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11-16-2012, 03:40 PM   #1
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The Film Shooters Guide to Digital - A Dummies Guide to the K5

Alright folks, I need your help.

I mainly shoot film. I have a Pentax LX, Bronica ETRSi and a NIKON FE2. I also have a K1000 that sits on a shelf since it was my first camera.
But I've run into an issue where Digital is something I need to get a better handle on. Why? Lots of reasons but in my case right now it's cost. As I learn I need to experiment, a lot. Shooting experiment shots with film get's costly very quickly. Digital gives me nearly unlimited shots at no additional cost with immediate feedback on each shots settings. So it's a great learning tool, if I knew how to use it.

Now for the record, I'm not a film snob. I like digital, and it certainly has it's place, I've just never really learned how to transfer my film knowledge over to digital.
In short, I'm so used to shooting nearly full manual, dialing in Shutter Speed on the camera body and Aperture on the lens that when I pick up my digital I can't seem to do much more than set it to Auto.

Travesty, I know.

I've read books, watched videos (not many how to vids on the K5 out there), spent hours on Lynda.com learning about digital but still when I pick it up I'm confused and go back to Auto, meaning I learn nothing.

So I have two main for starters, but sadly really dumb questions. I was hoping you could help with on the K5...

1. In a Manual setting (M, TAv, Av, Tv, P) I press the button halfway, the camera meters and auto focuses. But how do I know I have a correct exposure? In my LX and FE2 I have some needles or lights that I have to line up. I can't find anything like that on the K5. I originally thought it was the Exposure Compensation meter.

2. I have the 18-55 and the 50-200 lenses. One is 3.5-5.6 the other is 4-5.6. So if the lens only goes to 5.6, how come I can dial in an F22? For example, on the 50-200 I can dial all the way up to F29, but I can't dial lower than F4. Not being able to dial lower than F4 makes sense, but the higher f-stops it allows me to put in leave me scratching my head.

I've considered putting a few older primes on the K5, Locking the ISO and just shoot the same way I would shot with film, but doing that seems like I'm missing out on some of the advantages a digital camera can offer.

Is there something fundamental in the usage and workings of a digital camera that I'm not grasping, or am I just seriously over thinking this?

Thanks everyone, I apologize in advance for posting such elementary questions.

11-16-2012, 04:01 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by SCADjacket Quote
1. Exposure Compensation meter.
The camera will try to get the exposure it deems to be 'correct.' This is marked by the exposure compensation as "0" and you put it to +/- depending on if you want to over/under expose. You can also choose spot, center weighted, or matrix metering. In most modes the camera will meter continuously. In M mode you can configure the green button to trigger metering (it will select the shutter speed it deems necessary for the scene).

QuoteOriginally posted by SCADjacket Quote
So if the lens only goes to 5.6, how come I can dial in an F22?
F 5.6 in this case is the wide open limit. the lower the f stop, the wider open the aperture is, and the more light the lens will let through (and the DoF will be thinner). At f22, the aperture is tiny and the DoF is big, but only very little light enters the camera. The problem with apertures above appx. f14 is diffraction, which reduces the IQ. Basically, a lens cannot open up more than its physical size will allow, but it can close its aperture blades up a lot. Some lenses go to f16, some to f22, some even above that. you probably want to avoid using this extreme.

Hope this clears up some confusion. You might also be interested in this:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-lens-articles/110657-how-use-meter...k-x-k-7-a.html
(You need to set a menu option to allow the usage of the aperture ring. This is essential for using lenses without automatic aperture)
I suggest you use the Av, Tv and P modes the most, go with low ISO, and then just experiment and read these tutorials. You can also look at the photo section in these forums and check the settings for that photo (aka exif data). Oh, and the scene and automatic modes can also be very helpful, just to see what the camera deems is appropriate and then you can try a different setting to see how that works
11-16-2012, 04:04 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by SCADjacket Quote
2. I have the 18-55 and the 50-200 lenses. One is 3.5-5.6 the other is 4-5.6. So if the lens only goes to 5.6, how come I can dial in an F22? For example, on the 50-200 I can dial all the way up to F29, but I can't dial lower than F4. Not being able to dial lower than F4 makes sense, but the higher f-stops it allows me to put in leave me scratching my head.
so maximum f stop value varies according to how much you zoom (like the minimum aperture value in fact). But you should be able to dial f22 all along the way. I would suggest you to not shoot above f8 which is the limite before diffraction start on the K5.

QuoteOriginally posted by SCADjacket Quote
1. In a Manual setting (M, TAv, Av, Tv, P) I press the button halfway, the camera meters and auto focuses. But how do I know I have a correct exposure? In my LX and FE2 I have some needles or lights that I have to line up. I can't find anything like that on the K5. I originally thought it was the Exposure Compensation meter.
depends on the metering choice you did : if it's center only, it will do light mesurement on the central spot, so use it to aim the brightest part you want to expose correctly press the EV lock button and frame.

Almost the same with center weighted.

matrix metering mesure all the frame and try to expose correctly the biggest part of the frame. i never use it, i always fool the metering that way.
11-16-2012, 04:05 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by SCADjacket Quote
I've considered putting a few older primes on the K5, Locking the ISO and just shoot the same way I would shot with film, but doing that seems like I'm missing out on some of the advantages a digital camera can offer.
you can do that.

I suggest you to get A prime to be able to dial the aperture you want, and work with the TAv mode : choose aperture and speed, and the body choose the iso.

11-16-2012, 04:14 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by SCADjacket Quote

2. I have the 18-55 and the 50-200 lenses. One is 3.5-5.6 the other is 4-5.6. So if the lens only goes to 5.6, how come I can dial in an F22? For example, on the 50-200 I can dial all the way up to F29, but I can't dial lower than F4. Not being able to dial lower than F4 makes sense, but the higher f-stops it allows me to put in leave me scratching my head.
The 2 numbers for each lens refer to the max open aperture at both ends of the zoom range. The 18-55 can be opened to F3.5 at the 18mm but only to F5.6 at 55mm. Same for the other lens. Both lenses are variable aperture lenses, meaning that the max aperture varies as you zoom. This is very typical to the less expensive zoom lenses.

Each lens can be stopped down to a much small aperture. The 18-55 can be stopped down to F22 at the 18mm end and to F40 at the 55mm (again variable apertures).
11-16-2012, 05:29 PM   #6
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I also started with fully manual film. First the MX, then the LX. I now shoot with a K-5 and used it 95% of the time in manual mode. Every time I try to use one of the auto settings I don't like what I see so I go back to manual. Don't worry about waisting the advanced features on the K-5, just shoot the way you know best and are comfortable with.
11-16-2012, 07:54 PM   #7
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Usually, the learning curve is much steeper in the other direction

If you know how to shoot film, running a digital SLR should be pretty much second nature. The camera is capable of operating in whatever modes you are familiar and comfortable with. For me, that means manual focus and Av or M mode, fixed ISO with center-weighted metering. Sometimes I use an external meter in M mode just to be contrary.

Once you figure out that the camera is pretty much the same, that is when some depth with film really starts to pay off. The sensor is a lot like film, only with reduced dynamic range. Most of the same capture techniques work the same, only now you can view the response curve "in-camera"! PP is a lot like traditional darkroom work and the deeper your darkroom experience, the better you will be at extracting the most out of your digital photography.


Steve
11-16-2012, 07:57 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by SCADjacket Quote
I've considered putting a few older primes on the K5, Locking the ISO and just shoot the same way I would shot with film, but doing that seems like I'm missing out on some of the advantages a digital camera can offer.
If you can do that, you are already years ahead of most digital noobs. Turn off the bells and whistles and enjoy the skills you have worked so hard to hone.


Steve

11-16-2012, 10:25 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by SCADjacket Quote
...I've considered putting a few older primes on the K5, Locking the ISO and just shoot the same way I would shot with film, but doing that seems like I'm missing out on some of the advantages a digital camera can offer.
I think this is a good idea and would be the best bridge between the LX and a K-5. A Pentax-A lens is the best choice for this, because the metering is "live", continuously responding to the light in the frame and your settings. It will also show the aperture in the viewfinder and other displays, and add it to the EXIF data. It allows matrix metering too, though I would switch that to center-weighted to match the LX and leave the matrix learning curve until later. It allows you to choose other modes. I'd say between Av and M, because those modes make the most sense to relate to the LX.

With an older lens like a Pentax-M, no worries about matrix metering or modes. Matrix metering is disabled so you get either center-weighted or spot (again I recommend center-weighted). The lens will only allow apertures other than wide open in M mode. You'll have to enable the aperture ring setting for that if you haven't already. Then follow the steps for stop-down metering with an M or K lens.

A prime lens is good because you only have to set the focal length for SR once. There are a few settings on the K-5 to consider. You can turn off the dots that are superimposed on the focus screen. With a manual focus lens, the only active one is in the center so it''s redundant. I like the control dials set so the rear one changes aperture and the front one does shutter speed, more like a basic camera. Moving the AF from shutter half-press to the rear AF button makes sense too, and switching the focus mode to MF. White balance, I guess you could completely simulate the film experience by fixing that at one color temperature. All personal choices, whatever makes the best link between film and digital. A fixed ISO is a good idea just to get you away from auto modes.

The camera should now work somewhat like an LX. You can pick it up and see what it's set to, and those settings are fixed until you decide to move them. No tricky computer intervention - if you want to shoot with the lens cap on, go ahead, the camera will not stop you, it will only blink the settings to show you something's wrong. Then you can start becoming familiar with how the camera is presenting the metering information, which is not that hard. Shortly, you should have some shots that are worth processing.

Later you can learn matrix metering and autofocus. If only to learn not to trust them.
11-17-2012, 09:54 AM   #10
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I transitioned from film with a Spotmatic to film with a Canon A-1 and then to the K100, and there was really no issue. I got more and better capabilities with each camera, except maybe for the relatively poor viewfinder display in the K100/K200. There was never any need to "dumb down" a new camera to make it work like an old one. That doesn't mean you have to use every feature of a new camera every day, or even ever, but it's just silly to lock ISO in on a digital camera because you had to wait 35 exposures (seemingly always) to change ISO on film. With regards to autofocus, it's generally much harder to manually focus a lens with a DSLR, at least a small-sensor DSLR, than with a typical film camera. It doesn't take any time to get used to autofocus for typical subjects. Certainly using autofocus for rapidly moving subjects is challenging and may require practice/skill, just as using manaul focus for moving objects is. But for typical stationary objects, it's not much of a transition.

Paul
11-18-2012, 04:49 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by SCADjacket Quote

1. In a Manual setting (M, TAv, Av, Tv, P) I press the button halfway, the camera meters and auto focuses. But how do I know I have a correct exposure? In my LX and FE2 I have some needles or lights that I have to line up. I can't find anything like that on the K5. I originally thought it was the Exposure Compensation meter.
In all but M mode, when you half press the shutter, the lens AFs, and the meter sets the exposure for you and displays the aperture and shutter speed in the ViewFinder. If you're in Av, then the aperture remains fixed until you change it, and the shutter speed varies according to the meter reading. In Tv, the shutter speed remains fixed until you change it, and the aperture varies. In TAv, both the shutter speed and aperture are fixed until you change them, and the ISO varies. In P mode, both the aperture and shutter speed can vary to give you combinations along the Program Line that you can choose. In M mode, nothing changes unless you change it, and you have to alter the settings to match 0 Ev like you're used to -- a metering line will appear in the VF for this.

There really isn't any reason not to use the automation, but use it to your advantage.

If you want to control the DOF or use the lens at its optimal aperture for max resolution, then use Av and let the camera set the shutter speed. All you have to do is confirm that the shutter speed is adequate to prevent blur. The camera will try to help here also. If the shutter speed is slower than 1/FL, the Tv value in the VF will usually flash alerting you to raise the ISO. If the metering is off because of backlighting or high contrast,, you can dial it in with Ev compensation.

If you're shooting moving subjects, and want a minimum shutter speed, then use Tv. If the camera can't choose an appropriate aperture (lens isn't fast enough), then the Av value in the VF will flash, alerting you to use a higher ISO value. If the metering is off, you can dial it in with Ev compensation.

If you want to both control DOF and shoot moving subjects, then use TAv, set your shutter speed and aperture, and the camera will choose an ISO within the limits you set. Again, if the metering is off, you can dial it in with Ev compensation.

If you're shooting a static subject and want repeated shots at the same exposure, then use M mode. Shutter, aperture, and ISO will remain fixed until you change them. Here Ev comp doesn't work, but you can dial in over/underexposure on the metering line.

Realize that movements of the camera can change the metering, and thus the exposure. The camera will attempt to get you a good exposure, but you need to learn the fine points of how the meter works in its different modes.

QuoteQuote:
2. I have the 18-55 and the 50-200 lenses. One is 3.5-5.6 the other is 4-5.6. So if the lens only goes to 5.6, how come I can dial in an F22? For example, on the 50-200 I can dial all the way up to F29, but I can't dial lower than F4. Not being able to dial lower than F4 makes sense, but the higher f-stops it allows me to put in leave me scratching my head.
I think this has already been adequately explained, but consider that on an APS-C format digital camera, you start to lose sharpness past f11 or so due to diffraction, so the highest f-stop values are available, but not necessarily that practical in real-life use. The reason they are there is that Pentax cameras use a mechanical aperture linkage, and 1 f-stop is represented by a set movement of the linkage lever. There is a set maximum movement of the lever, and therefore a set maximum number of positions between fully open and fully stopped down. Since different lenses have different max apertures, they also have different min f-stop settings.

QuoteQuote:
I've considered putting a few older primes on the K5, Locking the ISO and just shoot the same way I would shot with film, but doing that seems like I'm missing out on some of the advantages a digital camera can offer.
I would think that it would be a better goal to understand the automation, first, then decide if using older manual lenses fits into the way you want to shoot. Personally, I have chosen to only use A series lenses or newer. YMMV

QuoteQuote:
Is there something fundamental in the usage and workings of a digital camera that I'm not grasping, or am I just seriously over thinking this?
I think you're just stuck in a paradigm. Open your mind to new ways of doing things, and once you understand them, either embrace or reject them as you choose, but make an educated evaluation. This is only the very tip of the iceberg. Your K-5 is almost infinitely adjustable for a multitude of features that most will never touch. The more features you learn and understand, the more you will be able to do with the camera.


Scott
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