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01-16-2012, 06:37 PM   #1
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Help needed with bulb mode.

I read some of the astrophotography threads last night and decided to see what I can do with my existing kit (K-x and a manual Sigma 70 - 210 lens). The stars seemed to be quite bright, so I tried a few short exposures (under 30 secs), and they were fine, but dark. I changed to bulb mode and the first press took a photo straight away, as if I had set a high shutter speed. I then tried holding the shutter release button for 60 seconds then releasing it.

Everything seemed to work fine, and the camera looked like it was doing something, then just went blank as if it was powered off. I guessed that this was DFS, so left the camera alone, assuming it would some back to life when it was done. I waited for about ten minutes, and nothing happened, so I half pressed the shutter release in case it had gone into standby. Still nothing. I turned the camera off and back on but nothing happened. I then turned the camera off and took it home (about five minutes away), then left it turned on for another ten minutes or so, in case it was processing. I eventually got fed up and removed the batteries and re-inserted them. The camera worked, but showed the batteries to be partially drained, and the last shot was gone.

Anyone know what I did wrong, or how I can fix this?

01-16-2012, 07:00 PM   #2
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I too have a K-x and altough I have no interest in astrophotography I do use bulb mode...

This has never happened to me, and I'm not sure what to suggest...

However, can you at least confirm that you're running updated firmware? (It's somewhere to start...)
01-16-2012, 07:28 PM   #3
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Hi, Tippon... This behavior does sound strange. You might try playing around with bulb mode indoors and with shorter shots as part of your diagnosis. Just try a 1-second test and see if it behaves the same. If so, we have a place to start. If not, work up to the longer shot and see if you can reproduce it.
01-17-2012, 01:20 AM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tippon Quote
I read some of the astrophotography threads last night and decided to see what I can do with my existing kit (K-x and a manual Sigma 70 - 210 lens). The stars seemed to be quite bright, so I tried a few short exposures (under 30 secs), and they were fine, but dark.----

------- I eventually got fed up and removed the batteries and re-inserted them. The camera worked, but showed the batteries to be partially drained, and the last shot was gone.

Anyone know what I did wrong, or how I can fix this?
HI Tippon,

1) What ISO setting and what aperture did you use? You should - at least for your first attemtps - have your lens wide open and an ISO setting of 1600. Further, you should be prepared for a bit of post processing. Your camera may have recorded (much) more than you would know from first sight. I may immodestly refer to my own little tutorials here: About Astrophotography - and Light Pollution (I) and here: Camera Settings for Astrophotography

2) What batteries did you use. Keeping the aperture open for an extended time requires batteries of high quality. I never had problems with non-rechargeable lithium energizers, nor rechargeable eneloops, (on my K200D).


Last edited by Stone G.; 01-17-2012 at 01:28 AM.
01-17-2012, 08:51 AM   #5
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Thanks guys. I won't be doing anything for the next few days, as I'm coming down with something, and even looking at the computer screen hurts at the moment

I'm on firmware 1.02, so I don't think that's an issue.


QuoteOriginally posted by Stone G. Quote
HI Tippon,

1) What ISO setting and what aperture did you use? You should - at least for your first attemtps - have your lens wide open and an ISO setting of 1600. Further, you should be prepared for a bit of post processing. Your camera may have recorded (much) more than you would know from first sight. I may immodestly refer to my own little tutorials here: About Astrophotography - and Light Pollution (I) and here: Camera Settings for Astrophotography

2) What batteries did you use. Keeping the aperture open for an extended time requires batteries of high quality. I never had problems with non-rechargeable lithium energizers, nor rechargeable eneloops, (on my K200D).
Thanks for the links, I'll have a look at them when I'm feeling a bit better

Looks like I got myself a bit confused somewhere along the lines - I was using an ISO setting of 200! On the 30s shot, I had the lens set to f4 and at 70mm, although the EXIF data says it was 250mm (which is longer than the lens). That shot came out ok, but not great, but at least now I know where I went wrong!

I used 2900 mAh rechargeable Ni-MH batteries from 7dayshop.com. I don't think they were the problem though, as I've had comparable results to my Eneloops, and have had no problems shooting video with them. I think I've probably just missed a setting somewhere.

I've attached the 30s shot and a crop if that helps. The crop made me realise how much wind there was last night though. I was wrapped up in so many layers, I couldn't feel it. Either that, or there are dozens of small horsehead nebulae out there!
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01-17-2012, 12:28 PM   #6
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Tippon,
your symptoms have at least a couple of similarities to a lockup problem i have been having on my K5. I too was in bulb mode when it first happened. take a look here:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-k-5-forum/170796-another-k5-lockup-thread.html
01-17-2012, 01:22 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Stone G. Quote
HI Tippon,

1) What ISO setting and what aperture did you use? You should - at least for your first attemtps - have your lens wide open and an ISO setting of 1600. Further, you should be prepared for a bit of post processing. Your camera may have recorded (much) more than you would know from first sight. I may immodestly refer to my own little tutorials here: About Astrophotography - and Light Pollution (I) and here: Camera Settings for Astrophotography

2) What batteries did you use. Keeping the aperture open for an extended time requires batteries of high quality. I never had problems with non-rechargeable lithium energizers, nor rechargeable eneloops, (on my K200D).
I went to your links and I find I must berate you for causing me to spend hours of my time enjoying your well written and informative articles (that are for the most part easily enough for a layman, and total newbie to astrophotography like myself, to understand).

I was looking at buying a Cinda Skywatcher Black Diamond 80ED for photgraphing birds .... now I'll try actually using it for it's intended purpose as well !
01-17-2012, 02:33 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Frogfish Quote
I went to your links and I find I must berate you for......
Why thank you. I am really happy to hear that!

QuoteOriginally posted by Frogfish Quote
I was looking at buying a Cinda Skywatcher Black Diamond 80ED for photgraphing birds .... now I'll try actually using it for it's intended purpose as well !
I took a look at it. It seems like a real beauty and performer. Perhaps one should contemplate......?

.....well, better not. I took delivery of my K-5 the very day today so, I guess my wife would raise an eyebrow or two if there were more mysterious parcels to arrive in the near future.

Anyway, whether birds or stars: ENJOY!

01-21-2012, 10:26 AM   #9
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Stone G. I've had a look through your links, and while I won't pretend to understand everything (yet!), there's some really useful information there, thanks

Turns out I've got a chest infection, so I won't be taking any more shots for a little while I'm dying to try out some of your tips for shooting the moon though
01-22-2012, 04:49 PM   #10
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@Tippon, hope you get well soon - but don't worry: The moon will wait for you!
01-22-2012, 05:27 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Stone G. Quote
@Tippon, hope you get well soon - but don't worry: The moon will wait for you!
I hope so!
02-08-2012, 03:56 PM   #12
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Well, I finally got around to trying out some more night shots. Bulb mode worked perfectly this time, so I don't know what happened

One of my edited shots is here:

02-08-2012, 11:16 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tippon Quote
The crop made me realise how much wind there was last night though. I was wrapped up in so many layers, I couldn't feel it. Either that, or there are dozens of small horsehead nebulae out there!
Seahorses! Cool!!!
"Did s/he shoot some lit-up glass seahorses in the dark with an effects filter...?" Then I read the posts.
I have no technical advice. I just thought it was a cool shot. Maybe you can make something of it with Photoshop!
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