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07-20-2015, 04:04 PM   #1
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Is K3 Auto focus really that bad?

Now that all you K3 users have had a while to shoot with this camera, are the auto focus issues as bad as I see in the forum? B&H has a great deal on the k3 body and my K5 still lets me down with action shots. I'd like to stay with Pentax ( after 40 years) but I've read a lot of good things about the Canon EOS 70D. But you can't believe everything you read on the Internet, right? Big deal to switch systems. I need a camera that helps me capture birds, dogs and grand kids.. Video would be nice, but my iPhone is pretty good at this. Please help me decide. Can the K3 help me get crisp action photos? My main go to lens is the Pentax DA 18-135 zoom. I've read that although the camera has great auto focus, the lenses can let it down.
Help!
Scott

07-20-2015, 04:12 PM   #2
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The grass is always greener .....

Been straight Pentax since 1961 (with a used Asahi Pentax from 1956)

Always something is better for a while, then I realize that using my older lenses beats the opposition hands down.
07-20-2015, 04:18 PM - 1 Like   #3
hcc
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Do not believe all threads. The K-3 AF is more than decent: "any enthusiast photographer that picks up the K-3 (with a silent-focusing lens) will not be disappointed"
Pentax K-3 Review - Autofocus | PentaxForums.com Reviews

I have used my K-3 for nearly 18 months and I am very happy with the K-3. I use some simple settings as suggested in the In-depth review, and I am happy.

I use also the DA18-135mm WR occasionally and the combo K-3 + DA18-135mm is a great one. I tend to prefer primes over zooms, hence the DA18-135mm is not always on the K-3.

Hope that the comment will help.
07-20-2015, 04:22 PM - 1 Like   #4
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I can't comment on the Canon 70D with respect to auto-focus as I don't own one nor used one, but I am an event photographer and shooting along side with many who shoot Canon or Nikon. I don't feel that I miss any shots due to auto-focus, especially with the k-3. I also use a couple of lenses 18-135 and 20-40 with DC motors, they are not speed daemon (in Canikon folks standard)... but my percentage of "in-focus" shots are really high compare to these folks who shoot along side with me; and of course, I shoot in high continuous mode too.

Yes, as the saying goes "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence until you get to the other side"...

07-20-2015, 04:29 PM - 1 Like   #5
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I have been happy with the AF on my K-3 and I am a picky person. My main AF lens with the K-3 is the Sigma 17-70/2.8-4 (C). That being said, I am not heavily dependent on AF for most of my shooting and seldom shoot action sports or birds in flight or small children running around with large dogs. When I have shot those subjects, the K-3 has been equal to the task within reason. Whether it is better than the Nikon 7100/7200 or Canon 70D, I can't say. My understanding is that it is not as good as the Nikon, at par with the Canon 70D and not as good as the Canon 7D mkII. My friends that shoot those brands are always cursing their AF, so it is hard to say.


Steve
07-20-2015, 04:31 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
Do not believe all threads. The K-3 AF is more than decent: "any enthusiast photographer that picks up the K-3 (with a silent-focusing lens) will not be disappointed"
Pentax K-3 Review - Autofocus | PentaxForums.com Reviews

I have used my K-3 for nearly 18 months and I am very happy with the K-3. I use some simple settings as suggested in the In-depth review, and I am happy.

I use also the DA18-135mm WR occasionally and the combo K-3 + DA18-135mm is a great one. I tend to prefer primes over zooms, hence the DA18-135mm is not always on the K-3.

Hope that the comment will help.
Forgive my ignorance, but what are "silent focusing " lenses? I also have the DA 55-300 and Sigma 10-20 DC.
Thanks for the info! Very helpful.
07-20-2015, 04:35 PM   #7
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Best way to see if it fits your liking is to rent the camera & lens (from lensrentals.com or similiar site) and try it yourself.
07-20-2015, 04:38 PM   #8
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I think Canon or Nikon will be better at focus tracking, and some reviews also point in that direction. Part of this is because of the lenses; SDM doesn't help here. I have the impression that DC is already a bit better. Not so much because of the pure speed, but because it requires fewer micro-adjustments. But that's just my impression from playing with it in a store for 5 minutes.

In any case, I prefer the Nikon user interface of the tracking AF. Nikon always highlights the active AF point in the viewfinder. Pentax only highlights it when it focuses. So with Nikon, it's easier to determine if the camera is still tracking correctly.

Also, Canon/Nikon's more expensive lenses generally focus faster. And I have trouble tracking my 4-year-old niece with my K-3.

A few weeks ago, I contemplated getting a used D300S or something, just to be able to draw my own conclusions. The event that triggered that was a motor race I tried to capture with my K-3, 60-250 and 1.4x TC. But in all honesty, this was the first time I did such an event and I shot through a fence. It got me the composition that I wanted, but it may have affected the AF.

---------- Post added 07-21-2015 at 01:42 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
Do not believe all threads. The K-3 AF is more than decent: "any enthusiast photographer that picks up the K-3 (with a silent-focusing lens) will not be disappointed"
Pentax K-3 Review - Autofocus | PentaxForums.com Reviews
Not that I don't value the reviews which are posted here, but Pentax fans reviewing Pentax gear will probably want to say positive things about it. There are other reviews out there, such as Pentax K-3 Review: Digital Photography Review.

07-20-2015, 04:47 PM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by GoldenRGuy Quote
Forgive my ignorance, but what are "silent focusing " lenses? I also have the DA 55-300 and Sigma 10-20 DC.
Thanks for the info! Very helpful.
Both SDM (most DA* lenses) and DC (DA or DA limited) motors in the Pentax lens line up are considered 'silent focusing' feature as oppose to screw drive focus mechanism (noisy) in older lenses. In the Canon world, the equivalent term is USM.

Last edited by aleonx3; 07-20-2015 at 05:15 PM.
07-20-2015, 05:07 PM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by starbase218 Quote
I tried to capture with my K-3, 60-250 and 1.4x TC.
60-250 is quite slow focusing lens. I've used it for BIF with some success, but when I got FA*300 f2.8 and tried that with K-3 things improved a LOT. What I'm trying to say is LENS matters.
K-3 compred to K-5 are almost like night and day. K-3's autofocus is much more responsive.
07-20-2015, 05:20 PM   #11
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K-3 is as far as I'm concerned as good as it gets. For still shots. I have 95%+ in focus shots with it. With the k-5 I used to take 2 or 3 shots re-focusing between shots to make sure I got what I wanted. I did that for a while with the k-3 until I realized none of the shots were out of focus and I was deleting good shots. Now I do not shoot anything that moves so for my style the k-3 is perfect.

The biggest issue with Pentax right now is the lenses. The SDM ones in particular are just not fast enough for reliable tracking. The 60-250 in particular is quite slow. I love the lens and use it a lot but shooting anything that moves with it is a struggle.

So bottom line: if your question is "how is the focusing on the k-3" I'd say very close to perfect. If your question is "how is the tracking on the k-3" I'd say we are not as good as the competition. Yet.
07-20-2015, 06:23 PM - 1 Like   #12
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My k3's and I have 2 have not had any issue with auto focus. I use a sigma 18-250 as a walking around lens and am happy with the results.
07-20-2015, 06:45 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by GoldenRGuy Quote
Now that all you K3 users have had a while to shoot with this camera, are the auto focus issues as bad as I see in the forum? B&H has a great deal on the k3 body and my K5 still lets me down with action shots. I'd like to stay with Pentax ( after 40 years) but I've read a lot of good things about the Canon EOS 70D. But you can't believe everything you read on the Internet, right? Big deal to switch systems. I need a camera that helps me capture birds, dogs and grand kids.. Video would be nice, but my iPhone is pretty good at this. Please help me decide. Can the K3 help me get crisp action photos? My main go to lens is the Pentax DA 18-135 zoom. I've read that although the camera has great auto focus, the lenses can let it down.
Help!
Scott
It's certainly not bad (and a bit better than the K-5 II) but I don't think people consider it to be cutting-edge for action. Lenses are also partially to blame.

Adam
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07-20-2015, 07:36 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
It's certainly not bad (and a bit better than the K-5 II) but I don't think people consider it to be cutting-edge for action. Lenses are also partially to blame.
Thanks Adam. I've been reading your posts for years and value your opinion. This sounds like I might need to wait, or get a Canon for a test drive.
07-20-2015, 08:20 PM   #15
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To weigh in on lenses and AF, I've had decent luck with tracking AF using my Sigma 70-200mm HSM II, but haven't really tried anything coming straight toward me, which is the main area I've read the tracking falls short. Also, if you lose focus, the tracking will give up after a few seconds.
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