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01-02-2011, 12:35 PM   #1
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Crappy casual pictures

I'm using k200d with kit lens or smc-f 50/1.7.

When i take the care to carefully take the shot in Av,P or M mode with all the required adjustments, im very satisfied with my camera. Shots are sharp, well exposed and predictable.

But very often when using the camera for casual family shots or documenting something i end up with horrible results. Especially at night, with flash.

First of all the shots are very unpredictable.
It cant be understood if the flash power varies, or if i use it in Av with fixed ISO it will fail to expose correctly most of the time.
There are no useful flash settings (like slow sync), that even my P&S has, but in some "Green" modes it seems to behave as if it was able to do slow sync, or adjust power.
Then there is this weird flash compensation setting.

How do you get acceptable results, if in green mode when the camera seems to have extended capabilities it is too unpredictable, but in Av and P modes it lacks settings or is constantly erroneous.

Then the auto focus is a pain in the ass. Often i have no clue on what it's trying to do. I hold the button and nothing happens. Then it might lock without doing a thing (and of course being wrong). Sometimes it fine-tunes for some time and then stops for undefined amount of time. This is totally frustrating. Especially with people. I'd expect the camera to "work"(fine tune, drive, hunt) until it gets lock or gives up in an apparent way (like blinking hexagon), but such behavior is rarely the case.

Using multiple AF points seems to improve situation, but then the focus might end up in a random spot.

And why isn't the "Auto" true auto. E.g. often i will have something like custom white balance, 2s timer, MF etc setting enabled. Then when i want a quick, simple but good shot i end up messing with ton of buttons and menus when it is supposed to be all auto.

Another nonsense is "release while charging" custom option. If it is allowed to take shot, while flash is not ready yet, the camera exposes as if the flash is firing. Why? Where does it expect the light to come from? Did anyone even thought about it when implemented this option, or was it included just for the option count.

Do newer cameras improve situation in those areas? Or only add new features like video.
For casual pictures this makes me prefer my P&S just to be sure that something doesn't go horribly wrong.


Last edited by ytterbium; 01-02-2011 at 12:47 PM.
01-02-2011, 12:58 PM   #2
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With the k-x it was my conclusion that using the built-in flash was best done in M-mode as otherwise the camera sets exposure for available light. So, in M, dial in 1/180s for shutter time and leave it there, then use akin to Av mode: the camera will use pttl to adjust flash power to suit aperture and ISO (and flash compensation will be similar to to exposure compensation). The key things to note are that shutter time controls only the ambient light getting in and that M (or X if the k200d has that) is really an auto mode with a pttl flash (one would expect green mode to be better with flash, but apparently not with the k200d either ...)
01-02-2011, 12:58 PM   #3
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I think your initial premise needs investigation, because what do you mean by "casual" shooting?

With either the auto kit or manual lens, better shots require planning and thought.

So yeah--P&S cameras have their place in the world.

They won't give you the versatility or IQ of a DSLR with quality lens, but they'll give you the fast shot.
01-02-2011, 02:28 PM   #4
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You already received some good advice and I would agree with the earlier posts.

As an example, at the last Chistmas, we all took some photos: my K-7 and 4 P&S cameras. My shots were not worst than the others, and I was overall happy with my work.

With a dSLR, it is not easy to take quickly a casual shot. In fact, at the beginning, I was often disappointed by my family shots using my K-7. I now know better my K-7 and lenses, and I know when I can get some good shots. (I use P mode & AF centred.) I found that it is essential to choose the right lens. In other words, the wrong lens will give very poor shots.

There is no doubt that a simple P&S can get good casual shot, but a dSLR can get great shots.

01-02-2011, 03:47 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by ytterbium Quote
It cant be understood if the flash power varies, or if i use it in Av with fixed ISO it will fail to expose correctly most of the time.
There are no useful flash settings (like slow sync), that even my P&S has, but in some "Green" modes it seems to behave as if it was able to do slow sync, or adjust power.
Then there is this weird flash compensation setting.

How do you get acceptable results, if in green mode when the camera seems to have extended capabilities it is too unpredictable, but in Av and P modes it lacks settings or is constantly erroneous.
I believe you may be expecting too much out of your popup flash.
Slow sync is available for external P-TTL flashes - a feature well worth getting such a flash.
The unpredictability seems to stem mainly from the conditions you are putting it in. Try having your P&S take the very same shot you want the K200D to take and see how you go with it. Metering is a function of available and supplemental light - if either of these two are insufficient or excessive, which occurs a lot with the popup since it has a narrow area of operation, then you will have inconsistent exposures.

QuoteQuote:

Then the auto focus is a pain in the ass. Often i have no clue on what it's trying to do. I hold the button and nothing happens. Then it might lock without doing a thing (and of course being wrong). Sometimes it fine-tunes for some time and then stops for undefined amount of time. This is totally frustrating. Especially with people. I'd expect the camera to "work"(fine tune, drive, hunt) until it gets lock or gives up in an apparent way (like blinking hexagon), but such behavior is rarely the case.

Using multiple AF points seems to improve situation, but then the focus might end up in a random spot.
K200D's AF is not so sophisticated in low light.
Try honing the AF point right onto a desired focal area with reasonably well-illuminated and contrasting subject matter. Then see how you go.

QuoteQuote:

And why isn't the "Auto" true auto. E.g. often i will have something like custom white balance, 2s timer, MF etc setting enabled. Then when i want a quick, simple but good shot i end up messing with ton of buttons and menus when it is supposed to be all auto.
Same as with ISO in AutoPict mode - needs to be physically set to auto ISO if you want auto ISO in AutoPict mode.

QuoteQuote:

Another nonsense is "release while charging" custom option. If it is allowed to take shot, while flash is not ready yet, the camera exposes as if the flash is firing. Why? Where does it expect the light to come from? Did anyone even thought about it when implemented this option, or was it included just for the option count.
This is not my experience with the cameras I've had (K200D is not one of them). Everytime the shutter is released when flash hasn't yet charged, the shutter speed drags to permit adequate light for the exposure, *unless* you happen to be in M or Tv mode.

QuoteQuote:
Do newer cameras improve situation in those areas? Or only add new features like video.
For casual pictures this makes me prefer my P&S just to be sure that something doesn't go horribly wrong.
Know your gear well, and you'll know its limitations and have less frustrations.
01-02-2011, 04:13 PM   #6
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The best thing you can do with built-in flash is to forget you even have it. Go online somewhere and find yourself a nice old Pentax AF280T flash for about $30~40. Your casual photos will improve immensely (if you ceiling-bounce them), exposures will be consistent and accurate, and you'll be happy once again. Sorry, I can't help with autofocus issues.
01-02-2011, 04:43 PM   #7
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Hi Ytterbium
I agree with your comments about flash consistency.

I conclude that with a lens with a manual aperture ring, better to use external flash!

Here is the nearest I get to consistency for the kit lens with the pop up flash: Try setting iso 800 and M mode, f5.6 and AWB. Then you can adjust the shutter from 1/60 to 1/180.
The lower the shutter speed, the more the room lighting will prevail, for a more pleasing fill flash effect, as the flash will be able to chop down to lower levels for a good exposure.

I have written recipes for use with various lenses, but I still screwed up badly in a restaurant recently trying to use a M24/2.8 without practising first.

For the AF issues, (istds) using the above method in M mode with a DA lens, if the flash is closed the camera will not be able to focus if the scene is very dark. It will rack back and forward between extremes and will not let the shutter operate as you mention, and complain by flickering the green dot.
So leave the flash popped up, then it will fire a string of flash bursts when you half press. Then take the shot when it is says it has focus. However in normal indoor light, usually the camera does not need the flash for AF.
01-02-2011, 08:54 PM   #8
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I have K200D, and sometimes shoot indoors. For casual shooting, my rules are thus:

Try Av mode and F2.8 at ISO 800 to see if autofocus is reasonable and shutter speed is quick enough. If no,

resort to using AF360 flash and shoot in M set to F2.8, ISO 400, 1/focal length and flash in P-TTL mode at +1/2 EV bounced off ceiling.

That is as 'casual' as I will shoot. The built in flash only shoots at full strength and is a mess in tight quarters.

01-03-2011, 02:33 AM   #9
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Thank you very much. Great tips and advices i hear. Especially i liked the jolepp's idea, because it seems that's what i'm after - automatic flash operation with some background light control.

Actually when i think about it, i remember yesterday, while browsing my pictures i was wondering why my M-mode with flash were better exposed, than those in green modes.
01-03-2011, 04:06 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by ytterbium Quote
Thank you very much. Great tips and advices i hear. Especially i liked the jolepp's idea, because it seems that's what i'm after - automatic flash operation with some background light control.

Actually when i think about it, i remember yesterday, while browsing my pictures i was wondering why my M-mode with flash were better exposed, than those in green modes.
Simply because you have total control over all the parameters, and therefore get absolutely consistent results if the ambient lighting conditions are either low or the same.
01-03-2011, 01:22 PM   #11
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Do not forget to adjust the white balance for every situation ("casual" or not). Most of my shots with the kit lens on the K-x are wonderful, even at the Christmas parties with little or low light. The flash seems to control itself if you use the kit lens and you set the WB properly.
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