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10-06-2020, 08:44 AM   #1
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New to Pentax K30 with 18-55mm lens

I have been fooling around with the Pentax K30 lately, and to say I'm not tech savvy is an understatement. I'm always afraid that if I press something, then it will mess everything else up and I won't be able to get the settings back to what they were originally.
Anyway, I have a Pentax K30 with a 18-55mm lens and the other info is SMC Pentax DA

I am wondering what settings I should have it on for normal, every day shooting of my children both inside and outside. If there is a change, how do I do it with minimal thinking. LOL

Also, I'm figuring out that my favorite photography is candid shots. I like to be inconspicuous and not in the way when I'm taking photos and I like to capture true moments with families, children, interaction... both inside and outside. Nothing staged or posed.
What would be the best lens for that that would fit and work well with my camera? Would an additional flash be something to add to take better photos?

What is the AF/AE-L little button for?
What is the little button for, on the top right, with the green dot on it?
What should the little dial be set to on the left side - AF.S, C, or MF? What does all that mean?

I'm trying to go through the manual, but with all the referencing to different pages and camera language, I'm finding it hard to get it to make sense.

I like a lot of blur in the background as well... how would I achieve that without being right in the subjects face or close a particular object?

Sorry for so many questions... I have a book to write down all my acquired knowledge.
Thank you all so much!!!

10-06-2020, 08:56 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forums, lots of assistance from the members will come,I'm sure. In the meantime browse through the sections here lots of questions can be answered in posts already made!

10-06-2020, 10:24 AM   #3
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Welcome to the forums

you will find friendly members and a lot of knowledge here

if you have not done so yet, I suggest you check out the in depth review of the K 30, the users reviews and the operating manual:

Pentax K-30 Review

It was a little more than a year ago that Ricoh's acquisition of Pentax Imaging was confirmed in the press. Since then, the company has launched a pair of non-traditional cameras, including the Pentax Q (the world's smallest interchangeable lens camera) and the Pentax K-01 (the only mirrorless interchangeable lens camera designed to accept a pre-existing lens line). Today, we have in our hands the first digital SLR that is definitively a result of the Pentax-Ricoh alliance.

The Pentax K-30 is a return to normalcy—a standard-issue digital SLR with a mirror, a pentaprism, a (mostly) familiar shape, and a tried and true sensor. Though the company's future product strategy is a bit difficult to predict at this point, the K-30 is clearly positioned below the semi-pro K-5, and above (or perhaps adjacent to) the oddball K-01 in terms of features and build. It clearly outclasses the K-r, thanks to its weather sealing, dual control dials, 100% viewfinder, and other K-5-derived bells and whistles. A number of new features, largely gleaned from the K-01, include focus peaking, the Prime-M processing engine, and the new SAFOX IXi+ autofocus system, which promises faster and more accurate focus in all shooting conditions.. . .

Read more at: Pentax K-30 Review - Introduction | Reviews

and the users reviews:
Pentax Camera Reviews » Pentax Digital Cameras » Pentax K-mount DSLRs Pentax K-30 Review

The Pentax K-30 introduced in 2012 is a 16-megapixel mid-level DSLR from Pentax. It features weather sealing, a large 3-inch back LCD, and extra external buttons compared to the K-r to make it faster to use in the field for the demanding photographer.
. . .

The K30 will be available in black, blue, and white.

Some of the key features are:

Cold proof to -10 degrees C/14 degrees F
Weather sealed
A focusing screen optimized for manual focusing is available
Two User Modes for saving/recalling user settings
RAW/Fx customizable button
Wireless control of external flash
Automatic horizon correction
Composition adjustment
Astrotracer mode (with optional O-GPS1 GPS unit)
Electronic level and horizon correction
Wired and wireless remote control
11 custom Images
19 digital filters
Embed copyright information in EXIF
Image plane indicator
In-camera RAW development
Save last JPG as RAW
Optional hand strap O-ST128
Optional AC adapter K-AC128
Read our in-depth review of the K-30 here.

Major features subsequently added through firmware updates:

Version 1.06: Added compatibility with HD Pentax-DA Rear Converter 1.4X AW
Version 1.05: AF assist light function made compatible with the new flashes, AF360FGZ II and AF540FGZ II
Camera Manual:

Operating Manual

Read more at: Pentax K-30 - Pentax K-mount DSLRs - Pentax Camera Reviews and Specifications

if that isn't enough

you may want to look through the " articles " section of the forums

Last edited by aslyfox; 10-06-2020 at 10:48 AM.
10-06-2020, 10:33 AM - 3 Likes   #4
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Perhaps you have heard the story of how you eat an elephant? This is like that. If you try to learn everything at once you will get frustrated. There is a steep learning curve to climb to the point that you feel somewhat comfortable. But after that things get to be a lot more fun as you continue learning.

1) May I suggest you purchase (or borrow from library) a small book called "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson. It is older though the newer editions (#4 I think) are updated. But it will give you the foundation you need to understand things. Having someone tell you to use this setting or that setting on your camera really does not work. You need a basic understanding of photography. Its a short book with pictures, so not a long read.

2) Don't worry about changing settings, you can always get things back. I would suggest that you change only one thing at a time and see what that does. If you change a bunch of things you lose track.

3) I also suggest you write down the setting on the camera that are your defaults so you can refer back to them.

4) AE-L is auto exposure lock. Forget about it for now, come back to it in 6 months or so.

5) Green button is a Pentax feature that does various things depending on what mode you are in. It's a great feature but forget about it for now, come back to it later when you understand more.

6) AF.S, AF.C and MF are focusing modes. AF.S = Auto focus single shot. AF.C = Auto focus continuous and MF = manual focus. I suggest you use AF.S until you learn the reasons for the other modes.

7) To start make sure you have plenty of light. Shooting outside is good or a very well lit room. The camera can take images in lower light but that is harder and right now you want to learn the easy stuff, not the hard stuff.

10-06-2020, 10:49 AM   #5

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Personally, I would turn the dial on the righthand side of the pentaprism to the "TAVR" setting.

Then, using the small wheel around the shutter release button you can adjust the shutter speed, and using the small wheel on the rear of the body you can adjust the lens Aperture setting - the camera electronics will then adjust the "ISO" sensitivity to suit, and will flash in the viewfinder and the rear screen if you have "gone too far" with either one. If you can't find a combo that stops the flashing messages then press the Menu button on the rear panel, and - following the manual if you have to - find out how to extend the "auto ISO" range a bit to see if that stops the flashing.

That TAVR setting is very useful and appropriate for "point and shoot" shots of opportunity (and that where my bodies are set by default for most of the time), and will give you some experience of adjusting the various camera controls.

PS: as you probably already know, you won't "break" the camera by pressing "some button" - but if you do run into issues that you can't solve, then post the issue in this thread and the forum members will then try to help you.
10-06-2020, 10:58 AM   #6
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Hello Cavelle, I think setting the camera to AUTO with the dial on the upper left side of the camera, set the switch on the left downside to AF.S and start shooting. The moments that you are not busy taking pictures of your children or with work,eating and so on, take the manual and read about this camera. Just a few pages or subjects at the time and hold the camera nearby so that you can see what is written down in the manual or try it out.
Hope you enjoy this camera.

PS.: As UncleVanya says: use the SCN setting. It enables you to make easy choices when shooting pictures. And as others suggested, if you have a chance to buy the 18-135 for a nice sum, do not hesitate. It is a wonderful lens. I never regretted buying one and it is the lens I use most. It can give you so many lovely pictures especially with children, because you do not need to be close by.

Last edited by Unregistered User; 10-06-2020 at 02:43 PM.
10-06-2020, 11:51 AM   #7
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There are two resets if you get really confused. In the menu under the wrench tab, page 3, there's a Reset that changes all the settings back to the factory default. On the last page of the Custom settings there's a reset for just those custom settings. I used to write notes in the manual about settings I've changed. Now of course I remember everything perfectly and I forget where the manual is anyway.

It is early to buy new lenses because it's just more stuff to overwhelm you. But my suggestion is the SMC Pentax-DA 1:3.5-5.6 18-135mm ED AL [IF} DC WR (the full name as written on the lens). You gain a few things over the lens you have now. The focus is nearly silent, no zip-zip noise. The lens zooms in farther, so you can be across the room and sneaky. And it's weather resistant, which the 18-55 might not be (check the face of the lens for WR in blue letters). The disadvantages are it's bigger, $200 used to I think $400 new, and when you zoom across the room you'll need to hold the camera steadier.

Theoretically flash solves lots of problems. Why not add light to your subject? But immediately it adds as many issues as it fixes. The flash can look harsh if it's directly pointed at your subject. Its light can have a different color than the ambient light already on the subject. The flash doesn't have unlimited power so it isn't always bright enough to light the whole frame. A full-featured flash on the hot shoe is pretty bulky and far less stealthy. Those flashes with lots of features are also not cheap. It's a very interesting topic to experiment with, and I enjoy taking shots that work, but I feel like it's advanced and more complicated to get right.

One suggestion you don't see often is to notice the light inside your house. Obviously it varies day to night or summer to winter, but the artificial light doesn't change. You can get a sense of the room and whether you need to adjust to get better shots. I take a lot of shots in my workshop of projects, and I know I always have to compensate the meter by +1 Ev.
10-06-2020, 12:29 PM - 1 Like   #8
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Set it to AUTO, but also experiment with SCN mode. The SCN mode will let you select the type of shot you are making and optimize the camera settings for you. In the meantime start reading about exposure and then go back and look at what the camera selected in various modes. It is useful to write down what the conditions were and what you selected but some of this is stored in hidden data called EXIF which you can view when looking at the image on a computer.

The SCN mode is more useful than most will admit to because many of us are old hands and optimizing what we want an image to look like. For someone starting out - it's a real lifesaver.

I'll also echo the recommendation for the 18-135. It's not much bigger, a bit heavier, and a lot more range than the 18-55. With the 18-135 you can go from wide angle to moderate telephoto in one compact weather resistant package. In many cases more range equals compromise and in the case of the 18-135 the edge performance (corners, away from center) are less sharp than people would like but in many cases that will not matter. The extra range is very useful for those candid shots you mentioned, as is the more silent focus mechanism. The lens is also fairly inexpensive if purchased used.

10-07-2020, 02:02 AM   #9
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Set the ISO to Auto mode as well. With ISO range from 100 to 800. This will help you a lot indoors and you will not have any issues from it.

If you are shooting indoor mainly and are often on the long end of the zoom range of your lens, I would suggest you to get a DA 50 mm/1.8 it is a lens with a fixed focal length, but it is much brighter, then your 18-55 and it is a very good lens for portraits and quite inexpensive. The more if you can get it used. Then the 18-135 is a very nice lens too, but it mainly gives you a (noticable) better image quality and a longer zoom range, it will not help you in darker places.

But first of all use the lens you have and shoot as many pictures as possible to get familiar with your camera and your lens. Have a critical look at them and ask yourself which are really good - try to repeate those. If you need advice for improvement - ask here in ther forum (wellcome!).
10-07-2020, 02:58 AM - 1 Like   #10
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Difficult to make recommendations.
Easy way which some suggested: SCN = Scene settings (far better than AUTO):
- Set the large wheel on top left to SCN
- Press INFO
- Press OK (in middle of the 4-way controller)
- Select your scene
take your picture
change scene accordingly

Other settings in the Menu (if you feel up to it)
- Press MENU
- move with cursor to left "camera symbol 3"
- scroll down first one: High-ISO NR
- scroll left and set to custom:
- Now set:
ISO 100 - 400: OFF
ISO 800-1600: 1 bar
ISO 3200-6400: 2 bars
all higher ISO: 3 bars
- press OK
- press MENU twice and you are out of the menu again

Recommended lens: DA 50/1,8: cheap and allows you fast photos and indoor photos without flash.
Makes good portraits

But if you somehow can, learn how to use AV and TV and then maybe TAV settings.
Thats when real fun starts.

Find out about aperture priority etc.

Here a sensible video on youtube:

Last edited by photogem; 10-07-2020 at 03:03 AM.
10-07-2020, 04:15 AM   #11
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The advice to use the manual is excellent - BUT - manuals are written by 'experts', who assume you know the technical terminology for the topic you want ! As has been said, steep learning curve. One great advantage of digital is that, if you make a right pig's ear out of something, you can delete the file and no-one will ever know ! Good luck, anyway, and feel free to ask any questions - and don't forget to post the images with which you are happy, to impress the rest of us.
10-09-2020, 12:29 AM - 1 Like   #12

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QuoteOriginally posted by Cavelle Quote
What is the AF/AE-L little button for?
What is the little button for, on the top right, with the green dot on it?
What should the little dial be set to on the left side - AF.S, C, or MF? What does all that mean?
This is a programmable button you can set to use for a rear autofocus (AF) control to focus on something before you decide to fire the shutter, or you can set it to its main use to lock exposure (Auto Exposure Lock or AE-L). These features might not be available when using the green "auto" mode where the camera does everything and you have no control- that is convenient but it is not infallible for all conditions.

Normally, you can autofocus on something before you release the shutter by using the shutter button half-press, but some photographers prefer a rear button for this purpose. As to AE-L, when using the Manual mode ("M" on the mode dial) you will set your own exposure by looking at the light meter readings and choosing your own aperture and shutter speed. But with other more commonly-used automatic exposure (AE) modes like "P" (Program) where the camera sets both your shutter speed and lens aperture according to the light meter reading, or "Av" where you choose the lens aperture and the camera sets the "correct" shutter speed, or "Tv" (Time value) where you choose the shutter speed and the camera sets the "correct" lens aperture- these are all Automatic Exposure modes (AE). So if you get a scene where the exposure is right on for your subject, but then move your camera to a different angle causing the background to change but you want the same exposure for your subject, you can hit the AE-L first before moving the camera which will lock that exposure before you move, so the very different background will not cause the camera's AE to react to that new condition and change how your subject turns out.

The green button is exclusive to Pentax. It is very convenient for a quick exposure setting when using the "M" mode, then you can make any change from there. If Using the "P" mode, the camera will be setting both shutter speed and aperture, but with Pentax cameras having a 2-dial thumb and finger system, you can override the camera's choice of either just by using those dials. This will instantly shift the mode to Av or Tv without your having to turn the mode dial first before making your choice. Then you can restore full "P" mode with a touch of the green button. This is the Pentax Hyper System- very fast and efficient.

MF means Manual Focus. Then you must focus the lens yourself by using the focusing collar on the lens. AF-S is what is most commonly used for autofocus (AF) single shot. The camera will only fire if focus is achieved. AF-C is continuous AF, where AF is continuously adjusting with movement of the subject or camera, and might fire even if focus is not achieved.

---------- Post added 10-09-20 at 12:53 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Cavelle Quote
I like a lot of blur in the background as well... how would I achieve that without being right in the subjects face or close a particular object?
What you are looking for here is a relatively shallow depth of field (DOF).

To control DOF, the first aspect is the lens aperture you are using. The lens aperture opens wider (smaller number) to let in more light or less wide (larger number), making the opening narrower. Narrower provides greater DOF, making more of the picture sharp, but the reduction of light means a slower shutter speed must be used to let in more light to compensate. Opening the aperture wider to reduce DOF will result in a faster shutter speed to be used. This can blur the background to make your subject stand out more from it. The other factor affecting DOF is the focal length (FL) of the lens. A longer, more telephoto focal length will result in a reduced DOF even though using the same lens aperture. In other words, if you are taking a group shot and your lens is set at 18mm (shorter FL, wider field of view-FOV), and aperture set at say f/5.6, you will get a good picture, but your background will likely not be too blurred- in fact might be sharp, unless the background is at a good distance. At 18mm, your lens could open to f/3.5 for less DOF. However, if your lens is set at 55mm (a more telephoto FOV) for a portrait and your aperture is again at f/5.6 (which is as wide as this lens's aperture will go at 55mm), it is more likely that your background will be somewhat blurred, but less so if it is too close behind the subject.

There is a very good lens for portrait use at a modest cost. It is the Pentax DA 50mm f/1.8 prime lens (non-zoom). The focal length of 50mm is good for portraits, not having to be too close to the subject, and notice the small number aperture that is available with this lens- f/1.8 which is very wide aperture indeed. Far, far wider than f/5.6 as with your zoom lens. This also provides more aperture choices to blur your background more or less, and this is a high performing lens, for image quality, and to provide faster shutter speeds for either fast action or for hand-held low-light shots.

One thing to ask yourself- is your zoom lens 55mm setting ok for your shooting distance in portrait shots, but just the background blur being the problem? if you want to shoot from a much farther distance, you would need a lens with a longer telephoto reach, which would entail a higher cost.

Last edited by mikesbike; 10-09-2020 at 01:47 AM.
10-09-2020, 07:39 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by 35mmfilmfan Quote
The advice to use the manual is excellent - BUT - manuals are written by 'experts', who assume you know the technical terminology for the topic you want ! . . .
Sorry I have to respectfully disagree

I am no expert at photography but I think any one can work their way through the manuals to get a basic idea of the operation of a camera [ with the K 30, jump to Chapter 3 once you have learned how to attach the lens, insert batteries and an SD card ]

advanced knowledge comes through experience with the camera and continuinjng to use the manual and other resources

including the forums

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