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04-22-2014, 01:41 PM   #16
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If you hold the camera steady, in most cases SR should allow you to shoot down to 1/25s (or even down to 1/13s if you're careful). So you don't normally need a faster shutter speed for this kind of shot (where no one's moving quickly, if at all) if SR is on.


If you're still not happy after a bit of playing around with this lens, then the DA55-300 (any version, new or used) will give you a boost to what you probably expect in terms of IQ. The Pentax or Takumar F70-210/4-5.6 (used) is also an alternative that IMO even matches or exceeds the DA55-300 (which is already very good) and costs less.

04-22-2014, 01:43 PM   #17
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Hey, welcome! Don't worry.. you know what they say - your worst photo? Your first 1000.
Anyway, here is what I would do.
Switch focus point to centre point. The problem with auto-select is that you might not know which one the camera selected. Also, the actual AF points are much bigger than the little red dot in the viewfinder, so its possible the camera found something, but not the thing you wanted. Using only the centre point is a good place to start.
Next, make sure the camera is done focusing. Half-press the shutter button and hold it until its done. Then gently press the button. Handshake is a big factor! Lots of photos become blurry simply because the hands are a little shaky, especially when pushing a button. You have to kind of relax and use the shutter finger "separately" from the rest of your hand.
Finally, learn about shutter speed and aperture. Shutter speed is the duration of the exposure, and a long exposure can cause handshake to show up more. Keep in mind that shutter speed is written in fractions of a second, so 1/200 is a shorter time (less blur) than 1/60. Aperture is important because a higher f-number gives a bigger depth of field (the area that appears to be in focus). Sometimes the focus is perfect, but the DoF is so shallow, it looks as if the focus is off. The tradeoff is that fast shutter and high f-number mean there is less light hitting the sensor, so you usually have to sacrifice one or even both.
04-22-2014, 01:46 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
If you hold the camera steady, in most cases SR should allow you to shoot down to 1/25s (or even down to 1/13s if you're careful). So you don't normally need a faster shutter speed for this kind of shot (where no one's moving quickly, if at all) if SR is on.
Optimistic strategy for 200mm FL, Dsims. :-)
04-22-2014, 01:47 PM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by delegopa Quote
Thats what i call dedication! You brave soul just emptied all these bottles to help a new pentaxian?
That's another cause of focus problems right there.

I think the camera logic is to blame for some of Gilly's issues. It should have raised ISO by itself. I'm used to seeing auto modes really stick to the "1 over focal length" rule, but here it did not. The EXIF data mentions "Landscape mode". I think that means the camera chose a scene mode, Landscape. The manual does not really explain what the scene modes do for camera settings, but something caused ISO to be low.

The cameras with Scene modes all do this in full Auto mode - choose a Scene mode first, then bias the auto settings based on that scene mode. I don't think the camera is smart enough to pull that off all the time. I bet that switching to P mode would have helped.

04-22-2014, 01:51 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by A.Yzerr Quote
Someone with better eyes might be able to tell you whether or not you're having some front or back focusing based on the picture.
The dirt from the track seems to be in excellent focus.

How far away was she? Using an aperture of 5.6, with the lens at 200mm, the area that can be in focus isn't terribly large. You can use this site to see how much is in focus at a given setting:
Online Depth of Field Calculator

If she was 20 feet away, the only part in focus is a band 8 inches deep. If she was 50 feet away, the band is a bit over 4 feet.

Since she was on a horse and presumably you'd want both the rider and the horse in focus, the aperture should probably have been at f/8 or f/11. Of course, that cuts the amount of light available, as would shooting at a faster speed, so you'll have to adjust the iso rating to compensate.


Good cameras can be a real pain in the butt to take photos with compared to a point & shoot sometimes. It can be nice to have a smaller sensor, sometimes.
04-22-2014, 01:55 PM - 1 Like   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
Optimistic strategy for 200mm FL, Dsims. :-)
In my experience the FL is almost irrelevant when using SR - it's the absolute shutter speed that matters. Industry "standards" call for measuring the number of stops of improvement over non-SR/IS/VR (or whatever the particular brand calls it) and is tied in with the FL, but in the case of Pentax' in-body SR this doesn't appear to be the appropriate way to measure/report its performance. I can often get away with 1/13s on any of my lenses (using appropriate hand-holding technique, of course) but my wider lenses are just as unusable as my longer lenses if I go below this shutter speed with SR.
04-22-2014, 02:01 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
In my experience the FL is almost irrelevant when using SR - it's the absolute shutter speed that matters. Industry "standards" call for measuring the number of stops of improvement over non-SR/IS/VR (or whatever the particular brand calls it), but in the case of Pentax' in-body SR this doesn't appear to be the appropriate way to measure/report its performance. I can often get away with 1/13s on any of my lenses (using appropriate hand-holding technique, of course) but my wider lenses are just as unusable as my longer lenses if I go below this shutter speed with SR.
Yep, but a 1/13 shutter speed will lead to a poor keeper ratio.

It's not great advice especially for a beginner, especially for a long FL.

And neither does the Pentax in-body SR work as well as in-lens on a tele, AFAIK.

The subjects being distant, moving and separated called for wider aperture than 7.1 and higher shutter speed than 1/100.

Last edited by clackers; 04-22-2014 at 02:11 PM.
04-22-2014, 02:09 PM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
If you hold the camera steady, in most cases SR should allow you to shoot down to 1/25s (or even down to 1/13s if you're careful). So you don't normally need a faster shutter speed for this kind of shot (where no one's moving quickly, if at all) if SR is on.
You must have much, much, much steadier hands than I do. Even at 135mm, 1/25 would probably be soft for me, let alone the 200mm the OP used.

04-22-2014, 02:39 PM   #24
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Even if shot on a tripod, a too slow shutter speed will show motion blur from every small movement of the subject.
04-22-2014, 02:40 PM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by narual Quote
You must have much, much, much steadier hands than I do. Even at 135mm, 1/25 would probably be soft for me, let alone the 200mm the OP used.
I fully expect my hands to become less steady in the coming years, but for now it seems to work. The OP's daughter is about the same age as mine, so there's a reasonable chance he can use a similar shutter speed - especially if he properly braces the camera using his left elbow against his chest and his left hand supporting the camera/lens.


QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
And neither does the Pentax in-body SR work as well as in-lens on a tele, AFAIK.

The subjects being distant, moving and separated called for wider aperture than 7.1 and higher shutter speed than 1/100.
Reports are that the in-body SR works similarly (or possibly better in some cases) than the in-lens OS on the Sigma 70-200/2.8, which gives you a choice. But this is irrelevant for most Pentax-mount lenses, which lack any type of in-lens OS anyway.

I never bought the DA50-200 (I went straight to the DA55-300), because I could see from sample photos that it was only mediocre in IQ. So I can't be too specific here, having not owned it. But my experience with similar lenses tells me wide open at f/5.6 at 200mm will significantly compromise IQ on this lens. This is one of the reasons people will spend so much on a DA*200 (which I owned for a while) - because you can get excellent IQ near wide-open at ~f/3.2, as opposed to getting lesser quality even around f/8 on this lens. Even the better DA55-300 shouldn't be shot wider than around f/6.3 at 200mm, IIRC (but it gives pretty good IQ - especially between 55 and 135mm). So wider than ~f/7.1 will compromise IQ too much on this lens, even though I'd shoot this shot closer to f/4 when I could (as on my K200/2.5).




But considering all the factors for this shot, I'd use Av mode at around f/7.1, manually select my focus point, set ISO to 800 (which still has low noise), and allow the shutter speed to go to about 1/500s (which it would). Then I could even turn off SR if I wanted. But since they're posing and not moving, I wouldn't hesitate to use SR and a much lower shutter speed around dark.

Last edited by DSims; 04-22-2014 at 02:47 PM.
04-22-2014, 03:17 PM   #26
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Thank you for the advice. I think I realise that I am going to have to start using my camera properly. I understand about the D of F and shutter speeds from books so I think I shall have to start applying them. I had just started taking some 'general photos' to see what the images came out like so used auto as I (wrongly)assumed the camera would know what to do even if I didn't and was disappointed with the result. Will have another go and see what happens
04-22-2014, 03:27 PM   #27
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I've noticed recently that photozone's MTF tests do a fairly good job of representing what I've seen in practice. I still prefer looking at real-world results, but they're helpful in showing the differences. Although I hadn't looked up the results on these particular lenses before my previous comments, I knew about what to expect through experience. Here you can see that the optimal compromise between sharpness and aperture (which usually yields the best overall IQ) on the DA50-200 at 200mm will be around f/7.1, as I predicted: Pentax SMC-DA 50-200mm f/4-5.6 ED - Review / Test Report - Analysis

And as the other test reveals, the DA55-300 is stronger than the DA50-200 at 200mm - notably around f/6.3, where you should use it: Pentax SMC DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED - Review / Test Report - Analysis But the charts also suggest that the DA55-300 really is strongest from about 55-135mm, as I noticed when I owned one. At ~f/6.3 it performs quite well in this range. The better IQ of the DA55-300 also shows up when you observe various sample photos, as I've mentioned.



To the OP, you can tell from the charts that your DA50-200 is better around 100 or 135mm, at any aperture (and especially at f/5.6 or higher). This would have given you a better photo, were you able to get close enough to your subjects.


For future reference, this is also the reason why people will spend a lot more money on a DA*50-135. Besides the other advantages of an f/2.8 zoom, you can set it at f/3.5 and get very high IQ regardless of what FL you zoom to. Not only does it create brilliant shots, but it's easier to deal with. If it ever fits your budget, it's one of the best investments you can make for your K-30.

Last edited by DSims; 04-22-2014 at 03:43 PM.
04-22-2014, 03:54 PM - 1 Like   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by GillyH Quote
Thank you for the advice. I think I realise that I am going to have to start using my camera properly. I understand about the D of F and shutter speeds from books so I think I shall have to start applying them. I had just started taking some 'general photos' to see what the images came out like so used auto as I (wrongly)assumed the camera would know what to do even if I didn't and was disappointed with the result. Will have another go and see what happens
You'd think after many decades of development and ads insisting that now everything is auto and perfect, it would work. But no.

The camera in Auto is sort of like a university student. At times, brilliant. Then some unanticipated real-world problem stumps them. It helps to know when the Auto mode gets ambitious, and override it. The shutter speed rule is one thing to watch. With some experience, you will learn how slow you can go. Maybe add a little after an eight mile hike or three Red Bull energy drinks.

Other settings have limits too. Aperture settings that are really low or really high are not ideal for the highest image quality. (The actual numbers depend on the lens.) The ISO is related to digital noise. You might notice that noise gets ugly at say 3200 or higher, the actual number is personal preference. Larger prints or screen sizes show more imperfections. Zoom lenses are better in the middle than right at the ends. When you take control yourself, you can use these limits to take better shots.
04-22-2014, 05:15 PM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
I never bought the DA50-200 (I went straight to the DA55-300).

Wish I'd done that. Buy nice, rather than twice.


F8's really needed even on the 55-300, and even then, it's only the centre that's sharp.


But it's so easy to carry around I can't think why I'd ever get the 50-200 out again.


(OP, it's also now available as WR, if you're interested.)


QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
I'd use Av mode at around f/7.1.

Can't believe I said 'wider' instead of 'narrower'.


To me, the OP is used to the DoF of a cameraphone and should go for f11 (also gets the sharpest performance for her lens at the long end, according to the Photozone analysis, and best for resolution of not only the rider in the middle, but the two companions closer to the edges).
04-22-2014, 05:39 PM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
F8's really needed even on the 55-300, and even then, it's only the centre that's sharp.
Perhaps that's why I eventually sold it - because I couldn't bring myself to stop it down that much all of the time. But I thought it was a pretty good lens until I got more picky. To replace it I had to go much higher in price, but in return I got the more eye-catching images I wanted.

QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
Can't believe I said 'wider' instead of 'narrower'.
Funny, I was thinking I'd accidentally written that sometime today!

QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
To me, the OP is used to the DoF of a cameraphone and should go for f11 (sharpest performance at the long end, according to the Photozone analysis).
I'm not sure that's a good habit for the OP to get into, and it carries other disadvantages from letting in less light. But it would maximize sharpness on this particular lens, if that's the primary goal.
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