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11-09-2014, 12:47 PM   #1
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Darkness in viewfinder

Hi...I'm new to DSLR photography so probably doing something obviously wrong....I know nothing really but I'm keen to learn! I want to take good pics of my paintings so did the research and bought best 2nd hand camera I could afford ..a Pentax K10D. Research said I needed a polarising filter so I bought a Luxon 52mm Skylight 1A Camera Lens Filter and all the lights, umberellas etc.Set it all up today with high hopes..focal length ISO 100, focal length F9.5, RAW DNG, manual focus, lights @45 angle, etc. I put a large white canvas to focus on and set white balance but everything in the viewfinder is almost black...can't hardly see a thing.Tried pressing and unpressing buttons moving dials but to no avail. I couldn't find 'A' setting on my aperture ring so looked it up and made some adjustments to my settings from this advice http://support.us.ricoh-imaging.com/node/3......still just a very dark image through viewfinder. So disappointed...please someone tell me what I'm doing wrong!

11-09-2014, 01:16 PM - 1 Like   #2
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You did not say what lens you have. It is possible that the polaroid filter is causing some problems. Start by trying to remove the filter. Be certain that there is enough light in your scene. Also the aperture needs to be open. Turn the aperture ring to the smallest number. that may give you enough light. You may also need to go into the menu system. Look for the C section and find the option for Using Aperture Ring. Turn it on. That will allow you to open the aperture with the lens. You need to do this if you do not have a digital lens. If you have a digital lens (DA) you can open the aperture with the aperture control knob. Please keep coming to the forum for help. When we know more about your problem we will be able to get you started. It is confusing at first but soon you will get the hang.
11-09-2014, 01:17 PM - 1 Like   #3
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A polarizer removes about 2 stops of light (exact amount will vary)... have you tried removing it?

BTW a "1A filter" is a Skylight (color correction) filter, not a polarizer...

A dark image could also be the result of stopping down a lens without the aperture linkage (for instance, an old M42 screw mounted lens), or an issue with the aperture mechanism.

Dumb question: are you sure you don't have any lens caps or viewfinder covers in place?

Last thing: I can't read your link, it has been cut in the middle.

Last edited by LensBeginner; 11-09-2014 at 01:23 PM.
11-09-2014, 01:42 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Can I suggest you try the following options: (Oh, and as LensBeginner has pointed out, an 1A filter is not a polariser. A 1A Skylight filter should not make any difference to what you see.)
1. Remove lens and look through viewfinder: What do you see?
2. Replace lens, open aperture right up - smallest number it will go to: What do you see?
3. Place lens Aperture ring in 'A' position, set the camera to Shutter Priority mode, push the green button: What do you see?

What lens do you have?

11-09-2014, 01:46 PM - 1 Like   #5
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When you get the dark finder resolved--the filter you got (as noted above) is a skylight filter (slight warming).

What you want is a polarizing filter--and possibly two polarizing sheets for the lights. A linear polarizing filter will be cheaper and is fine. Ditto the polarizing sheets (Edmonds Scientific or Optical--I forgot which--sells them).
This set up (w/ lights at about 45 degree) is good for oil and acrylic paintings--as they have a lot of glare. Using the PL filters (orient the ones on the lights in same position) and turn the one on the lens till colors are as saturated as you desire. If you use this setup then skip the umbrellas.
11-09-2014, 01:54 PM - 1 Like   #6
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I'd add this: get a Circular Polarizer (Cir-PL, CPL), as linear polarizers can fool a digital camera's exposimeter (sometimes even with the AF system), resulting in a wrong exposure.
11-09-2014, 04:09 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Caryn,

When you check back in read all of the suggestions here carefully and you should be able to solve the problem. If it does not work gives some more information about the camera and lens you have. As you can see this is a very friendly, helpful board.
11-09-2014, 09:34 PM - 1 Like   #8
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Sounds like you are in Manual mode so the F9.5 will be quite dark. Yes, its a good idea to use a polarizer to cut glare from the painting but also remember that if the painting is mounted behind glass, the glass will reflect your camera setup, so you may need to remove the glass or make sure you and your equipment are not lit up.

11-10-2014, 06:12 AM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by gbeaton Quote
Sounds like you are in Manual mode so the F9.5 will be quite dark. Yes, its a good idea to use a polarizer to cut glare from the painting but also remember that if the painting is mounted behind glass, the glass will reflect your camera setup, so you may need to remove the glass or make sure you and your equipment are not lit up.
Manual mode shouldn't influence the luminosity of the viewfinder when using a lens with an aperture linkage... lens remains wide open and is only stopped down for metering (green button).
A lens without an aperture linkage will be stopped down as per the position of the aperture ring regardless of the mode the camera is in...
In live view there is an auto-gain mechanism which also makes the aperture "dance" as required in order to maintain a comfortable luminosity level, but that's not the issue here.
11-10-2014, 06:19 AM   #10
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Wow what a helpful bunch you are. .thank you so much. I'll try what I can when I get home this evening. Sounds like I need to change filter as well. No the lense cap isn't on! I have 500w lights and room was black (night) when they were off.. ..so plenty of light. Will check lense tonight. Thanks again everyone. ..don't feelso frustrated now. Everything looked so simple on paper until I tried to take a picture!
11-10-2014, 10:32 AM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by caryn Quote
Wow what a helpful bunch you are. .thank you so much. I'll try what I can when I get home this evening. Sounds like I need to change filter as well. No the lense cap isn't on! I have 500w lights and room was black (night) when they were off.. ..so plenty of light. Will check lense tonight. Thanks again everyone. ..don't feelso frustrated now. Everything looked so simple on paper until I tried to take a picture!
Try some simple stuff first; just take the camera with the same lens outside where there is light, use auto or P mode to see if you can see through the viewfinder.... if you can not, then, something is wrong with either the lens or the camera.
11-10-2014, 01:43 PM   #12
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Hi, I'm very late home from work so will try out all your suggestions tomorrow. Thank you again everyone for advice, I'm sure by the weekend I'll have got to the bottom of this with your help.I've checked what lens I have it's a Pentax DA 18-55 3.5-5.6 AL. I have taken a couple of pics on auto and it was fine...could see clearly through viewfinder. When I was getting nowhere I did find this: Using Older Lenses on Pentax K10D, K200D, K20D | Ricoh Imaging Support ... and made the changes it suggested in custom settings...perhaps I shouldn't have done? I thought I had to turn aperture ring to A and my lens didn't have an A setting. Now I think I've dug myself a deeper hole :-/

The article I was following for advice is this How to photograph your artwork - How To - Artists & Illustrators - Original art for sale direct from the artist

11-10-2014, 02:00 PM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by caryn Quote
Hi, I'm very late home from work so will try out all your suggestions tomorrow. Thank you again everyone for advice, I'm sure by the weekend I'll have got to the bottom of this with your help.I've checked what lens I have it's a Pentax DA 18-55 3.5-5.6 AL. I have taken a couple of pics on auto and it was fine...could see clearly through viewfinder. When I was getting nowhere I did find this: Using Older Lenses on Pentax K10D, K200D, K20D | Ricoh Imaging Support ... and made the changes it suggested in custom settings...perhaps I shouldn't have done? I thought I had to turn aperture ring to A and my lens didn't have an A setting. Now I think I've dug myself a deeper hole :-/

The article I was following for advice is this How to photograph your artwork - How To - Artists & Illustrators - Original art for sale direct from the artist

The "allow aperture ring" custom settings has no effect on your lens (it's for older - mostly manual focus - lenses), so you're ok.
Your lens doesn't have an aperture ring, it's always on the "A" setting, you've got to set everything from the control wheels on your camera.

...so you predicament stays the same size

Last edited by LensBeginner; 11-10-2014 at 02:35 PM.
11-10-2014, 02:17 PM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by caryn Quote
Hi, I'm very late home from work so will try out all your suggestions tomorrow. Thank you again everyone for advice, I'm sure by the weekend I'll have got to the bottom of this with your help.I've checked what lens I have it's a Pentax DA 18-55 3.5-5.6 AL. I have taken a couple of pics on auto and it was fine...could see clearly through viewfinder. When I was getting nowhere I did find this: Using Older Lenses on Pentax K10D, K200D, K20D | Ricoh Imaging Support ... and made the changes it suggested in custom settings...perhaps I shouldn't have done? I thought I had to turn aperture ring to A and my lens didn't have an A setting. Now I think I've dug myself a deeper hole :-/

The article I was following for advice is this How to photograph your artwork - How To - Artists & Illustrators - Original art for sale direct from the artist

Taking photos of Artworks requires a complex lighting setup because of flat surface and unwanted reflection. And you also need a good understanding of your camera/lens setup. Is your older lens a k-mount or m42 mount? If it is a k-mount, the aperture lever on the lens should leave the lens wide-open which means that you should have no problem looking through the viewfinder. If your older lens is m42 mount with a A/M switch, then turning the switch to "A" would also leave the lens at wide-open aperture; again, should be no problem looking through the viewfinder. If you however set the the switch to M and then stop down the lens to the lowest say f16, then it would be dark looking through the viewfinder.
11-10-2014, 06:25 PM - 1 Like   #15
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The article you are using mentions cross polarization, and then makes it somewhat unclear as to the filters in front of the lights.

Be aware that is what he is doing--namely polarizing filters in front of lights and polarizing filter on the lens--the same rig I spoke about above. This means you need a linear polarizing filter for the lens and two sheets of linear polarizing filter material--one for each lamp--and a means to hang them not too close to the bulbs or you will melt them. (I work it out with sticks, tape, and alligator clamps.)

Linear polarizers will be much less costly than circular for this--assuming they even make larger sheets of the circular PL material. And questions about AF and exposure error are not important as you can do manual focus and the exposure will be checked from a test shot and adjusted. (Although I don't believe Pentax cameras have a problem with linear polarizers, anyway.)

Also, if the art work is large you will need to check the light reading everywhere and make sure it is pretty even, +/- 1/6 stop would be ideal, +/-1/3 stop may or may not be acceptable.

I think the K10d should be ideal for this application (from what I know about this model), but even the k10d likely will have too wide a dynamic range (DR)--and thus the photo's will look somewhat flat (ideally the dynamic range should be about 6 stops)--so you will likely want to increase the contrast. (BTW all the art work copying I did was with tungsten slide film--so this last comment is my expectation--but not based on first hand experience.)

Last edited by dms; 11-10-2014 at 06:42 PM. Reason: Added abut DR
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