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10-01-2016, 10:19 PM   #1
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Kx isn't sharp :(

I spent SOOOOO much time trawling through online reviews, and the advice about cameras that I received here, and eBay, and camera dealers, and, and, and.... in order to find a simple DSLR that wouldn't cost a fortune. I love my K1000 and only broke down for this purchase because film developing just isn't an option where I live (and no, I haven't found a suitable mail-order option; Canada Post parcel rates are just stupid, and some US processors people here have recommended want $25 return shipping).

I ended up with a Kx from a camera dealer in Alberta, via eBay. It came with an 18-55 DAL lens. Everything works, but... ... it's not sharp. I've tinkered with the focus selection points, tried my other lenses... everything has to be sharpened in Photoshop, and while they look OK on a small computer screen, blown up to "actual pixels" they are just not sharp. (I am shooting JPEGs with it.) My little Optio RS1500, which I fear is slowly starting to wear out, takes sharper pictures than the Kx! But I wanted more control over DoF & exposure than it offers.
I bought it for closeup hobby photography and want tack-sharp details in doll faces. After seeing the results of today's shoot which are once again just not sharp, I'm beyond frustrated with the thing.
It's too late to return it now; I suspect someone traded it in for the same reason...
I read a rather complicated tutorial on "debug mode" which lost me at the part about creating a "MODSET.492" file... I've also tried to determine if something before or behind the spot-focus point IS in focus, but can't really tell. From Google I gather this may be a 'thing' with the Kx?

So here I am at 2 a.m. making the post I've been going to make pretty much from the first month I got it... I really don't want to have to go around again trying to find another model because I researched it to death last time, and I am not going to spend hundreds of dollars on a camera that is just going to frustrate me.
Argh!!!
...advice.... .....?


Last edited by Alliecat; 10-01-2016 at 10:27 PM.
10-01-2016, 10:28 PM   #2
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post up some shots and let us see?
10-01-2016, 10:29 PM   #3
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The 18-55 kit lens is not exactly the right type of lens for close up photography. Also, what settings are you using? Any examples?
10-01-2016, 10:36 PM   #4
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Let's see some shots, Alliecat, but it sounds like you need a macro lens, not the default kit one.

Consider secondhand, and don't shy away from manual focus ones. :-)

10-01-2016, 10:49 PM   #5
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Original Poster
OK, all I have time to do right now; and I think they were too big to go as attachments here. Does it work if I post the Flickr links?
Some quick-&-dirty "show your new doll" photos for the collectors' forum, in crappy cloudy light. Straight out of cameras; no fixing of exposure or anything.

This one, from the Kx, is, well, "sort of" sharp, and not awful, but closeup it just seems soft to me. Focus point for the Kx was either on one or the other's eye, or on the small doll's right-side hair to try to get a mid-point between the 2 faces. It was on P mode and says 1/160, f 5.6, ISO 800, exp. compensation +0.7, 50mm.

IMGP9259 for Pentax Fm | These will be deleted. Only here or? | Flickr


This one is from the Optio. Again, at "actual pixels" size it seems sharper. 1/60, f4.3, ISO 236.

IMGP6331 for Pentax Fm | These will be deleted. Only here or? | Flickr

...and yes, I've tried manual focus, but it also misses (of course no nice focus circle like the K1000 has). Things are no better with my 35-105 which has a nice macro range that never gave me trouble with film.
Attached Images
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-x  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX Optio RS1500  Photo 

Last edited by Alliecat; 10-01-2016 at 11:10 PM.
10-01-2016, 11:13 PM   #6
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you're expecting the DA 18-55 to be razor sharp at f/5.6? Stop it down to f/8~f/11 and keep the ISO set about ISO100-200. When doing still life photography it is best to use a tripod.
10-01-2016, 11:37 PM   #7
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A few things. There are sharpness settings in camera, try changing it to fine. Second the colors are better on the kx. A smaller sensor has more dof so more will be in focus. 800 is on the high end for iso in a kx and noise processing might be taking some sharpness. Last, great framing.
10-01-2016, 11:38 PM   #8
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The lens is going to be the culprit. If you have any other Pentax lenses, especially a prime, it will really show what the camera can do. When I first got a DA40 limited, the 18-55 was never used again. IIRC, the 18-55 was almost ok at f8 at the wide end, but a bit rubbish at the long end.

I transitioned through the k-x, k-5, k-3, and finally the k-1 (and have played around with the k-s1). The jump from the k-x to the k-5 was a little disappointing - nicer build quality, but the image quality wasn't as good as I'd hoped. The k-3 and k-s1 are a noticeably bigger improvement IQ wise. The k-1, will be my workhorse for years to come.

10-02-2016, 12:11 AM   #9
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as others have said, that lens isn't the sharpest wide open. ISO is way too high as well. I suggest a tripod and f8.
10-02-2016, 12:14 AM   #10
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Now that I see the pictures on the big screen it looks like the lens might be back focusing, the top of the big head looks sharpest instead of the face.
I wanted to say I looked at your flickr stuff and enjoyed them. As a kid I loved View Master the same way I enjoyed your photos.
I did a picture a day for a few days to force me to be creative during a block. A Kiddle doll from the late 60's was all I had. Kiddle | Flickr
10-02-2016, 12:58 AM   #11
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I'll be honest, AC, the pic looks like one taken with a kit lens. It is badly lit though - it's missing contrast which robs you of texture and detail. Loaded into Lightroom, the histogram shows nothing is truly black or white in it.


Now, you could light it properly, go to f8 to get an extra 100 line widths per picture height resolution, shoot at ISO 100 instead of 800 on a 2s delay with a tripod and post process for more sharpness/clarity, but a better lens is ultimately called for.


You shot at 50mm ... the DA50 is one of the cheapest in the whole Pentax lineup, if you can't afford an actual macro lens.
10-02-2016, 01:21 AM   #12
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The DA50 can't focus as close as the 18-55mm, but I think it focuses close enough for this photo. That said, you would probably use f/8-11 anyway to get enough depth of field. Close up with large aperture like f/1,8 is just going to make razor thin depth of field, far to thin for this shot. When using f/8-11, you don't need a DA50. The DA18-55mm are not far from as sharp as the DA50 at that aperture.

I suggest to follow the other tips here: Better lighting, ISO 100, f/8-11, tripod, 2s delay and some USM in post processing.
10-02-2016, 02:19 AM   #13
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I would advise you to just take whatever lens made you happy with your k1000, put it on, step back a little to achieve the same angle of view, and magic should be there. kx has a live view option as well if pentamirror does not cut it for you.

Regards.
10-02-2016, 04:25 AM   #14
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try
https://www.pentaxforums.com/userreviews/sigma-17-70mm-f2-8-4-5-dc-macro.html
that was the lens I really love on K-x, you can get it for well under $200 on used market
kind regards
jack
10-02-2016, 05:09 AM   #15
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So when you used film did you get it printed large and examine it using a loupe for sharpness? Are you sure that those images didn't also suffer similar issues?
Also, you are using a high-ish ISO in the first image...would you have used 800 film if you wanted sharpness?
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