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03-06-2014, 06:12 AM   #1
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Which Pentax DSLR has the fastest autofocus?

For fun, I enjoy shooting wildlife, and I read conflicting accounts of Pentax AF.

Some say Pentax DSLRs are a bit pokey in AF, but the data from Popular PHotography suggests they are pretty quick in good light.

Can anyone clear this up for me and tell me which Pentax DSLR is quickest?

Cheers, Jock

03-06-2014, 06:33 AM   #2
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That is an easy one.

The Pentax K-3 has the most advanced autofocus and it does a pretty good job at tracking moving subjects. After that they are all pretty good and fairly similar in terms of speed, with the exception of the K-5 II/IIs being slightly faster under low light. Finding a speedy focusing lens on the other hand is a bit more challenging. In my opinion Pentax has no issues in terms of focus speed when it comes to wildlife or birding. When pentax can track the random movements of a toddler or small child in a dimly lit room they wil have really nailed it.
03-06-2014, 06:52 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Belnan Quote
The Pentax K-3 has the most advanced autofocus and it does a pretty good job at tracking moving subjects. After that they are all pretty good and fairly similar in terms of speed, with the exception of the K-5 II/IIs being slightly faster under low light. Finding a speedy focusing lens on the other hand is a bit more challenging. In my opinion Pentax has no issues in terms of focus speed when it comes to wildlife or birding. When pentax can track the random movements of a toddler or small child in a dimly lit room they wil have really nailed it.
Belnan,

Thanks for the reply. Would you recommend the K-50 for wildlife or birding? I note that it is pretty small and light.

Cheers, Jock
03-06-2014, 07:05 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jock Elliott Quote
Belnan,

Thanks for the reply. Would you recommend the K-50 for wildlife or birding? I note that it is pretty small and light.

Cheers, Jock
The K-50 may not be the best camera for birding, but the autofocus is reasonable and the weather resistance is a plus. With that said, I took this shot with a k-x and a 50-135, and it's hard to imagine a slower focusing combination!

[IMG]
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03-06-2014, 07:11 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Belnan Quote
The Pentax K-3 has the most advanced autofocus and it does a pretty good job at tracking moving subjects. After that they are all pretty good and fairly similar in terms of speed, with the exception of the K-5 II/IIs being slightly faster under low light. Finding a speedy focusing lens on the other hand is a bit more challenging. In my opinion Pentax has no issues in terms of focus speed when it comes to wildlife or birding. When pentax can track the random movements of a toddler or small child in a dimly lit room they wil have really nailed it.
I have K3 and K5II, and have noticed that K5II has a better AF in low light. The K3 struggles a little more in low light situations, but in god light conditions it is faster than K5II.
03-06-2014, 07:27 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by jb09ss Quote
The K-50 may not be the best camera for birding, but the autofocus is reasonable and the weather resistance is a plus. With that said, I took this shot with a k-x and a 50-135, and it's hard to imagine a slower focusing combination!

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Lovely shot!

Here's a shot taken with my Panasonic FZ150 at full optical zoom and full digital zoom. The other shot shows the wide angle view taken from the same spot. The eagle is on the rocks at the extreme right hand side of the dam.



cheers, Jock
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03-06-2014, 08:44 AM   #7
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I can't say that I've ever had any problems focusing with my K-5. And I use a slow consumer zoom, and a 1.4x teleconverter some of the time. Sure it hunts occasionally, but I get plenty of keepers.





03-06-2014, 09:23 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
I can't say that I've ever had any problems focusing with my K-5. And I use a slow consumer zoom, and a 1.4x teleconverter some of the time. Sure it hunts occasionally, but I get plenty of keepers.





Very nice!

Cheers, Jock

---------- Post added 03-06-14 at 09:27 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
I can't say that I've ever had any problems focusing with my K-5. And I use a slow consumer zoom, and a 1.4x teleconverter some of the time. Sure it hunts occasionally, but I get plenty of keepers.





Very nice!

Is that a Pentax teleconverter you are using?

Cheers, Jock

03-06-2014, 09:50 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jock Elliott Quote
Is that a Pentax teleconverter you are using?

Cheers, Jock
No. It is a cheap Vivitar Series 1 1.4x teleconverter. Costs about $100. I use it with my DA L 55-300.

The TC itself is basically a Tamron 1.4x without the PZ/SDM contacts.
03-06-2014, 09:56 AM   #10
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It is important to consider the lens as well.

The K-3 has the fastest screw drive motor as well as the best autofocus system, so it will focus screw drive lenses fastest. Any lens with SDM can be slow on any camera; those lenses have a tendency to hunt a little bit from time to time. Since the camera is responsible for telling the lens what to do, it always plays a role. For lenses with their own motors, though, the differences are not likely to be significant. The K-3, K-5/II/s, and K-50 should all display nearly identical results in normal/good lighting when it comes to lenses with their own motors.

If you want the fastest autofocus, I recommend taking a look at Sigma HSM lenses. I have the new 17-70 contemporary, the 70-200 HSM II (older than what's out there now), the Pentax DA*300 and a few screw drive lenses. Of these, the 17-70 is fastest and most accurate, followed by the 70-200. The DA*300 works great if you are about 80% of the way to focus, but if you need a long turn of the focus throw, it can get lost. It's also critical to choose the autofocus spot manually (or stick with center). If the camera picks something random, the DA300 will go for a take a ride for a few seconds and you'll probably miss the shot.
03-06-2014, 12:55 PM   #11
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So would this be a decent combination??

Pentax K-5 IIS Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 WR Lens Kit

Pentax HD DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED WR 55-300mm



cheers, Jock
03-06-2014, 12:58 PM   #12
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fast yes... accurate, now that's a WHOLE nother story.

as far as i'm concerned, the ONLY camera you should even consider is the K3, because nothing else using the old AF system, K5, K5ii/s, K50 et al is reliable.

it's well documented on here, on the web and probably in alternate universes that the K5xx PDAF does NOT like fur or feathers and will instead focus on rocks, branches or anything else OTHER than your subject.

I have/had a slew of photos, shot using single point AF, where the hard edge of a rock or a branch ON THE BORDER/EXTREME EDGES is in focus, NOT the center frame subject.

So hopefully the K3 is the saving grace for Pentax AF. Nothing up to this point is good enough in critical situations. By critical situations I mean fleeting, everything set-up in TaV, see a subject, point, get focus lock and shoot, which is quite often the case in wildlife. My K5iis has a failure rate of at least 50% and often these aren't reshootable. Though it would be really nice to tell the bear, hold on Mr Grizzly, can you walk by again? My &^(^)(* camera didn't focus properly the first time.
03-06-2014, 01:01 PM   #13
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A decent combination indeed. Though down the road you might want to replace the 18-55 with the 18-135, or just about any other lens. I keep mine because it is the only WR lens I have.
03-06-2014, 01:03 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by nomadkng Quote
fast yes... accurate, now that's a WHOLE nother story.

as far as i'm concerned, the ONLY camera you should even consider is the K3, because nothing else using the old AF system, K5, K5ii/s, K50 et al is reliable.

it's well documented on here, on the web and probably in alternate universes that the K5xx PDAF does NOT like fur or feathers and will instead focus on rocks, branches or anything else OTHER than your subject.

I have/had a slew of photos, shot using single point AF, where the hard edge of a rock or a branch ON THE BORDER/EXTREME EDGES is in focus, NOT the center frame subject.

So hopefully the K3 is the saving grace for Pentax AF. Nothing up to this point is good enough in critical situations.
Yeah, the K-5 can't do wildlife...

Flickr: dane.dawg's Photostream
03-06-2014, 01:12 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
Yeah, the K-5 can't do wildlife...

Flickr: dane.dawg's Photostream
you can even look at my portfolio and see hummingbirds in flight and some wildlife. What you won't see however is the hundreds of images in which the camera did NOT perform. If one makes enough attempts, one is bound to get some keepers. However, I don't trust my camera's AF to be spot on even 85% of the time. And for once in a lifetime opportunities, that's just not acceptable.

One of the web reviews of the K3 that's been circulated on PF, the reviewer even documents that when shooting side by side, the K5 often focused on some other object rather than the intended subject, whereas the K3 was more accurate.

So sarcasm noted, but I am sticking with my opinion.
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