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05-15-2018, 06:10 PM - 2 Likes   #16
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Pentax has it's strengths and weaknesses in AF, just like many other brands.

It seems common to assume AF only has to be is 'fast' to be good. But often other dimensions of AF performance are missing from this common measure of 'good'.

A few things that spring to mind are the accuracy of camera AF performance (with related issues of how consistently accurate the AF is), and the working range of the AF, in particular it's light sensitivity. If the AF can't work in low-light, a whole range of shooting scenarios are off-limits, and the calculus of what 'good' AF performance means needs to reflect that.

On the 'accuracy' variable, Pentax has usually tracked well here from various testing sites (if memory serves, demonstrated by tests from France 'Chasseur d'Images' & 'DigitalFotoNetz' in Germany) where the measure is reliably producing sharp images. But there is a big caveat, of course, to any claims of superior shot-to-shot AF accuracy in any PDAF system, where accuracy depends on, amongst other things, normal camera/lens variation.

On the matter of low-light AF, it's notable that Pentax has consistently led other DSLR brands with the low-light sensitivity of it's camera AF: the K-5II came with -3EV AF sensitivity in 2012, whilst the first Nikon to meet that specification (the FF D750) came out in 2014, and the first Nikon APS-C to match -3EV (the D7200) only came out in 2015. Similarly with Canon - the FF 6D did -3 EV in 2012, but no other Canon until the APS-C 7D2 in 2014 was provided with the same sensitivity. And despite the 645Z/K-3/K-3II/K-S2/K-70 etc coming along, no Sony got anywhere near -3EV EV AF sensitivity until the A7S was released in 2014.

TL; DR - AF is a huge can of worms. Pentax does OK, depending how you look at it.

05-15-2018, 11:05 PM - 1 Like   #17
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Auto focus is IMO one of the most over-rated features of modern cameras(*). Yes, it is a useful feature but far from
essential. I can think of many camera features I find more important. Choice of an accurate light meter or AF?
I'll take the meter. Choice of auto-bracketing or AF? I'll take bracketing. Choice of Bulb or AF? I'll take Bulb. etc.

My very first AF SLR was a K10D, despite the fact that I've been a serious photographer since the early '90s
and have owned cameras since the mid '70s. I still shoot a high percentage of my images with manual lenses, or
with AF lenses set to manual focus.

(*)If we're talking only digital era, then it ties with sensor size.
05-15-2018, 11:41 PM - 2 Likes   #18
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The big problem with AF really is that it's used as a stick to beat Pentax with in reviews and endlessly parroted by the Pentax haters who are surprisingly numerous for as small and inoffensive company - I can only think that they were bitten by a feral K1000 in their youths. RI needs to get AF quicker in it's 'flagship' models simply to stop them being marked down on it and thus probably losing sales and revenue for R&D. It's clear that they are working in that direction, but so is everybody else, so the gap doesn't close. I agree with other comments, most recently by @rawr that AF speed is by no means the only useful metric - and one of the easier ways to improve it is to shorten the focus throw, and therefore focusing accuracy, of the lenses, but it's become (with video) the main reason Pentax are marked down and, as I say, that deters buyers who don't get to experience all the upsides.
05-16-2018, 01:27 AM   #19
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How did Cartier-Bresson, Capa, Doisneau, Smith manage to shoot without auto-focus? I still wonder how they dared shooting without autofocus... I really can understand why there pictures are rubbish...

05-16-2018, 01:37 AM - 2 Likes   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by teiki arii Quote
How did Cartier-Bresson, Capa, Doisneau, Smith manage to shoot without auto-focus? I still wonder how they dared shooting without autofocus... I really can understand why there pictures are rubbish...
Admittedly not all in focus, but certainly not rubbish - and yes - I think too many people are getting obsessed with the technical side of photography and forgetting the artistic side...
05-16-2018, 01:55 AM - 2 Likes   #21
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While I don’t actually disagree with the sentiments expressed by those who don’t regard AF improvements as being of major importance, I’m also mindful that the present state of AF development is probably a limitation to the attractiveness of the brand to the broader market for DSLRs. How big that limitation is, is beyond my knowledge, but its overcoming would certainly remove a lot of antagonistic noise from camera review sites, not to mention the biased opinions of users of other brands who advise newcomers to the market.
05-16-2018, 02:13 AM - 1 Like   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by RobA_Oz Quote
While I don’t actually disagree with the sentiments expressed by those who don’t regard AF improvements as being of major importance, I’m also mindful that the present state of AF development is probably a limitation to the attractiveness of the brand to the broader market for DSLRs. How big that limitation is, is beyond my knowledge, but its overcoming would certainly remove a lot of antagonistic noise from camera review sites, not to mention the biased opinions of users of other brands who advise newcomers to the market.
I agree Autofocus can be a stumbling block for some people and then they choose Nikon or Canon or Sony or whatever else... But for Pentaxians, this is not a priority nor a "Top Priority". Otherwise, they should have chosen another brand. But according to pinciple: "who can do more can do less", we have to consider autofocus, right. There are plenty of very good cameras, just choose according to your needs. I am not a partisan of pentax brand, but this K-1 is the one I feel it was maid for me and I am very happy of it, with or without autofocus...
Best regards.
05-16-2018, 02:49 AM - 2 Likes   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
While I would certainly welcome continued improvement in this area, Ricoh's core customers aren't ones who crave cutting-edge AF. All those folks are shooting with another brand by now.
I've been using Pentax SLRs (and no other SLRs) for over 50 years. I have a huge investment in Pentax FF equipment: a K-1 (which will soon be upgraded), and all the major recent FF lenses, plus various 3rd-party FF lenses.

I print my photos for competitions and exhibitions, (typically at A3+ after cropping), and also publish them for the web. Image quality from my Pentax FF equipment is more than enough for these purposes, since I know how to squeeze lots of image quality from my images.

I do a lot of action photography, as well as other sorts. The Pentax FF range has become unbalanced, with inadequate capability for those who do some action photography. I believe that even many of those who do mainly other sorts of photography also do some photography that can benefit from better AF and better burst-rate.

I am also concerned that the continual bad publicity and reviews of those aspects of the Pentax FF range will inevitably reduce the customer base, (or inhibit its growth), and hence constrain the resources available for future development. (Will this eventually kill the K-range?)

In other words, people who don't themselves want better AF and burst rate will benefit in future if those are available to those who do.

05-16-2018, 04:15 AM   #24
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The responses indicate that the majority of Pentax users are primarily interested in high "still image quality" and relatively lower equipment prices. That is a rational and practical strategy for a niche market brand. It goes with low marketing and R & D expenses and careful expense control. I, for one, am very positively impressed with what Pentax has been able to accomplish with their APS-C and Full Frame products.

I wonder if there might be demand, possibly leading to increased market share, for a stripped down, lower cost full frame Pentax camera. In my experience developing opto-mechanical-electrical products for industry, it is much cheaper and quicker to derive a cost reduced version of an existing successful high end product than to develop a major new generation of the product. And it is often very profitable and market share enhancing. A stripped down version of the K-1 might involve the elimination of the following features: HDMI interface, GPS and compass (no astro-tracer), the two extra controls on top right for rapid function selection, the top deck small LCD panel, the articulating screen (replace with with a K-70 style screen), the LED operation assist lights, the accelerator unit extra processor (in mark II). Utilizing the existing K-1 chassis would minimize engineering and manufacturing tooling expense. If the lower cost product was successful, further cost reductions could be achieved by replacing the K-1 chassis with a K-70 style chassis, but this would take more time and more engineering and tooIing expense. If the selling price could be mid-way between the current K-1 ($1700) and the current KP ($900), i.e. about $1250, and the current superb image quality could be maintained, the market impact might be positive for Pentax. A simpler menu system, based on the current one, might be appreciated by novice users.

Skipping all the above technical detail, the question is would there be a good market for a stripped down K-1? If Pentax can bring more customers into their full frame category, then market share, economies of scale, demand for Pentax lenses and profitability (which goes with market share) should be enhanced.

Canon / Nikon / Sony would be reluctant to offer substantially cost reduced, but high image quality cameras, because their flagship products would be cannibalized, i.e. assuming roughly constant unit volume, their revenues would be reduced due to lower average prices.
05-16-2018, 08:05 AM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by teiki arii Quote
How did Cartier-Bresson, Capa, Doisneau, Smith manage to shoot without auto-focus? I still wonder how they dared shooting without autofocus... I really can understand why there pictures are rubbish...
QuoteOriginally posted by ffking Quote
Admittedly not all in focus, but certainly not rubbish - and yes - I think too many people are getting obsessed with the technical side of photography and forgetting the artistic side...
Actually, much of the old "Street Photos" wouldn't be recognized as 'art' today. Fellig, of "f/8 and be there fame" and others used f/8 so almost everything would be in focus because DOF was so thick. That is certainly a style - in fact, most of what I do is using thick DOF. AF accuracy becomes an issue when people want to have a much thinner DOF, or when they're using such a long focal length that DOF is thin almost aways.
05-16-2018, 08:36 AM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by Quark Quote

I wonder if there might be demand, possibly leading to increased market share, for a stripped down, lower cost full frame Pentax camera. In my experience developing opto-mechanical-electrical products for industry, it is much cheaper and quicker to derive a cost reduced version of an existing successful high end product than to develop a major new generation of the product. And it is often very profitable and market share enhancing. A stripped down version of the K-1 might involve the elimination of the following features: HDMI interface, GPS and compass (no astro-tracer), the two extra controls on top right for rapid function selection, the top deck small LCD panel, the articulating screen (replace with with a K-70 style screen), the LED operation assist lights, the accelerator unit extra processor (in mark II). Utilizing the existing K-1 chassis would minimize engineering and manufacturing tooling expense. If the lower cost product was successful, further cost reductions could be achieved by replacing the K-1 chassis with a K-70 style chassis, but this would take more time and more engineering and tooIing expense. If the selling price could be mid-way between the current K-1 ($1700) and the current KP ($900), i.e. about $1250, and the current superb image quality could be maintained, the market impact might be positive for Pentax. A simpler menu system, based on the current one, might be appreciated by novice users.

Skipping all the above technical detail, the question is would there be a good market for a stripped down K-1? If Pentax can bring more customers into their full frame category, then market share, economies of scale, demand for Pentax lenses and profitability (which goes with market share) should be enhanced.
Though I did not agree with your opening AF comments, I do agree with this. In fact I've suggested this approach several times before ... and been shot down in flames Forget the novice user angle, a simple, high IQ at lower cost has, I feel, many advantages. Less to go wrong. Lighter. As it would be cheaper, it would be less precious (I'm thinking not getting so hung up about keeping it pristine). Less confusing to use and buyers would know what they were getting so less negativity in the market. Longer battery life, especially helpful at low temperatures.

I'm thinking how Nokia are coming back into the market with simpler, long battery life mobiles, of reliable quality.

Perhaps a little extra, marketing, focus on robustness (which is good now) and a marketing approach for this type of camera to be used in all weathers as a landscape camera. It would interest me...
05-16-2018, 08:49 AM   #27
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The low cost full frame Pentax camera is the K-1.
05-16-2018, 10:12 AM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by rawr Quote
It seems common to assume AF only has to be is 'fast' to be good. But often other dimensions of AF performance are missing from this common measure of 'good'.

A few things that spring to mind are the accuracy of camera AF performance (with related issues of how consistently accurate the AF is), and the working range of the AF, in particular it's light sensitivity. If the AF can't work in low-light, a whole range of shooting scenarios are off-limits, and the calculus of what 'good' AF performance means needs to reflect that.

On the 'accuracy' variable, Pentax has usually tracked well here from various testing sites (if memory serves, demonstrated by tests from France 'Chasseur d'Images' & 'DigitalFotoNetz' in Germany) where the measure is reliably producing sharp images. But there is a big caveat, of course, to any claims of superior shot-to-shot AF accuracy in any PDAF system, where accuracy depends on, amongst other things, normal camera/lens variation.
I agree accuracy is more important than speed. AF should give confidence to the photographer, and this confidence part is subjective. I do not get that in K1. I have tried AF-calibration but that offset value depends on the focal length(in case of zoom). Now I use focus-peak and very happy with that. If I can get focus-peaking in EVF, that will be fantastic.

---------- Post added 05-16-18 at 10:18 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Quark Quote
The responses indicate that the majority of Pentax users are primarily interested in high "still image quality" and relatively lower equipment prices. That is a rational and practical strategy for a niche market brand. It goes with low marketing and R & D expenses and careful expense control. I, for one, am very positively impressed with what Pentax has been able to accomplish with their APS-C and Full Frame products.

I wonder if there might be demand, possibly leading to increased market share, for a stripped down, lower cost full frame Pentax camera. In my experience developing opto-mechanical-electrical products for industry, it is much cheaper and quicker to derive a cost reduced version of an existing successful high end product than to develop a major new generation of the product. And it is often very profitable and market share enhancing. A stripped down version of the K-1 might involve the elimination of the following features: HDMI interface, GPS and compass (no astro-tracer), the two extra controls on top right for rapid function selection, the top deck small LCD panel, the articulating screen (replace with with a K-70 style screen), the LED operation assist lights, the accelerator unit extra processor (in mark II). Utilizing the existing K-1 chassis would minimize engineering and manufacturing tooling expense. If the lower cost product was successful, further cost reductions could be achieved by replacing the K-1 chassis with a K-70 style chassis, but this would take more time and more engineering and tooIing expense. If the selling price could be mid-way between the current K-1 ($1700) and the current KP ($900), i.e. about $1250, and the current superb image quality could be maintained, the market impact might be positive for Pentax. A simpler menu system, based on the current one, might be appreciated by novice users.

Skipping all the above technical detail, the question is would there be a good market for a stripped down K-1? If Pentax can bring more customers into their full frame category, then market share, economies of scale, demand for Pentax lenses and profitability (which goes with market share) should be enhanced.

Canon / Nikon / Sony would be reluctant to offer substantially cost reduced, but high image quality cameras, because their flagship products would be cannibalized, i.e. assuming roughly constant unit volume, their revenues would be reduced due to lower average prices.
I think this is a good idea.
05-16-2018, 11:02 AM   #29
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What benefit would Ricoh get from a cut-down FF camera?

Suppose Ricoh developed a cut-down version of the K-1. How many extra FF lenses would they sell as a result?

Their analysis may be that anyone who isn't prepared to pay for the K-1 is unlikely to spend much on new lenses. Such people are more likely to use their existing FF lenses, or buy 2nd-hand FF lenses, or buy 3rd-party FF lenses. In which case, why should Ricoh bother developing such a low-revenue camera?

With limited development resources, Ricoh may decide that they should be doing 3 things:
(1) Keep adding capability to the K-1-series, because their competition will keep adding to their FF capability.
(2) Launch new high-value high-cost lenses to encourage people with money to buy those lenses. (New 50mm. New 85mm).
(3) Launch new high-quality but relatively limited alternatives to recent FF lenses, so that people can complete their FF range at a lower cost than the recent high-price FF lenses. (New 70-200 f/4 on the roadmap).

Anyone without enough money for a high-value FF system can be catered by high-image-quality APSC cameras and lenses. Why do such people need FF anyway?
05-16-2018, 11:12 AM   #30
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I don't know if AF should be the "TOP" priority but it should be close. Yes you can get great photos with the AF that Pentax has!!
But if your buying your first DSLR and your interested in action shots (kids growing up) Pentax does not jump out at you. I've been a die hard Pentax shooter since the early 80's and in the last ten years I've had many times wished I had jumped ship. But as many of you I have invested to much to leave. And its kind of "COOL" shooting with the under dog 😀. But I did end up buying a Canon 1D III and a couple of L telephoto's for my action/kids in sports shooting. The AF with this camera is just superior to my K3 II and I get more keepers and at the end off the day that's what its all about.
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