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09-02-2012, 06:47 AM   #1
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Faster?

Hello Folks,

As a relatively inexperienced amateur I have been taking lots of photos and post processing them in Picassa 3. My camera is the K-5 with 18-55 DA L and 50-200 WR lenses. My subjects are typically landscapes, skyscapes, and wildlife. I try to compose each photo in the camera, and use zoom to exclude things that don't add to the image. I find that many of my best photos are shot at 200 mm, although when Iím away from man-made clutter, I use shorter focal lengths more often. I depend on Pentax Green mode for the technical details, but have been using P mode more and more as my education progresses.

When I load a photo into Picassa I hit the ďIím feeling luckyĒ button to see what happens. Usually the result is an improvement, making the photo more pleasing. Almost always Picassa lightens the photo, and enhances the contrast. Is this an indication that I would see a benefit from a faster lens?

Thanks, Tom

09-02-2012, 07:10 AM   #2
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No a faster lens means that the lens opening will be larger so more light hit the sensor and you get smaller DOF but it won't make your photos brighter.

Read about exposure and you know what to do.

Camera Exposure: Aperture, ISO & Shutter Speed
09-02-2012, 07:25 AM   #3
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As Anvh said. With a faster lens in a bright environment the camera would simply close its aperture to the same size or compensate for it with a shorter exposure time to keep the image at the brightness level it perceives as being correct. Fast lenses are mostly needed in dark situations, particularly indoors, as they allow the camera to have a wider aperture.
Now, the 50-200 can be rather slow at 200mm, so a faster tele lens might actually be useful, but if your photos are too dark even in bright light, then simply go to P mode and set the exposure compensation (+/-) accordingly. In the Info menu you can also choose Shadow correction and Highlight correction. The type of metering (spot, evaluative, center-weighted) can also have a big effect on how bright or dark the photo becomes. Most people use center-weighted I think, but each has its own uses.
Basically, you need a faster lens if you are shooting in dark situations, if you notice things like a lot of noise or movement shake. Maybe try buying a used slightly faster 200mm prime? A faster lens does not mean brighter photos, it only means the camera can potentially make brighter photos, but only if you tell it to
Don't worry, though, these are things you learn over time with experience. Oh, and if you are shooting in raw the photos will always look a little low-contrast at first (that is just a part of the format, it usually looks more washed out than the developed photo, but you can edit it better than you could a jpeg)
09-02-2012, 08:13 AM   #4
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Pentaxes tend to underexpose and have done so for decades. The reason for this is that digital sensors and slides cannot recover from even the slightest overexposure. Overexposure results in areas that are completely transparent (slides) or completely white with no subject detail at all (sensor).

Some on this list recommend setting the camera to +0.7 using the exposure compensation, but I personally disagree. As you have found "I'm feeling lucky" in Picasa brings everything to match what you expect to see. I use Lightroom so instead I click "Auto" in the Quick Develop section which does the same thing. I much prefer this to having areas with absolutely no detail to be retrieved. I use RAW rather than JPEG which gives me a bit more "wiggle room" when it comes to post processing, but in JPEG overexposure will leave you with an image that can not be recovered. Many people are perfectly happy with JPEG.

09-02-2012, 08:21 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tatume Quote
Almost always Picassa lightens the photo, and enhances the contrast. Is this an indication that I would see a benefit from a faster lens?
As mentioned, it's not a function of the lens.

You can adjust your camera settings to over-expose slightly and increase the contrast to you liking.
09-02-2012, 09:03 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Canada_Rockies Quote
Pentaxes tend to underexpose and have done so for decades. The reason for this is that digital sensors and slides cannot recover from even the slightest overexposure. Overexposure results in areas that are completely transparent (slides) or completely white with no subject detail at all (sensor).

Some on this list recommend setting the camera to +0.7 using the exposure compensation, but I personally disagree. As you have found "I'm feeling lucky" in Picasa brings everything to match what you expect to see. I use Lightroom so instead I click "Auto" in the Quick Develop section which does the same thing. I much prefer this to having areas with absolutely no detail to be retrieved. I use RAW rather than JPEG which gives me a bit more "wiggle room" when it comes to post processing, but in JPEG overexposure will leave you with an image that can not be recovered. Many people are perfectly happy with JPEG.
I agree with Canada. If you really blow out the highlights there is no possible recovery, a bit of underexposre can be corrected. Since your subjects wouldn't seem to require the lengthy rapid sequences for which JPEG capture is perhaps better, why not try RAW? RAW gives you much more flexibilty in image processing and Picasa supports RAW. If, as does Lightroom, Picasa doesn't alter the RAW file you could always go back with a different program and have at it again.

If the Picasa "Lucky" button does the trick why worry?

BTW, faster is nicer, but with your subject tastes, a good tripod and head would let you shoot at smaller apertures; most lenses are at their best in the middle of their aperture ranges, and at far less cost than a fast long zoom.
09-02-2012, 09:39 AM   #7
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Get out of Green Mode, permanently, so that you have more control of your camera. There's nothing in Picasa "I'm Feeling Lucky" that can't be replicated in the K-5 Image Tone menus. Mostly what you're seeing is probably the heavily boosted contrast that I'm Feeling Lucky adds. Try Reversal Film to see what I mean. You will probably notice that IFL won't change the photo when you click it. I often find this level of punchiness is not needed or desirable. I use Portrait Image Tone as my default. For nature photos I often boost contrast a notch or two in post processing

Watch for blown highlights when using I'm Feeling Lucky and Auto Contrast, as they will readily blow the highlights. You really should look into shooting raw eventually, it allows much more fine tuning without causing problems of its own. But you will need to convert in Pentax Digital Camera Utility or some other raw convertor, because Picasa is designed for jpeg only.

PS A faster lens, as most everyone above has noted, won't give you "brighter" photos, but a better len with modern coatings will give a more contrasty look, which I believe is what you're after. Good processing is the place to start though.

Last edited by audiobomber; 09-02-2012 at 10:56 AM.
09-02-2012, 10:50 AM   #8
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Shoot RAW, so you have the original if Picasa screws up. The software brightens the image simply because brighter scenes seem "happier", less depressing.

09-02-2012, 11:08 AM   #9
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Guys, you're a wealth of good information.
09-02-2012, 11:15 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
But you will need to convert in Pentax Digital Camera Utility or some other raw convertor, because Picasa is designed for jpeg only.
This is very much incorrect. Picassa will process DNG files and if you use the fine tuning sliders instead of the insta-buttons will do a perfectly fine job (for someone only needing the basics) of tweaking things as you want them to without highlights getting blown.

Before I picked up Lightroom, my standard for working if I didn't want to load up my ancient copy of photoshop was to IFL the DNG shot to get a rough idea what to aim for, undo it, then go in and tweak the shot using the sliders.

Last edited by Sagitta; 09-02-2012 at 11:47 AM.
09-02-2012, 03:24 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sagitta Quote
This is very much incorrect. Picassa will process DNG files and if you use the fine tuning sliders instead of the insta-buttons will do a perfectly fine job (for someone only needing the basics) of tweaking things as you want them to without highlights getting blown.
There are two good reasons why you should not use Picasa for raw conversions. The first reason is that Picasa automatically adjusts exposure when it displays a raw image. This is easily visible if you view an underexposed raw file in a true raw convertor, and in Picasa. In Picasa the file position of the data on the histogram will be adjusted up. If you're shooting in raw, you want to control exposure, this should never be dictated for you automatically by the software. post processing - How does Picasa process RAW photos? - Photography

The second reason is well described here: Picasa for RAW images or why Lightroom is better for RAW | Sergiy Kyrylkov
Picasa is working on an 8-bit jpeg version of the file, therefore losing the main advantage of raw, lossless full bit depth processing. It allows you to view raw fiels and convert raw files to jpeg, but it is not a true raw processor, it works on the jpegs only, not on the raw file.

Aside from the above, Picasa does not have the more sophisticated techniques that are available in other raw processors, like dodge and burn, control of CA & distortion, etc.
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