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08-23-2015, 05:42 PM - 1 Like   #16
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Low natural light is lovely and most desirable for many, however it can be quite challenging. I am not familiar with the K-30/50 or the K-3, but the K-5/II/IIs seem to have good high ISO, and a raw editing program can help with noise reduction. The second image you chose centre weighted metering, probably a good choice over pattern metering as has been my experience with a K-5. With lenses for low light we need wide aperture lenses, fast lenses ie f2.8 to say f1.4 or 1.2 or faster. I consider f2.8 to be moderately fast, and then we need them to be sharp wide open, or many people do. As lenses have different characteristics some research is usually needed, some are not sharp wide open and need to be stopped down a little, or some produce a nice softness wide open, they are all different. You mentioned the DA 31, is that in fact the FA 31, if so I would say use that one, maybe from 1.8, perhaps at f2, using a wider aperture gives less depth of field, but it can also blur distracting backgrounds and make the subject shine.
That brings us to exposure, try on manual, centre weighted, and keep the ISO down as far as possible and as always keeping the shutter fast enough not to cause camera shake, so for the 31 I'd keep it 1/50th or better maybe just a little more, say 1/125. Maybe some experimenting is needed as far as exposure goes, and it can easily be not easy to nail the focus with shallow depth of field, hence why testing our equipment is a good idea, then we can find out if we have any front or back focus issues with a given lens.
Raw is the way to go, instead of producing smaller jpg's in-camera, with a raw editor we have much latitude with adjustments to exposure and a lot more. Why go to the trouble of capturing an image, dear to you, and then have the camera throw out a heap of pixels in the compression as it makes a jpg? When a jpg is needed, can always save one from the raw editor.
Anyway some stuff to ponder, hope it helps and I reckon when you sort out this one you'll be ready to upgrade

08-23-2015, 06:44 PM   #17
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Both shots were taken with the respective lenses wide open - not the best situation for image sharpness. In addition, the wide open lens really limits depth of field. Add these conditions to high ISO noise and it may be difficult to produce the images you want.
08-23-2015, 06:47 PM   #18
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Thank you! I corrected my mistake
08-23-2015, 07:00 PM - 1 Like   #19
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I don't think shooting RAW or Lightroom's going to fix your problem.
Your second photo ilustrates the problem quite nicely. If you look at the EXIF data, you'll see high ISO, wide open aperture and fast shutter speed. As others have mentioned, high ISO is not going to help with image quality. But the key thing, I feel, is that you're shooting with shallow depth of field. If you shot the same shot, with better lighting and with a slower shutter speed and narrower aperture, you'll have greater depth of field, and you'll find more of your subject in good focus. If you look at the baby's clothes - note how few of the red dots are actually in focus. It's more difficult to see, but you cal also compare to see how much of the baby's face is in focus. Shallow depth of field is the main culprit here.
Try different speed and aperture combinations using an inanimate text subject, and see review your results. I think you'll find you'll get good photos, with this camera and lens, without spending any money!

08-23-2015, 07:11 PM   #20
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Thanks
08-23-2015, 07:14 PM   #21
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Stop down you lens.
08-23-2015, 08:13 PM - 1 Like   #22
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For indoor shots like that, a simple bounce flash technique, using a hotshoe-mounted on-camera flash, like the AF360FGZ, will fix everything. Point the head of the flash up and somewhat behind you, to light the ceiling/wall behind you, and you will get magic. It helps if the ceiling is white, which is not always the case. Also, it helps if the wall behind you is a neutral color -- which appears to be the case in these photos -- they are little darker than ideal, but at least they are neutral.

For more info, Neil Van Niekerk is a master of on-camera flash:
http://neilvn.com/tangents/flash-photography-techniques/

Follow his tutorial. Start by scrolling down to the link on that page, that says
"let’s get started – the first step: making flash not look like flash"
and keep on going from there.

P-TTL flashes are expensive, but can (usually) produce some very good results in conditions like this. Note that Neil usually shoots in full manual mode on the camera, but automatic exposure (i.e., P-TTL) on the flash. This is easy to do, and once you do this, you want to add flash to all your indoor shots.

You can get even better results by using off-camera flash and shoot-through umbrellas, but that is a more advanced technique, let's not go there yet.
08-23-2015, 09:37 PM   #23
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Shooting in raw will help, because it's easier to recover shadows and highlights, and you have better noise reduction options than the in-camera ones. But yeah, turn a light on or bounce a flash off something. Even rubber-banding a puffed out coffee filter over your on-camera flash will give you much better results.

08-23-2015, 11:33 PM - 1 Like   #24
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If you want low natural light, shallow depth of field, stick with it as you have the lenses for it, especially the 31, it can be very rewarding, I certainly like low natural light although it is not everyone’s cup of tea, flash will change the light considerable different, the challenge is to identify the natural light that will produce the pleasing effect you are after, a natural light studio so to speak, perhaps from windows, perhaps under a tree. Many will suggest to stop down the lens to achieve a different result, maybe do that in the attempt to nail focus and exposure, then test with wide open for other results.
08-23-2015, 11:59 PM - 2 Likes   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by kjphilippona Quote
Thanks for the advice, I will try shooting in RAW and get a copy of Lightroom.
Your cameras are fine. Spend some time to better understand how the exposure triangle ( aperture, shutter & iso) works and understand the limits of your gear. .

The settings between your two images are wildly different. In the first, the shutter speed is 1/50 sec,, much too slow for handheld and tough to keep any kid sharp in soft diffuse light with low contrast.
The second image is an unnecessarily high shutter at 1/500 sec., pushing your ISO to 6400 and that is going to be soft.

I don't have a silver bullet for you but a copy of Bryan Petersens "Understandng Exposure" is highly recommended. You'll get more benefit for 17 bucks than any gear you can buy. Lightroom is a wonderful tool but it won't fix a bad image. The notion that "it can be fixed in LR, PS, etc" is just wrong. It can be finished and polished but not fixed.

If you learn enough ( and it isn't hard) to use manual exposure, you'll be much happier with your photographs. Manual mode is full control. Auto modes are maybe a good exposure. That's why almost all cameras have that EV compensation thing, which is also what's really baked into "Scene" modes. None of that automation knows what you want. By the time you adjust exposure compensation, you might as well just use manual mode by understanding exposure and knowing what you want to achieve,

A new camera won't help.

Last edited by Brooke Meyer; 08-24-2015 at 03:06 PM. Reason: Correct grammar
08-26-2015, 01:13 AM - 1 Like   #26
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Many good advice given already.
In brief: First shoot wide open with F2.4. Then limit iso to 800 and try to use Av mode with F4.0 and see the difference, then use TAv mode with 1/150 seconds and F3.2.
Compare the shots.

I use RAW+JPG on a large SD card, thats convenient if you need to boost the shots for some reason.

And finally buy a cheap flash.

Seb
08-26-2015, 11:07 AM - 2 Likes   #27
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Well, first thing is first. It seems like you do a lot of low light shooting. You should definitely be shooting in JPEG+RAW. That's what I do. I use the JPEGs as a reference point for the RAW files when I process them.

Before you plop down some money for Adobe Lightroom, give the open-source RawTherapee a try. It's free, so you pretty much have nothing to lose.

RawTherapee Blog

^ You can download it here.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/151-pentax-k-30-k-50/293192-rawtherapee-p...ml#post3312955

^ Take a look at that post for more information. I only use RawTherapee as a RAW developing tool. Nothing else.

The K-30/50 put out some amazing high ISO images. Up to ISO 3200, the grain (luminance) is very pleasant looking. At ISO 6400, the grain starts getting pretty rough. That's where you will have to figure out if you're good with the grain or you want to do some luminance reduction, but lose some fine detail. Changing to black & white also helps out at that ISO. It gives it an old-school high ISO film look. ISO 12800 & on is basically useless for me. The RAWs are way too grainy & out of camera JPEGs lose too much detail.

One thing that I have noticed about the out of camera JPEGs, is that starting at about ISO 800, they start losing fine detail. They start to look smeared & blotchy. You lose a lot of fine details in the reds & greens. Mind you that this is with the noise reduction turned off. It's even worse with the noise reduction on.

I would also suggest some kind of flash. The Pentax AF360FGZ II flash should let you use all the flash options that the K-30 has (you might need to update camera firmware) & it has a tilt & swivel head. You will even find that using the trailing curtain sync flash can lead to some very neat action photos.
08-26-2015, 02:51 PM   #28
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Thanks, like you stated, I like to take pictures using natural light and most are low lite conditions. I purchased a Metz 44 AF-1. What I run into is 100% of my pictures are split second shots while chasing my 18 month old grand daughter around wile we play, making adjustments to my flash to bounce the light, hold the camera as steady as possible and hitting my focus point is quite a task. I hope the recent purchase of the FA31 Limited will help even the field for me, I tried one time using the flash and my brick DA*16-50, that was a joke
08-26-2015, 02:57 PM - 1 Like   #29
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Maybe have the camera ready, take some exposure readings so the camera is set approximately right, watch for the light levels changing throughout the day and adjust when needed.
08-26-2015, 03:18 PM   #30
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Instead of wider apertures, maybe you should be going for more depth of field instead. Then you have less worry about focusing.
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