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05-18-2009, 11:16 AM   #1
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DSLR Newbie Needs Help (K100D Super)

Hi,

I am going to Venice in a few weeks and wanted to get a new camera for the trip. My old cameras are a point and shoot Fuji F40 and a Canon Powershot S1 IS (I love this old camera). I was about to buy a new Panasonic FZ28 megazoom point and shoot but then Ritz Camera had a going out of business sale (they care closing several stores near me) and they had the Pentax K100D Super (body) for $209 and the kit lens for $50. At the same sale I got the Pentax telephoto 50-200 F4-5.6 lens (for about $120). Even though I know next to nothing about DSLRs I figured this was a great deal and I could learn a lot of this inexpensive setup.

Here are the problems:

1. I know almost nothing about photography. I had a semester photo class in junior high school and took some nice photos with old fashioned SLRs and at one time even knew how to develop film. But that was over 30 years ago and I've forgotten everything. In college I traveled around Europe with a little Pentax point-and-shoot 35mm and I got some good pictures with that and the camera was wonderful for a traveling college student--small, light, easily concealed in a pocket, and nearly indestructible.

2. I am going to Venice soon. I don't have a good handle on how to use the camera yet. Is there any good way for me to get up to speed on using this camera? Are there any books you'd recommend or web sites or FAQs or tutorials? I am reading the manual that came with the camera and I'll practice with it as I have time. I could really use some pointers on how to shoot the outdoor and indoor stuff I will encounter in Italy.

I have already ordered some accessories: a Lowepro bag (I have another one for my Panasonic videocam and I love their bags), two sets of Eneloop batteries, and three Sandisk Ultra III 4-gig cards.

One last question: should I try to bring a bipod or monopod along to Venice? And if so, what is a lightweight and expensive model to consider? Any other accessories I need?

Thanks for your help. I expect to be around these forums a fair amount.

05-18-2009, 03:23 PM   #2
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I really envy you guys who have a ritz near you!
I've been trying to get a camera here, on amazon, on ebay, wherever and the prices just seem to be prohibitive!
Now, why can't I get a K100D super for that same price!???


No need to get a crash course on photography..just put it on auto (for now) and your all set.
It's pretty much like the S1 IS too if you go manual. It will tell you when the exposure is right or not.
Experiment a great deal now before your vacation. The wonderful thing about going digital also is "no matter how many photos or mistakes you make...you can always hit DELETE and you're back to a fresh start".
It's unlike you're wasting film or anything.
Your initial setback would just be a good quality SD card. Don't go cheap 'coz this is where your pictures will be stored.
If the SD card is not reliable, you might lose all your pictures /memories.
05-18-2009, 03:24 PM   #3
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Ritz offers free classes; yopu might want to look into those. You could get one of the aftermarket books on the camera (eg, the Magic Lantern series, there are others too) - any of them should be much more helpful than the acual manual. Mostly, though, just spend as much time playing with it as you can. When in doubt, use Auto Pict mode for now and it will be as much like your P&S cameras as it's going to get.

As for tripod/monopod, I'd say don't bother - that's just one more thing to carry around. Maybe one of those super-portable/pocketable tabletop "gorillapods" or something similar you can toss in the bag. Of course, if you're really serious about architectural photography, you'll want a tripod, but for basic vacation snapshots, it's far more trouble than it's worht, I'd say.
05-18-2009, 04:12 PM   #4
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  1. QuoteOriginally posted by GerryL Quote
    ...<snip>... a good quality SD card. Don't go cheap 'coz this is where your pictures will be stored.
QuoteOriginally posted by GerryL Quote
If the SD card is not reliable, you might lose all your pictures /memories.
I would recommend several cards at least. Divide your vacation into the days you will be gone and the number of cards you can afford. I find SanDisk Extreme III cards have served me well. Even if you shoot RAW, you can get over 100 images on one 2 Gb card. Change the cards out before they are full and switch the tab into read only position.

That way if you have a card go bad or get damaged, you won't have lost your whole trip.

05-18-2009, 07:57 PM   #5
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The K100D super is a great camera, putting it on auto will get you some great pictures,and if you check out the manual that comes with the camera and play a little you will be amazed by the results. Everthing is explained very well and there are a few dvds available for the K100d that will help out as well,a quick search of the net will give you a good selection of books and dvds. Playing around with the camera before you go is a good idea and gets you comfortable with the camera and the way it functions. Have fun on your trip and please post some pictures..
05-18-2009, 09:18 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by PortieOwner Quote
Hi,

I am going to Venice in a few weeks and wanted to get a new camera for the trip. My old cameras are a point and shoot Fuji F40 and a Canon Powershot S1 IS (I love this old camera). I was about to buy a new Panasonic FZ28 megazoom point and shoot but then Ritz Camera had a going out of business sale (they care closing several stores near me) and they had the Pentax K100D Super (body) for $209 and the kit lens for $50. At the same sale I got the Pentax telephoto 50-200 F4-5.6 lens (for about $120). Even though I know next to nothing about DSLRs I figured this was a great deal and I could learn a lot of this inexpensive setup.

Here are the problems:

1. I know almost nothing about photography. I had a semester photo class in junior high school and took some nice photos with old fashioned SLRs and at one time even knew how to develop film. But that was over 30 years ago and I've forgotten everything. In college I traveled around Europe with a little Pentax point-and-shoot 35mm and I got some good pictures with that and the camera was wonderful for a traveling college student--small, light, easily concealed in a pocket, and nearly indestructible.

2. I am going to Venice soon. I don't have a good handle on how to use the camera yet. Is there any good way for me to get up to speed on using this camera? Are there any books you'd recommend or web sites or FAQs or tutorials? I am reading the manual that came with the camera and I'll practice with it as I have time. I could really use some pointers on how to shoot the outdoor and indoor stuff I will encounter in Italy.

I have already ordered some accessories: a Lowepro bag (I have another one for my Panasonic videocam and I love their bags), two sets of Eneloop batteries, and three Sandisk Ultra III 4-gig cards.

One last question: should I try to bring a bipod or monopod along to Venice? And if so, what is a lightweight and expensive model to consider? Any other accessories I need?

Thanks for your help. I expect to be around these forums a fair amount.
I got a K100D Super at Ritz also for $209.

Been playing with it for three weeks now and have pretty well masterd it.

Play with the camera and ask me questions on specific situations; I can't just give info unless I know what effect from the camera and lens you are after.
05-18-2009, 11:24 PM   #7
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For short notice learning:

Experiment to understand depth of field. Set up a scene with objects from 1', 8-10' and 50'+, shoot it wide open (f2), shoot it mid-aperture (f5 - f8), shoot it small aperture (f22), or similar depending on your lens.

Repeat this exercise with different scenes. Study the results.

I believe, as a crash course, this will teach you how to adjust exposure in your camera and to learn when to adjust exposure to get a desired picture when you're on the scene. Example, a beautiful fountain sculpture, delicious pasta meal, etc, in focus but people in background out of focus so unrecognizable.

Camoflage your camera bag. Bag snatchers love ladies purses and tourists camera bags / backpacks. Several friends are travel photographers, neither use a camera bag, instead they go to army surplus store and find suitable unrecognizable, no brand bag. Always carry it cross shoulder, not over single shoulder. Also, a backpack is sometimes not recommended as it can easily be pickpocketed behind your back.

Probably all interior locations will be too dark. Either you'll need a tripod or flash. However both or either may not be allowed. Take notes, it's too easy to forget names and dates of buildings, sculptures, artists.

Lastly, in Venice after seeing certain things on the itinerary, the most enjoyable experiences were the Murano glass blowers and one day we purposely got lost and wandered around. Beautiful, but spoiled a bit when the female started to cry 'we're lost and I have to pee'; not a problem for guys, drop a camera and the tears will never stop overflowing the Venetian canals, but I digress....
05-19-2009, 01:12 AM   #8
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Welcome to the forum, Portie Owner. (What's a portie?). As you browse here you'll find many posts that will answer your questions and some you hadn't thought of. Keep checking in.

Check out your local library. Librarians are my heroes - they have their finger on so many resources on so many topics and what they don't know they can find out and get you books on it. Second hand bookshops are also good for photography books. I'd steer clear of photography magazines at this stage. They're more likely to confuse you than be helpful until you're established and comfortable with your equipment.

Is there a camera club near you? If so, try going out for a shoot with them. You'll learn heaps. If not, try a post on this forum looking for a fellow Pentax owner in your area who might be willing to spend an afternoon with you to get you started. If you have a printer, go out shooting for a day and print, print, print. Study the results and compare them to photos you admire in books or on sites such as this one. Post a few and get some feedback.

I agree it's not worth lugging a pod along. You have shake reduction built into your camera and it works very well. Switch it on and away you go.

As a fellow K100D owner I have to say you got a real bargain. It's an excellent camera and will serve you well for years. Enjoy Venice, you lucky sod! And send us a pic or three.

05-19-2009, 02:57 AM   #9
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When I made the transition from a p&s to an slr, I discovered how little I knew about photography, and it took me quite a while to learn how to get the most from an slr.

In my opinion, it takes research and practice. For the research part, I always make two recommendations to get people started: Bryan Peterson's Understanding Exposure and this website: Ultimate Exposure Computer.

Hope this helps.
05-19-2009, 04:28 AM   #10
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Welcome to the DSLR family!
I love my K100D Super. It is a great camera.
When I switched from film to DSLR I started using the Auto Pict mode and played with the ISO setting. (Fn -> right arrow) When in doubt use Auto ISO. If you are shooting in dark places please remember Auto ISO only goes between 200-800. You need to set it manually for 1600 or 3200, and remember to change it back later. After that you can play with other modes like landscapes, portrait, scenes etc.
Another thing you can play with is over and under exposing. If you take a shot and you see it too dark or too bright you can adjust and shoot again. When you press the shutter button halfway to activate focus, if you press the little Av button next to the shutter and turn the thumb wheel while keeping it pressed, you will see a +/- sign in the viewfinder and a number. You can under(darker)/over(brighter) expose from +/- 2.0 in 0.5 increments. Again, please remember to change it back to zero.
For now, forget about RAW pictures. Shoot Jpeg and have fun. Don't bother deleting pictures. Sometimes seemingly bad pictures can later be saved OR can be used as a study case for learning.
Keep shake reduction ON at all times
But the most important tip of all: HAVE FUN!!!!

Thanks,
05-19-2009, 07:54 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by MPrince Quote
When I made the transition from a p&s to an slr, I discovered how little I knew about photography, and it took me quite a while to learn how to get the most from an slr.

In my opinion, it takes research and practice.
For me it was like film SLR, then to P&S 'coz SLR's with databacks became pretty expensive and I became encumbered as to the limitations of a P&S, then I want to come back again since DSLR's are pretty much reasonable priced now.
If you are really into it, research will be easy to understand 'coz you're interested and practice would be much more easier since you fully understand what you researched or read.
Here's to a lot of pictures ahead and enjoy the hobby!
05-29-2009, 08:10 AM   #12
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Thank you!

Thanks everyone for your help! I have been learning the controls on the K100D Super from the manual (I also downloaded the PDF manual--it's easy to search) and I have been reading up on the camera here as well as other places with reviews of the camera (like Amazon).

The advice I have gotten here is invaluable--I am a lot less worried about being comfortable with the camera on the upcoming trip. For now I decided not to buy any more books on photography. I will concentrate on the manual and what I can find on-line. I did find a nice tutorial site at canon.com which is perfect for a newbie like me and the Understanding Exposure web site has also been helpful. I have been shooting a lot indoors to get used to white balance and ISO functions. I need to spend some time ourdoors doing the exercises Donald recommended.

Someone asked what a Portie is, it's a Portuguese water dog. I'll try to take some pictures of her but she hates cameras.

One last question: what is a good lens cleaning kit? I'd like one which is compact, but still has a bulb air cleaner, pen-style brush, good quality lens paper, and liquid lens cleaner.

Here is what I have so far:

Pentax K100D Super DSLR camera
Lowepro Apec 120 AW bag (on sale from Buy.com for $15)
(3) Sandisk Extreme III 4gig SDHC cards
(1) USB SDHC card reader
(2) Ritz UV digital filters (I guess to protect the lens glass)
(4) Sanyo Eneloop batteries (I have another set on order, and 4 Lithium batteries as backups)

I will be ordering a Lowepro Speedster camera strap today

I still need a case for my 55-200 lens. I expect to order a Lowepro 1N lens case for it shortly.

I am still looking for a more nondescript shoulder/messenger bag which I can use for the camera, and a bottle of water and tour guide.

I am very, very happy with the camera especially considering the really low price I paid for it. I am still a little worried about it being stolen in Europe but I will be careful (I have traveled a lot overseas before).

I will definitely post some pictures from my trip when I get back.

Thank you all again for the help!!
05-29-2009, 09:15 AM   #13
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Some pointers for the K100D Super and in general:

Every picture you take is a compromise between 3 variables to get the right amount of light (not too dark and not too light) on the sensor. The variables are: shutter speed, aperture and ISO:

Shutter Speed
This indicates for how long light enters the camera. It is indicated by the number after 'Tv' on the screen on the top of your camera (this number is actually 1/x, so '125' means 1/125th of a second). Too short means your photo will be too dark, too long means it'll be too light (this is also called under- and overexposed respectively).
Another thing to keep in mind with shutter speed is that you can't use a shutter speed too slow because this can cause motion blur. Luckily your camera comes with shake reduction to compensate this a bit. As a rule of thumb, never go below 1/the focal length (the 18-55 and 50-200 on your lenses indicate the focal length). For example, if you're using the 50-200 at 160mm, don't set your shutter speed below 1/160 or you may experience motion blur. Take a picture at a very slow shutter speed (say, 1/5) and you'll see what I mean.

Aperture
This indicates how wide your lens is opening up. The wider the more light will reach the sensor. It is indicated by the number after 'Av'; the lower the number the bigger the opening. A big opening creates a shallow depth of field. For example, using f4.0 with the 18-55 lens and taking a picture of a flower, the flower will be sharp, but the background will a nice blur (like this photo). A very small opening (a high number, say f22) creates a very deep depth of field where everything is pretty much in focus. Try taking pictures with these apertures and you'll see what I mean.
Another thing to keep in mind with aperture is sharpness. Lenses are generally at their sharpest between f5.6 and f11. Going bigger than f5.6 may be useful to create the blur as in the picture linked above, going smaller than f11 has very few uses and you probably won't be needing it anytime soon (I've had my camera for over a year and have not yet used it).

ISO
This indicates the sensitivity of the sensor, ranging from 200 to 3200 on the K100D Super. A lower number means the sensor will need more light. The upside of a lower ISO is better image quality. A higher ISO number means you can take pictures when there is less light (such as indoors) but as a result you will get 'noise'. Take a picture with the ISO set to 1600 to see what I mean. On the K100D Super the noise on 3200 is pretty awful (I think) so this setting is best avoided. Keep the ISO as low as you can for the best results. However, if you can't get a fast enough shutter speed it is better to set the ISO higher than to risk motion blur. I would recommend setting the ISO at 200 and changing it when needed.

Other settings
As for mode to use the camera in, I would suggest 'Av'. This mode lets you set the aperture with the scrollwheel, and the camera will set the shutter speed accordingly. This way you have control over the depth of field, a very important creative tool. As you saw with the flowerpicture linked above, a shallow depth of field gives a very nice effect. It points out what the subject of the photo is and this is pleasant for the eyes to look at. If the above picture was taken with a small aperture (such as for example f22), the leaves and other plants in the background would be in focus as well, resulting in a very chaotic image.
Do keep an eye out for the shutter speed the camera chooses though, as to avoid motion blur. If the shutter speed is too slow, choose a bigger aperture (lower number) or change the ISO.

The button next to the shutter release button, the square one with the '-' and '+' and with 'Av' next to it, you use to make the picture darker or lighter if the camera for some reason chooses a setting that results in an under- or overexposed photo. You press it and simultaneously turn the scrollwheel (in manual mode you use this button to change the aperture).
This is useful for situations when you're taking pictures with alot of light or dark colours, such as for example snow or a black pet. In the example of the snow, what happens is that when the camera sees alot of white it'll think the picture is too light. It will then compensate for this resulting in snow that is not white but a light shade of grey. To get the camera to exposure correctly in this situation you set the camera to overexpose. To get the camera to exposure correctly in a situation with alot of dark colours (such as a black pet) you set the camera to underexpose. Try this out and you'll see what I mean.

The white balance you can keep on auto. The camera will choose the correct while balance so this is one less thing for you to worry about. One tip for sunsets: set the white balance to 'daylight'. This way the amazing colours of a sunset are not compensated by the camera.

With a tripod you can take pictures with very slow shutter speeds. You may want to bring a small one for the occasional picture you'll be taking at night (I can imagine Venice by night is beautiful). When shooting with a tripod turn off Shake Reduction and turn on the 2 seconds self-timer (accesible through the 'Fn' butter and then the menu accessed by the 'above'-arrow).

Post your Photos!
Finally, the best thing about these forums is the Post your Photos! section: Post your photos! - PentaxForums.com . Here you can show your fellow Pentaxians (yes, this is your new name) and get comments and critiques to improve them. The #1 tool to improve your technique.
05-29-2009, 09:38 AM   #14
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Oh, and one more advice for later. What I found tremendously helpful in developing my skills when it comes to composition is a prime lens (IE: one that doesn't zoom in and out). Fortunately Pentax camera's will accept any Pentax lens ever made from 1975 onwards, so you can get a good lens for relatively cheap. Just as an example: I bought this one: Pentax Lens Review Database - 55mm F1.8 (As you can see these kind of lenses go for only ~$35). Because you cannot zoom you will be forced to think more what to include and what not to include in the frame.
05-29-2009, 09:46 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by PortieOwner Quote
One last question: what is a good lens cleaning kit? I'd like one which is compact, but still has a bulb air cleaner, pen-style brush, good quality lens paper, and liquid lens cleaner.
A "kit"? I'm sure someone offers something like that, but mostly, I'd just buy those things separately, and don't assume you need them all. The air bulb for cleaning the sensor, sure. A microfiber cloth would usually be recommended over paper. Liquid is liquid. I've never seen the need for a brush.

QuoteQuote:
(2) Ritz UV digital filters (I guess to protect the lens glass)
A more cynical answer would be be, "to protect the salesman's bottom line". An even more cynical answer would be, "to make sure you don't get the image quality you should". Just be aware that the idea of sticking filters on lenses to "protect" them is pretty controversial.

QuoteQuote:
I still need a case for my 55-200 lens.
A case just for the lens? Why?
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