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07-19-2013, 12:08 PM   #1
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for Pentax k-5 owners: low light autofocus, is it that bad ??

Hello there .......

I was wondering if you could provide some help regarding my decision about my first DSLR !! ........ I want to buy a K-5, but I am a little bit concerned about the K-5's autofocus problems in low light (front and back focusing issues), a lot of user are complaining about it !! ............. and my question is : "is it really that bad ...... especially for a beginner ??" ......... the K-5 II is a little bit out of my budget ... that's why I didn't go for it !!

07-19-2013, 12:59 PM   #2
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Its all relative.

My first dslr was a K2000, the K5 is way ahead of it in low light.
It also depends on the quality of the lens you put on it.
I am not sure I have had front and back focusing issues of significance that was due to the camera itself.

If you are a beginner, the K5 is probably more than enough of a camera. I have two of them. I am just a hobby photographer and always will be. So it suits my needs.

When you are shooting in low light, it does have a focus assist light that can help. When shooting people it may startle them. But if you shoot landscapes, it can sometimes be easier as you can always shine a light on something for the camera to foucs on. In the shot below, I had a headlight lamp on my forehead to light the rock on the foreground as the actual lighting was quite dark and I later brightened it in the computer. I actually wound up cropping the area that I focused on due to composition needs:

07-19-2013, 02:33 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by psychdoc Quote
Its all relative.

My first dslr was a K2000, the K5 is way ahead of it in low light.
It also depends on the quality of the lens you put on it.
I am not sure I have had front and back focusing issues of significance that was due to the camera itself.

If you are a beginner, the K5 is probably more than enough of a camera. I have two of them. I am just a hobby photographer and always will be. So it suits my needs.

When you are shooting in low light, it does have a focus assist light that can help. When shooting people it may startle them. But if you shoot landscapes, it can sometimes be easier as you can always shine a light on something for the camera to foucs on. In the shot below, I had a headlight lamp on my forehead to light the rock on the foreground as the actual lighting was quite dark and I later brightened it in the computer. I actually wound up cropping the area that I focused on due to composition needs:
thank you very much for your response ..... I am a hobbyist too ..... I also considered the K-30 or K-50 ..... but I think am going for the K-5 !!

Nice photo by the way !! ....... by any chance, do you still have the original photo (before processing) !!??
07-19-2013, 03:15 PM   #4
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The problem seems to be lighting which color temperature is around the yellow and red zone, like incandescent light bulbs or fire. In pretty neutral ligt I can't complain about the AF. I find it managable but if that is a concern go for a K-5 II is the color issues are fixed and it can handle AF in super low lighting. I need a second body and I'm stuck between another, now cheap, K-5 or to spring for for the K-5 II to have the AF in really difficult situations, tough I usually go with manual focus under those conditions anyway.

07-19-2013, 03:17 PM   #5
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I haven't really noticed any low light autofocus problems with mine. Then again I do a lot of focus/recompose sort of things when I am shooting in low light conditions. Finding contrast in your subject will help immensely in aiding focus lock imho:

07-19-2013, 03:23 PM   #6
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Read this and the links if you're interested.
Falk Lumo: LumoLabs: Pentax K-5 low light focus
07-19-2013, 04:55 PM   #7
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thank you all for your replies !! ....... to make things clear !! ....... am dead on Pentax .... and i want a camera that can focus in low light "such as sunsets and night camps" properly .......... if the K-5's focus problem is not an issue ... then tell me it is not !! ......... if you had the problem ! ..... it would be better to post an example and some tips on how to fix it !!........ in other words, do you recommend the K-5 or not !! ......the most important thing is the cost !! .......... since i can't pay more than 800 dollars "maximum" !! ........ would i be better off with a k-30 or a k-50 instead !!!?? ............. although i am a little bit biased towards the K-5 !!
07-19-2013, 05:03 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by MrApollinax Quote
I haven't really noticed any low light autofocus problems with mine. Then again I do a lot of focus/recompose sort of things when I am shooting in low light conditions. Finding contrast in your subject will help immensely in aiding focus lock imho:
correct me if am wrong !! ......... what you mean by focus/recompose is that you frame your picture first, focus then move your subject to the spot you want in the frame ........ how is that related to the focus problem of the K-5 !!? ...... forgive me for this question, i have no experience with DSLRs whatsoever !!

07-19-2013, 05:15 PM   #9
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Sunsets wont need accurate focus. I have shot low light concerts with the k-5 and whilst it works you may find the k-30 better, particularly around camp fires.
07-19-2013, 09:37 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by makhzanji Quote
Hello there .......

I was wondering if you could provide some help regarding my decision about my first DSLR !! ........ I want to buy a K-5, but I am a little bit concerned about the K-5's autofocus problems in low light (front and back focusing issues), a lot of user are complaining about it !! ............. and my question is : "is it really that bad ...... especially for a beginner ??" ......... the K-5 II is a little bit out of my budget ... that's why I didn't go for it !!
I have a K-5 and I am still relatively new (one year) into photography. Take anything I say with a grain of salt...

That said, I absolutely adore my K-5. Yes it does hunt in low light... but that is a function of many factors including the lens that you choose and other factors. My solution to this is merely to manually focus if it is REALLY dim. If you are shooting under most 'normal' shooting conditions it works fine. I have tried a Nikon out and their AF is smoother and faster, but the system is weaker in other areas, especially price vs gained performance value

If you are in a dimly lit restaurant or something like that it's possible it might hunt... but for most shooters, unless you are shooting in these kinds of low light conditions it won't matter nearly as much. Yes I have had times when I had to turn on the live view and manually focus, but for the most part I am not shooting in that low of light...

Long story short for me it's about a 3 on a 1 to 10 scale of 'concerns'...not that important although it could be improved upon... but for most general use, unless you are going to take excessive shots over a candle lit dinner you probably don't need to worry about it.
07-19-2013, 09:44 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by makhzanji Quote
... and i want a camera that can focus in low light "such as sunsets and night camps" properly .........
If you want the best of the best you won't get it for $800 and you will probably be looking at a full frame camera. That is (in my humble not so expert opinion) one of the advantages of a full frame camera with a much better AF system included. I would like one of those too, and all the lenses that go with it... but trust me, it won't be $800.
07-20-2013, 02:20 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
I have a K-5 and I am still relatively new (one year) into photography. Take anything I say with a grain of salt...

That said, I absolutely adore my K-5. Yes it does hunt in low light... but that is a function of many factors including the lens that you choose and other factors. My solution to this is merely to manually focus if it is REALLY dim. If you are shooting under most 'normal' shooting conditions it works fine. I have tried a Nikon out and their AF is smoother and faster, but the system is weaker in other areas, especially price vs gained performance value

If you are in a dimly lit restaurant or something like that it's possible it might hunt... but for most shooters, unless you are shooting in these kinds of low light conditions it won't matter nearly as much. Yes I have had times when I had to turn on the live view and manually focus, but for the most part I am not shooting in that low of light...

Long story short for me it's about a 3 on a 1 to 10 scale of 'concerns'...not that important although it could be improved upon... but for most general use, unless you are going to take excessive shots over a candle lit dinner you probably don't need to worry about it.
That's what i needed to hear "or read" hehe ................ thank you !!
07-20-2013, 02:24 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
If you want the best of the best you won't get it for $800 and you will probably be looking at a full frame camera. That is (in my humble not so expert opinion) one of the advantages of a full frame camera with a much better AF system included. I would like one of those too, and all the lenses that go with it... but trust me, it won't be $800.
Full frame is not an option ...... besides, I like Pentax ... and they didn't produce a full frame camera
07-20-2013, 06:30 AM   #14
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I never experienced the tungsten low-light issue on my K-r, even though many knowledgeable photographers did. As most (but not all) of these photographers' homes are outside North America, I suspect AC power frequency also played into the problem - most of the world uses 220-240vac at 50Hz, where North America and Japan use 110-220vac at 60Hz. Even tungsten filament lights strobe somewhat, and really wonder if the local power provider's frequency might be in some cases be a closer harmonic with the timing circuits in our cameras.

That said, one of many reasons I upgraded to the K-30 rather than a K-5 is the newer autofocusing design - both the sensors and the software. I spent several weeks considering both cameras before making that final decision, and I'll state emphatically that if the only considered difference had been the autofocus design, I would have gone for the K-5 rather than a K-30. The amount of low-level tungsten lighting I might encounter with my typical photographic subjects seems to shrink daily with the shift to fluorescent and LED technologies.
07-20-2013, 07:10 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by makhzanji Quote
correct me if am wrong !! ......... what you mean by focus/recompose is that you frame your picture first, focus then move your subject to the spot you want in the frame ........ how is that related to the focus problem of the K-5 !!? ...... forgive me for this question, i have no experience with DSLRs whatsoever !!
You are quite mistaken. I decouple AF from the shutter button. I set my f-stop and then attempt to AF on an area of the subject that falls within the focal plane using center point focus but has high contrast. Sometimes the two coincide. Once I get focus lock i then recompose and press the shutter button. Some may say it is not the most efficient way of going about things but it works for me. It is something I started to with my K100DS and my manual A50 f/2. At the advise from many here at this forum I was told that using a manual lens will greatly help a first time dSLR owner like myself at the time. It will force you to understand DOF, lens markers and how you can find "Acceptable Sharpness" within the give DOF. After figuring that out I stopped worrying so much about AF performance in low light.


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