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08-20-2014, 05:05 AM   #16
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I notice you are using a K20D - nice camera, however there may be some quirks working against you. With my camera I have found the AF was not accurate. I have since adjusted the AF to improve performance.

Secondly, I note your lenses are slow (except the 50mm). Slow lenses in poorer light means higher ISO - the K20D is not the best high ISO performer - so be wary.

Lastly, MF is a great cheaper option. 'A' lenses are the pick BUT so are M42 lenses in Av mode. If you go this path you may have to consider an M42 adapter, split prism focusing screen and magnifying eye cup. If you try M42 lenses you may very well be able to sample scores of lenses very cheaply especially if you frequent thrift stores.

08-20-2014, 05:51 AM   #17
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Your shots do look soft and lack contrast. It seems like they're shot on a shady day, which will not benefit photography - you lose that contrast. Overcast is really deceptive, your eyes see a lot more than the camera does.

Primes do help with IQ, but the other parameters will remain. Slow shutter speed outdoors is asking for soft images as the plants move just tiny amounts and provide a small amount of blur.
08-20-2014, 07:28 AM   #18
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The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 is a great all around lens with excellent image quality at a reasonable price, especially if you buy one used. And it would be good for you, since it is a quasi-macro lens, allowing very close focusing, even at 75mm. It won't get you microscopically close, like for insects, but it will allow you to almost fill your frame with a single flower in many cases.

But I would echo what others have said. Whether or not you buy a new lens, it looks like you are just starting out on photography journey and still have a lot to learn. Better lenses can help, and can open up more opportunities, but you can still do a lot more with the lenses you already have.
08-20-2014, 07:36 AM   #19
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Thanks for the responses. Good info and appreciated. mtux, I do have an A50/1.7..... old4570, I looked at the 18-55 again. It is the AL.. mee, I've had my eye on the 35/2.4. Brooke, Like your market shots and the others too. I took some at the Reading Market in Philadelphia last month. I'm always looking for colorful subjects. I have the Understanding Exposure, 3rd edition by Bryan Peterson. Great book. Wild Mark, you mentioned the AF adjustment. It's on page 106 of the manual. Read it but was scared away. Should I be? I think I will look at that again.
I shot these at 200 ISO, hardly use anything else. I mostly use the camera at the 6MP setting. I think I will use it at the max 14.6MP and resize pics for emailing. What do you all think?
Some say, go out with one lens. I think I'll try that with the 50 next time. Never did, always chickened out thinking I'll miss an opportunity where the 28-200 zoom would come in handy. Gotta work on the technique.

08-20-2014, 08:53 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by royden Quote
Thanks for the responses. I have the Understanding Exposure, 3rd edition by Bryan Peterson. Great book. .
If you read over your camera instruction manual and take Bryan Petersens advice, use the camera in Manual exposure. Its isn't hard and you'll be in control. Don't worry so much about using higher ISO values. The K20 is good until ISO 800 and 1600 with a little post processing. I used Noiseware for years, as PS Plug In. Saved me on my first paid portrait job.

Do consider shooting in RAW. Memory cards and disk drives are very cheap. Even a free and easy editor like Picasa can handle DNG files. Later, when you become more comfortable with editing, you'll have all the original image data to work with.

The attached was made 5 years ago with a K20D. I had just changed to manual exposure. That changed everything for me because now, I had to decide on exposure values. In this case, there was plenty of light so ISO 100, everything was roughly the same plane so f8 (typically the sharpest aperture of any lens) and shutter of 1/200 which fast enough for the slightly moving ship I was on. Everything on my website, event site and blog was made with manual exposure. The histogram ( aka modern Polaroid) is a wonderful tool.

This edit was made last week. My first effort in 2009 wasn't very good. Since then, my workflow, due to experience and learning, has changed a great deal. By having an technically sound RAW capture, I didn't have to go back to British Columbia.


08-20-2014, 09:09 AM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by royden Quote
...I shot these at 200 ISO, hardly use anything else. I mostly use the camera at the 6MP setting. I think I will use it at the max 14.6MP and resize pics for emailing. What do you all think?
The K-7 sensor is similar to yours, except modified for video. The sensor isn't that great at higher ISOs, but you should be able to use it up to 400 without noticing, 800 with some care, 1600 with processing. Higher than that, you may want to convert to black and white, because the biggest noise problem is chroma/color noise. The sensor also starts to lose dynamic range at 800.

Resizing is better because you have more information to start with and more control over the resize. You may want to mention the software you use and get some advice on resizing techniques for that software.

QuoteQuote:
Some say, go out with one lens. I think I'll try that with the 50 next time. Never did, always chickened out thinking I'll miss an opportunity where the 28-200 zoom would come in handy. Gotta work on the technique.
You will miss shots, which is annoying. (Especially when your wife sees a shot and you have to explain why you can't take it.) Part of the idea is to see all the shots that you can take with the focal length you have. Then how those shots can look different with the prime lens instead of the zoom set to the same range. You probably have a greater choice in apertures. A prime lens is often better at shooting into bright lights because of flare. The goal is to recognize the strengths of each lens, so when you have a choice later, you know what lens will do the best job.
08-20-2014, 10:22 AM   #22
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Your A 50mm f1.7 should be good enough when it comes to image quality! The question is, if the focal length suits you. The zoom lenses you have are more for the times when you need zoom, when you can't exchange lenses. Like holidays, family events. If you want the most image quality, use a prime (fixed focal length) lens. These also have the best low light performance (low f-number).
A good thing about Pentax is that you can get great image quality even with relatively cheap lenses, from the film era. And the DA 35mm f2.4 and DA 40mm XS f2.8 are also really great, fully automatic lenses that you can find under $200! Very sharp, can compete with lenses that cost three times as much
08-20-2014, 12:22 PM   #23
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Have you thought about exploring more post processing techniques? There are a lot of minor tweaks you can do like increasing definition, contrast, and a little bit of sharpening that can give your shots some extra "pop" as it is called. It's easy to go overboard with the sliders and many people believe that post processing takes away from the purity of photography. The software, such as RawTherapee, is free in many cases. Shoot in RAW as others have suggested so you can work with the original, more detailed sensor data and then have fun! You can also shoot in RAW+ so you get the out-of-camera JPG too.

Once you have have exhausted post processing then I think you would appreciate a new lens more. I second the suggestions of the DA 35mm and DA 40mm XS lenses. For a little bit more (heard that before, right?) try a used FA 50. Otherwise, a used manual focus Pentax A or M is a great way to go too!

Oh, and before I forget ... if you want a great macro AF lens that is 1:1 check out a used D FA 50mm f/2.8. I got mine from KEH because the price was lower than Amazon's for any AF 1:1 50mm lens. But, you have to keep your eyes open.

08-20-2014, 03:52 PM   #24
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Hmmmm

QuoteOriginally posted by royden Quote
Thanks for the responses. Good info and appreciated. mtux, I do have an A50/1.7..... old4570, I looked at the 18-55 again. It is the AL.. mee, I've had my eye on the 35/2.4. Brooke, Like your market shots and the others too. I took some at the Reading Market in Philadelphia last month. I'm always looking for colorful subjects. I have the Understanding Exposure, 3rd edition by Bryan Peterson. Great book. Wild Mark, you mentioned the AF adjustment. It's on page 106 of the manual. Read it but was scared away. Should I be? I think I will look at that again.
I shot these at 200 ISO, hardly use anything else. I mostly use the camera at the 6MP setting. I think I will use it at the max 14.6MP and resize pics for emailing. What do you all think?
Some say, go out with one lens. I think I'll try that with the 50 next time. Never did, always chickened out thinking I'll miss an opportunity where the 28-200 zoom would come in handy. Gotta work on the technique.
Oh yeah , you must shoot Max image quality ...
If you can ( bright day ) , Shoot ISO100 ...
Both my K20s seem to focus fine , since I mainly shoot macro , magnification and shutter speed are the two softening factors ( I shoot free hand )

As long as you shoot over 1/125 , small slow movement should not be a killer ( landscape ) , but the closer you get to a subject , then yes , it may soften the image .

The 18-55 kit lens is a great place to start , its versatile and takes a decent picture ..

The other thing to bear in mind , is the focus system . multipoint VS single point .. For photographing flowers etc I like single point focus rather than multipoint ..
Simply because I want to control the focus point ..
For shooting medium to long distance multipoint works ..
For subjects closer than a few meters it bites , here I prefer single point focus ...

So much to cover , go to youtube .. So many video tutorials
08-20-2014, 04:03 PM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by old4570 Quote
Oh yeah , you must shoot Max image quality ...
If you can ( bright day ) , Shoot ISO100 ...
Both my K20s seem to focus fine , since I mainly shoot macro , magnification and shutter speed are the two softening factors ( I shoot free hand )

As long as you shoot over 1/125 , small slow movement should not be a killer ( landscape ) , but the closer you get to a subject , then yes , it may soften the image .

The 18-55 kit lens is a great place to start , its versatile and takes a decent picture ..

The other thing to bear in mind , is the focus system . multipoint VS single point .. For photographing flowers etc I like single point focus rather than multipoint ..
Simply because I want to control the focus point ..
For shooting medium to long distance multipoint works ..
For subjects closer than a few meters it bites , here I prefer single point focus ...

So much to cover , go to youtube .. So many video tutorials
I second this approach. Don't rush to adjust AF yet. See if your technique and settings are right first. Max quality always - memory is cheap. Faster shutter speed where possible. And the shake reduction - engage it for freehand work and turn it off if you use a tripod.

Once you have settled with the lenses you have and happy with output I really urge you to consider trying some M42 screw mount lenses. It forces manual focusing but through Av (all you have to do is select the aperture on the aperture ring and the shutter speed will be determined for you). I cannot believe how much I learned through M42 lenses.

Mark
08-20-2014, 06:04 PM   #26
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Hmmm , I just dont know why people like M42 lenses ( Please buy mine )

Honestly , for me personally I find the M42 Dated and not very user friendly ...

There are so many K M or A lenses to chose from , and they have aperture levers .. ( If it sounds like Im not a M42 fan boy = your right )

I have tried M42 , and I found it to be a mistake ...

Im not harshing the image quality these lenses can produce , no .
Im harshing on the user friendliness of these lenses ...

Im a KMA fanboy , well more A than KM , but I wont knock the KM models for not having Auto aperture ...
+ the A models are going up in price and becoming harder to find as Pentaxians realize how good these older lenses are + they work in their digital SLR's ...

If you dont have one , rush out and buy a F1.7 or F2 50mm A , while they are at bargain prices ... As long as you get a clean one , you wont regret the purchase ...

---------- Post added 08-21-14 at 11:14 AM ----------

Just took my own advice , and got me a Pentax A F1.7 50mm ( already have the F2 )
08-20-2014, 06:32 PM   #27
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The 50mm 1.7 is a very decent lens for the price. I had one for a while, and had some fun playing with it and got some great pictures, but since I'm mostly photographing children it wasn't really practical. But it had good sharpness/contrast and nice rendering, and I liked how it looked on my camera.
08-20-2014, 07:03 PM   #28
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You seem to have gotten extremely good advice.

Good glass does not make the photographer, but it does make the good photographer's images better. If you are not scared away by a fully manual lens and you desire a sharp prime that will also double as a very good Macro lens, I cannot think of a better value than the Pentax-M 50mm f/4 Macro. I recently purchased one and it has just blown me away with the level of sharpness and contrast, both as a standard 50mm lens and as a Macro lens. Throw that in your kit along with a Pentax-A 35-105mm f/3.5 zoom and you have the makings of an extraordinary sharp, quality and reasonably priced kit that will fare well in all but the lowest light scenarios. Throw in a 58mm SMC Pentax K series f/1.8 (awesome and cheap) and you'll be set for moderately low light situations. Check out the lens reviews for them and I bet you can find one or all three in the marketplace, KEH Outlet , or the big auction shop on the web.

Good luck and have fun!!

Last edited by ripper2860; 08-20-2014 at 07:08 PM.
08-20-2014, 07:45 PM   #29
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I suggest you joining the "Single in challenge" in this forum, I think it is the best thing which will help you improve in photography and know your gears very well and have lots of fun. because it requires you to shoot at least one photo per day, and you have to shoot one month of it with one lens only! and there will be motivations and critiques from other participates throughout the month.
I enjoyed it for one year so far, and it took my photography to several levels upper what it was last year. DO IT!
08-20-2014, 08:16 PM   #30
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It seems that no one mentioned viewfinder magnifier yet. My focusing improved dramatically with O-ME53- what a help for aged eyes Also, one cheap lens I would recommend for sure, it's
SMC Pentax-F 35-70mm f3.5-4.5. Sharp! Noisy autofocus, but it's auto, and it's pretty accurate with focus confirmation. One of my favorite lenses forever.
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