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04-22-2015, 09:53 PM   #1
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Sports photographers take note: AF and SR changes in the K-3 II

Feature 3? PENTAX K-3 II | RICOH IMAGING

The AF and metering hardware is unchanged. However, there are several key changes to the AF algorithms, as well as improvements to the SR system:
  • AF.C performance is improved with better utilization of the Real-Time Scene Analysis System enabled by the 86K pixel RGB metering sensor. The advantage is especially significant with subjects moving directly toward from the camera: "With Continuous AF (AF.C), tracking of subjects that move toward the depth direction is improved."
  • AF.S performance is improved, but only for a few specific lenses. Note that AF.S performance has generally been very good since SAFOX X was introduced in the K-5 II, so the potential gain is relatively limited. The improvement applies to the following lenses:
    • D FA* 70-200mm
    • D FA 150-450mm
    • DA 18-50mm RE
  • SR performance has increased to 4.5 stops of stabilization, up from 3.5 stops. (The specified performance is for the long end of the DA 16-85mm lens.) These improvements are due at least in part to a more precise gyroscope. More significantly, panning detection has been added, which should produce better stabilization performance during action photography as only one axis will be stabilized.
Sure looks like Ricoh has a real winner on their hands...

—DragonLord

04-22-2015, 09:55 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Sounds like marketing speak for most of the AF stuff, though the improved SR for panning sounds exciting.

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04-22-2015, 09:55 PM - 3 Likes   #3
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It seems that most of these features could be added to the K3 via firmware, let's keep our fingers crossed...
04-23-2015, 12:29 AM   #4
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Panning/SR

QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
Sounds like marketing speak for most of the AF stuff, though the improved SR for panning sounds exciting.
Yes, I've struggled to get good panning shots with my K3, whereas I had ended up with a good success rate with my K5...partly may be due to increased resolution on K3 exposing lack of sharpness...anyway that is good news.

04-23-2015, 03:11 AM   #5
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I always thought Ricoh was under-utilising the 86k metering sensor.

At the time it was released, the K-3 metering sensor uniquely put the camera in the same class as top of the range Canikons like the FF Canon 1Dx (100k metering sensor) and the D4s/D800 (91k), but the payout never seemed to be the same.

For example, face detection in PDAF would have been possible in the K-3, and very useful, I always thought, but wasn't possible. However the Nikon D800, with it's comparable 90k metering sensor, could do it.

Hopefully with the K-3 II, Ricoh will have finally figured out how to better integrate their sophisticated metering sensor with the AF.
04-23-2015, 07:16 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
Sounds like marketing speak for most of the AF stuff, though the improved SR for panning sounds exciting.
My source - who has the camera in hand - claims the AF performance is dramatically improved but I can't give first hand confirmation. As I recall this person shoots kids doing sports a bit so the AF.C performance improvement is likely what is helping. They also likely have the 70-200 f/2.8 so some of the reported improvement may only apply with that lens.
04-23-2015, 11:08 AM   #7
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By chance was the AF.C improvement baked into the K-3 1.20 firmware release?
04-23-2015, 12:40 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by IchabodCrane Quote
By chance was the AF.C improvement baked into the K-3 1.20 firmware release?
I'm sure that optimizations for the new lenses (70-200 and 150-450) were included.

QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
My source - who has the camera in hand - claims the AF performance is dramatically improved but I can't give first hand confirmation. As I recall this person shoots kids doing sports a bit so the AF.C performance improvement is likely what is helping. They also likely have the 70-200 f/2.8 so some of the reported improvement may only apply with that lens.
Someone I know also said that the 70-200mm was very fast to focus. Could be thanks to the lens!


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04-23-2015, 07:42 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
I'm sure that optimizations for the new lenses (70-200 and 150-450) were included.



Someone I know also said that the 70-200mm was very fast to focus. Could be thanks to the lens!
as well as the 150-450 according to DagT..can't wait for some real world tests of K3II & 150-450..hope its a birder's dream (& nightmare for the bank account! )
04-23-2015, 08:05 PM   #10
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Ricoh seems to be very proud of these new AF algorithms, especially the ability to accurately track a subject moving directly towards the camera (a longstanding weakness of the Pentax AF system). It sure looks like we have, for the first time in the history of the K system, an intelligent, fully-predictive subject tracking system that is on par with (or at least a close match for) Nikon's 3D Tracking AF. I hope to see some tests soon...

—DragonLord

---------- Post added 04-23-15 at 11:24 PM ----------

The AF tracking issue was brought up in this thread a few months back: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/6-pentax-dslr-discussion/281403-dear-pent...ion-means.html
QuoteOriginally posted by Nicolas06 Quote
For the Z-axis, being precise is as important (or more) as being fast. Problem is Pentax K3 track but do not predict. When you predict you move the focus continuously direct to where the subject will be when you take the photo.

When you track you just recognize that the object is focus is the same as previous frame, you compute the shift to be in focus currently and order the lens to do it.

For sure, you need to be much faster because you are always late and because the subject continue to move. In particular there always a time between when you trigger the shoot and the shoot is taken. Something like 1/10s of second. Nikon advenced bodies (D7100 for example, but I would say not D610) know the exact time and estimate the object speed in all directions. So it know that in that 1/10s the object would have moved say 1m (that's already 36km/hour, as fast as world wide running champions) and they move the focus accordingly.

You don't need that much speed out of a lens to move it by the focus 1meter only (except if the subject is maybe 2m from you) because the change in focus is really small.

This is software computation, not hardware and K3 doesn't do it.

For sure, very fast lens will follow more accurately than slow lens but they'll never be as perfect as even a moderately fast lens but precise lens with predictive algorithms.

[...]

The new AF sensor and metering sensor are new. The first body to use them is the K3. The metering is same level as highest high end Nikon body. AF sensor has no as many points but except if you try to track a very small object, this should not be the limiting factor. Agree that covering a wider area with maybe 50 AF sensor would help.

Still what miss is the algorithms. Before the software team had no chance to make them, the hardware was not here. Now they developped the basics to get tracking. Tracking in reality for me is following subjects and finally is just choosing the right AF point in the grid and let the AF sensor does it job as usual. Predicting is knowing in advence the right AF point but much more importantly predict the focus distance in advence. This is mostly for movement in Z axis. What you complain is not yet good.

For this, Pentax just need to improve their software. It is very likely that without any special effort (maybe 1-3 engineer working on it full time on software side for the next body) that they get that fixed.
It looks like Ricoh has listened and gave the AF.C algorithms a much-needed overhaul. This would not have happened while Pentax was under Hoya ownership.

Ricoh, thank you for paying attention to your customers' feedback!

—DragonLord

Last edited by bwDraco; 04-23-2015 at 08:31 PM.
04-23-2015, 11:31 PM   #11
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If it's just an AF-C algorithm improvement in the K-3 II, with no new hardware involved, there seems no reason to not include the changes in a K-3 firmware update too. That would indeed be nice.
04-25-2015, 03:21 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by rawr Quote
If it's just an AF-C algorithm improvement in the K-3 II, with no new hardware involved, there seems no reason to not include the changes in a K-3 firmware update too. That would indeed be nice.

The reason could be a selling point for the K3-II.
05-03-2015, 07:37 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by rawr Quote
If it's just an AF-C algorithm improvement in the K-3 II, with no new hardware involved, there seems no reason to not include the changes in a K-3 firmware update too. That would indeed be nice.
I too am hoping that if it is just an algorithm (software based) then this will make its way into the K3 body as well. It would show a commitment to existing customers that their flagship bodies would at least keep being updated and optimised for a slightly longer lifespan (1-2 years)
05-03-2015, 07:46 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by DragonLord Quote
Feature 3? PENTAX K-3 II | RICOH IMAGING

The AF and metering hardware is unchanged. However, there are several key changes to the AF algorithms, as well as improvements to the SR system:
  • AF.C performance is improved with better utilization of the Real-Time Scene Analysis System enabled by the 86K pixel RGB metering sensor. The advantage is especially significant with subjects moving directly toward from the camera: "With Continuous AF (AF.C), tracking of subjects that move toward the depth direction is improved."
  • AF.S performance is improved, but only for a few specific lenses. Note that AF.S performance has generally been very good since SAFOX X was introduced in the K-5 II, so the potential gain is relatively limited. The improvement applies to the following lenses:
    • D FA* 70-200mm
    • D FA 150-450mm
    • DA 18-50mm RE
  • SR performance has increased to 4.5 stops of stabilization, up from 3.5 stops. (The specified performance is for the long end of the DA 16-85mm lens.) These improvements are due at least in part to a more precise gyroscope. More significantly, panning detection has been added, which should produce better stabilization performance during action photography as only one axis will be stabilized.
Sure looks like Ricoh has a real winner on their hands...

—DragonLord
Seems like one has to fork out the bucks and buy a K3II in order to have the full advantage of the new 150-450 (and the others listed in your post).
And if you do have the K3II BUT not one or all of the listed lenses above .... bad luck.
Might as well mention (Ricoh should mention, that is) that " you'd better get the K3II if you want our new lenses to perform well." ?

JP
05-03-2015, 10:57 PM   #15
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I don't think Ricoh are saying that those lenses are 'hard-coded' to just work great on the K-3 II (and newer). I'm sure the new lenses will work OK on my K-x or K-5, for example.

As I understand it, it's just that my K-x or K-5 won't know about the special buttons on the 150-450, and how to use them.

Nor will older cameras know (for example):
- how to automatically (and optimally) apply the right JPEG lens corrections (CA, distortion, vignetting, diffraction correction etc) for the new lenses,
- how to optimally apply the 'MTF Priority' setting in the Program Line (if MTF Priority is selected in older cameras).

Further, I suspect what Ricoh is suggesting is that the new lenses have faster AF motors, so all AF operations will generally be faster, regardless of the body they mount on.
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