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02-18-2014, 07:38 PM   #1
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Bought a Pentax, got in WAY over my head

You guys seem like such a nice bunch. Maybe you can give me a sense of direction here...

Way back in 2010, I was eager to get into photography and saved up for my first DSLR. After much research, I bought a K-x, but in retrospect I wish I hadn't. The manual is too complicated and dense, the controls aren't intuitive, and basically I have no idea what I'm doing. I have a basic understanding of shutter speed, exposure, etc. but I simply don't understand how to apply those settings to the camera. I've tried to figure it out and I'm ready to give up. Did I mention this was almost four years ago?!

So, I put the K-x for sale on Craigslist. Someone just offered me $225 for it, and I'm tempted to take it, but I'm not ready to give up on DSLR photography yet. Should I go ahead and sell it now, since this is the best price I'm likely to get? I have the money to upgrade to something better if that's what makes sense at this point. What I really want it to be able to take nice portraits, occasional macro shots, and some high-def video. I am ready to throw in the towel on this model, but I don't want to start buying Canon or Nikon lenses just to find out I should have stuck with Pentax.

help...

02-18-2014, 07:45 PM - 2 Likes   #2
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Hey there!
Well I don't think Canon or Nikon will be any different, really. DSLR cameras are just kind of complicated. But you will learn! We can give you very specific instructions for what you want to do with it. In the mean time, you can stick to auto or scene modes.
The K-x is a rather basic camera, buying a "higher end" model will only complicate things. The K-5 has more dials and buttons. And its no different if you buy Sony, Canon, Nikon, Olympus..
Anyway, for portraits, switch to Av mode, then dial the thumb wheel until the f number is lowest possible. ISO should be pretty low, too. Now get in close to your model and ta-da! The rest depends on the lens.

For macro, find the AF/MF switch on your camera (near the lens mount) and switch to MF - manual focus. Now look through the viewfinder and twist the focus ring in one direction and the other (do not twist the focus ring if the switch is set to AF! Only lenses with quickshift feature allow that). One direction is focus at infinity (far away) and the other direction focuses near to you. Twist it a near to you as it goes. Keep the focus ring there! Now aim at the object and simply move in closer with the camera until it gets in-focus. How close? Depends on the lens (on it minimum focus distance, you can find it here) For macro, you will probably need a tripod or something to keep the camera steady. Choose Av mode and select f-number between f5.6 and f14 for macro photos. The higher the F-number, the bigger the depth of field (the area that appears to be in-focus on the photo). You always get the highest magnification at the minimum focus distance. But non-macro lenses have a pretty far MFD, so their magnification is low. A macro lens allows you to focus very very near to the lens, which gives a high magnification. It is usually called macro when the magnification is 1:2 or greater, up to 1:1.

Last edited by Na Horuk; 02-18-2014 at 07:52 PM.
02-18-2014, 07:47 PM - 1 Like   #3
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If you can't figure out Kx you will have same problems else where. Basic controls are similar on different DSLRs, just at different locations.
02-18-2014, 07:47 PM - 3 Likes   #4
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An f stop is an f stop, shutter speed is shutter speed. All cameras work the same. If you don't, as you say, understand how to apply the settings to your Pentax, you won't be able to apply them to a Canon, or Nikon, or Sony, or Fuji.
I tnink you would do well to enroll in a basic photography course.

02-18-2014, 07:52 PM - 1 Like   #5
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The best camera is the one you have.
02-18-2014, 07:53 PM - 3 Likes   #6
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Can I turn your post on its head?
Forget about the specific camera - how much do you understand about photography or how much experience do you have using simpler cameras or film cameras?
What lens(es) are you trying to use with the k-x?
How many pictures have you tried to take using it, and do you know which mode you used?
Giving us some sense of what you know and are comfortable with will help guide how to answer the original question you asked.
02-18-2014, 07:58 PM   #7
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Pentax cameras are the most user friendly in my experience.

I think the K-5 is better than the K-x because you can throw it in TAv and go. But the K-x should be easy too.
02-18-2014, 08:02 PM - 2 Likes   #8
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Bryan Peterson's excellent book, "Understanding Exposure" will take a lot of the mystery out of learning the basics.

02-18-2014, 08:04 PM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by angryannie Quote
You guys seem like such a nice bunch. Maybe you can give me a sense of direction here...

Way back in 2010, I was eager to get into photography and saved up for my first DSLR. After much research, I bought a K-x, but in retrospect I wish I hadn't. The manual is too complicated and dense, the controls aren't intuitive, and basically I have no idea what I'm doing. I have a basic understanding of shutter speed, exposure, etc. but I simply don't understand how to apply those settings to the camera. I've tried to figure it out and I'm ready to give up. Did I mention this was almost four years ago?!

So, I put the K-x for sale on Craigslist. Someone just offered me $225 for it, and I'm tempted to take it, but I'm not ready to give up on DSLR photography yet. Should I go ahead and sell it now, since this is the best price I'm likely to get? I have the money to upgrade to something better if that's what makes sense at this point. What I really want it to be able to take nice portraits, occasional macro shots, and some high-def video. I am ready to throw in the towel on this model, but I don't want to start buying Canon or Nikon lenses just to find out I should have stuck with Pentax.

help...
I started with the Kx. Okay, don't be afraid to use the auto and scene modes. They aren't bad, and you're going to get nice pictures with them.

That being said, the control wheel on the back will change your shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. There are going to be two buttons that you will use to go between them. That's all you need to remember when using it in shutter priority, aperture priority, or manual.

When you set it on Tv the wheel on the back will adjust the shutter speed up and down to what you want, and the camera will adjust the aperture and ISO to what is needed.

When you set it to Av that same wheel will adjust the aperture up and down, while the camera will set the shutter speed and ISO as needed.

When set to M the shutter speed will change with the wheel on the back until you press the av+/- button in front of your main dial that sets what mode the camera is in, then it adjusts the aperture.

I would turn on expanded ISO and then set it to auto ISO of between 100 and 3200. You set the ISO by hitting the > button on the 4 way controller. It is labeled ISO. use the ^ button to go to auto ISO, and then while on it the < and > buttons to set the range, then hit OK and you're good.

Now go out and enjoy taking pics!
02-18-2014, 08:08 PM - 3 Likes   #10
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Your problem sounds like you are trying to learn photography (complicated) on top of trying to learn DSLR's (complicated). Its just too much to take in all at once.
My rule for people starting with DSLR's is, if you don't know when you should do something let the camera do it for now.
Add in taking over functions when what the camera is doing won't produce the picture you want such as a narrower or wider depth of field or a faster or slower shutter speed requirement.
Use the manual as a reference to find things you want to learn to do, not as something you read to learn to do everything at once.

I promise you that you will be just as bad off with any other brand, they are all as complicated and have the same functions. Probably worse off actually since I have yet to find another brand with a forum anything like this one.

The K-X is actually a harder camera to learn advanced functions on in my opinion because all those extra buttons the K5 has are actually clearly labeled and make it so you don't have to rummage in menus for stuff you need to use all the time.
I personally would not use a camera without a front and rear dial since I use them all the time for setting aperture and shutter speed, and since I got the K5 I wouldn't do without the ISO button now either.
If you are huge on video you want to lean towards the much newer Pentax stuff.

The take away from my ramblings would be don't bother to learn everything, just learn the functions you need when you need them to make the camera take the picture you want, eventually you learn everything that way.
If your problem is that you don't know when to change a setting on the camera then you need to learn photography first and we would take a different approach in helping you.
And in my opinion you do need a newer camera with way more controls and functions (including video) but only when you find a good deal on a newer one. There is a Pentax price watch sub forum that tends to list really good deals, like when something is discounted somewhere because a newer model is coming out.

Just curious, but what lenses do you have?

EDIT: You won't find a crowd of people tripping over each other to help you on a Nikon or Canon forum.

Last edited by PPPPPP42; 02-18-2014 at 08:14 PM.
02-18-2014, 08:12 PM - 1 Like   #11
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Also, I have found a manual in electronic format is easier to go through to get what you want, so I found a good link for you. It gives the manual in pdf format and will allow you to simply click to what part you want with ease! http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0...DaJZEpBp0HVqyQ
02-18-2014, 08:12 PM   #12
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As others have said, the K-x will be as easy (or easier) to use as any of the other cameras on the market. Pentax has some of the nicest menu layouts and ergonomics anywhere. And although you may find the manual a little confusing now, Pentax is known for at least providing a printed manual to begin with! It ins't really an instructional guide, but as you do learn more, you will appreciate having it.

From a performance perspective, the K-x is still very capable even by today's standards. So you will take a big loss if you sell it, and if you buy something brand new, you won't gain much. There's no need to do that.

I am lucky that when I was a kid, I was good with reading up on stuff and was able to absorb photography concepts by reading up. But a basic photography class is probably the best way to get started, back then as well as today, and you will probably meet some like-minded people. The K-x is a great camera to learn on, you don't need anything more.

Another thing you can do, as you learn your way around operating the camera, is to experiment and post your photos here for critique. There is a forum just for that. You will get some helpful advice.

Good luck and welcome to the forums. Hope you will stick around for a while.
02-18-2014, 08:12 PM   #13
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Original Poster
I did take a basic photography course. It was helpful in learning the fundamentals of photography, but it taught me absolutely nothing about the actual settings of the camera. And I actually did read "Understanding Exposure" and didn't care for it; I preferred "Getting Started in Digital Photography." That one helped me over the initial hurdles. So I guess I'd say I have a good understanding of how things are supposed to work. Where I get stuck is how to make them work!

@Na Horuk this is exactly the kind of information I need! Thank you! I could just hug you right now.

@MSL, I have the 18-55 kit lens. I have no film experience whatsoever. I'm just kind of winging it. I've taken a few thousand pictures but I'm only happy with about 5 of them.

---------- Post added 02-18-14 at 09:17 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by PPPPPP42 Quote
If you are huge on video you want to lean towards the much newer Pentax stuff.
Yeah, this is something I've been thinking about, and is one of the reasons I want to upgrade despite my lack of experience. I was not interested in learning video when I initially purchased it, but I am now, so I'm leaning towards a new model. I only have the kit lens at the moment so I'm not overly invested in Pentax, but I do appreciate the support here. That alone is making me want to stick it out.
02-18-2014, 08:19 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by angryannie Quote
You guys seem like such a nice bunch. Maybe you can give me a sense of direction here...

Way back in 2010, I was eager to get into photography and saved up for my first DSLR. After much research, I bought a K-x, but in retrospect I wish I hadn't. The manual is too complicated and dense, the controls aren't intuitive, and basically I have no idea what I'm doing. I have a basic understanding of shutter speed, exposure, etc. but I simply don't understand how to apply those settings to the camera. I've tried to figure it out and I'm ready to give up. Did I mention this was almost four years ago?!

So, I put the K-x for sale on Craigslist. Someone just offered me $225 for it, and I'm tempted to take it, but I'm not ready to give up on DSLR photography yet. Should I go ahead and sell it now, since this is the best price I'm likely to get? I have the money to upgrade to something better if that's what makes sense at this point. What I really want it to be able to take nice portraits, occasional macro shots, and some high-def video. I am ready to throw in the towel on this model, but I don't want to start buying Canon or Nikon lenses just to find out I should have stuck with Pentax.

help...
Hi Annie.

As MSL commented, what prior experience do you have with photography? Knowing your background and experience will help us to help you.

I know that after over 30 years of using film SLR cameras I felt very overwhelmed when I made the change to digital. Some of the terminology is different, so that can make things confusing. Then there are all the buttons, menus, settings. Even after 10 years using digital cameras I still am just getting to know my gear.

At first it was intimidating to me, so I tried to let the camera do everything. But that didn't work for me. When I stumbled into this forum I started asking questions. Then I started experimenting. And I found the more I used my cameras the better my skills got. Along the way I also learned what situations would create challenges and how to overcome them. I also learned how to make the light work for me.

The forum has a bunch of really great features. One of those is the Sample Photo Search. You can select several variables, and one is camera type. Select your camera, and then check out all the great images your camera is capable of.

Pentax Camera & Lens Sample Photo Search Engine - PentaxForums.com

Photography is all about light, and what we do with it.

Embrace the light.

Make great photographs.
02-18-2014, 08:21 PM   #15
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Lets be specific. Take this one shot at a time, give us a single real example of something bothering you, and we will help, one at a time.
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