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07-04-2011, 06:02 AM   #1
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Some photos showing up black?

Ok I have run into a new issue with my K-r and lenses.

I have taken many shots with this camera over quite awhile and have never noticed this issue until a recent trip.

When out shooting in the daylight, I would take a photo of a subject (well lit, for example a no parking sign on a brick wall), sometimes the image would show as almost black (very underexposed) on my screen, next shot would show perfect exposure, but the ISO, shutter speed ,f stop, settings, lens and subject were all the same from one shot to another. AF, center point, jpegs. This happened with a couple of lenses (F28 and DA15) many times during a day of shooting, seemingly randomly, I dont think the AF was choosing a dif subject for focus. You could take 5 shots of the same point and maybe 3 would be black and two good, then you could take another 10 and they would be ok, it popped up randomly.

At first I thought it might be the highlight/shadow correction but it seemed to happen with those off as well.

My thoughts were: an issue with the electrical contacts, shutter or memory card, and of course user error, but as I mention I have not seem this phenomenon over thousands of shots with this gear in many similar scenarios.

Unfortunately I dont have any of the photos for comparison they were deleted while trying to make space for better photos during my trip...I will watch for it in the future and post some pics.

In the meantime, any ideas?


Last edited by Deimos; 07-04-2011 at 12:30 PM.
07-04-2011, 02:38 PM   #2
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anyone?
07-04-2011, 03:24 PM   #3
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Have you tried a different memory card?

Do the images always range from very black to normal exposure? Do they ever go overexposed instead?
07-04-2011, 04:04 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by mtansley Quote
Have you tried a different memory card?

Do the images always range from very black to normal exposure? Do they ever go overexposed instead?
Thanks for the reply. I havent tried another card yet. The images are only ever (pretty much) properly exposed or nearly black, no in between unless I had a "bad" exposure to begin with. same iso, shutter speed and aperture, Av mode, center AF. Lets say I took 300 photos and this extreme underexposure happened to maybe 15-20?

But it was very noticeable when it occured, as I mentioned taking a photo of a well lit sign on a wall in daylight and 5 shots in a row were near black then the next 3-4 were fine, same or nearly identical settings. This happened half a dozen or more times over a 3 day period in several different circumstances.

The only thing I read on the forum similar to this was re a memory card. I have been using a less than six month old Sandisk Extreme III.

07-04-2011, 06:04 PM   #5
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My first advice would be to get a second memory card just to rule out that part of it. The memory card is probably about the cheapest thing you could change and it's always wise to have 2 or three of them.

I use 3-4 per camera and always rotate them between shoots and don't format them until I'm ready to use them. That also gives me another backup for any valuable images that I might accidentally delete.

If the same thing happens with another card then hopefully someone else can chime in with some advice about what's happening. Since it's with different lenses that points to the camera itself.
07-05-2011, 05:50 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by mtansley Quote
My first advice would be to get a second memory card just to rule out that part of it. The memory card is probably about the cheapest thing you could change and it's always wise to have 2 or three of them.

I use 3-4 per camera and always rotate them between shoots and don't format them until I'm ready to use them. That also gives me another backup for any valuable images that I might accidentally delete.

If the same thing happens with another card then hopefully someone else can chime in with some advice about what's happening. Since it's with different lenses that points to the camera itself.
Thanks. I have one more card I can use. I will test next week when I have time.

Do you know if formatting the memory card often (after each time it is full for example) could have any negative effect? I tend to format rather than delete after a full card..
07-05-2011, 07:06 AM   #7
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Eventually it would have a negative effect but you'd have to reformat it hundreds of times I suspect before anything begins to happen. However, formatting it only erases the index part of the card, it doesn't erase every photo, most of the card is left alone as new photos will overwrite the old.

That's how recovery software can sometimes recover photos when there is a corruption on the card. (I can attest to that fact twice now with memory cards!!)

However, I'd suspect the actual camera rather than anything else, although using the 2nd card will at least prove this.
07-18-2011, 01:31 PM   #8
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I was shooting all last week. The problem kept showing up again, even with a different memory card. I have samples this time which I will upload later.

It seemed to occur almost always in strong daylight and then it would appear fairly often but not always predictably maybe 20-50% of the time in very bright conditions I would get a dark shot. Sometimes in a row sometimes not. With a variety of primes from 15mm to 90mm

In all instances settings were identical from one shot to another. Focus point would also be identical or as close as reasonably possible. A couple of times I focused on a point and took several shots in burst, the first shot was very dark, next two were correct (same focus point same settings).

I will reiterate that I have been shooting for several years and I dont believe this behavior to be normal and given how it has showed up, it is unlikely my settings. Especially because the shots that are not dark which have the same settings are properly exposed.

At one point I attached a 44-2 using an M42 adapter and the only shutter speed I could get the camera to use was 6000

Whats happening here is my shutter on its way out or something?

I will try to post some samples a bit later


Last edited by Deimos; 07-18-2011 at 03:25 PM.
07-18-2011, 02:12 PM   #9
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The problem does sound with the camera rather than anything else.

It does sound like the shutter is malfunctioning, at times running too fast resulting in the dark photos or the electronics driving the shutter. Do you know roughly how many times you've tripped the shutter on the camera? I believe it's stored in some of the EXIF data beyond what most software can read.

Some people seem to be able to do a software reset by reloading the firmware for the camera but I can't advise for or against that possible solution.

Can you try shooting in bright sunlight with the shutter speed very slow? Maybe it's possible to hear the shutter at 1/60 and then try to hear if it fires at a higher speed once in a while resulting in your dark photos.

Sorry I don't have any specific ideas or solutions.
07-18-2011, 03:22 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by mtansley Quote
The problem does sound with the camera rather than anything else.

It does sound like the shutter is malfunctioning, at times running too fast resulting in the dark photos or the electronics driving the shutter. Do you know roughly how many times you've tripped the shutter on the camera? I believe it's stored in some of the EXIF data beyond what most software can read.

Some people seem to be able to do a software reset by reloading the firmware for the camera but I can't advise for or against that possible solution.

Can you try shooting in bright sunlight with the shutter speed very slow? Maybe it's possible to hear the shutter at 1/60 and then try to hear if it fires at a higher speed once in a while resulting in your dark photos.


Sorry I don't have any specific ideas or solutions.
I can verify this without more tests, I could definately hear a faster shutter when the photos turned out dark.


I bought my K-r new back in November, I will try to check shuttert count but if I had to guess I would say prob 4000-7500ish

I am pretty sure (although not 100%) that it may have also occured using MF with MF only lenses.

Thanks again for your input. Even if you cant solve it you are helping me verify that I'm not crazy lol

edit <samples removed, deleted from flickr> they showed a properly exposed photo and the next nearly black

Last edited by Deimos; 09-08-2011 at 09:06 AM.
07-18-2011, 04:32 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Deimos Quote
Thanks again for your input. Even if you cant solve it you are helping me verify that I'm not crazy lol
Or we're both crazy!!

No, looking at the sample photos I'd say that your camera or you set the shutter speed too high, & since it wasn't you that does leave your camera as the culprit. That number of estimated shutter clicks is not very high at all so I guess its off for repair for your camera.

I'm curious, did you try any shots using full manual exposure? I just wondered if the auto exposure system was at fault or the shutter itself.

I'm glad I was able to help you in troubleshooting even if I can't help in fixing the problem.
07-18-2011, 04:54 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by mtansley Quote
Or we're both crazy!!

No, looking at the sample photos I'd say that your camera or you set the shutter speed too high, & since it wasn't you that does leave your camera as the culprit. That number of estimated shutter clicks is not very high at all so I guess its off for repair for your camera.

I'm curious, did you try any shots using full manual exposure? I just wondered if the auto exposure system was at fault or the shutter itself.

I'm glad I was able to help you in troubleshooting even if I can't help in fixing the problem.
It did happen while MF I believe but I didnt take many shots fully manual and not in that light. I guess I'll have to send it in. I can also get them to take a stab at the tungsten FF problem

Thanks for your help!
09-07-2011, 12:25 PM   #13
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I just called Pentax it had been ~5 weeks since I dropped the camera off.

At first the lady said it should have been finished but it was not. Then when I called back she said they had been trying to find the problem for 3 weeks but because it was intermittent they were unable to deduce the issue and have given me a replacement (likely a refurb model). That said they did acknowledge there was an issue as I had described.
09-08-2011, 09:08 AM   #14
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Just picked up the replacement, a new not refurbished model apparently. She said that because this camera is new I should not see any of the same issues (intermittent black photos, FF in tungsten) we will see if there is any improvement in tungsten, somehow I doubt it.
09-13-2011, 08:37 PM   #15
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I had maybe 3 or 4 totally black daylight shots over however many thousands I took with the K20D. No rhyme or reason. I also one had one shot that had a pretty good size greenish "smear" across the center. Could not figure that one out, though I'm sure it was not flare.
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