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10-18-2010, 07:25 AM   #1
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K10D - In Concert!

I recently set off on a new adventure and I have been doing some concert photography. It has been a great learning experience, while a bit of a baptism of fire at the same time.

I passed the 10,000 shutter actuation mark as I was sitting at the first "proper" show so while I am not a total beginner to the camera, I am not a professional and for me it is just a fun exercise. I love music and love photography, this is a way to combine the two of them. The previous 10,000 photos were not any specific genre, just a mixed bag. Sneaking an SLR into a concert is tricky these days so although I have taken photos at shows before it was normally with a little pocket-able point and shoot (and the results tended to reflect that!). I have been "into" photography as a hobby for maybe 5 or 6 years and using the K10D for maybe 3 years.

Those who have tried taking photos at concerts probably have some idea how difficult it can be - not only is the lighting poor, but the lighting can change quickly too. One second the face of the performer is lit up light a Christmas tree, the next second it is shrouded in shadow. As if that is not difficult enough, rarely do performers stand stilll and the most interesting performers are often the ones that are fluid and animated.

Poor and unpredictable lighting with a moving subject. Nice!

I have been using two lenses:
* An old Ricoh 50mm f1.7 which is MF only.
* A not quite so old Pentax F 50mm f1.4


The Ricoh obviously has to be used in Manual mode, quickly focus, meter, shoot each shot. I have been practing my MF accuracy with this lens but to be honest I still have a lot to learn. The focus certainly seems to be easier on this lens than on the Pentax lens when using MF, just due to the ergonomics of the focusing ring. As well as being restricted to MF, I am also stuck with spot metering.

What I have learned so far is to take both lenses with me to a show. I start with the Pentax lens and if that just struggles too much for focus I will switch to MF or switch to the Ricoh 50mm lens.

The Pentax lens has given me challenges with AF. Both the speed and the accuracy can be a problem and sometimes it just will not lock on at all. I have managed to get some disasterous photos with this lens, though to be fair I have been very hapy with it for the most part. Using the Pentax lens does not require me to use MF, and I also get the benefits of the options for metering. I tend to stick with spot metering most of the time, unless the lighting is spectacularly good,

Most importantly, being able to use modes other than Manual mode gives me the ability to use the TAv mode. For those not familiar, this allows me to choose my shutter speed and aperture, and then the camera will adjust the ISO to get the right exposure. This has been a god send. I doubt I would buy a camera without this mode, in fact, unless I was bored with shooting concerts. It's not unusual for me to see the ISO just from <400 to 1600 in a single "scene" as the lighting changes. TAv allows me to specigy a range and the ISO will float within that range. I wish it was more granular (I can do 100-800 or 100-1600, but not 100-1250) but it works well regardless. The K10D does sometimes struggle when being used with high ISO and noise reduction only goes so far.

For focusing, I find that the AF.S has been the most reliable. AF.C tends to hunt too much due to the dynamic nature of the subject and I have not had much success with it at all. In fact, using MF and manually hunting the focus seems to have given me more success.

The sweet spot seems to be around ISO 1000 or less and f1.6 or so. f1.4 gives an exceptionally narrow DOF, f2 can struggle bringing in enough light to keep the ISO down.

Anyone else still using a K10D in this scenario? Or used a K10D in this scenario, upgraded and interested in commenting?


Last edited by Howard2k; 10-18-2010 at 07:49 AM. Reason: posted prematurely.
10-18-2010, 08:39 AM   #2
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Thanks for sharing your excitement in shooting a concert.

i agree with you the TAv mode comes in very handy when you want to lock the aperture for the desired DOF and the shutter-speed to freeze motion, i love to use this when using a telephoto lens and lighting conditions which vary with a 2 EV range.

Frankly speaking, i don't think the metering of the k10d that reliable and for life stage performance, i would go full manual, measured a good median exposure, and adjust the exposure by experience.

Same for focusing...with enough practice, i would think MF can be more reliable than AF.

Of course, these all may change with the new breed of Pentax bodies.
10-18-2010, 01:14 PM   #3
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I was hoping to see some photos when I read the title of this thread :-(
10-18-2010, 01:24 PM   #4
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Sorry Christine, did not want to appear to be whoring out my blog. But here are a couple!

















plenty more on the flickr site or my blog.

10-18-2010, 01:29 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by badbrother Quote
Thanks for sharing your excitement in shooting a concert.

i agree with you the TAv mode comes in very handy when you want to lock the aperture for the desired DOF and the shutter-speed to freeze motion, i love to use this when using a telephoto lens and lighting conditions which vary with a 2 EV range.

Frankly speaking, i don't think the metering of the k10d that reliable and for life stage performance, i would go full manual, measured a good median exposure, and adjust the exposure by experience.

Same for focusing...with enough practice, i would think MF can be more reliable than AF.

Of course, these all may change with the new breed of Pentax bodies.

Thanks, it will be a good learning experience. Some bands are ok to allow unlimited shooting, some are "three songs, no flash" (and I should point out that flash seems to be my enemy here) so for those bands that allow unlimited shooting it will be good practice to nail some "good" shots and then get creative with manual mode and manual focus.
10-18-2010, 01:43 PM   #6
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Great photos - thanks for sharing!
10-19-2010, 09:48 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Howard2k Quote
Thanks, it will be a good learning experience. Some bands are ok to allow unlimited shooting, some are "three songs, no flash" (and I should point out that flash seems to be my enemy here) so for those bands that allow unlimited shooting it will be good practice to nail some "good" shots and then get creative with manual mode and manual focus.

I too resorted to manual camera/focus when shooting my son's symphony concerts; I didn't think about using TAv, but suspect the noise level wouldn't be acceptable. Something about a sea of black tuxedos....

My K10 hunts too much when the light gets low; I shot w/manual focus for one of the Phillies last home games despite the bright stadium lights and my meter giving me acceptable readings.

I've got some great shots when the light was good and at ISO 100. The Achilles heel of this body is low light, as you know. When all the excitement dies down with the K5, I'll look at that as one of the options to fill that gap...

-Matt
10-19-2010, 02:37 PM   #8
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Good story. The K10D might struggle in those kinds of situations but I have found that by anticipating the right moment plus optimising focusing technique does a lot to produce a lot more keepers.

I have found that going AF, spot metering at EV0 or -0.3 and the right vantage point gives me the best chance of capturing the right shots effectively. By ensuring the AF spot area has enough of an illuminated target to lock focus on, I have gotten sharp images from otherwise very dark scenes. And with this I have not had to go MF often at all, even with the K10D/K20D and f/2.8 zoom lenses.

10-20-2010, 08:13 AM   #9
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Thanks Ash, I will give that a shot too.

Why do you use -0.3 EV? Is that to allow a quicker shutter (in Av) or lower ISO (in TAv)? You then just boost it up in post processing as needed?
10-20-2010, 10:03 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Howard2k Quote
Sorry Christine, did not want to appear to be whoring out my blog. But here are a couple!

















plenty more on the flickr site or my blog.

Pretty awesome results!
10-20-2010, 12:39 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Howard2k Quote
Thanks Ash, I will give that a shot too.

Why do you use -0.3 EV? Is that to allow a quicker shutter (in Av) or lower ISO (in TAv)? You then just boost it up in post processing as needed?
I'm mostly in Av mode and set the limit to my ISO depending on the camera (800 for the K10D and 1600 for the K20D). But why EV-0.3 is because spot metering on a very brightly lit subject can be troublesome for the camera and since the subject is the critical part of the captures, I want to ensure that I never overexpose them. I rarely need to boost exposure or brightness very much in PP as a result. This is for the concert setting but most other outdoor settings, matrix metering generally works fine.

Importantly also, metering with the FA ltds is excellent at EV0, whilst with the Tamron 28-75 and 70-200 may need +0.3 sometimes and the DA 12-24 and 55-300 have consistently needed +0.7-1.0 for well-exposed results out of camera.
10-21-2010, 08:26 AM   #12
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Thanks Ash, I will give that a shot tonight.
11-16-2010, 06:48 AM   #13
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Usually I shoot 1/50-1/125 dependent on light, Rarely Meter it, just based on experience, will chimp a couple to make sure then leave it for post, try to stick to iso 1000 (not possible in some venues) and almost always f2.8 or wider if the lens allows. If it's to noisy I resort to black and white with a film look applied. I use Aperture and DXo right now and some noise ninja (though I like noise sometimes it's the film shooter in me my favourite shots in the past were frequently on Trix at 16-3200)
Really I need to upgrade from the k10 and am starting to look at a k5. I started using the manual lenses recently at gigs, it can be a little slow compared to the af lenses but the results have been decent (nothing spectacular but i haven't shot a show i thought was spectacular recently)
11-16-2010, 06:54 AM   #14
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as an example at the piston (almost no lights) K 55 2.0 @ 2.0 1/80 and iso 1600 moved to b/w




not much better light at the 100 club in London in October M200 f4.0 @ 4.0 1/25 (thank god for SR) iso 1600


11-16-2010, 09:18 AM   #15
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Thanks Eddie, those seemed to turn out pretty well. The K-5 has been calling my name too, but since this is just a fun thing and the K10d still does it for me on a day to day basis I cannot justify the expense right now. Perhaps next year!
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