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04-10-2015, 09:31 PM   #1
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K3 best wildlife settings

I am about to undertake my 3rd Africa trip. Just upgraded from a K5 to a K3 and due to limited time to experiment need advice on best mode and focus settings for general wildlife. I use a Tamron 70 - 200 f2.8 and Sigma 50 - 500 - the built in stabiliser version. I also have the Metz 58 AF2 and usually use in 'P' mode on the K5 for fill in. I would greatly appreciate any learnings.

04-10-2015, 10:08 PM   #2
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I have three user modes, one tv mode, 800-1250 depending on the season, single point focus, center metering. Two, ev +1 , center weight meter, multiple point AF, selected to the center tv mode for birds against the sky. Third tav mode, center focus and metering, f8 and 1/1250 for when light is good and a bit more dof is nice. My lens is sharp wit open, so tv mode works.

The 50-500 needs f8 at least to be sharp.

For the flash I set to X mode, with f8 and ISo 400 to start, but HSS mode in any of the faster shutter speed modes could give you fill light.
04-11-2015, 02:31 AM   #3
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Derek - thanks for the comprehensive reply - are you getting good results with high ISOs - I used the Bigma on the last Africa trip having bought it only 1 week before the trip and not having had time to really test it out - it did give many good results with the K5 but could do a lot of focus hunting - I am hopeful the K3 will improve on this.

I have since had the Bigma back for adjustment of the soft focus at 500 - it seems to be much improved now. It is a relatively slow lens but has the great zoom range for use out of safari vehicles - the animals can be close often. It is why I bought the Tamron - early morning and evening game drives need a faster kens.

I am keen to understand more detail of the settings you have found best - particularly flash use.
04-11-2015, 06:37 AM   #4
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There are several examples here too: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/172-pentax-k-3/251413-post-your-k3-af-settings-here.html

Maybe that will help as well ?

04-11-2015, 06:59 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by mark w Quote
Derek - thanks for the comprehensive reply - are you getting good results with high ISOs - I used the Bigma on the last Africa trip having bought it only 1 week before the trip and not having had time to really test it out - it did give many good results with the K5 but could do a lot of focus hunting - I am hopeful the K3 will improve on this.

I have since had the Bigma back for adjustment of the soft focus at 500 - it seems to be much improved now. It is a relatively slow lens but has the great zoom range for use out of safari vehicles - the animals can be close often. It is why I bought the Tamron - early morning and evening game drives need a faster kens.

I am keen to understand more detail of the settings you have found best - particularly flash use.
If you can fill the frame with the subject 3200 is ok. Less is better of course, but sometimes you have to take what you have. If you are cropping substantially, then I try to keep below 800 iso. I've never shot with the shorter lengths, so I can't help. But early morning or low light the bigma will be a challenge.

As for flash, there are different scenarios. Low light at f8 can use the flash duration to freeze movement, so flash at 1/4 -1/16 power on manual. I have the dials on X mode set to adjust aperture and iso, so I can quickly react. It doesn't take long to get the feel for the settings. I tend to underexpose and adjust post to avoid hot spots and unpleasant flash artifacts. I have used auto settings a little, but not enough to know how to get consistent results. It works, it illuminates well, but can also give awful results from too long of a flash duration to hot spots on reflective surfaces which it will find. Eyes are an issue, and require post processing to fix. Moving the flash off the axis of the lens about two feet fixes that, but the hardware and setup is unwieldy.

I haven't done much with HSS mode, but it seems to work ok. There isn't much power there, and depending on your subject if you are requiring 1/1000 shutter to freeze movement it is a tight fit to where it works well. This would be in a situation where you want to fill a scene in the shadows.

Get a Better Beamer or Harbor Digital Flash Extender. I use the second and it survives the bumping and handling of trudging through the bush. It gives effective flash for your 500mm for the distances where you can get good results. I don't know if flash usage is an issue with the wildlife there, you might want to ask.

I wish there was a way to save and quickly set flash settings. That would be a worthwhile feature.
04-11-2015, 01:05 PM   #6
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I'm not that experienced with safari wildlife photography, but your choice of 70-200/2.8 in addition to a Bigma is a good one. In general you often get up close to game in a vehicle, and 50-70mm is often necessary. The Bigma with its need to be stopped down to about f/8 or more will only be good for bright light conditions, while the 70-200/2.8 will be very handy in poor light. I spent a week last year in Kruger Park and took 2 bodies. Most of the time I had a DA*300+DA-1.4 on the K-5 and a FA*80-200/2.8 on the K-200d. This gave reasonable flexibility of FL range, and when the light dropped off, I swopped the FA*80-200 to the K-5 for better low light shooting, and DA-15 onto K-200d for sunrise/set captures. Would highly recommend 2 bodies if you can. I generally use the TAv mode and float ISO 100-1600 and perhaps 100-3200. If the animals are not moving too quickly and the vehicle engine is off, I find the SR can get good results at about 1/(half to third the FL). Short bursts in Hi/Med frame-rate can help a bit. It is amazing what gets in the way of you and the animal if you only have 1 shot. Grass, twigs, leaves etc covering critical detail can really ruin a shot...!

As far as I know, flash photography will not affect the animals and Sabi-Sabi (a well know private game lodge in Kruger area) website advice on photography approves flash except for some night viewing events, but it might upset your fellow viewers, so find out if acceptable at the lodge or park you are travelling to.

But flash power is going to be limited to 1/180s sync, or limited power in HSS. Flashes also have a very limited range, and generally only zoom to about 85mm effective field of view and still bleed light. So some form of beamer will be needed especially with a slow f-stop. For example, a 58-guide number with ISO 100 and f/1.0 is only good to 58ft. So f/8 at ISO100 range is only about 7-10ft. Obviously you can safely bump ISO to 1600 on a K-3, but you still have very limited options for a long FL lens.

Alternatively, on game vehicles they often have a very bright sopt-light which might provide better illumination.

If you are travelling on your own steam, most parks stop viewing at sunset due to animal (and vehicle passenger) safety concerns.

Hope you have great time.

Last edited by KevinR; 04-11-2015 at 01:26 PM.
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