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11-17-2011, 05:24 AM   #1
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Is it me or my camera? :(

I bought a K-x with kit lense earlier this year. I just can not get to grips with it. I think it is a fault with the camera one minute and then think it must just be me the next (relative beginner to DSLR). I've hardly used it as whatever I do the images are frustratingly rubbish
The problem is a grey/dull tone to the images.

I have taken some test shots so you can see my problem. I think all settings are on automatic/factory settings and I'm using the Auto pict. (I realise I'll never get the best shots using these settings but it should be reasonably acceptable surely or whats the point of having auto at all??!!)
The comparison shots are stills taken from using the video setting. This is what I would expect the auto shots to be like regarding colour, tone, exposure.

I'd be extemely greatful for your opinions on whether this is a case of me and the camera just not getting on, or whether this could be a fault.
I've had several high end compacts and one other DSLR (Nikon D40) and never had any issues with using auto on them for snaps.
(Just to clarify I can't get rid of this dull tone even when changing the exposure, WB or anything else )

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11-17-2011, 05:35 AM   #2
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Short answer: it is your fault

Long answer: when shooting stills in Auto mode directly to the jpeg file format, the resultant image is a combination of the exposure settings as well as the jpeg processing settings. Pentax cameras have a tendency, from my experience, to underexpose the image by around half a stop. In auto mode, they go by the meter, which means your images tend to be half a stop darker than a proper exposure. Furthermore, the amount of saturation, contrast, sharpening, etc of the stills is determined by the jpeg processor. Since you're shooting in auto, i'm guessing you really havent touched any of these processing settings whatsoever, resulting in the rather flat images you get. If you were to set exposure compensation to +0.5 and pumped up the contrast and sharpening, the results you get would much more resemble the images you want. This is why shooting in manual and RAW is so important to many users such as myself- it gives me the most control over both my exposure and the processing of the image from RAW to jpeg. The reason you probably are getting "better" images with your other cameras is because:
1. they don't do the half stop of underexposure
2. their auto modes tend to pump up the settings i mentioned above by default
11-17-2011, 06:10 AM   #3
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I agree with adpo. Some pictures need a bump to the exposure by +.5 to brighten the image. Pentax's software will try to set the white wall in the background as neutral gray. This is done to prevent blowing out the highlights.

You might also want to go into the camera settings and increase the saturation and contrast set points from the standard default values. When I used to shoot jpegs with my DS, I bumped the contrast by +2 marks and the saturation by +1 marks. You can also increase the sharpness from the same menu if you like.

Tim
11-17-2011, 06:11 AM   #4
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The dull tone our are experiencing is from both you and the camera. Pentax default settings are generally more conservative. I recall reading somewhere that the contrast and brightness on the jpeg processing is lower then that of the Nikon an canon counterparts. I'd adjust the processing on the jpeg settings to more vivid and I'm pretty sure you will be more happier. Personally I'd go with a raw format and post process with a standalone software.

11-17-2011, 06:16 AM   #5
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Try the auto levels button in your graphics program. If you don't have a graphics program, you can get Picasa for free from Google. Does that give you the results you like? The next step would be to learn more about the histogram and black-point and white-point sliders. If you want the results to look like that directly out of your camera, you could fiddle with contrast settings, but the more processing you do in the camera, the more likely you will lose detail. I don't have a K-x, so I can't say if "auto pict" or any other camera setting was supposed to work like auto levels.
11-17-2011, 06:51 AM   #6
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You can't take advantage of what this superb camera of yours offers unless you shoot raw and learn to post-process pictures. If you prefer to shoot jpg, I think some other kind of camera (e.g., Canon's G series) will suit you much better.
11-17-2011, 07:00 AM   #7
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Pentax, like Leica, defaults to a more "natural" tone in pictures than most other companies. Today we are so used to watching TVs and computer screens that bump-up the color and contrast for more impact and "snap" that we have come to expect the exaggerated as normal, and magazines also push more vivid color to grab attention. You can always adjust settings to your preferences, but some of us old-timers from the age of Ektachrome prefer the Pentax and Leica renditions.
11-17-2011, 07:36 AM   #8
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Thanks so much everyone

You've given me lots of options to try out, and it's really helpful to know it's me with the problem not the camera!

I have mainly had Canon and Nikon cameras before this one so that probably does have something to do with my perseption of what is ok and what isn't .
I took these pictures this morning in lovely bright light but to me it just isn't natural or reflecting what I'm seeing in real life at all, obviously in low light the problem is magnified .

I will be trying all suggestions out and hopefully something will work for me

11-17-2011, 09:45 AM   #9
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There is likely a "Vibrant" or "Vivid" setting that will punch up the saturation and contrast in jpgs, The K100D had that setting, but made bright pinks glow :-)
11-17-2011, 10:00 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by causey Quote
You can't take advantage of what this superb camera of yours offers unless you shoot raw and learn to post-process pictures. If you prefer to shoot jpg, I think some other kind of camera (e.g., Canon's G series) will suit you much better.
The idea that pentax can only be shot in RAW for quality pictures is silly. As others have mentioned, simply upping the saturation and sharpness will make a huge difference.

RAW certainly has huge advantages, but to say anyone not using raw should use a glorified P&S is flat out ignorant.

As for suggestions:

Get off auto. You bought an SLR (I'd assume) for more control over your pictures. With that in mind, get on aperture or shutter priority and start messing with the exposure compensation. Also, use that LCD to your advantage. Take a picture, if it looks dark bump the exposure compensation up some. Also a lot of that can be fixed in post processing, and you will have to learn the basics of it.

Good luck with future shots.
11-17-2011, 10:13 AM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by xfloggingkylex Quote
The idea that pentax can only be shot in RAW for quality pictures is silly. As others have mentioned, simply upping the saturation and sharpness will make a huge difference.

RAW certainly has huge advantages, but to say anyone not using raw should use a glorified P&S is flat out ignorant.

As for suggestions:

Get off auto. You bought an SLR (I'd assume) for more control over your pictures. With that in mind, get on aperture or shutter priority and start messing with the exposure compensation. Also, use that LCD to your advantage. Take a picture, if it looks dark bump the exposure compensation up some. Also a lot of that can be fixed in post processing, and you will have to learn the basics of it.

Good luck with future shots.
And to go hand in hand with that since you seem to have limited experience you really should do some reading on Exposure

best beginner book for this IMO is
Amazon.com: Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera (Updated Edition) (9780817463007): Bryan Peterson: Books

that will go a long way towards helping you achieve your goal
11-17-2011, 10:59 AM   #12
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Good reviews on that book, just placed a Hold at Toronto Public Library, thanks Eddie1960 :-)
11-17-2011, 11:31 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by humbr Quote
Good reviews on that book, just placed a Hold at Toronto Public Library, thanks Eddie1960 :-)
If you have an eReader there is an ebook version as well, can probably download it through the library (I get a lot of books that way) and Mr ford wants to close em down Grrrr
11-17-2011, 02:23 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by xfloggingkylex Quote
The idea that pentax can only be shot in RAW for quality pictures is silly......
RAW certainly has huge advantages, but to say anyone not using raw should use a glorified P&S is flat out ignorant.
Apologies if my suggestion to the OP offended you.


QuoteQuote:
Get off auto. You bought an SLR (I'd assume) for more control over your pictures.
You seem to make an assumption similar to mine. Shooting raw offers (even) more control. (After all, most (advanced) point and shoots offer manual controls.) Certainly, there are pros and very talented amateurs who shoot jpg. They possess the mastery that allows them to take advantage of their dslr's capabilities while shooting jpg. Someone buys a dslr, I suppose, to get a certain IQ out of his or her camera. Sure, that IQ is not dependent on raw, but shooting jpg to get dslr-like IQ is more demanding IMO. Raw offers more flexibility and room for fixing a picture. That's why I use it. I'm not that masterly.

In the end, I think, it's a matter of weighing "dslr" IQ vs "point and shoot" simplicity. If someone finds it hard to mess with manual functions and with raw, then maybe a good point and shoot is a better option for him. It's a possibility. I know many who have come to this conclusion after agonizing over the *complexity* of using a dslr. And I know many more who lug around a heavy dslr, which they use in P or Auto to take pictures that look much worse than those taken by their wives with light, neat point and shoots.

Last edited by causey; 11-17-2011 at 03:26 PM.
11-17-2011, 02:46 PM   #15
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I have to agree with xfloggingkylex - DUMP AUTO!

The Kx is great camera (I also own it) and if you play a little with Image options built in the camera, I'm sure you'd get better results.
Also my advice is to shot Raw, because you get more flexibility for later post processing...last advice I have - take a look at the histogram after you take a shoot...it helps a lot.

Good luck!
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