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12-28-2010, 11:01 AM   #1
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K7 and Built in Flash

Yes I've searched, but I must be missing something. Having read posts, I see most suggest using a Manual or Tv setting to start withe a shutter speed of 180 or less, then let the camera choose the lens opening and setting ISO at 200 (or something pleasing)
I just finished taking pics Christmas Eve in a darkish room with tree lights an a bit of lamp lighting. Two other family members used their Nikon 90D's. Their flash pictures were really nice but mine were over exposed using P or Auto. Should the K7 not be able to take acceptable pics with the pop up flash, without having to play with the settings manually? Is this a Pentax thing? One reason I upgraded from the K100 to the K7 was that my camera store guy said it would be really good with low light or flash. (family gatherings, dimly lit, around the table etc) So far, no improvement seen. ISO 800 and 1600 are really noisy? Is it because I have a 5.6 lens and it's not fast enough?
Maybe I'm misunderstanding the DSLR world. My old ME Super was great with a little hot shoe flash. You'd pick the subject distance, ISO of the film and the table on the back of the flash would suggest Shutter and Aperture. Ta Da!

A little advice please?
Thanks!

12-28-2010, 11:25 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by GoldenRGuy Quote
Yes I've searched, but I must be missing something. Having read posts, I see most suggest using a Manual or Tv setting to start withe a shutter speed of 180 or less, then let the camera choose the lens opening and setting ISO at 200 (or something pleasing)
I just finished taking pics Christmas Eve in a darkish room with tree lights an a bit of lamp lighting. Two other family members used their Nikon 90D's. Their flash pictures were really nice but mine were over exposed using P or Auto. Should the K7 not be able to take acceptable pics with the pop up flash, without having to play with the settings manually? Is this a Pentax thing? One reason I upgraded from the K100 to the K7 was that my camera store guy said it would be really good with low light or flash. (family gatherings, dimly lit, around the table etc) So far, no improvement seen. ISO 800 and 1600 are really noisy? Is it because I have a 5.6 lens and it's not fast enough?
Maybe I'm misunderstanding the DSLR world. My old ME Super was great with a little hot shoe flash. You'd pick the subject distance, ISO of the film and the table on the back of the flash would suggest Shutter and Aperture. Ta Da!

A little advice please?
Thanks!
Not trying to be insulting but, it sounds like the family members with the D90's know how to use their camera better than you know how to use yours. You can get just as good of results as them if you know what you are doing.

When indoors, I wouldn't use a shutter speed of 1/180 unless I wanted my flash to be the only source of light. Since we are talking about the puny pop-up flash, I definitely wouldn't want that to be the only light source. So, I would start with something like 1/50th or so on the shutter (depending on available light, slower or faster from there)

I would probably try ISO 400 or 800 since its likely to be dark indoors. From there, your camera should be able to choose a great power setting for the flash.

If the pictures look okay except the flash is too bright, the use the flash's exposure compensation and lower the flash power a bit. If the other way around, and the room is too bright use exposure compensation (not the flash's EC) to darken it.
12-28-2010, 11:39 AM   #3
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Well, perhaps... My nephews had their D90's set to Full Automatic...
12-28-2010, 11:42 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by GoldenRGuy Quote
Well, perhaps... My nephews had their D90's set to Full Automatic...
did you try full automatic?

12-28-2010, 11:43 AM   #5
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One trick with film - your exposures may have been fixed in processing without you being aware of it.

I'm not sure I can be a lot of help. I was just looking at my Christmas photos, organized by year. In 2005, underexposed with the internal flash. In 2006, blurry as I attempted to use fast primes instead of flash, but shot at 1/8 sec. In 2007, bought an external flash that lit up the entire room, even bounced. Photos look totally unnatural, like Christmas on the equator during H-bomb tests. In 2008 and 2009, experimented with lenses again. This year, we stayed home where it's about 4 stops brighter and I didn't need a flash.

If you can get overexposure, at least you're not out of flash power. That should allow you reduce ISO to a less noisy setting.
12-28-2010, 01:06 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by enoeske Quote
did you try full automatic?
Yes, which created my frustration. Everything was great, but faces were overexposed. I have a diffuser, but was hoping my new K7 would be able to do it on its own...
If it's supposed to work on Auto, with just popping up the flash, I'll keep trying. But if it's only going to work on Manual (or Tv) I'll keep playing with that too.
12-28-2010, 01:10 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
One trick with film - your exposures may have been fixed in processing without you being aware of it.

I'm not sure I can be a lot of help. I was just looking at my Christmas photos, organized by year. In 2005, underexposed with the internal flash. In 2006, blurry as I attempted to use fast primes instead of flash, but shot at 1/8 sec. In 2007, bought an external flash that lit up the entire room, even bounced. Photos look totally unnatural, like Christmas on the equator during H-bomb tests. In 2008 and 2009, experimented with lenses again. This year, we stayed home where it's about 4 stops brighter and I didn't need a flash.

If you can get overexposure, at least you're not out of flash power. That should allow you reduce ISO to a less noisy setting.
I'm thinking RAW is the only solution. I've finally been able to install the Camera RAW plug in for my Elements 6. Outdoors in the sun this camera is amazing. Low light/flash is disappointing..
12-28-2010, 01:20 PM   #8
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maybe you can post an example of a good shot and a bad shot (with exif data) so we can really nail down the differences.

12-28-2010, 01:23 PM   #9
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Since the other DSLRs were able to take decent photos, you might look at the EXIF data from those photos compared to yours. See what the aperture, shutter speed and ISO were. Then you'll have a start on getting the K-7 to think the same way.

edit: great idea, slow typing!
12-28-2010, 01:35 PM   #10
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Hi Scott,

You should get good exposures in any AE mode, matrix metering, manually selected ISO (you can use lower ISO at shorter distances under 20-30', and increase the working distance with higher ISO settings. The popup flash has a GN of 13 (m at ISO 100) so it's rated as adequate to about 40' at ISO 100 -- YMMV though, and rated GN is notoriously optimistic. Either manually select flash WB or set the camera to choose Flash WB when flash is used in the menus. The second option is the easiest since you don't have to remember to reset the WB after your done using the flash.

Green mode is not a choice that I would make because it may default to image settings that I don't particularly prefer. I don't think I've ever used Green mode. . .

One thing to try is to enable "Link AE to AF" point when using flash. Linking the AE to the AF point allows the flash exposure system to recognize the subject that you focused on as the subject to be exposed properly. You can either use center point AF or choose your focus point with SEL mode for more creative composition, and you'll still be good.

The camera should default to 1/180 or slower whenever you pop the flash up, so you shouldn't have to worry about it. The only exception would be if you're using an external flash and have a HSS option.

I've always found P=TTL to be reliable and brainless (which is very good for me), except in some specific circumstances like "blinkers" who always blink at the preflash and when shooting directly at a highly reflective surface where the reflection of the preflash confuses the metering system and causes massive underexposure. In the first case, you need to use a manual flash or one that has an Auto Thyristor sensor and doesn't use a preflash, or shoot available light. For the second, you can train yourself to look for the preflash, and if you see a bright reflection right before the mirror flips up and blacks out the VF, you know immediately that you have to take a step or two to the side and reshoot.

Another problem that crops up is when one person at a party is very close, but your main subject is further away. Remember that light intensity falls off in an inverse square relationship to the distance, so the flash's intensity falls off quickly. If something in the frame is considerably closer than what your camera is metering for, then it's going to be blown out. Let it meter for your subject and try to keep everything in the frame at a similar distance if possible. If this is not possible, then get an external flash and bounce off the ceiling, illuminating everything in the room similarly.

Flash can be your friend. Learn how P-TTL "thinks" and use it to your advantage. Many people seem to assume that it can't work reliably, and then grumble when it doesn't work as they expect it to. This is digital photgraphy . . .experiment with it with the only cost being some battery power before the event you want to shoot, then use it with confidence.

One more thing -- P-TTL seems to like medium apertures better than very fast or very small ones -- there is a slight tendency to overexpose at very wide apertures and underexpose very tight ones -- try this out and find out how your particular camera reacts to different apertures.

Scott
12-28-2010, 01:49 PM   #11
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How *does* P-TTL think?

QuoteOriginally posted by snostorm Quote
Learn how P-TTL "thinks" and use it to your advantage.
Any ideas where to go to figure this out? I'm used to manual flashes, and don't really grok the algorithms for balancing available light and the popup flash when the latter is thinking for itself. The manual doesn't seem to tell me much other than where to find the flash button (Hey, thanks!) and that there's a compensation setting. I can't seem to download the PDF right now, either.
12-28-2010, 01:50 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by enoeske Quote
maybe you can post an example of a good shot and a bad shot (with exif data) so we can really nail down the differences.
I'd love to but in my disgust, I deleted them all when I saw my nephews ones (on Facebook, so pretty small files).
I'll try again tonight (Christmas #2 at home) and post tomorrow.
Thanks for being interested
12-28-2010, 01:57 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by snostorm Quote
Hi Scott,

You should get good exposures in any AE mode, matrix metering, manually selected ISO (you can use lower ISO at shorter distances under 20-30', and increase the working distance with higher ISO settings. The popup flash has a GN of 13 (m at ISO 100) so it's rated as adequate to about 40' at ISO 100 -- YMMV though, and rated GN is notoriously optimistic. Either manually select flash WB or set the camera to choose Flash WB when flash is used in the menus. The second option is the easiest since you don't have to remember to reset the WB after your done using the flash.



Scott
I was noticing on Auto (Green) that the ISO was always 800. The room was quite dark, Christmas lights etc) My subjects were 4-5' away at most.
12-28-2010, 02:12 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by fewayne Quote
Any ideas where to go to figure this out? I'm used to manual flashes, and don't really grok the algorithms for balancing available light and the popup flash when the latter is thinking for itself. The manual doesn't seem to tell me much other than where to find the flash button (Hey, thanks!) and that there's a compensation setting. I can't seem to download the PDF right now, either.
Hi fewayne,

To balance ambient with flash:

Set AE to link with AF.

Set up the shutter, aperture, and ISO in M mode to give as much contribution as you want to the exposure not including the flash. The only limitation is that shutter speed must be slower than the max synch speed -- 1/180 -- the camera will automatically limit this anyway.

Use SEL AF focus point mode and focus on your subject, then take the shot. Remember that the meter is linked to the AF point, so whatever you focus on, your camera will meter the flash on with the preflash.

P-TTL will cut off the flash to expose your subject correctly. Your manual settings will give you the ambient contribution that you set up as a constant. You can alter the exposure of your subject with flash compensation either on the flash or in the flash menu.

The advantage of this is that this will work for any camera to subject distance automatically as P-TTL will meter the flash contribution and compensate for the distance automatically.

Scott

Last edited by snostorm; 12-28-2010 at 02:32 PM.
12-28-2010, 02:24 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by GoldenRGuy Quote
I was noticing on Auto (Green) that the ISO was always 800. The room was quite dark, Christmas lights etc) My subjects were 4-5' away at most.
Hi Scott,

That's why I don't like Green mode -- it limits your choices. By shooting in P mode, you still get shutter and aperture automation and choosing a fixed ISO, you can control your IQ (noise) and prevent flash blowouts -- sometimes the minimum flash output might be too much at short distances and high ISO. Auto ISO is not perfect. Even with a flash attached, the tendency of the camera is to choose an appropriate ISO for a non flash exposure. I haven't tried this, but there's a menu setting to allow a shot even if the flash is not fully charged. I've always set this to allow the shot. Perhaps if this is disabled, the camera will assume a flash shot and choose lower ISO. . . you might want to try this.

Remember that your popup flash is good to about 30 feet at ISO 100. There's no need to use anything faster in most indoor situations. By manually choosing a fixed ISO, you allow fewer mistakes by the camera's automatic systems. Choose a higher ISO if your flash seems to run out of steam, but keep it a fixed ISO.

Scott
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