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05-07-2014, 02:52 PM   #1
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Need your help! K-3 soft images.

Hello everyone :-)

As some of you know, I am the new owner of a gorgeous k3 w/ 18-135 lens as of a few weeks ago, which was an upgrade from my t5i.

So far, the build quality, interface, customization, and overall user experience are pretty incredible. However, I've hit a wall with the camera and am kindly requesting your assistance!

Like many other users, I am getting very soft images. I have spent endless hours searching the forums, watching videos, asking my camera shop for solutions but I just can't seem to work it out.

The only way that I can achieve a decently sharp focus is:
Lens 2 stops down from wide open.
Shutter speed around 1/500 and faster.
Slow shutter speed NR and high iso NR off.
Tripod.
2-sec timer.
High Iso NR off.
Lo shutter speed NR off.
Spot focus in AF-C mode.

AF/MF and viewfinder vs liveview makes no difference.

When I say decently sharp, the image sharpness and clarity doesn't come close to what I get with my plasticky t5i, handheld and without all these precautions.

I have also followed the advice from another member of this forum and tried to play with the AF fine adjustment in the customization menu, but the sharpest shots are usually when I leave the slider to 0. I have ensured my lens and filter are spotless of course and upgraded to the latest firmware. I have also tested the video with SR both on and off but it seems to be working with videos. I have no other lens to try it with.

I have called Pentax and they suggested that I send the camera to Arizona for warranty repair as they can't help me over the phone. Before I do so, I'd like to have the opinion from other people on this forum. Am I missing something? Or did I just get a lemon?

Thank you :-)

05-07-2014, 03:09 PM   #2
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Can you post some examples with EXIF intact?
05-07-2014, 03:20 PM   #3
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At what focal length? What lens were you using with the canon for comparison?
05-07-2014, 03:54 PM   #4
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Seeing a sample would definitely help. It could be that the lens needs AF adjustments or something like that.


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05-07-2014, 04:20 PM   #5
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Try using Live View with focus peaking. Does the subject ever get sharp enough for focus peaking to indicate in-focus areas?
You can hit the OK button then the back scroll wheel to zoom in and ensure your subject is in focus.
If you cannot get sharp focus that way, there could be some more serious problem.

Last edited by amoringello; 05-07-2014 at 04:27 PM.
05-07-2014, 08:50 PM   #6
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Thank you all for your replies!

I unfortunately don't have access to a computer tonight so I'll upload a few pictures at work tomorrow.

amoringello, thanks for the heads up. I tried and yes, I am getting several in-focus areas in live view with focus peaking. That's a good start.
05-08-2014, 05:20 AM   #7
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Without photos and the exif it is hard to say if there is a problem or not. Most new users want to blame the camera when in essence it usually is a combination of the lens/camera or could be the lens or camera itself. Don't forget these are manufactured items that are set to factory specs before they leave but can get knocked out of adjustment during shipping sometimes. Also it can be dependent on what your vision of sharpness is or how well your are controlling your depth of field. If your looking for tack sharp then you need to invest more and get better grade lenses or take the time to learn how to get the most out of your lens camera combinations. The 18-135mm is a consumer grade lens, it like most consumer grades are not known to render extremely sharp images at wide open but render better at a couple stops down under most circumstances. However usually they will render sharp enough photos if there isn't a lot of camera motion that a little unsharp mask or highpass sharpening would correct. To really find out if there is a problem, prior to monkeying with the AF fine adjust, is to take the camera/ lens combination through a series of photographic tests to find out if the combination is front or back focusing, then try to adjusting for that if needed. If the adjustments using the correct method do not solve any front or back focusing then odds are your camera and/or lens may need a focus repair service adjustment. It happens sometimes.
05-08-2014, 10:58 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by pomabille Quote
Hello everyone :-)

As some of you know, I am the new owner of a gorgeous k3 w/ 18-135 lens as of a few weeks ago, which was an upgrade from my t5i.

So far, the build quality, interface, customization, and overall user experience are pretty incredible. However, I've hit a wall with the camera and am kindly requesting your assistance!

Like many other users, I am getting very soft images. I have spent endless hours searching the forums, watching videos, asking my camera shop for solutions but I just can't seem to work it out.

The only way that I can achieve a decently sharp focus is:
Lens 2 stops down from wide open.
Shutter speed around 1/500 and faster.
Slow shutter speed NR and high iso NR off.
Tripod.
2-sec timer.
High Iso NR off.
Lo shutter speed NR off.
Spot focus in AF-C mode.

AF/MF and viewfinder vs liveview makes no difference.

When I say decently sharp, the image sharpness and clarity doesn't come close to what I get with my plasticky t5i, handheld and without all these precautions.

I have also followed the advice from another member of this forum and tried to play with the AF fine adjustment in the customization menu, but the sharpest shots are usually when I leave the slider to 0. I have ensured my lens and filter are spotless of course and upgraded to the latest firmware. I have also tested the video with SR both on and off but it seems to be working with videos. I have no other lens to try it with.

I have called Pentax and they suggested that I send the camera to Arizona for warranty repair as they can't help me over the phone. Before I do so, I'd like to have the opinion from other people on this forum. Am I missing something? Or did I just get a lemon?

Thank you :-)

Hi There as a new user myself could i ask a couple of questions,
why have the camera on AF-C if its on a tripod I would try AF-S,
Also do you have the image stabilizer turned of if your on a tripod, it should be set to of,
I also see you keep the NR of same as me I don't like the camera trying to compensate for noise I can do that in Lightroom
I hope you don't mind me stating the above
It may be the lens causing the problems,
I have the 18mm 135mm and I don't have the problems you are experiencing,


Hopefully someone on this forum with more experience than me can help you get to the bottom of this
I hope you get it sorted soon.


Cheers Tom G

05-08-2014, 11:36 AM   #9
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Since he upgraded from a Canon SLR and is comparing the sharpness of his k3 with the sharpness of his Canon, I assume he knows the basics of how to use a camera to get sharp images.
05-08-2014, 03:58 PM   #10
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I'd do a factory reset on the camera - especially since you've done a firmware upgrade.

It should work well - even handheld with SR on and the AA Filter Simulator off. The DA18-135 has pretty good IQ for a mid-priced zoom - you should expect results similar to what others get:

PENTAX : Select a PENTAX interchangeable lens camera or a lens model
Pentax smc DA 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 ED AL [IF] DC WR Lens Sample Photos and Specifications
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If you're within the return period, I think it would be wise to invest in either the DA35/2.4 or DA50/1.8. This will save you much time. Pay for 1, 2, or 3-day shipping if you have to. That way you can troubleshoot it yourself by narrowing it down to the lens or camera (or camera settings). Then you can return the camera and/or lens if necessary.

Either one is a great lens (especially for the money) that can do things your zoom can't do, so you'd probably want to own one soon anyway.
05-08-2014, 05:46 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tom777 Quote
Hi There as a new user myself could i ask a couple of questions,
why have the camera on AF-C if its on a tripod I would try AF-S,
Also do you have the image stabilizer turned of if your on a tripod, it should be set to of,
I also see you keep the NR of same as me I don't like the camera trying to compensate for noise I can do that in Lightroom
I hope you don't mind me stating the above
It may be the lens causing the problems,
I have the 18mm 135mm and I don't have the problems you are experiencing,

Hopefully someone on this forum with more experience than me can help you get to the bottom of this
I hope you get it sorted soon.

Cheers Tom G
Can't say why the OP would do so, but yeah on a tripod it won't matter much for AF.C or AF.S unless the subject was moving and you wanted to follow that.

I keep Shake Reduction on whether the camera is on or off the tripod. I've had no real issues with it on. Some people have different experiences, so maybe good to turn off anyway when on a tripod...
BUT... the OP had the 2-second timer turned on. This disables the shake reduction as the camera assumes you're on a stable tripod such that you are worried that mirror-flop would affect the image. If things are that stable, no need to use SR so it is disabled.
05-08-2014, 08:01 PM   #12
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Thank you everyone for your replies, they are much appreciated and make me think that this is more a technique and/or perception problem and that the gear is just fine.

Here are 3 shots that best illustrate my issue. Despite the sharpness being good at first glance, a 100% zoom reveals that a lot of the edges are soft and hat the colours seem to "spill" on one another. I have never encountered that before and this is why I find it surprising.


Now, I've noticed a couple very interesting things that I hadn't noticed before and seem to be at the root of my problem:
1. After trying to take the exact same low-light-ish picture with my K3 and t5i, at equal ISO and aperture, the t5i comes up with a faster shutter speed than the K3, so it seems that the K3 needs more light (because of the higher sensor resolution?) and therefore more precautions in low-light conditions.
2. All the pictures that seem to cause trouble are taken in non-optimal lighting, and have some sort of fine, repetitive detail (tree branches, ...). Looking at pictures from the 2nd link Dsims posted reveals a similar look to them. This makes me think this is just how the lens reproduces this sort of details.

I think the solution may be first to seek better lighting or stabilization, and work with DoF better. Let me know what you think

Thanks for your help and please forgive my inexperience!
Attached Images
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-3  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-3  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-3  Photo 
05-09-2014, 12:53 AM   #13
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Can you post any of the Canon shots? I'd be interested to see them. I'd also like to know what Canon lens(es) you're using.

Is the link actually the last (3rd) link, labeled Advanced Search? I ask because (to me) it almost doesn't look like a separate link. But it's the only link where all of the photos are from the same model camera and viewable full-sized. Plus that camera has an important similarity to the K-3.


I can make some reasonable guesses at this point:

1) I've read that the K-3 has one of the most sophisticated exposure metering systems on the market - specifically, the default Multi-Segment mode (p. 40 of the manual). So the chosen metering pattern (on both cameras) is significant. The T5i, while a good camera, is not high enough in the line for Canon's best metering. This is a possible reason for the shutter speed difference - although certainly not conclusive yet.

2) There are a couple of possibly relevant factors which come to mind here: a) Unlike the T5i, the K-3 doesn't have an AA filter (which generally produces sharper images, but can also cause moire). b) Canon tends to be more "invasive" in their JPEG processing - which could lead to more in-camera corrections and reduce apparent noise, but can also smear detail at high-ISO. Pentax has a number of in-camera lens corrections, but most (or all) of them are turned off by default. So it's possible this is the difference. The DA18-135 in-camera corrections will mostly show up toward the edges of the frame.


But I do like the colors and overall appearance in your images - what do you think? I think the DA18-135 already produces nice colors, and then the K-3 (the little I've used it) immediately impressed me as possibly the nicest (and somewhat warmish) colors I've seen in a Pentax body for a few generations. I thought Canon's nicest APS-C colors were in their 20D and 30D, and I'm not sure they've ever recovered back to that level.
05-09-2014, 05:43 AM   #14
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Ask your self how many printed photos you look at while your out and about do you see are printed at a 100% crop or do you plant your nose on the photo looking for flaws. Photos are looked at a distance and what makes the photo is how the photographers effect in the photo draws the eye. I'll bet the ones you like the most if you could look at the files at 100% crop you would find flaws. As you are more than likely aware photography isn't about having everything tak sharp it is about controlling your settings to achieve the effect you want, either through in camera settings and/or in post processing. Your K3 combo isn't your T5i combo with either using the right settings for the camera will take pleasing photos that others could appreciate. You can drive yourself nuts trying to compare the two and pixel peeping or you can enjoy the experience with your new camera by learning what it can do and it's limitations while concentrating on what's best to use to portray your vision of what you see. Are we successful 100% of the time...nope.... But we do develop the skills through repetitive use of our equipment to lower the number of mistakes and sometimes capture something magical..


Problems with equipment are when your have everything set the way it should be for your shot and the camera lens combo locks on your subject but it comes out blurred with sharp focus appearing in front or in back of it or you take the shot your subject is sharp but there is severe blur on one side of your photo but not the other. I don't see this in any of your photos. They look normal to me for the settings showing in your exif and given the lens used, which to me looks fine.
05-09-2014, 06:18 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Oldbayrunner Quote
Ask your self how many printed photos you look at while your out and about do you see are printed at a 100% crop or do you plant your nose on the photo looking for flaws. Photos are looked at a distance and what makes the photo is how the photographers effect in the photo draws the eye.
Although print may not be quite dead yet and definitely has a different tolerance for sharpness, you cannot blatantly ignore the fact that digital display exists and is a major method of displaying one's photos -- and often times with only a small portion/crop of the image being used. So 100% crop view is not an unreasonable method of viewing your photos.


If the Canon is obviously sharper for a person's needs than Pentax, then they need to go with Canon.
Fortunately, that is far from true and there is something else going awry here.

My guess is that this is the long debated issue of Pentax refusing to over-sharpen the JPEG images in-camera.
Either crank up the sharpening and contrast settings to better match Canon output, or shoot RAW and sharpen your self.
if the softness is excessive, then it may be something else but we cannot tell from small web-resolution versions of those images.
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