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01-14-2016, 06:37 PM   #1
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READ ME! Pentax Tips from the Community (55-300mm Giveaway)

Browse this thread for community-submitted Pentax and camera tips. One of the posters in this thread will win a HD DA 55-300mm lens!

The top 15 replies with the most Likes in this thread will be voted upon by forum members in a separate thread, similar to how we pick our monthly contest winners. Submissions will be accepted through January 31st, and voting will begin around February 8th.

Submissions may be compiled into a reference article to serve as a community resource.

Voting is now live:

Last edited by Adam; 02-04-2016 at 11:13 PM. Reason: updates
01-14-2016, 06:38 PM   #2
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As a reminder, a Pentax K-50 is also being offered as the grand prize in this month's photo contest:

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01-14-2016, 06:58 PM - 5 Likes   #3
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I'm going to recuse myself from actually winning the lens because (1) I already have one and so does every Pentaxian I know personally, and (2) I won a 50mm in this year's giveaway. But, who doesn't like sharing photography tips?

Here's my advice for taking photos out the window of an airplane.

Where to sit on the plane: Either the front of the plane, in front of the wing, or as far back in the plane as you can go. There are two factors here. The first is that you don't want the wing of the airplane obscuring your view. The second is that planes often have engines mounted on or near the wings, and the exhaust will blur out the view, limiting the area you can usefully take pictures out of.

What focal length to use: If I don't want to get the wing of the plane in the picture, I find that 40mm is about the widest I can usefully go. My favorite lens for out-the-window shots is probably the 77mm, but I've also gotten good results with the 40mm and the 55-300mm.

What aperture to use: I generally shoot with a pretty wide aperture. One reason is that you need a fast shutter speed to prevent motion blur (see below), but also, the airplane window usually has some ice crystals or scunge on it, and if you shoot with a large aperture, you can usually blur it out until it disappears.

What shutter speed to use: Motion blur is a real problem, especially at longer focal lengths. You'll want to experiment early during takeoff so you know what shutter speed to use when you actually want to take pictures for real. I wouldn't use anything under 1/100th second, but you'll need to use some trial and error to figure out what actually works.

What ISO to use: Whatever you need to support a relatively fast shutter speed.

Focusing: I always switch to manual focusing and set the focal distance to infinity. With autofocus, you get problems when the camera decides it really wants to focus on the scunge on the airplane window. Don't waste valuable seconds fighting your camera on this.

Postprocessing: Especially if you're taking a picture of something very far away, the colors usually don't come out very well. Haze tends to make everything look more blue, and wipes out a lot of the contrast. I usually do most of my out-of-the-window shots in black and white unless there's a really compelling reason not to.
01-14-2016, 07:53 PM - 12 Likes   #4
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“If your photos aren’t good enough, then you’re not close enough” – Robert Capa

In birding, if you can't invest the time to get close, do what the birders call "cheating". During the mating season birds will almost always respond to a recording of their calls.
Later in the year many species will still respond to calls. I wouldn't do this for a threatened or endangered species, I wouldn't bait raptors the way most successful owl photographers do. But to get a quick picture of a common warbler, it works better than the pishing I see every birder doing...

Last edited by boriscleto; 01-15-2016 at 01:22 PM.
01-14-2016, 08:33 PM - 14 Likes   #5
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Have a noisy screw drive autofocus that scares the birds away? If you have a camera with quick shift here's what to do. Get close by focusing with quick shift, then hit the autofocus and nail the shot. This technique really got me the shots instead of the flying away blur.
01-14-2016, 08:50 PM - 2 Likes   #6
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If you're trying to get an action shot and you know a location where your subject is going to pass through, you can ensure you'll get a shot in focus if you manually focus on the area, set your camera to continue photos and start shooting when your subject rolls through the zone. This will avoid you missing the shot having auto focus tracking incorrectly.
01-14-2016, 09:36 PM - 14 Likes   #7
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Don't buy a camera bag. If you do buy a camera bag, don't take it with you. You can't take pictures if your camera is in a bag. If you have your camera out and ready (comfortable strap, lens cap off, approximate exposure settings) you will take more pictures. Don't worry about your camera taking a beating, it is designed to be tough.
01-14-2016, 10:03 PM - 9 Likes   #8
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Suggestion of place for a nice non-tourist Tokyo tower short (if you come here),
Sunset to night is the best timing, so go with your mid to large steady tripod. Mini tripod won’t work. Cars will run left and right. And if it possible, go with a DA15 for kickass starburst!

location :

Last edited by pakinjapan; 01-14-2016 at 10:11 PM.
01-14-2016, 10:13 PM - 1 Like   #9
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Last edited by luftfluss; 01-15-2016 at 12:22 PM.
01-15-2016, 01:03 AM - 7 Likes   #10

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Pentax DA 55-300mm lens: Giveaway!

If you are a novice like me (regardless of age);

Treat photography like fishing and enjoy the exercise as well as the results.

Read and appreciate the wealth of knowledge and experience available to learn from in the forums and reviews.

Appreciate and use the abilities of the equipment you already have.

DO NOT RELY on winning a Pentax DA 55-300mm lens, look for a Tamron SP60-300mm with a P/KA adapter to play with like I did, it's big and heavy but well worth carrying around on holiday.

Last edited by Parallax; 01-15-2016 at 02:33 PM. Reason: Should have been a comma.
01-15-2016, 03:01 AM - 5 Likes   #11
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Use a Pentax camera to withstand the harshest elements, and with an HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm lens attached to it, you can face almost anything mother nature throws to you.
Enjoy the elements, enjoy the trustworthy weather sealing and take pictures where others don't dare to, the only limits are in your mind.
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01-15-2016, 04:04 AM - 13 Likes   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
“If your photos aren’t good enough, then you’re not close enough” – Robert Capa

In birding, if you can't invest the time to get close, do what the birders call "cheating". During the mating season birds will almost always respond to a recording of their calls.

Do not get me wrong, this technique will work, but but this is a very bad advice from an ethical point of view.

During the breeding season, birds have other stuff to do than to search for an imaginary opponent, feed their young for example. Many species will revisit the place several times even after you've gone. Even before breeding, the presence of competition can actually affect the territory and nest site selection. Additionally, this practice is illegal for protected species in majority of countries.

That being said, in scientific studies, call replay until the first response is widely used as a technique when searching for breeding territories, but this usually does not get the birds agitated enough for them to stay for a photo shoot.

If you like taking pictures of birds, do it in a responsible way. Please get to know them better and learn to hide well, do not abuse their territoriality, they are only defending the future of their offspring.

Best regards,

01-15-2016, 04:24 AM - 15 Likes   #13
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I mostly take landscape photos and the number one tip I could think of to give is to use the golden hours. The quality of light is so important to making a photo work and if you can struggle out of bed before sunrise or be out at sunset, your photos will turn out a whole lot better.

Oh and use a tripod and low iso too. My Dad was trying to figure out why some early evening photos weren't turning out for him on his K30 and I looked at the EXIF and the iso was set to 6400.

01-15-2016, 04:42 AM - 7 Likes   #14
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My top tip for anybody wanting to improve their photographs is simply this: ask yourself what ADDED VALUE you can bring to the scene. What can you do to make your image more interesting than the that of the guy who strolls up, raises his camera, shoots and moves on. It might be obvious, but asking the question engages the brain and gets you into 'photographer mode' quicker than anything else I know.
01-15-2016, 05:34 AM - 12 Likes   #15
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Join a local Astronomy Club with an Observatory for out of this world photos!

For just $35/year, a little training, and a willingness to volunteer 4 times a year to host the public, I joined the New Jersey Astronomical Association where I now have access to WAY more capable equipment than I could ever afford. My favorite is this Celestron EdgeHD 14" Telescope that is sitting on a tracking mount, aligned, and ready to go anytime the sky and my calendar are both clear at the same time.

$35 for a 3910mm F11 lens: throw in the crop factor and I can literally pull down some galaxies even with NJ light pollution (that's a bigger aperture than the focal length of the lens I hope to win with this submission!) But, I must confess this photo was taken with my phone as my K50 was... preoccupied.
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Last edited by heinamj; 01-15-2016 at 09:44 AM.

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