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01-26-2016, 11:54 AM   #1
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Focus Points

In my camera research and reading reviews there seems to an emphasis on many focus points a camera has. Having more is it a marketing gimmick or an actual need for more? Pentax K S2, is conservative with how many focus points compared to the bigger names. How many focus does one really need and use?

01-26-2016, 12:03 PM - 1 Like   #2
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How many depends on what, exactly, you do. I have a Canon film camera with one focus point and it is fine. My Canon digital has nine focus points and that is fine too. I almost always can be found taking landscapes - perhaps sports photographers, or portraitist, would be less happy with the one focus point.
01-26-2016, 12:09 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by PhotoHeron Quote
In my camera research and reading reviews there seems to an emphasis on many focus points a camera has. Having more is it a marketing gimmick or an actual need for more? Pentax K S2, is conservative with how many focus points compared to the bigger names. How many focus does one really need and use?
My k-50 has i don't know how many focus points but I only ever use one. I use center point back button focusing and just recompose when my focus is locked. Honestly I don't understand why I'd want more because if you want to focus on multiple things they would have to be about the same distance away and you can just focus on one of them to bring them all into focus. Maybe there's something I don't know though...
01-26-2016, 06:11 PM   #4
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More can be helpful if you're doing the type of shooting where it's useful. I use back-button focus and don't always want to use the center focus point. So, the more points available, the greater number of options I have to choose from when composing my shot.


Also, when employing continuous focus for birds-in-flight, having more focus points available to kick in during that process can sometimes help to keep my subject in focus.


Need? That's always a relative term. One can do fine with fewer or sometimes better with more. As long as you can control their use, I don't see more points as having a down side.

01-26-2016, 07:09 PM   #5
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I use just the central one and recompose.

I want to know my chosen part of the subject is in focus quickly and not have to override the camera choosing a higher contrast part of the scene somewhere else.

If you're attempting tracking an object on a K-3 the game's different, though.
01-26-2016, 09:45 PM   #6
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Focus points

No amount of focus points are as precise as spot focus.
How can multi point get eyelashes sharp in a portrait or focus on the hyperfocal distance in a landscape?
Multi point focusing is code for "Auto" and for those with the bucks for a serious camera like the K-S2, but never progress past the Auto mode. That's marketing.
01-27-2016, 06:52 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by john.margetts Quote
How many depends on what, exactly, you do. I have a Canon film camera with one focus point and it is fine. My Canon digital has nine focus points and that is fine too. I almost always can be found taking landscapes - perhaps sports photographers, or portraitist, would be less happy with the one focus point.
In landscape photography, why wouldn't you just use manual focus and set the lens to infinity? Certainly would remove any chance of being out of focus, no?

---------- Post added 01-27-16 at 07:58 AM ----------

OP, you raise an interesting question that had never occurred to me. Indeed, why more than one point, the point of maximum interest in a scene?
01-27-2016, 12:06 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by paulvzo Quote
In landscape photography, why wouldn't you just use manual focus and set the lens to infinity? Certainly would remove any chance of being out of focus, no?
Depending on the lens I am using, I am likely to use hyperfocal focusing rather than focusing on infinity. But sometimes the main subject in a landscape is a lot closer than infinity - a wide aperture and shallow DOF might be required.

01-27-2016, 01:57 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by CJA70CJA Quote
No amount of focus points are as precise as spot focus.
How can multi point get eyelashes sharp in a portrait or focus on the hyperfocal distance in a landscape?
Multi point focusing is code for "Auto" and for those with the bucks for a serious camera like the K-S2, but never progress past the Auto mode. That's marketing.
Perhaps you're referring to something in another camera that I'm not familiar with but, as far as I'm aware, the multiple focusing points offered on late model Pentaxes (such as the K50, K3's, KS2, etc.) are not a kind of lazy "auto mode" as you suggest. They are discreet points of focus used by the camera one at a time, unlike exposure modes, which can cover anything from spot to a matrix all at once.

Multiple focusing points, i.e., the camera's focus moving from point to point either by manual intention or continuous (servo) mode, is very useful and accurate with birds in flight. I would agree that continuous focus has little use in landscape photography, though I do use select focus for static subjects. It gives me the ability to move the focus point away from the exposure area when that is useful.


Of course, there is area focusing, using five or eleven points, which some people have found useful but I haven't.

Last edited by Kath; 01-27-2016 at 03:38 PM.
01-28-2016, 06:40 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by CJA70CJA Quote
No amount of focus points are as precise as spot focus.
How can multi point get eyelashes sharp in a portrait or focus on the hyperfocal distance in a landscape?
Multi point focusing is code for "Auto" and for those with the bucks for a serious camera like the K-S2, but never progress past the Auto mode. That's marketing.
The pre-production Pentax Spotmatic used spot metering, but they decided to use a wider metering once in production. That's what I recently read, anyway.

I know metering and focus are not the same, but I think there are some similar positives and negatives. In metering, one would have to find that 18% value...........hah!............good luck with that! In focusing, I can see where a small or moving subject could present problems.
01-28-2016, 04:52 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by paulvzo Quote
The pre-production Pentax Spotmatic used spot metering, but they decided to use a wider metering once in production. That's what I recently read, anyway.
Your new K-S2 can do spot metering, too, Paul.
01-28-2016, 07:29 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
Your new K-S2 can do spot metering, too, Paul.
Yes, I've noticed that.

But as I said/implied I know darned well what a demanding mistress Goddess Spot can be,

I think the old film metering that weighed heavily on the central area is probably as practical as it can get. Centered weighted. I mean, really, who wants to meter or focus on the peripheries?
01-29-2016, 12:44 PM   #13
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When the subject is at the periphery ?

It would be interesting to see some testing done between Multi-Pattern and Centre-Weighted metering. I would assume that for many lighting situations the results would be the same, although it would depend on how wide an area the 'centre' weighted covers. I know a lot of photographers used to film era-cameras that only had centre-weighted plus spot tend to continue to use centre-weighted nowadays as well ..... but surely the more sophisticated, multi-pattern system will be more accurate and lead to better exposures, considering that it can factor in backlighting and hotspots etc .... ?

I admit with focussing though that I rarely ever set a specific focus point on the K7, despite it having a nice dedicated lever to do it. It seems to me that the logical time to do this is when you're taking multiple shots of an off-centre subject and its not moving. I actually use far more the 'centre-point only' setting on the K7's lever, which is very handy when the AF is struggling and the focus points are jumping about .... then just using the single centre-one seems to be more accurate and quick.
02-01-2016, 07:10 PM   #14
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It just so happened that I was reading the review of my K-S2 here again and discovered that the standard 11 points for my camera is essentially fancy-shmancy for center weighted. A defined box in the middle of the image with two wings out. Makes sense to me. Now that I'm enlightened.
02-01-2016, 08:27 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by PhotoHeron Quote
How many focus does one really need and use?
Just one in the middle, normally, unless at very short distances/angles.
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