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07-13-2015, 05:07 AM - 1 Like   #1
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Live view metering on K3ii with manual lenses

Hi everyone,

Hopefully this is one of those painfully simple "I'm being a silly" sort of questions.

I've only got manual lenses for my K3ii - I'm very new to Pentax.

I've got the hang of metering in M using the green button through the viewfinder to set exposure, however...

1) Is there any way of getting a light meter / EV scale on the LCD in live view so I can meter manually? OR have the LCD show the exposure brightness (as is common across other manufacturers) - it feels like the LCD tries to unify brightness whatever the exposure settings/doesn't change at all.

2) Sometimes the light meter / EV scale on the viewfinder doesn't seem to change/illuminate and read. Is there something I need to do or set to get the meter to activate?

(P.S. I've done the "enable manual aperture" setting change; it's all working OK - it's just manual metering I'm struggling with this far)

Bonus 3) Am I right in thinking that in any other mode but P, I can't close the aperture at all with manual (M) lenses? It seems like whatever it's set to, the camera won't actually actuate the aperture lever unless the camera is in M.

Bonus 4) The metering I have managed to do seems to overexpose using manual lenses by about a +1 this normal/expected behaviour? I know my old Canon EOS 30D would always overexposure by between 2/3 and 1 stop, so is this just a similar tendency towards overexposure?

Thanks everyone!

07-13-2015, 05:18 AM   #2
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You should half press the shutter button to enable the light meter and get it to show up. The duration it remains on in the viewfinder can be controlled via the menu.

The only supported shooting mode is M with manual k mount lenses. You should see a light meter in this mode, and the live view screen will reflect the actual exposure. You can always stop down and set the shutter speed using the dof preview setting on the on/off switch.

Note that you should disable the viewfinder electronic level as this takes the place of the ev scale.

It is normal for exposure accuracy to vary with manual lenses. It will generally be better in live view. Also, you can always try bracketing or simply maintain a certain exposure compensation to make up for the inaccuracy.

Hope this helps!

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07-13-2015, 05:21 AM   #3
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Hey, brave of you to jump in with K-3II and manual lenses! That's a great camera and interesting lenses, but the learning curve is steep, as well! This is why most people new to DSLRs start with a more simple camera and lenses with more automation. So don't give up, its complicated, but it will give you good results after some practice

But I'm not sure I completely understand what the question is.
In live view, you can change the display mode. In one mode, it only shows the picture, but in others you have more information, overlays, even histogram (but the histogram is not super helpful, I find).
The light meter on most modern cameras is not absolute, but it just shows you 0 (which is what the camera thinks should be a good, balanced brightness) and then +/- 3 or 5 and how far from 0 the selected settings are. So you can select if you want to under expose or over expose. With manual lenses, you have M mode with static iso number, where you press the green button and the camera will stop down to the aperture you selected on the lens, and then meter and select the shutter speed that fits the aperture and ISO. In Av mode, metering is continuous and you can choose Auto ISO range, but it will never stop down. Photos will be taken with wide open aperture. All modes except for M will default to Av, if you have a manual lens.

Now, Live view does not always show the exact exposure you will get. This holds especially when you have fully manual lenses, long exposures, and so on. Some photographers complained about this since live view was added. Its not perfectly consistent, so you have to learn how it works. For example, if you are planning on under exposing a lot, then the camera will not show you that. Then you take the photo, and you will see it. Digital preview might help with this, but I don't usually use it. I just accept this, because with an OVF you don't always see the brightness that you will get, either.

For Bonus 4), maybe the lens has a little problem, where the aperture blades don't work normally. This can cause odd exposures. The other possibility is that the metering is different from what you expect, but still correct, just because the metering mode is set to spot meter, for example. I think matrix metering cannot be used with manual lenses. Or maybe you have EV +/- selected, or exposure bracketing. Double check all the settings that could affect exposure. And third, there is a possibility that the metering with the manual lenses is wrong. This is not super uncommon. What you can do to help with this is use a good, tight lens hood to block out unnecessary and stray light. But sometimes, the only choice you have is to learn a lens' character, and then adjust to it with EV +/-.

One more thing on metering in general.. sometimes we forget that we don't actually need to meter before taking photos. These days, with manual lenses, I only meter when the light situation changes, like if I go from one scene to another, from shade to sun. I don't meter for every photo, I just meter to get the general idea, and then adjust by hand. With some practice, you can get a pretty good feeling for this. You can start by using the so-called Sunny 16 rule.

But please tell which lenses you have. There are different types of manual lenses, and they behave a little differently. Some are fully manual, like Mitakon or m42 lenses (best to just use Av mode, you focus wide open, and stop down the aperture by hand for the photo). Others have some automation, like Pentax M series lenses, but they still require stop down metering, because the camera doesn't actually know what the selected aperture is - but it can move the aperture to your selection. Next is lenses with A setting (for example A series, Samyang lenses, and others) - where the camera can do pretty much everything except AF. If your lens has A on aperture ring, push the little button on the aperture ring and lock the ring into A mode, then leave it there. This lets you use P mode or Av or whatever. The next is full automatic, like F or FA or DFA or DA lenses, where the lens has AF and everything is done through the camera.

Last edited by Na Horuk; 07-13-2015 at 05:30 AM.
07-13-2015, 08:55 AM - 1 Like   #4
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Excellent response from Na Horuk to which I have little to add, but there may be a point or two of interest on these pages I was writing up as a reflection of how I was figuring out using MF lenses on my K-r.

Using manual focus lenses on Pentax (and Samsung)DSLR's

Certainly when using MF lenses on pentax I "chimp" a lot.

07-13-2015, 10:16 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Frogonastring Quote
Bonus 3) Am I right in thinking that in any other mode but P, I can't close the aperture at all with manual (M) lenses? It seems like whatever it's set to, the camera won't actually actuate the aperture lever unless the camera is in M.
That is the expected behavior.

QuoteOriginally posted by Frogonastring Quote
Bonus 4) The metering I have managed to do seems to overexpose using manual lenses by about a +1 this normal/expected behaviour? I know my old Canon EOS 30D would always overexposure by between 2/3 and 1 stop, so is this just a similar tendency towards overexposure?
Stop-down metering on your camera is much, much better than on many earlier model Pentax dSLRs, but still is not consistently linear or accurate. The behavior is not as simple as just setting exposure comp +1 or -1. A given lens may meter over at some apertures and under at others.

07-14-2015, 02:00 AM   #6
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Hi all,

Thanks for the helpful responses!

It seems that in manual mode with Pentax-M lenses the K3 doesn't seem to show the meter in the viewfinder...I've now got that to appear, but it only shows whilst I am holding the button assigned to Optical Preview. The green button closes the aperture and takes a reading and sets the shutter speed appropriately, but the camera doesn't show the meter even if I half-hold the shutter button. (By the way, the travel on the shutter's first stage is incredibly short and soft; is this normal? I've come from Canon's EOS system and they're all quite strongly two-stage buttons)

In live view, I can't get it to display a meter of any kind, and the live view image seems to scale the brightness/sensitivity to keep it evenly bright. When holding the optical preview button (I can hear the aperture move) it seems to adjust it /to an extent/ but by no means accurately to exposure (i.e. 1" looks the same as 10" and 1/8 the same as 1/100 - it's only accurate within a tight range.)

I've got the viewfinder level disabled, too - thanks for the tip! I'd come across that one before; it'd be an odd photographer indeed that sacrifices his meter for a level...

Na Horuk:
Haha, thanks! It's not so much bravery as just circumstance! I had a Canon 30D and was looking to upgrade; a recent birthday came and my brother in law blessed me outrageously by buying me the K3ii, which was what I was attempting to save for (but was way off buying) - an incredible gift!
The reason I've only got manual K lenses is because I've got a K1000 that I use regularly for film work, so my lenses are for that. I've got a Pentax-M 50mm f2, Vivitar 35-70mm, Prinzflex 200mm and Cimko 28mm f2.8 (M42 adapted to be manual aperture rather than pin-depressed) - all of which are somewhat delightful (!!!) to use on the K3...I say somewhat, because I'm finding accurate focussing a challenge, and the big resolution sensor on the K3 really highlights the various optical, uh, features of the cheaper lenses (the Prinzflex is hard to get sharp, for example, despite being optically "quite good")
I'm saving for some modern Pentax AF lenses now! I'm hankering for some autofocus.

I'd noticed that all modes were AV apart from M with the M-lenses. There are quite a few features that are locked out to me until I get a more modern lens...!

I've also worked out how to get the meter to show in the viewfinder - if I hold the optical preview button (Currently set to RAW/Fx for me) then it stops down the aperture and displays the meter in the viewfinder. Otherwise, it's not active at all. So - slightly fiddly, having to hold another button, but I now have a way of getting the meter to display so I can actually manually set exposure /without/ hitting the green button.
Interesting aside; I assume it's related to the fact that all my lenses are fully M manual, but on metering mode I can only select Spot or Variable, not the matrix mode.

The live view bit has confused me somewhat, especially given that live view in movie mode *does* show the exposure as it'll be saved. Bit of an odd discrepancy. I wish that the live-view could display an EV-unit exposure meter like through the viewfinder; showing how far you are from 0 EV exposure. Is that possible?

To be honest I wouldn't be surprised if the camera wasn't able to understand the metering through the lens; my Canon DSLR always tried to overexpose by a stop or two with the 50mm f/2 - I don't think it understood how bright it would be. Perhaps the Pentax is doing the same! As you say, I can always exposure compensate; it does seem to be pretty consistent.

Thank you for your detailed and in-depth answer; it is much appreciated!


That's a great resource, thanks for sharing it.
Yes, I've also found that when I can't rely on autofocus, I've ended up chimping a lot to try and ensure that my results are solid. My first outing with my K3ii I only shot with the 50mm f/2 and was disappointed when lots of the shots were defocused when I reviewed them at home. Something to practice with!

Aah, interesting - I'd figured that the exposure mis-read would be consistent between the apertures. I'll keep an eye on it and see how it behaves in the real world. Thanks!

Edit: Also interestingly, stop down metering on the K3ii is harder than on my ageing Canon 30D - mostly because my K-mount adapter had a chip that fools the camera into allowing AF and exposure confirm for manual lenses, which at least meant I could shoot relatively quickly once I had compensated for the miscalculation (Canon seem to permanently err towards overexposure) - the exposure confirm for manual focus on Pentax has confused me as it's isolated to the centre spot and seems to be more a "something is in focus" rather than "what you're pointing at is in focus" - challenging!

Thank you everyone!
07-14-2015, 06:09 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Frogonastring Quote
I'm saving for some modern Pentax AF lenses now! I'm hankering for some autofocus.
Get the DA 35mm f2.4. Great lens for a low price, fully automatic. Or the HD DA 35mm f2.8 macro, which is true 1:1 macro and even sharper. For those older lenses, be sure to use a tight lens hood, this will help. Especially if you use a hood for "equivalent" (just multiply focal length by 1,5 and get a hood for that focal length. You can do that with film lenses on the K-3II, because the camera is APSC and the lenses are made for a bigger film plane).
That said, you don't really need all those extra modes. I think most serious photographers are usually in P, Av, and Tv modes, and M, B when needed. If you know what you are doing, you don't usually need those "scene" modes. But they can be helpful, once you know what they do!

Pentax DSLRs actually do allow focus confirm with some manual lenses. Its called Catch in focus (or focus trapping), feel free to look at the camera manual or look for threads on these forums. Its not true AF, but you get something close, even with many fully manual lenses.

Btw, I hope you already checked the manual tutorials. There are a couple threads, I usually link to this one:

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