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02-27-2010, 07:01 AM   #1
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Out Of Focus - Am I expecting too much?

I've been playing with the K7 and Pentax 55-200 WR lens shooting birds in the backyard from my deck. I just can't seem to get a nice shot. They all seem rather blurred. No detail. I'm not shooting with a tripod but I'm bracing myself very well against the house structure. The last batch of shots were of a red cardinal perched on the branch of a tall oak tree. I'd say the distance from my lens to the bird was about 45 feet.
I had the camera set at f11, iso 200, 1/160. The WB was set to daylight. The AF red indicator was dead on the bird. I shot from ground level so the background was a clear blue sky. No EV compensation.

I'm I doing something wrong or am I expecting too much from the lens?


Last edited by seachunk2; 02-27-2010 at 07:07 AM.
02-27-2010, 07:09 AM   #2
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Might try a higher shutter speed. Birds in the main are always moving, so are branches. I shoot at, at least 1/500s. And that depends on whether the wind is still or moving, if moving I up it to 1/750s. 1/160s way to low. ISO higher and aperture below f11. My backyard is shaded most of the time so I have to shoot at, at least f6.7.

EDIT: I don't shoot AF either. I shoot all Manual.

QuoteQuote:
The AF red indicator was dead on the bird
That really isn't that it's in focus. That red indicator is telling you it's metering that part of the bird. You actually need to see it's in focus.

Last edited by photolady95; 02-27-2010 at 07:15 AM.
02-27-2010, 09:52 AM   #3
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While I don't own the K7, the red indicator on My K10D is the focus point, NOT the focus indicator. The green hex is what you want to look for.
02-27-2010, 10:03 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by reeftool Quote
While I don't own the K7, the red indicator on My K10D is the focus point, NOT the focus indicator. The green hex is what you want to look for.
red indicator is not the exact point of focus. Its usually not perfectly aligned.

02-27-2010, 10:10 AM   #5
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I agree about your shutter speed. The faster the better when shooting birds.
02-27-2010, 10:46 AM   #6
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F 11 will give a lot of DOF, this means that either:
- You are shaking too much, try increasing the shutter speed, minimum 1/320, faster is better!
- You're camera cannot focus correctly with this lens. You can correct that in camera.

For the last option, try to focus on something like a table, which is place such that you can see it in all its length.
Place a small object in the centre of the table.
Use your camera with a fast shutter speed and maximum aperture (smallest f number).
Make a photo of the item, zoom in (on camera you can do this).
See where the table is in focus (at the object, in front of the object, behind the object).
Try in steps to correct the AF for this lens in the camera menu (read the manual for instructions).

I'm sure this helps, if not something is very wrong and return the kit.
02-27-2010, 11:01 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by reeftool Quote
While I don't own the K7, the red indicator on My K10D is the focus point, NOT the focus indicator. The green hex is what you want to look for.
On my K10D, it functions as (temporary) focus indicator as well.

At least that is how I see and use it. When I press the shutter halfway, the focus point indicator flashes to indicate the focus point (if focus point selection is not set to automatic) and the camera starts focusing. When the camera has found the focus, the focus point indicator flashes again (and the green hexagon lights up). I assume that the reason why this happens is that the camera needs to tell you which focus point it has selected when you have set the focus point selection to automatic.
I only subconsciously verify the green hexagon.

When using MF lenses (on my K100D) the same happens. Focus point indicator flashes, I start focusing and focus point indicator flashes again when focus is obtained. At that stage I will actively verify the green hexagon (because there is no 'lock' so I will probably have turned the focus ring too far).
02-27-2010, 01:15 PM   #8
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As always, a picture demonstrating the problem would help. Could be camera focusing on something near the bird instead of right on the bird - that would be typical since the image of the bird is probably smaller than the focus sensor. Could be camera shake. Could be image degradation from a filter. or could be unreaosnable expectations if you're too far from the bird for it to fill the much of the viewfinder so you're looking at extreme crops. Or any combination of thee. Impossible to say without seeing an image.

02-27-2010, 05:44 PM   #9
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Here's a photo of the red cardinal- (edited original message to correct photo size)


Last edited by seachunk2; 02-28-2010 at 07:27 PM.
02-27-2010, 06:25 PM   #10
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Those are kind of small, they are hard to see what is wrong. Post them bigger. You can attach photos up to 800x800 or host them from another site like flickr.com and post them quite a bit larger.

Read this sticky, it tells you how:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/post-your-photos/6-how-posting-uploading-...de-images.html
02-27-2010, 07:18 PM   #11
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I managed to get a little closer than you did to the cardinal, but this little fellow (a juvenile Grey Butcherbird) was photographed from my backdoor, handheld under poor light using my K-x and an ancient Sigma 100-300 zoom I got on eBay for about $50. With the K-7 and the Pentax zoom lens you should be able to get comparable or better results, I think.



K-x, Sigma 100-300 f4.5-6.7 UC, 220mm, f10, 1/250, 1600 ISO, manual focus.
02-27-2010, 07:28 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by seachunk2 Quote
Here's a photo of the red cardinal

You seem to be using a very small lens or a very small sensor.
02-27-2010, 09:24 PM   #13
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I always use my optical viewfinder when in doubt..... it's an old habit I aquired from my film days.
02-28-2010, 02:19 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by seachunk2 Quote
I'm I doing something wrong or am I expecting too much from the lens?
Before you can answer that you first have to know how much to expect from your gear in the first place:

Set up camera on tripod set to F/8 or so, low ISO, manual focus, shutter delay etc. What you are doing here is trying to give the gear every advantage. Take a picture of something with detail and see if it's sharp. It's as simple as that.

All you are doing shooting this way is factoring out operating error. If the image is sharp the gear is probably up to snuff and you better start wondering what you might be doing wrong.

Hint: at 200mm you are trying to hand hold an optic that is giving you a magnification of about 6x and it is not only magnifying the image but also hand-held camera shake.

Last edited by wildman; 02-28-2010 at 02:30 AM.
02-28-2010, 08:55 AM   #15
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200mm is too short for a bird 45ft away

Unfortunately I think your issue is that you are 45 feet away.

At f/11 and 45 feet the DOF should be 6.92 feet (thanks on-line DOF calculator) so focus issues won't be a problem.

A 200mm lens gives an 8 degree angle of view on APS-C. Basic trig tells us that the view plain will be about 6.3 feet across.

Wikipedia tells us that the Norther cardinal is 21cm (8") long. Or 10% of the image height. That is only 1% of the total area.

Bottom line is, you will not get a good image filling only 1% of the frame. You are taking a shot will less than a megapixle and expecting detail.

You need to get closer, as even a $3,000 500mm lens (3.1 degree AofV) will only get the image to fill 7.5% of the frame.
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