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06-14-2016, 03:17 PM   #1
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Trouble shooting and NOT Beginner help!!!

Howdy all,
Getting pretty desperate here... I have been shooting Pentax with Pentax lenses for more than forty five years... Most times, my pictures come out okay, (definitely not something to write home about or anything near what I see here on the forum. But mostly, my pictures that would qualify as "snapshots".


I started out with a Honeywell Pentax 35mm film camera, with a 50mm prime in the 70's. By the mid 80's, I got a great deal on a K-1000 and a KX brass body with five lenses; (24mm SMC 2.8, 50mm 1.4 SMC - Prime, a 35-70mm SMC-A, 100mm SMC 4.0 and a 200mm SMC 5.6.) (I came to the Honeywell after a "Petri 7" rangefinder camera.) After going through a digital "point and shoot" phase I finally moved up to a DSLR when I picked up a 10MP K-2000 and have since stepped up to a K-20D.


Now, my problem is this... (or, more realistically... are these);
When using anything other than a 24mm or 50mm prime on any of the cameras I have or have ever had, the resulting image appears like there's very little fine focus... I can see grain but a huge percentage of my images are just not sharp and clear as see a lot of others are...


I fiddle around with settings, (aperture, ISO, shutter speed, tripods, etc.) but I just don't get the clarity I'm looking for. After playing around with the settings on the K-20 until I had no clue about what my camera settings were any more (including the "near/far" focus.) So, yesterday, I did a factory reset to bring everything back to a base line.


Today, I purposefully went out to test out the reset, but the results are still the same, un-sharp images... Here is a sample of an image taken in the shade, (Settings were f5.6, 1/60 sec. ISO-400 55- 200mm @200mm with a distance of 30 feet.)


Any help and suggestions would be appreciated...


Detail


06-14-2016, 03:21 PM   #2
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It would help if you could post an image with the EXIF data as that often indicates settings that aren't quite right. Can you also tell us more about the lens you were using.

Also was this hand held or on a tripod. If hand held, your shutter speed should have been 1/200 or faster, using the standard rule of thumb. If on a tripod, was shake reduction turned off, and if not, did the camera know the FL of the lens?
06-14-2016, 03:27 PM   #3
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Looks like that photo is slightly mis-focused. Also, wide-open that particular lens is a bit soft, so that's to be expected.

Without live view zoom (the K20D's live view is rather basic), it's difficult to nail the focus perfectly at full size. With a little bit of sharpening, the final product will probably look fine

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06-14-2016, 03:30 PM   #4
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That's pretty standard results with my 55-200 wide open.
Welcome to the world of cheap lenses!

Often stopping down to f/8 will help.

06-14-2016, 03:36 PM   #5
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Viewing this on my mobile, so apologies if this is not actually the case, but it looks as though the grey tree on the left is what is in focus rather than the birds.

Addendum: have you tried using back button focus?
06-14-2016, 03:50 PM   #6
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In looking at the image, and the reported settings

200mm, F5.6, 1/60 and ISO 400 there are a few things to consider.

While not the latest body, the K20 can go to more than 1/400 ISO, and while you might get some grain, the impact of grain will be less annoying than the present lack of sharpness.

By increasing to 800 or even 1600 which sounds high, this allows your to stop down to F8 which will be much sharper than the 55-200 wide open, and you can increase the shutter speed to 1/125 and perhaps get a little more sharpness by reducing shake. Note however that while SR is good, and I have personally shot a 500mm lens at 1/60 with good results, it takes a lot of technique.

You mention that you only get good results with a 24mm or 50mm lens, is it only these two focal lengths or are you only getting good results with short lenses in general. I have to ask this, because it seems you have forgotten the basic rule if 1/focal length is the minimum hand held shutter speed. You need much higher shutter speeds to eliminate camera shake with a long lens compar d t a wide angle.

Lastly, you need to get out in the sun a little. Your conditions being shaded l ave you compromising on aperture (for depth of field and improved sharpness) and shutter speed for improved sharpness.
06-14-2016, 03:52 PM   #7
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My impression and some suggestions are:
The focus point is actually closer to the tree than the birds. Check focus point on static subject at same distance. At settings quoted you will have DoF approx 9" in front and behind actual focus point that should render reasonably sharp

Does the camera have AF fine tuning? Has it been set at some point for this lens? Does it need setting?

Assuming this shot on tripod could this be slight motion of the feeder 1/60sec may not be enough to freeze movement

I would be tempted to set up a static target, a magazine or newspaper would suffice at same distance as this shot and using a tripod with mirror up and release take some shots at the same aperture with varying shutter speeds, ideally much higher than 1/60th
06-14-2016, 04:14 PM   #8
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I would download a focus target, break out the tripod, find a sunny spot, and shoot some test shots before doing anything else.

Do you have any autofocus lenses?

06-14-2016, 04:51 PM   #9
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I've also been using Pentax since the '60s, with quite a few manual lenses that did very well on film. I got a K-5 to try dSLR, and found it too hard to manual focus due to the tiny dim viewfinder - even changing to a better screen. Missed focus was the rule, looking like your shot. The couple autofocus lenses I got for it would typically focus other than what I wanted, and I hate autofocus anyway.
My solution is to use my old Pentax lenses on a Sony A7 body with adapter. Easier to focus by far, and proved the old lenses are so good I have no need for anything new. It's a good combination for us old manual-focus film types; sort of my digital LX. (And the A7 also works great with my other makes of old film lenses!)
06-14-2016, 10:28 PM   #10
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All of the following are very important using manual focus K lenses:
Look up articles here on using manual focus lenses.
Are you using green button to stop down aperture?
Use M mode!!!!
Make use of green focus indicator if you eyesight is not spot on.
Have you correctly set diopter on view finder?
06-14-2016, 10:29 PM   #11
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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by MSL Quote
It would help if you could post an image with the EXIF data as that often indicates settings that aren't quite right. Can you also tell us more about the lens you were using.

Also was this hand held or on a tripod. If hand held, your shutter speed should have been 1/200 or faster, using the standard rule of thumb. If on a tripod, was shake reduction turned off, and if not, did the camera know the FL of the lens?
I've updated the first image so EXIF data is included... The lens is an SMC Pentax DAL 1:4-5.6 50-200mm ED. (It is the newest lens I have.) This shot was hand held. I used "program" mode because I wanted to make sure I did not interfere with the cameras functioning. (I also shot in shadow to test the camera's SR and my own ability to hold the camera steady.) I also have issues with the shake reduction function on other shots too. Yes the camera knows the FL of the lens.

---------- Post added 06-15-16 at 01:37 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
Looks like that photo is slightly mis-focused. Also, wide-open that particular lens is a bit soft, so that's to be expected.

Without live view zoom (the K20D's live view is rather basic), it's difficult to nail the focus perfectly at full size. With a little bit of sharpening, the final product will probably look fine


Hi Adam,
Prior to this, I had set the camera up and adjusted the near/far focus feature in the tools menu, with little improvement. This is why I did a factory reset.
Is it possible that the SMC DAL 50-200mm lens could be just "loose" enough that the elements will just not line up enough, so that the auto focus system just give a best guess?
Would, or could going to better glass improve this?

---------- Post added 06-15-16 at 01:42 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Quartermaster James Quote
Viewing this on my mobile, so apologies if this is not actually the case, but it looks as though the grey tree on the left is what is in focus rather than the birds.

Addendum: have you tried using back button focus?


Thanks James,
No, I only caught on to back button a few days ago when my brother sent me a recent article about the benefits of it, so I'm still getting used to BB...
Generally though, I only use the spot focus selection and re-center for composition. (Some habits are hard to break.)

---------- Post added 06-15-16 at 01:53 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
In looking at the image, and the reported settings

200mm, F5.6, 1/60 and ISO 400 there are a few things to consider.

While not the latest body, the K20 can go to more than 1/400 ISO, and while you might get some grain, the impact of grain will be less annoying than the present lack of sharpness.

By increasing to 800 or even 1600 which sounds high, this allows your to stop down to F8 which will be much sharper than the 55-200 wide open, and you can increase the shutter speed to 1/125 and perhaps get a little more sharpness by reducing shake. Note however that while SR is good, and I have personally shot a 500mm lens at 1/60 with good results, it takes a lot of technique.

You mention that you only get good results with a 24mm or 50mm lens, is it only these two focal lengths or are you only getting good results with short lenses in general. I have to ask this, because it seems you have forgotten the basic rule if 1/focal length is the minimum hand held shutter speed. You need much higher shutter speeds to eliminate camera shake with a long lens compar d t a wide angle.

Lastly, you need to get out in the sun a little. Your conditions being shaded l ave you compromising on aperture (for depth of field and improved sharpness) and shutter speed for improved sharpness.

Hi Lowell,
My 24 and 50mm lenses are my old prime SMC lenses from my 35mm KX. When I use those two I am usually in full manual mode. I like to use the 50 because of the huge amount of light it lets into the camera. I do, unfortunately, ignore the f-stop/ shutter speed rule a lot. that comes from my old slow film days when I used to do handhelds at 1/20 sec. or slower, with pretty good results. (If think I may be in old age denial ;-) )
But, in this typical case, camera shake is not the issue, it is more a matter of soft focus.

---------- Post added 06-15-16 at 01:57 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
I would download a focus target, break out the tripod, find a sunny spot, and shoot some test shots before doing anything else.

Do you have any autofocus lenses?

Thanks UncleVanya and Tony,
Tomorrow's mission will be to do just that... I will take out all of my auto focus lenses and do target shooting and then do the same with my manuals too...

---------- Post added 06-15-16 at 02:02 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by TomB_tx Quote
I've also been using Pentax since the '60s, with quite a few manual lenses that did very well on film. I got a K-5 to try dSLR, and found it too hard to manual focus due to the tiny dim viewfinder - even changing to a better screen. Missed focus was the rule, looking like your shot. The couple autofocus lenses I got for it would typically focus other than what I wanted, and I hate autofocus anyway.
My solution is to use my old Pentax lenses on a Sony A7 body with adapter. Easier to focus by far, and proved the old lenses are so good I have no need for anything new. It's a good combination for us old manual-focus film types; sort of my digital LX. (And the A7 also works great with my other makes of old film lenses!)
Thanks Tom,
Not ready to completely give up on the K-20D (but I have been coveting my old KX a lot lately...) I'm not a fan of auto focus either, but with the results I have been getting lately, I have been shooting a lot less than I like to.

---------- Post added 06-15-16 at 02:08 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by beachboy2 Quote
All of the following are very important using manual focus K lenses:
Look up articles here on using manual focus lenses.
Are you using green button to stop down aperture?
Use M mode!!!!
Make use of green focus indicator if you eyesight is not spot on.
Have you correctly set diopter on view finder?


Hi Beachboy,
I will have to admit that these old eyes are not what they used to be... I have adjusted the diopter so that the "guide lines" on the focus screen are as sharp as my eye can see them.
By the "green focus indicator" do you mean the hexagon shape that shows up on the info line at the bottom of the info screen inside the viewfinder? If so, I have lost a little faith in that because of the results above... But thanks!

---------- Post added 06-15-16 at 02:10 AM ----------

Thanks for all of your replies to this post... over the next couple of days, I will try all of the suggestions listed and I'll come back with my results. (Hopefully, improved...) and I'll tell you all what's changed...


Cheers
Bob

Last edited by bobphoenix; 06-14-2016 at 10:57 PM.
06-14-2016, 11:11 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by bobphoenix Quote
No, I only caught on to back button a few days ago when my brother sent me a recent article about the benefits of it, so I'm still getting used to BB...
Generally though, I only use the spot focus selection and re-center for composition. (Some habits are hard to break.)
That's what I do too. Some techniques don't need to be changed. Are you sure you got focus confirmation on the feeder? Maybe you did, but focus shifted when you recomposed? (Assuming this was taken before you started using BB focus.)
06-14-2016, 11:18 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by bobphoenix Quote
I've updated the first image so EXIF data is included... The lens is an SMC Pentax DAL 1:4-5.6 50-200mm ED. (It is the newest lens I have.) This shot was hand held. I used "program" mode because I wanted to make sure I did not interfere with the cameras functioning. (I also shot in shadow to test the camera's SR and my own ability to hold the camera steady.) I also have issues with the shake reduction function on other shots too. Yes the camera knows the FL of the lens.

---------- Post added 06-15-16 at 01:37 AM ----------





Hi Adam,
Prior to this, I had set the camera up and adjusted the near/far focus feature in the tools menu, with little improvement. This is why I did a factory reset.
Is it possible that the SMC DAL 50-200mm lens could be just "loose" enough that the elements will just not line up enough, so that the auto focus system just give a best guess?
Would, or could going to better glass improve this?

---------- Post added 06-15-16 at 01:42 AM ----------





Thanks James,
No, I only caught on to back button a few days ago when my brother sent me a recent article about the benefits of it, so I'm still getting used to BB...
Generally though, I only use the spot focus selection and re-center for composition. (Some habits are hard to break.)

---------- Post added 06-15-16 at 01:53 AM ----------




Hi Lowell,
My 24 and 50mm lenses are my old prime SMC lenses from my 35mm KX. When I use those two I am usually in full manual mode. I like to use the 50 because of the huge amount of light it lets into the camera. I do, unfortunately, ignore the f-stop/ shutter speed rule a lot. that comes from my old slow film days when I used to do handhelds at 1/20 sec. or slower, with pretty good results. (If think I may be in old age denial ;-) )
But, in this typical case, camera shake is not the issue, it is more a matter of soft focus.

---------- Post added 06-15-16 at 01:57 AM ----------




Thanks UncleVanya and Tony,
Tomorrow's mission will be to do just that... I will take out all of my auto focus lenses and do target shooting and then do the same with my manuals too...

---------- Post added 06-15-16 at 02:02 AM ----------



Thanks Tom,
Not ready to completely give up on the K-20D (but I have been coveting my old KX a lot lately...) I'm not a fan of auto focus either, but with the results I have been getting lately, I have been shooting a lot less than I like to.

---------- Post added 06-15-16 at 02:08 AM ----------





Hi Beachboy,
I will have to admit that these old eyes are not what they used to be... I have adjusted the diopter so that the "guide lines" on the focus screen are as sharp as my eye can see them.
By the "green focus indicator" do you mean the hexagon shape that shows up on the info line at the bottom of the info screen inside the viewfinder? If so, I have lost a little faith in that because of the results above... But thanks!

---------- Post added 06-15-16 at 02:10 AM ----------

Thanks for all of your replies to this post... over the next couple of days, I will try all of the suggestions listed and I'll come back with my results. (Hopefully, improved...) and I'll tell you all what's changed...


Cheers
Bob
If you'd like to see dramatically better results, I think upgrading to a lens like the DA 55-300mm, or better yet the DA* 60-250mm would be the way to go. Upgrading the body to something like the K-3 would also provide you with better focusing tools, especially in live view.

Adam
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06-14-2016, 11:19 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
You need much higher shutter speeds to eliminate camera shake
It does not look like shake, shake looks quite a bit different. It looks more like a focus problem. Even this lens should produce better results - I thing. (Not knowing this lens)
06-15-2016, 03:45 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by bobphoenix Quote
I've updated the first image so EXIF data is included... The lens is an SMC Pentax DAL 1:4-5.6 50-200mm ED. (It is the newest lens I have.) This shot was hand held
QuoteQuote:

Hi Lowell,
My 24 and 50mm lenses are my old prime SMC lenses from my 35mm KX. When I use those two I am usually in full manual mode. I like to use the 50 because of the huge amount of light it lets into the camera. I do, unfortunately, ignore the f-stop/ shutter speed rule a lot. that comes from my old slow film days when I used to do handhelds at 1/20 sec. or slower, with pretty good results. (If think I may be in old age denial ;-) )
But, in this typical case, camera shake is not the issue, it is more a matter of soft focus.



Bob
Bob. I am not necessarily disagreeing but you are at the working limit of what the shake reduction can really achieve considering the K20. Later models especially the K7 and K5 had better shake reduction, but 2 stops on the K20 is about it in terms of what can be achieved practically and reliably. And also note shake reduction and sharp images impacts are much more noticible on long lenses than shorter ones,

I do not discuunt also the possibility of missed focus also being part of the culprit and this can happen when you have the edge of a subject with a good contrast pattern behind it. It may have focused on the tree not the bird.

Nor do indiscount the fact that shooting wide open with the somewhat narrow depth of field of the lens, may amplify focusing errors.

There is likely more than one culprit,
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