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02-05-2010, 03:21 AM   #1
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Hello I am new and a noob :D

I have never used a DSLR before. I read the whole manual today and have a little better understanding. But I cant seem to figure out how to take good quality pictures. they arent grainy but they are blurry. Here are some that I took a second ago. Please give any advice on anything you think would be helpful. And please use simple terms if you can.

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02-05-2010, 03:47 AM   #2
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It would be helpfull to tell us aperture value and shutter speed of your photo.

In general you the following is happening:

- DSLR's in general produce less sharp images by default, unless you change your camera settings. (Read the manual)
- Pentax DSLR's do not flash automatically. Hence, your camera will adapt to low light by using the largest aperture and slowest shutter speed possible.

Working with all open aperture will give you a very shallow Depth of Field (DOF). A shallow DOF means that the area in focus around the focal distance of the lens is very limited. You can have more DOF, however then you need to work with smaller apertures (the higher f numbers, for instance f5.6, f8 etc). This will either mean that you need to: 1) use higher ISO value which will increase noise, 2) use slower shutter speeds which will increase motion blur, 3) use the flash which will change you lighting settings.

Your picture looks like it is taken with not too much light, meaning that you may have suffered from shallow DOF and/or motion blur.
Some of the hairs look sharper than others. So I wonder if the cat moved, indicating slow shutter speed.....

I hope this helps.

- Bert
02-05-2010, 03:59 AM   #3
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Hello Sorry to say I am unsure what the values were set to as I have changed them several times since that picture in hopes of finding a clear and high quality setting. Also I have read the entire manual cover to cover today so I have all of the knowledge. I have learned things like aperture is the focus on a close up object with a blurred backround and iso makes things higher quality but the higher you go the more noise there is and how a fast shutter speed lets very little light in and helps with moving objects or with a shakey hand.

Thank you very much for replying to my thread so fast I appreciate it
If you have any other advice to help me out that would be great.

Oh and the aperture for some reason will not go very low. The lowest Ive been able to get it is 3.5 and at some times it wont go lower then 5.0.

Thanks again
02-05-2010, 04:25 AM   #4
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Couple of things to watch...

Shooting indoors, which you were here, chances are that the light levels are not great.... in order to expose the shot correctly your camera needs to collect the correct amount of light... there are 3 variables here which you/the camera can manipulate...

- you can use a wider aperature (lower number).... as you use the kit lens you will find yourself with a lower limitation (3.5 - 5.6 depending on focal length)

- You can leave the shutter open for longer... take into account that if you operate at values less than 1/focal length you can induce camera shake... and hence images will appear blurry.

- you can "amplify" the sensor signal via the ISO... higher values, depending on the sensor/camera will induce levels of noise.... (on the K20D I will typically use up to ISO 1600... or where really needed maybe 3200)

I suspect you have a couple of issues... you are likely using the widest aperature available, at this point the lens is not at its sharpest (kit lens sharpest between F8 and F11). You maybe have the shutter speed a bit too slow to a point you induce blurring through your movement. Using flash may be a solution as you can select a narrower aperture, maintain a lower iso and get a decent shutter speed.

02-05-2010, 05:07 AM   #5
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Those photos don't look too bad to me. As mentioned above, the kit lens is a variable aperture lens. That is to say, the maximum aperture it can open to changes with the focal length. At the wide end, it can open up to 3.5mm and at the 55mm end it is 5.6. Particularly at the long end, you will find your best results if you stop the lens down to f8. As you push the iso up, you will also lose a little detail. Low light photography is tough and if you may want to look into a faster prime lens that will let you open up your aperture more.
02-05-2010, 05:11 AM   #6
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Can you recommend a better prime for this model? I took it off full manual mode and went to macro and took another picture and I put the aperture to 11 and had flash on and I think it came out a lot better. Also ISO 1600. Is there any flaws to this picture? Br a harsh critic so I can better my photography

Both of you have been a lot of help so far. I just want to thank you ^_^

Last edited by CrossStealth; 02-05-2010 at 05:18 AM.
02-05-2010, 05:18 AM   #7
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Sorry clicked post too early >< Here is this pic
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02-05-2010, 05:40 AM   #8
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Certainly looks much sharper, you will notice that as you step up to ISO1600 you will get some image noise as a result of the signal amplificaiton, you can do noise reduction to get rid of this but also tends to soften the image... once you understand how these factors play of each other you can try to make the best compromise for each shot.

As for the shot, is a decent start, looks sharp enough... unfortunate that the eyes are half closed and some of the interest goes off frame (the whiskers).... you will also see that... as a consequence of using the on-board flash the pupils are a greenish color (this is the reflection of the retina of the cats eye... )... if you have an off-camera flash you can avoid this but can also fix it a bit with some post-processing.

02-05-2010, 05:59 AM   #9
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Also see that you have a Kx, you should have no issue using ISO1600 or even ISO3200 for indoor shoots with minimal noise... a great low light camera.
With the flexibility you get from the Kx in ISO it negates to some extent the need for a "faster prime" lens... while the fast prime lens can get you more light you will also have more issues in getting a good focus and the depth of field will be very limited... if used artistically can be great however (ability to blur the background to make the image pop).
02-05-2010, 06:15 AM   #10
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So what lenses do you suggest I get first? Or should I stay with my normal kit lense for now. I want great quality pictures. What settings should I tweak on that picture to get a cleaner shot?
02-05-2010, 06:22 AM   #11
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I would not buy any lenses immediately, the 18-55 kit lens is a decent start, if you look around the forums you will find many amazing shots from this lens...

if you take plenty shots with the equipment you have, you can learn better how to take advantage of it and also where you feel you are limited... once you understand the limitations of your equipment you should have a clear idea of what you need to change (e.g. if you find that the kit lens is too short you can get a longer lens.... like to play with nice out of focus blur.. then a fast prime etc..)
I started early last year and my first additional purchase was a K50 1.4 prime which I picked up 2nd hand for a good price (approx 50$), is a good option if you want to learn the quality/flexibility tradeoff when using prime lenses.

In terms of how to get your images sharper, I dont have the Kx so dont know the menu layouts. If you are shooting in JPEG you should be able to tweak the sharpness settings via the camera menus... if you shoot Raw you will typically do this in the post processing program of your choice... I am sure that there must be some previous posts talking about optimum Kx settings for sharpness, try a search to see if you can find them.
02-05-2010, 08:01 AM   #12
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Morning, Welcome to the Forum! On digital cameras, the camera records a wealth of information along with the picture. This is referred to as meta or exif data. The software utilities included with the camera provide this information. There is also free software available that also provides this, such as photome, which can be downloaded at

PhotoME - Exif, IPTC & ICC Metadata Editor

The data includes, date, time, lens, camera, f stop, shutter speed, iso speed, SR on or off, flash fired or not, plus a host of additional items (cream in your coffee...). Its a very useful, wonderful little utility.

dSLRs are a bit different than point and shoot cameras. Most folks who switch find that their pictures actually get worse initially (over P&S) and improve as they use the camera. Its not necessarily having the knowledge, but the application of it, and developing a skill set. P&S cameras have very small sensors, and hence their depth of field is very large, as opposed to dSLR sensors which are comparatively very large, and provide the photographer the ability to control it. Also the P&S units are setup so that just about any image taken turned out as good as possible. dDLRs are able to capture greater detail. Pentax in particular, the right out of the camera JPGs need a level of post processing, as opposed to other brands. This is done to preserve the level of detail, that the other makes tend to average out (remember the camera is a computer and all of this is just math that you are looking at).

The kit lens(es) are just fine. They produce wonderful pictures and are a wonderful learning instrument. As you find out just what type of pictures you like to take over time, then I would start to think about possibly some specialized lenses. Just remember a faster prime like say a 50mm f1.7 although will gather more light, may aggravate your depth of field by making it paper thin (at f1.7) - i.e. say on your cat pictures, potentially having the front half of the nose in focus, with the rest of the head/body progressively out of focus.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DOF-ShallowDepthofField.jpg

By just reading the manual, you have been provided just what each control / menu feature can be set to. The manual does not necessary explain WHY you would use a particular feature, the conditions to apply that feature, or how that feature in combination with one or more other features / controls will produce what type of results.

Take a look at this camera simulator...

Aperture, shutter and ISO value | SLR Camera Simulator

Mark the "Link Aperture/Shutter" box and slide the f stop and watch the sharpness of the resulting image change. That is a combination of depth of field and motion blur (slow shutter).

With what you have, you can get great quality images. Pentax provides some really wonderful kit lenses as compared to other makes.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/45425-kit-lens-club.html

dSLRs users develop skill over time. A 16 year old the day after getting their driver's license (on Monday) does not take a formula 1 racecar to Le Mans (on Friday) expecting to win.

hope that helps...

Last edited by interested_observer; 02-05-2010 at 08:25 AM.
02-05-2010, 08:07 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by CrossStealth Quote
So what lenses do you suggest I get first? Or should I stay with my normal kit lense for now. I want great quality pictures. What settings should I tweak on that picture to get a cleaner shot?
Don't go that route too fast!
If you get faster lenses (smaller f numbers possible) with large apertures, your DOF will be even smaller than now. It will not solve the problems you are facing here.

Your problem is mainly the amount of light available, you can see that not only sharpness is suffering, also dynamic range and colour look limited.
One remedy is to increase ISO, however that will make your pictures somewhat grainy (it will add so called noise to the picture).
You should try and increase the amount of ambient light. If that cannot be done, indirect or dimmed flashing may help as well.

Try adding light to the scene. Photography is mostly playing with light.
Would the cat be half lit by a beam of sunlight, it would look very different.

By the way your camera (and most software on the computer) can tell you what the settings were used when taken the picture.
For instance, play back the picture and press the info button.
That data is stored in the picture file and is called Exif data.
02-05-2010, 09:23 AM   #14
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Basically, what you want is a book on photography. There are no magic settings to give good pictures in all situations - there is just shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, and you need to udnerstand each and how they relate. Any book on photography (and probably a lot of web sites too) should explain these concepts.
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