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04-22-2017, 12:03 PM - 5 Likes   #1
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Have K1, tried 5D IV and 7D II

Today I tried a 5D IV and 7D II with 600mm f4. Beside the Pentax K1 and DFA150-450.
That was really interesting and a fairly different reality from the reality of reputation on online saying.
First, ergonomically Canon is a pain. The front and back wheels of Pentax are right next to fingers when holding the grip.
On the Canon interface, the front wheel in vertical on the top and the back wheel in the large wheel at the bottom.
Second, AF testing... well, what normhead posted some times ago , was right, the AF lag on both 5D IV and 7D II is annoying, you press the shutter, wait.... and finally AF starts moving...fast.
On the K1, you press shutter and AF starts moving right away.
Third, AF speed: well, with the DFA150-450, as soon as the focus limiter is set from 6m to infinity, there is not noticeable difference in AF lock time between the Pentax and both Canons.
Fourth, build quality, both Canons feel very plastic and less rugged than the Pentax I own.
Fifth, yeah, that's true, Canon AF is faster especially at close distances where the Canon lens AF spins really fast. That mean, mount a Tamron 150-600 or Sigma 150-600 C on a Canon and you won't get the better and cheaper than most people imagine on this forum... but reading online.

Last but not least... we were reviewing a stream of photos taken with 5D IV, sorry but I was impressed by how many photos were out of focus... From reading Pentax forum, I was thinking that Pentax AF was junk compared to Canon. How did people come to this conclusion? In the future, I think I should be more careful when reading online opinions, it's much better to evaluation ourselves by trying real cameras in the real world. Am I missing something?


Last edited by biz-engineer; 04-22-2017 at 12:57 PM.
04-22-2017, 12:14 PM   #2
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Well, I never regarded that AF topic as something serious. Mostly you can hear this from people who blame the brand instead trying to get the best out of their Pentax gear.
04-22-2017, 12:25 PM - 1 Like   #3
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I think number one thing that affects number of in focus shots is skill of the photographer and I suppose his or her familiarity with the gear being used.

Even with that said, Pentax is pretty decent if you are using lenses with better motors like the DFA zooms, rather than the older SDM driven lenses. I think a lot of folks who spout things about Pentax auto focus are using older gear -- both cameras and lenses. Say it enough times and it sure sounds true.
04-22-2017, 12:47 PM - 1 Like   #4
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That means you must not believe what is written in magazines. For example, I read the excellent "BLACK+WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY" magazine as good as "Polka magazine" or "Photographie magazine" whe had in France last century.
On page 78 & 79 of the last release of May 2017, the magazine speaks of Leica M10 and mentions the "alternatives to consider" as: Leica M (Type 262), Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, SONY α7R II and NIKON D810... Why don't they speak of Pentax K-1 which is not less good than D810, Sony sensor is the same and even better, there is shake reduction integrated in the body (IBIS), Pixel Shift, Astro module, shift sensor module and so on... They are not the only one but why? just because the priority purpose for the magazines is to pass information to reader from one magazine to the others. It's a kind of advertising and propaganda, no less no more... You could call it disinformation by omission... like a lot of things around the world including politics..

04-22-2017, 01:10 PM   #5
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I never really thought the AF as being horrible on pentax as well. I think it is more to deal with familiarity with the camera, and as you hear more people they only use center point and recompose instead of selecting the point they want to use. If there is one complaint with the AF it should be with the manual that comes with the camera.


04-22-2017, 01:24 PM - 1 Like   #6
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When I first read reviews about the k3ii, my conclusion was that Pentax's af system was hopeless and basically unusable for tracking. I said to myself that it was ok, since I was not planning on shooting sports or anything that really required afc. Ergonomics and the limited lenses were (and still are) more important to me.

Turns out, I've been shooting college sports 5-8 games a month for the past six months, and I think I blame myself for poor shots much more often than I can fault the camera (and between those failures content is generally the issue, not focus...). However, my experience is limited to one camera, one sdm lens (60-250) and a few screwdrive primes. So perhaps it's really about other manufacturers being more consistent between different generations of cameras?

I have yet to photograph small children though.

Last edited by aaacb; 04-22-2017 at 01:49 PM.
04-22-2017, 02:25 PM   #7
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Well, I'll say this about the 5DmkIV

it's far better for video with its touch screen. And for focusing with the screen.

I had to use a pair of them this past fall for an odd (for us) project, a collaboration between my museum and another group in the Smithsonian. We have mostly Canon cameras, 5D mk III's and IV's spread across 3 sections in one larger department. There's also a Nikon 810 thrown into the mix in the photography section. The 5dmkIII's don't wow me at all.

Never been keen on Canon or Nikon, really (except Nikon FM2's...). But I have to give the 5DmkIV its due on the video front---the touch screen is a true value -add. Although it's not without its problems(really dumb ones!) , and the new A9 will probably blow it out of the water, unless Sony has done something stupid with the UI (always a possibility with Sony!). I used my K1 a little bit as well as my Z for stills in the project above, preferably to the Canon. But the video bit was not much of a contest....although the K1's video wasn't awful for what we were doing. It's a pity though Pentax doesn't pay more attention to this...maybe they will start given their moves with the Theta? They should, it's just part of professional imaging, now.

And I am excited about this new Theta, btw, with its potential to hook up to my K1. I met a pro at our museum, not one of our guys, and he said he loved the Theta and was on his third one.
04-22-2017, 03:25 PM   #8
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The number of people who have posted about how bad Pentax AF is who have never done a side by side comparisons is simply shameful. The number of people who have shot a new Canon or Nikon against a 7 year old Pentax is also pretty bad. I personally don't understand why the forum puts up with it. It certainly detracts from my experience here.

Congrats, you've noticed what I see all the time, Canon and Nikon have an advantage some of the time but not all of the time, and a pentax shooter with good technique will get his or her images, even using a K-1 or K-20D. And if I'm using AF.S and burst, Pentax AF is faster. There are many situations where that is the appropriate way to shoot.

04-22-2017, 03:51 PM - 3 Likes   #9
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I use the Pentax K1 alongside the Nikon D610 professionally and the autofocus on the K1 is noticeably worse. It's not as fast, it's not as reliable and I've had to adjust several of my lenses. In fact it's with Pentax at the moment to adjust them properly, and they've already taken three weeks. The Nikon d610 is pretty slow focusing too relative to the D750 and D500. But that said, the Pentax K1 is by far the better camera. I love shooting with it, and the image quality, especially with pixel shift and a lens like the Samyang 135mm, better than pretty much anything outside medium format. That they can create a camera that has this amazing image quality AND that is incredibly tough and has lots of useful innovations for such a low price relatively is amazing. It's a shame their marketing doesn't match their engineering because I'd like them to have a larger market share so we could get lenses like the Sigma Art 85mm.
04-22-2017, 04:54 PM   #10
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My understanding of Pentax's AF deficiencies is that under certain conditions of subject movement relative to the photographer, Pentax continuous-predictive AF (AF-C) is not up to the standard of its competitors - but that's it. They need better algorithms, more focus points to feed data to them, and a gruntier AF control processor to handle the data in a timely fashion.

I think there is probably a law of diminishing returns operating here. Eventually I suspect Canikon will run up against an upper limit of focus speed and accuracy for any particular class of lens - and then all that will be left is for them to watch with horror as Pentax inexorably catches them up, having spent far fewer yen in getting there.
04-22-2017, 05:32 PM   #11
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Very interesting findings.

I am one of the people that constantly bashes Pentax AF system, but that's due to personal experience. I did use both my K-3 with Tamron 70-200 and Canon 5d3 with Canon 70-200 this week for events, both equally dim places and random people dancing around. I know this is not a fair comparison, especially price wise, but AF-C on K-3 felt worse with appx. 70% in focus shots than canon. Again, this is not a native lens and the other combo is much more expensive yet, i do struggle with AF-C on my Pentax cameras most of the time.

Also, both my K-3 and K-5ii hunts a very little in the studio. Whenever i kill the ambient light AF seems to hunt from time to time. I tested this and my best results were with K-3 + Tamron 70-200 48/50 not hunted. Worse was K-5ii + da 50mm 43/50. Canon 5d mk3 + 70-200 resulted in 49/50.
The test was basically to move focus to either infinity or closest and try to focus on a still subject.
04-22-2017, 06:08 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by G.E.Zekai Quote
Very interesting findings.

I am one of the people that constantly bashes Pentax AF system, but that's due to personal experience. I did use both my K-3 with Tamron 70-200 and Canon 5d3 with Canon 70-200 this week for events, both equally dim places and random people dancing around. I know this is not a fair comparison, especially price wise, but AF-C on K-3 felt worse with appx. 70% in focus shots than canon. Again, this is not a native lens and the other combo is much more expensive yet, i do struggle with AF-C on my Pentax cameras most of the time.

Also, both my K-3 and K-5ii hunts a very little in the studio. Whenever i kill the ambient light AF seems to hunt from time to time. I tested this and my best results were with K-3 + Tamron 70-200 48/50 not hunted. Worse was K-5ii + da 50mm 43/50. Canon 5d mk3 + 70-200 resulted in 49/50.
The test was basically to move focus to either infinity or closest and try to focus on a still subject.
Tough to make the comparison of full frame Canon with a branded Canon lens to an APS-C Pentax (a couple of generations old now) with a non-Pentax lens. Comparison of the K3 II or K-1 with either the DFA 150-450 or 70-200 would probably be a more interesting comparison.

My feeling with the K-1 is that it locks very quickly with the DFA *70-200 in AF-S mode. Tracking is fine for what I do (taking photos of my kids), but I can't say I'm shooting sports of birds in flight or anything like that.
04-22-2017, 07:39 PM - 2 Likes   #13
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So, if I read this correctly, Pentax is not DOOOOOOOMED?
I'll sleep better tonight. Might buy a DFA150-450 to celebrate
04-22-2017, 08:16 PM - 2 Likes   #14
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I own and shoot with both Canon and Pentax systems and have for years. As much as I would like Pentax autofocus to be as good as Canon's, it's just not. Shooting with any of my Canon bodies (1ds, 6D, 7D) is quicker and more reliable for events than either Pentax K-5IIs, K-3 or K-1 (the latter two I've repeatedly rented and tested). Not talking sports or flying birds, just people at receptions.

So why do I shoot with Pentax at all? It's a much more intuitive camera, it's smaller, it's built better, it's unobtrusive, and I like the image quality I get. It's weatherproof, and I live in the Northwest. Pentax is brilliant for travel and hiking. But it's hard for me to believe anyone considers the autofocus to be in the same league as Canon or Nikon.

Last edited by bkpix; 04-22-2017 at 08:26 PM.
04-22-2017, 09:58 PM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by bkpix Quote
But it's hard for me to believe anyone considers the autofocus to be in the same league as Canon or Nikon.
QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
AF speed: well, with the DFA150-450, as soon as the focus limiter is set from 6m to infinity, there is not noticeable difference in AF lock time between the Pentax and both Canons.
There is a noticeable difference at close focus distances, Canon lens spin incredibly fast, Pentax DFA150-450 is slower at close focusing distances. I guess that's thanks to the Canon lenses being able to move their optical element(s) much faster in the range of close focus distances, but those Canon lenses aren't cheap. That's why I wrote about the DFA150450 limiter being set to 6m to infinity. In a national park environment, I tried about a dozen time to refocus on different targets with both the K1 and 5DIV and 7D II, the times to AF confirmation were about the same with all cameras. But on the other hand, I was puzzled how many times I had to wait after I pressed the shutter to have the Canon start to focus, there was no lag on the K1. Other thing, when using the Canons, Canon rep was helping me out (because I wasn't familiar with Canon AF settings, he was guiding me to use the correct settings) but I wanted to set AF Auto to try it out, and he went in small panic said "oh no no no never use this mode because the camera focuses on anything which may not be what you want to focus on". Sounds familiar? I found that interesting, because we often read from Pentax users using AF Auto and reporting miss focused photos. Canon recommends using center point or selecting a group with center of the group as primary focus point, so, in fact those DSLR system have the same problem, they can't read mind the photographer and they can't know what the subject is.

Last edited by biz-engineer; 04-22-2017 at 10:06 PM.
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