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09-15-2010, 10:05 PM   #1
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Kx First Pics... Discouraged but hopeful

Just got my Kx today with the 18-55 and 50-300 kit. I've owned a couple early Olympus digitals, and my latest was a Canon A710IS (7.1Mp, 6x), but the Kx is my first DSLR.
I've taken over 100 pics today, and frankly, I'm a bit discouraged. I was hoping that I would be able to see a distinctly superior picture compared to my Canon, but in my test shots today, the Canon provided the sharper picture with better color every time. I started in Auto mode, but I only had a few pics out of the 100+ that would be usable without doing some kind of PP.
I've attached some comparison shots that should indicate my concerns. In the pic of the lamp, the Kx is on the right. (f/7.1; 1/640; ISO200; 42.5mm - the Canon is a 50%crop, the Kx is 42%). The Kx image is noticeably softer. (I see in the attached pic that you can see the softness in the brass, but it's harder to see that there is a caution label on the base of the rightmost bulb that is quite legible on the Canon and not at all so on the Kx.)
With the pic of the ruler, the Kx is on top, and you can see what a soft blob it is compared to the Canon. (Kx image: f/7.1; 1/100; ISO 1600; 55mm)
SO, I've been reading around this forum and others about soft pics w/ the Kx. I'm hopeful I can improve the pic.
  • Most advice indicates that I should use f/8 or higher with the 18-55 lens.
  • (BTW, before trying that, I did also shoot some PEF pics, thinking that the JPEG was the problem, but they were no better...)
  • I raised the sharpness level a notch in the Custom Image menu.
Now to do these things means I can't really use the Auto Pic mode. I'm discouraged with that because I don't want to have to always take the time to get WB and f stop and ISO adjusted... Or am I missing something?

I will add one more pic that did encourage me to hope that I will be able to get decent pics out of this camera, but if anyone has some suggestions on how to get sharper pics, especially in Auto mode, I would appreciate it.




Last edited by mgvh; 07-07-2013 at 09:29 PM.
09-15-2010, 10:24 PM   #2
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I also found that some adjusting was needed when I got my Kx a few weeks ago. I have used aperture and shutter priority and did not need to adjust white balance, it is set to auto. Someone else will be able to say for sure, but in the ruler photos, could it be a focus issue? I have noticed that my 18-55 does not do well with close ups.
09-15-2010, 10:35 PM   #3
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What is the 18-55's reputation at 55mm?
I don't use it very often, so I thought I would ask.

Also.. .are we certain the AF is accurate on the Kx?
I'd try dropping into live view, zooming-in and dbl checking that.

I don't want to knock the lens, but if you truly want to give the Kx sensor a workou, you might want to try with something like a prime instead(ie. SMC Tak. 55/1.8 etc.)
09-15-2010, 11:20 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by JohnBee Quote
What is the 18-55's reputation at 55mm?
I don't use it very often, so I thought I would ask.

Also.. .are we certain the AF is accurate on the Kx?
I'd try dropping into live view, zooming-in and dbl checking that.

I don't want to knock the lens, but if you truly want to give the Kx sensor a workou, you might want to try with something like a prime instead(ie. SMC Tak. 55/1.8 etc.)
Or do some manual focus exposures, with some I mean a couple at slightly different adjusted focus distance. So from -2 to +2 in steps of .1

09-15-2010, 11:24 PM   #5
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Welcome to the forum. Please do not be discourage. Your experience is very similar to many other newcomers to dSLRs. I had myself several P&S incl. Ultra-zooms before getting my K-7. My first shots were very disappointing.

From my own experience, I believe that the key steps to improve are :

1- Read the instruction manual. Yes it is big, but there are a lot of useful infos. It took me two weeks and read completely the manual and I tend to read again some sections every so often.

2- Shoot a lot. Learn to handle your camera and your lens. The 18-55mm is not a bad kit lens.

3- Learn to post-process PP. With practice, you can easily enhance your shots even with light PP. I use PDCU and I keep PP to a minimum. But the results are worthwhile.

Hope that the comment will assist...
09-15-2010, 11:37 PM   #6
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Try updating your firmware as well.

Support & Service : PENTAX

Be sure to read and follow the instructions to the letter.

As you read, a dSLR is not a point and shoot. It takes some getting use to before you end up with results that will amaze you.

09-16-2010, 05:50 AM   #7
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I don't understand why a dSLR like K-x in green mode is more difficult than auto mode of a P&S and by default requires post-processing?!?!?!
09-16-2010, 06:14 AM   #8
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Joep,

I was exactly in your shoes. My wife actually was so discouraged that almost wanted me to give up the Kx (after all that convincing from my part to be able to get it ). The first issue that I was having was not really understanding that the aperture has a much greater effect on the image when it comes to DSLRs. The green mode doesn't always know how much DOF do you need. Focusing is also mych more critical.
The other factor is the lens. After getting my Tammy 28-75 i was like WOW. Very sharp lens. Not that the kit lens is not acceptable but there are some soft ones out there (like mine was). BTW my kx needed +110 focus correction (debug mode). Now every lens that I own is spot on with autofocus.
Now, after 8 months (and more money spent that I originally planned [LBA]) I am a happy shooter. Don't give up, it's a learning process.

09-16-2010, 06:20 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by JoepLX3 Quote
I don't understand why a dSLR like K-x in green mode is more difficult than auto mode of a P&S and by default requires post-processing?!?!?!
Generally it should be fine.
However, since a DSLR can shoot both RAW and JPG files, its common to mention that as a precaution.
On the issue of DSLR vs. P&S, there's always the possibility that the in camera settings aren't up to snuff. Though in this case, I really think were looking at an optical discrepancy rather than in camera settings. Either the camera isn't properly focused or the lens isn't up to snuff or something along those lines.
09-16-2010, 06:21 AM   #10
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I don't have a k-x, but I would guess that the lamp pic represents a focus issue and the ruler might be too close a subject.

For the focus, you could try setting the camera to the center autofocus point (and center the lamp in-shot); try that at 35 mm f/8 on yur kit lens and I will be surprised if ypu don't have a sharper pic. I would do that before checking for back or front focus (which is a generally a lens issue, not a camera issue, afaik).
09-16-2010, 06:53 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by agsy Quote
Joep,

I was exactly in your shoes. My wife actually was so discouraged that almost wanted me to give up the Kx (after all that convincing from my part to be able to get it ). The first issue that I was having was not really understanding that the aperture has a much greater effect on the image when it comes to DSLRs. The green mode doesn't always know how much DOF do you need. Focusing is also mych more critical.
The other factor is the lens. After getting my Tammy 28-75 i was like WOW. Very sharp lens. Not that the kit lens is not acceptable but there are some soft ones out there (like mine was). BTW my kx needed +110 focus correction (debug mode). Now every lens that I own is spot on with autofocus.
Now, after 8 months (and more money spent that I originally planned [LBA]) I am a happy shooter. Don't give up, it's a learning process.
Bigger sensor and larger aperture indeed ask more from both user and camera. Indeed P&S are also optimized for dummy users (potentially including close-by focus capabilities better than non-macro DSLR lenses).
- Need for focus corrections is just sign of very bad manufactoring process compared to P&S...
- A proper in-camera warnings during auto mode to guide dummy user would be pretty useful!!!
09-16-2010, 02:42 PM   #12
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Thank you, all! A couple hundred shots later, and I am HAPPY!
Here is what I learned using the 18-55 lens:
Changing the autofocus to the center point helps. I figure I can always set the center focus on the point I want then recompose as needed.
I updated the firmware, but I don't know how much of a difference in pic quality that made.
The biggest factors I discovered are the ISO and f stop. Using Auto ISO, it sure seemed to want to jump up to 1600 or even 3200. I cranked it down, and that made a HUGE difference. ISO 200 and 400 are both great, and 800 can also be quite usable. The higher ISOs will have their place, but to demonstrate quality/clarity of the camera, they don't help.
It appears that the camera does work best with f stops of 5.6-10. It can go higher/lower, of course, but 7.1-8 seems to be the sweet spot.
I also discovered that it is very easy to take lots of bad pictures. Good pictures are harder.

Dark and dreary day here, so I don't have anything worth sharing, but I do have the Kx far outperforming my little Canon A710IS.

NEXT: Start playing with the 50-300 lens!
Thanks again.

@agsy: I was in the same position as you! I didn't dare show my wife the pics after having argued that this was such a great camera and worth the price. I did show her now, and the difference is clear enough to get affirmation for the camera.
09-16-2010, 02:56 PM - 1 Like   #13
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A basic rule is to use the lowest ISO you can. That will always provide a sharper image. Another thing probably happening are depth of field issues, something you don't have to think about with P&S cameras. They use a much smaller sensor and a shorter lens. Wide open, they have a DOF similar to f/8 or f/11 with the kit lens on your Kx. These are common problems many people have with their first SLR and pops up with every brand. Hang in there. There's plenty of great advice here on the forum. Glad thing are getting better.
09-16-2010, 03:04 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by mgvh Quote
Thank you, all! A couple hundred shots later, and I am HAPPY!
Here is what I learned using the 18-55 lens:
Changing the autofocus to the center point helps. I figure I can always set the center focus on the point I want then recompose as needed.
I updated the firmware, but I don't know how much of a difference in pic quality that made.
The biggest factors I discovered are the ISO and f stop. Using Auto ISO, it sure seemed to want to jump up to 1600 or even 3200. I cranked it down, and that made a HUGE difference. ISO 200 and 400 are both great, and 800 can also be quite usable. The higher ISOs will have their place, but to demonstrate quality/clarity of the camera, they don't help.
It appears that the camera does work best with f stops of 5.6-10. It can go higher/lower, of course, but 7.1-8 seems to be the sweet spot.
I also discovered that it is very easy to take lots of bad pictures. Good pictures are harder.

Dark and dreary day here, so I don't have anything worth sharing, but I do have the Kx far outperforming my little Canon A710IS.

NEXT: Start playing with the 50-300 lens!
Thanks again.

@agsy: I was in the same position as you! I didn't dare show my wife the pics after having argued that this was such a great camera and worth the price. I did show her now, and the difference is clear enough to get affirmation for the camera.
I don't know if it would have made a difference or not. In the beginning, the Kx had issues with the Battery meter, that likely, would have made you hate the camera even more. Sometimes, Pentax has been known to 'sneak' things in to firmware updates.

09-16-2010, 03:20 PM   #15
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Glad it's working out for you. As a dSLR newbie with the K-x, I was in exactly the same situation.

For a fun exercise - take some shots as the sun goes down, doesn't matter if it's a dark and dreary day. Put the K-x in P mode (on the top mode dial), set the ISO to be auto ISO 200-6400, and be sure the Shake Reduction is on if you are hand holding the camera. As it gets dark, take a picture every couple of minutes until it's almost fully dark. Try this with the lens at it's widest zoom (18mm), and use manual focus (the switch down by the lens mount), and set the focus to be infinity. Shoot at the neighbors house or some trees or something at least 20-30 ft away, preferably further away...

As it gets dark, the P mode on the K-x will drive the lens to be wide open (smallest F-number) and the shutter speed down to 1/45 sec. P mode will start driving the ISO higher as it gets darker, to be more sensitive. Eventually, even the shutter will be open longer and longer, and the images will start getting blurry because you are hand holding the camera....

You will be really amazed at how well the pictures come out when you almost need a flashlight to walk around outside. Far beyond anything a P&S camera can do, almost like seeing in the dark.
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