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06-25-2010, 07:04 AM   #1
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AF is noisy

Hi all,

I was just wondering about Pentax lenses' AF noise level compared to the other brands. I'm pretty new to DSLR so please excuse my ignorance.

Lately I have been noticing that the AF noise of all the Pentax lenses I own are pretty loud; I have the K-x kit lens, DA 55-300 and the newly acquired DA 35mm Ltd. It's not much of a problem outdoors, which is probably why I haven't noticed it much until now, since I spent most of the time shooting outdoors. But whenever I try to take a shot inside, everyone's head would turn to me due to the high pitch, motor noise. I don't recall hearing that when my buddies shoot with their Canons (but maybe I just wasn't really paying attention).

I'm sure many of you have used multiple brands so how do they compare and how do you get around the noise? I read some people use MF a lot but I'm still terrible at it so I'm also wondering if there are other ways to mitigate the problem?

06-25-2010, 07:14 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by ruggiex Quote
Hi all,

I was just wondering about Pentax lenses' AF noise level compared to the other brands. I'm pretty new to DSLR so please excuse my ignorance.

Lately I have been noticing that the AF noise of all the Pentax lenses I own are pretty loud; I have the K-x kit lens, DA 55-300 and the newly acquired DA 35mm Ltd. It's not much of a problem outdoors, which is probably why I haven't noticed it much until now, since I spent most of the time shooting outdoors. But whenever I try to take a shot inside, everyone's head would turn to me due to the high pitch, motor noise. I don't recall hearing that when my buddies shoot with their Canons (but maybe I just wasn't really paying attention).

I'm sure many of you have used multiple brands so how do they compare and how do you get around the noise? I read some people use MF a lot but I'm still terrible at it so I'm also wondering if there are other ways to mitigate the problem?
You're right. Unless you use SDM lenses, AF on Pentax DSLR is extremely noisy compared to Canikon's due to in-body instead of in-lens AF. You will eventually get used to it. I used MF almost 95% of the time so no big deal for me.
06-25-2010, 09:43 AM   #3
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Hm that is a bit unfortunate... Any pro tip for getting good at MF fast? lol... Most of the time I think the shot is in focus in the viewfinder it turn out that it's slightly off when I look at the photo on the monitor.
06-25-2010, 11:15 AM   #4
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I would compare it with driving a stickshift. After years of experience, it will probably become a lower brain stem function. I say "probably" because I've been doing it about a month and my manual focusing skills still suck.

But I must persevere.

06-25-2010, 11:37 AM   #5
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Pentax screw-drive lenses are noisy. The SDM variety is quiet, however, and is comparable to the USM or whatever Canikon calls it.

I recently got a Sigma with HSM and it takes some getting used to because you only see the focus change, but it's silent in operation. After a couple years of listening to the focus, it's like - "Is it working?"
06-25-2010, 11:41 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK Quote
Pentax screw-drive lenses are noisy. The SDM variety is quiet, however, and is comparable to the USM or whatever Canikon calls it.

I recently got a Sigma with HSM and it takes some getting used to because you only see the focus change, but it's silent in operation. After a couple years of listening to the focus, it's like - "Is it working?"
You should take the earplugs out, which Pentax should have included in the camera box. Pentax's screwdriver AF is really noisy.

Ben
06-25-2010, 12:46 PM   #7
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I have 18-55 wr and 55-300 but this FA43 is louder than the other two. Definitely not helping while indoor or wanting to be discrete.
06-25-2010, 01:56 PM   #8
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Just to echo what others have said. I was really really bad with manual focus. Over the couple months I stuck to it I got much better. Eventually you will almost have an instinct on which way and how far to turn the focus ring in quick situations.

Plus just kinda having an eye for what your viewfinder looks like when things pop into focus helps. Of course it's a bit easier with faster glass, the viewfinder is brighter than with some zooms (my 18-55 just looks down right dark, and it's almost impossible to manual focus it in dim lighting.

06-25-2010, 02:22 PM   #9
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Hi ruggiex,

I found that the more I shoot, the more people tend to ignore the fact that I'm shooting -- even when I'm using an external flash. I shoot birds primarily, but like to shoot candids of people if the occasion arises. I've heard it said that AF motor noise scares birds away, but I've not experienced much of this, and I shoot a lot of my bird shots from 8-15 feet away. My primary lens for people shooting is the Tamron 28-75/2.8 XR Di -- it's a screw drive lens, and I have to be reasonably close. . . I think that the focusing motor noise is much more apparent to the shooter than it is to the subjects you're shooting. . .

One way to minimize the focusing noise (if you are using a DA lens with Quick Shift) is to manually prefocus the lens so it's close to in-focus, then the focus motor only needs a very quick "zip", and it's focused. With the Tamron, which doesn't have QS, I just move around so I'm shooting from a pretty constant distance, so the AF system has little to do except touch up the critical focus. My only SDM lens is the DA*50-135/2.8, and I find the size of the lens actually attracts more attention when it's mounted than the screw drive motor noise does with the much smaller Tamron.

My suggestion is to just ignore the noise -- you'll get used to it, and so will the people that you're shooting.

Scott
06-25-2010, 04:43 PM   #10
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Advice on getting good at MF:

1) use a lens *intended* to be focused manually (ie, not an AF lens, which usually have focus rings that are too loose and have too short a focus throw to control accurately)

2) practice using a sheet of text or something else where you can concentrate on exactly where you are focusing and where the focus comes out. And don't think of focus as a single point, but a whole zone. Pay attention to the whole focus zone in the viewfinder, and compare to the actual picture. With large aperture lenses, the focus zone will be narrower in the picture than the viewfinde,r which is extremely unfortunate but possible to account for with practice

3) pay attention to, but dont rely exclusively on, the focus confirmation hexagon
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