. You have to up your game a little. You can not use HDR on fast moving objects. If you have under exposed the images and lifted the shadows there will be noise in the shadows.

Image 1 is blurry due to shutter speed
Image 2 to slow shutter speed
Image 3 looks good, focused behind the front
Image 4-5 looks good
Image 6 missed focus
Image 7/8 missed focus
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