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05-16-2015, 05:47 AM   #1
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My name is Don and earlier this week I received the K-50 that I researched and my wife agreed with me that it was by far the best entry level DSLR on the market. I am replacing a Nikon Coolpix300. I look forward to seeing all of the wonderful photographs and learning how to use the K-50 to the best of its and mine ability.

05-16-2015, 05:53 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by donspyv Quote
My name is Don and earlier this week I received the K-50 that I researched and my wife agreed with me that it was by far the best entry level DSLR on the market. I am replacing a Nikon Coolpix300. I look forward to seeing all of the wonderful photographs and learning how to use the K-50 to the best of its and mine ability.
Welcome, like many new Pentax DSLR users, you did your research before purchasing the Pentax DSLR which is a good thing as I am sure you will find that even with the entry level DSLR k-50, there are lots of features included compare to the other 'popular' brands. Look forward to your favourite shots using the new camera.
05-16-2015, 05:54 AM - 3 Likes   #3
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Some advice from someone who also just started with a k-50 a few months ago.
Use manual settings. Not manual focus just settings. Take many shots and make mistakes. After taking a short look at it and decide what's wrong with it. Make a correction and take it again.
Sounds silly but your mistake corrections will teach you far faster then good shots.
05-17-2015, 05:41 AM   #4
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Welcome to the forum, enjoy that new camera and remember to post some images when you get a chance.

05-17-2015, 09:24 AM   #5
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learning forever

QuoteOriginally posted by SininStyle Quote
Some advice from someone who also just started with a k-50 a few months ago.
Use manual settings. Not manual focus just settings. Take many shots and make mistakes. After taking a short look at it and decide what's wrong with it. Make a correction and take it again.
Sounds silly but your mistake corrections will teach you far faster then good shots.
That would be the tip for the day. Thanks for the encouragement for the beginners like me. Would you be kind enough to give your brief take on how to graduate from 'auto' ( my present status) to fully manually controlled photography? Regards, pgaikwad
05-17-2015, 09:48 AM   #6
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sweet! welcome aboard......pretty sure you will love that K-50 !
05-17-2015, 04:04 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by donspyv Quote
My name is Don and earlier this week I received the K-50 that I researched and my wife agreed with me that it was by far the best entry level DSLR on the market. I am replacing a Nikon Coolpix300. I look forward to seeing all of the wonderful photographs and learning how to use the K-50 to the best of its and mine ability.
Welcome Don. The hidden benefit of the Pentax camera is all the great inspiration, help and advice on this site. Some posted above already.

You made a good choice with the K-50. It's a real photographer's camera.
05-17-2015, 11:55 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by pgaikwad Quote
Would you be kind enough to give your brief take on how to graduate from 'auto' ( my present status) to fully manually controlled photography?
This is a good question. I'll give you a simple answer: take it a step at a time.

I'm assuming you are using a lens that has auto-aperture, so that the camera controls the aperture setting.

Apart from choosing the focal length, aiming the camera and focusing, there are three variables to be set: ISO (sensitivity), shutter speed and aperture. In auto mode, the camera sets all three. In fully manual mode, you set all three. The first step from auto to manual is to set one of them, and let the camera set the other two. As you get more confident you can set two or even three.

The K-50 (like a number of other Pentax cameras) has settings on the dial to let you prioritise the aperture (Av -stands for Aperture Value), shutter speed (Tv - Time Value) and ISO (Sv - sensitivity value). The current values for aperture, shutter speed and ISO (whether set by you or the camera) are displayed in the viewfinder and on the rear screen (if it isn't doing something else like LiveView or review).

Most of the time, you want to control the aperture so you can set the depth of field. So try using Av mode. In Av mode, you fix the aperture setting with the rear dial (this is the default anyway): turn it clockwise for a faster aperture (ie lower f number) - the wider (faster) the aperture the more light and the shorter the depth of field (DOF). The camera will respond by adjusting the shutter speed - as the aperture widens, the shutter speed will get faster (because the exposure doesn't need to be as long to let in the same amount of light). If you want more DOF (e.g. in a landscape photo), turn the rear dial anti-clockwise. This will require a slower shutter speed (and usually higher ISO and/or flash).

Most lenses are not at their sharpest at the widest aperture, so you will often want to narrow the aperture a bit (this is called "stopping down") to get the sharpest image, unless you want the smallest DOF for effect. But don't overdo the stopping down - beyond a certain aperture (often around f11), the sharpness falls away due to what is called "diffraction". Do some reading to find out the sweet spot for your lens.

With many lenses the centre of the image will be sharper than the edges, at least until the aperture is a couple of stops down. Depending on what you are shooting, this might not matter. For example if you are taking a portrait, you often want a shortish DOF to isolate the person from the background; assuming your subject is not at the corner or edge of the image, it won't matter at all that the corners or edges are not sharp. On the other hand, for a panorama-type landscape, you might want the maximum edge-to-edge sharpness; in that case you generally want to stop down to the aperture where the corners and edges are sharpest, even if it is slightly past the point of maximum sharpness for the centre of the image. For consumer zooms like the 18-55, 18-135, 50-200 and 55-300, where the maximum aperture is somewhere around f3.5-f5.6 (depending on the focal length), f8-f10 is usually a good choice (light permitting).

If you want to prioritise the shutter speed (e.g. to get the effect of motion, or conversely to freeze a moving subject), set the mode dial to Tv. You then dial in the shutter speed you want using the front dial (by default), and the camera will respond by setting an appropriate aperture. With the shutter speed dial, again think clockwise for faster (ie shorter exposure time). You need a fast enough shutter speed to avoid blur caused by tiny movements of the camera. For a slow speed, it's best to use a tripod. But you can get acceptable heandheld results with surprisingly slow shutter speeds, thanks to the camera's Shake Reduction function (which is turned on by default). As a rule of thumb, use the focal length as a guide to the appropriate minimum shutter speed. For example, if you are using a lens set to 50mm, aim for a shutter speed of at least 1/50th second. Obviously, the longer the focal length, the faster the speed required. With practice, you can get acceptable results at slower speeds (e.g. 1/30th second for a 50mm lens), but this is a good starting point.

As for ISO, you can also prioritise the ISO with the Sv setting, but it isn't usually necessary to do that. While you generally want the lowest ISO possible, it is usually sufficient just to keep the ISO within an acceptable band. To set the band, press the ISO button in the 4-way controller. 100-6400 is a versatile range to start with, but bear in mind that there will be noticeable noise at ISO 6400..If you really want to avoid noisy images, limit the ISO to 1600.

There is a cheat's way to semi-manual. In P (Program) mode, you can override the default shutter speed or aperture set by the camera, just by turning the front or rear dial (respectively). This is called Hyper-Program mode: read more about it in the camera manual.

As you get more confident, try TAv mode, where you set both shutter speed and aperture, and the camera sets the ISO. This is an advanced feature (unique to Pentax, I think) and really handy; like @Ter-or, it's the one I use most.

You might also try exposure bracketing to give yourself some margin. Read about it in the manual. It generate a lot of images, but you are more likely to get the correct exposure.

Happy shooting. Have fun.


Last edited by Des; 05-18-2015 at 04:36 PM.
05-18-2015, 06:17 AM   #9
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Welcome aboard! You'll have fun learning the tools available with a DSLR.

Personally, I use TAv most of the time, I find it the most flexible.
05-18-2015, 11:32 AM   #10
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You've made it so simple and easy to understand. Just like everyone in the game, I too have tried reading a lot about the theory and technique of photography but after a while it becomes a little tough. I guess that's why one needs to go a step at a time, for slow and steady learning. I know I have a long way to go but I am not in a hurry. So after I familiarize with my 4-day old K-50 and sort out my stability and hand-eye co-ordination issues, I hope to move on to Av.
My next open question to the forum: How does one minimize the shake and tremor during the shutter release on long zooms? Being a microvascular surgeon myself, I know a thing or two about reducing involuntary movements momentarily while taking a stitch under high power magnification. Only photography seems to be the reverse paradigm of microvascular surgery. In surgery, the imaging instrument (microscope) and the object (tissue being operated) is fixed/stabilized but the action ( the operation) is achieved through a precise movement of the tools. In photography, I feel, the instrument ( camera) may not always be stabilized, the subject may not be stationary but the action (shutter release) has to be dead stable.
05-18-2015, 05:06 PM   #11
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use shake reduction.....i'm gonna guess on anything 1/200 or slower.......hit the menu button.....shake reduction will be under camera setting 3 near the bottom of the list....
or better yet a tripod with shake reduction off........sometimes mirror lock up (if subject matter works) like the 3s delay using the remote
05-18-2015, 05:19 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by pgaikwad Quote
You've made it so simple and easy to understand. Just like everyone in the game, I too have tried reading a lot about the theory and technique of photography but after a while it becomes a little tough. I guess that's why one needs to go a step at a time, for slow and steady learning. I know I have a long way to go but I am not in a hurry. So after I familiarize with my 4-day old K-50 and sort out my stability and hand-eye co-ordination issues, I hope to move on to Av.
My next open question to the forum: How does one minimize the shake and tremor during the shutter release on long zooms? Being a microvascular surgeon myself, I know a thing or two about reducing involuntary movements momentarily while taking a stitch under high power magnification. Only photography seems to be the reverse paradigm of microvascular surgery. In surgery, the imaging instrument (microscope) and the object (tissue being operated) is fixed/stabilized but the action ( the operation) is achieved through a precise movement of the tools. In photography, I feel, the instrument ( camera) may not always be stabilized, the subject may not be stationary but the action (shutter release) has to be dead stable.
A technique I use on long zooms, where I want to maximise the chance of a clear shot, is to set the camera to burst mode, then I take a normal breath....hold for a second whilst I finalise the framing of the shot, then on the slow controlled exhale ... squeeze the shutter and take a burst of 3 or 4 shots....second and third are normally the best.

I tend to brace my elbows in to my body to stabilise the camera. As you get better you can shoot at slower shutter speeds with some success.

Another thing I find usefull, is the moment you are ready to press the shutter....I focus my eye on a single point within the centerish part of the picture and hold my attention on that point......similar concept to focusing on a small point on a larger target when shooting in archery etc....

Last edited by noelpolar; 05-18-2015 at 05:28 PM.
05-18-2015, 05:27 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by pgaikwad Quote
My next open question to the forum: How does one minimize the shake and tremor during the shutter release on long zooms? Being a microvascular surgeon myself, I know a thing or two about reducing involuntary movements momentarily while taking a stitch under high power magnification. Only photography seems to be the reverse paradigm of microvascular surgery. In surgery, the imaging instrument (microscope) and the object (tissue being operated) is fixed/stabilized but the action ( the operation) is achieved through a precise movement of the tools. In photography, I feel, the instrument ( camera) may not always be stabilized, the subject may not be stationary but the action (shutter release) has to be dead stable.
That's an astute observation, if I may say so. And your question is deceptively simple.

The short answer is twofold:
1. Stabilise the camera as much as possible. Ideally that means a tripod, using either the self-timer or a remote shutter release. (Cheap corded shutter releases work fine. Infra-red ones require a line of sight to the receptor which is usually on the front of the camera - OK for selfies, not so good at the edge of a cliff.) On the K-50 (and other cameras), the 2-second self timer also turns off Shake Reduction and locks up the mirrror, which avoids the very small vibration known as mirror slap which occurs as the mirror moves out of the way when you press the shutter button. If you can't use a tripod, second choice is a monopod. Failing that, you can sometimes improvise a stable base (e.g. a jacket on a rock). If you are using handheld, obviously it helps to rest the camera on something solid (rail, car door, branch, or whatever is available). Leaning against a wall, tree or pole helps too. But when none of these is available, you need to resort to stance, posture, etc, and press the shutter as smoothly as possible. See this excellent article: Making the Most of Long Exposure Handhelds - Introduction - In-Depth Articles
2. Minimise the time for camera movement. That just means a fast enough shutter speed. Long telephoto lenses require particularly fast shutter speeds, even if the subject is not moving. If it is moving (e.g. a bird in flight), the speed also needs to be fast enough to freeze the subject. For a bird with a languid flight like a heron, using a 300mm lens as an example, 1/350th second might be sufficient (even 1/250th if you are very steady and use Shake Reduction); for something fast like a swallow, you might need 1/1000th second or faster.

It gets exponentially more difficult as the focal length increases. I'm no sharpshooter, but I can comfortably shoot handheld at 300mm at 1/180th second or even slower. With practice, I can get good results from my 400mm lens handheld, even down to 1/200th second and sometimes slower. When I had a 500mm zoom, I found it difficult to get good results below 1/500th second handheld; often I needed to go to 1/750th or faster, even with a reasonably static subject.

These high speeds require good light and/or high ISO, even using the lens at its widest aperture. When the widest aperture is only f6.3, and you need f8 for decent sharpness, the problem is particularly acute. High ISO (above 3200) compromises image quality (this can be fixed to some extent with post-processing software, but you start with a disadvantage). To overcome this problem, some of the expert bird photographers use powerful flashes, with a magnifier (sometimes called a snoot); an example is the Better Beamer. (Plenty of discussion about this in these forums.)

Last edited by Des; 05-18-2015 at 09:14 PM.
05-18-2015, 05:53 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by pgaikwad Quote
You've made it so simple and easy to understand. Just like everyone in the game, I too have tried reading a lot about the theory and technique of photography but after a while it becomes a little tough. I guess that's why one needs to go a step at a time, for slow and steady learning. I know I have a long way to go but I am not in a hurry. So after I familiarize with my 4-day old K-50 and sort out my stability and hand-eye co-ordination issues, I hope to move on to Av.
My next open question to the forum: How does one minimize the shake and tremor during the shutter release on long zooms? Being a microvascular surgeon myself, I know a thing or two about reducing involuntary movements momentarily while taking a stitch under high power magnification. Only photography seems to be the reverse paradigm of microvascular surgery. In surgery, the imaging instrument (microscope) and the object (tissue being operated) is fixed/stabilized but the action ( the operation) is achieved through a precise movement of the tools. In photography, I feel, the instrument ( camera) may not always be stabilized, the subject may not be stationary but the action (shutter release) has to be dead stable.
I picked up an advanced camera (interchangeable lenses, one with manual control) for the first time about 2 years ago. The best investment I made was to take a hands-on introductory photography class (six, 2-hour lessons). Yes, it's possible to teach yourself but personally, I learn best by having someone demonstrate the core concepts and make themselves available to help me deal with the dials if I can't figure it out. Weekly 2-hour classes were great because my brain tended to get over-full after 2 hours. Short homework assignments reinforced the concepts. If you think you might learn well in a classroom setting, I encourage you to try it, for at least a few classes. There also are some online photography schools (like bpsop.com, especially the Understanding Exposure Course) that can be helpful, although I found it was easier to slack off and not do the homework in those courses.

I also have enjoyed courses because I really like meeting the other students and seeing what catches their eye. Since that first class two years ago, I've gone on to take over a dozen courses and am actually enrolled in a kind of post-graduate fine arts certificate program now. It really has been a wonderful experience.

Frog out of Water Photography
05-18-2015, 06:14 PM   #15
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Thanks very much for your time and suggestions. Being a teacher, I get what you mean. I shall explore the formal class-based learning .

---------- Post added 05-19-15 at 01:35 AM ----------

There's no denying that the mentioned accessories will give the best images but it can be practically difficult to carry the whole gear everywhere all the time without being a killjoy during the social outings when there's a sudden opportunity to capture something interesting. The first point surely is very essential to know but the second tip is yet another gem coming from your experience which at least I have been ignorant of and I can't thank you enough for that. Keep them coming.
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