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11-28-2010, 09:54 PM   #1
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Yet another question about the AF indicators

Hey everyone,

I just ordered a K-x with the 18-55 & 55-300mm kit from B&H for $650 and am totally looking forward to putting this to use.

I have a question about what the lack of AF indicator lights means in real world terms though.

I've been checking the forum and it seems like most people advise to just give up on the 11 point AF and use the center focus, which makes sense but gives up a really nice tool in the 11 af points.

Can anyone who is using the K-x or K-r tell me if they are actually using the 11 point AF or primarily sticking with Center focus? And if you are using the 11 point is it usually selecting the correct point, or are you adjusting it? When is the 11 point focus something I would miss?

Thanks for your input!

11-28-2010, 10:00 PM   #2
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I haven't used the K-x, but on all my DSLRs before the K-5, I used the center point only just because the 11-point AF wasn't as reliable. So I'd stick to the center point if I where you.

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11-28-2010, 11:09 PM   #3
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i've got a k-x (and previous used the k100d) and i've always just used the center point to focus and then re-frame my shots.

just last week i picked up my mates k-x and played around with it. at first i thought there was something wrong with his lens back / front focusing but then after speaking to him, found that he had set it to 5-points (or was it 6 / 7?) AF.

thats my experience with the multiple AF points on the k-x - not very good at all. not sure if the 11 points would be an improvement or not... but personally i'd stick with center.
11-29-2010, 01:13 AM   #4
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+1 with the 2 previous posts.

Most Pentaxians use center point focus.

I have done so for over 6 years with my old Panasonic bridge and now my K-7. In my opinion, this is the simplest and most reliable way.

Hope that the comment helps....

11-29-2010, 01:27 AM   #5
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Hi Brad,

You have a choice of AF modes for a reason. . . in different situations, each has its usefulness.

Center focus and recompose is probably the best for most shooting, but it falls down when you are using wide aperture lenses at their fastest f stop settings and shooting at relatively close distances.

Why Focus-Recompose Sucks

Here you can see where manually selected focus points can be the superior technique but it's really a specialty technique, and though it might be technically more accurate, in most situations, with most lenses, and at most distances, DOF makes it irrelevant.

I use multipoint auto focus point selection when shooting Birds In Flight (I'm primarily a birder). I shoot with a 300mm f4 lens for this. Shooting a 300mm lens handheld is a challenge to most people, and holding very steady on a stationary subject is difficult enough, and near impossible for a flying bird. . . so using a single point (actually each AF focus sensor "point" is an area roughly the size of the central ( ) marks in your viewfinder) would just not be reasonable since I need to pan to keep up with the bird and it constantly changes speed and direction, plus the VF blacks out every time I take a shot so I don't have the luxury of a continuous view to follow the motion precisely as I'd like.

My "hedge" is to expand the usable AF sensor area by using multipoint mode and letting the camera make the decision of what "point" to use. This way, if I can just keep the bird somewhere in the VF, one of the AF sensors will probably get or maintain a lock, and I'll get something usable if luck is on my side. . . I also use as small an aperture as I can get away with and higher than usual ISO settings to keep the shutter speeds up.

BTW, I could care less which focus "point" is active when I use this mode for this purpose, so visible indicators or not makes no difference.

Even when selecting focus points, visible indicators are only a convenience. You can program your Kx to return the active focus point to the center with a press of the green button, so any of the 11 focus points can be chosen with a max of two button presses. This can be done without taking your eye from the VF if you take the time to learn the button locations by feel. . . You might be able to tell that I think the lack of focus indicators is not even close to the big deal some have made it out to be. . .

The cool thing about the current crop of DSLRs is that we have the choice to use them as we want -- go full auto, go full purist manual and control everything -- or anything level in between. . . learning how to best use all the features to get the shot you want makes you a better photographer.

Scott
11-29-2010, 01:54 AM   #6
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After a while I changed from using the center AF point on my K-x to 11 point user selectable. This helped to improve my focus over using "center-point and recompose" - the recompose is now often only a small movement. Pressing the 'OK' button returns the AF point to the center, and then it is easy to move it around again from there, even without focus point indicators in the VF. I like having the indicators on my K200D (and K-5 now), but the K-x is such a great camera it's not that big a deal.
11-29-2010, 05:35 AM   #7
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I don't use the 11-point mode on my K-x but I sometimes select a specific off-center focus point when I want to shoot with AF-C and a preconceived framing. Like shooting an approaching subject in sports with a telephoto lens.

And then I sometimes forget to set it back to center and I miss the next few shots on that account. Visible focus points might help me notice the problem earlier. Or not.

Regards,
--Anders.
11-29-2010, 05:56 AM   #8
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The focus sensors are still there so 5 or 11 point modes are useful when you need to focus in a hurry (moving objects like the birds mentioned above, or in my case kids :-) you just don't get to know where exactly the camera decided to focus. When not so much in a hurry using the center point only is kind of straightforward "works everytime" kind of thing. When not at all in a hurry, using MF is the way to really take control of course. The illuminated points would give me an option I don't currently have with the k-x so I wouln't mind having them, but it seems (with some experience with Canon 400/450D) I might still mostly use center point only as they merely let you discover that the camera chose something else than you intented (and you need to recompose which might not be possible when using multipoint AF for speed where it has the most advantage).

11-29-2010, 08:26 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by BradH Quote
Hey everyone,

I just ordered a K-x with the 18-55 & 55-300mm kit from B&H for $650 and am totally looking forward to putting this to use.

I have a question about what the lack of AF indicator lights means in real world terms though.

I've been checking the forum and it seems like most people advise to just give up on the 11 point AF and use the center focus, which makes sense but gives up a really nice tool in the 11 af points.

Can anyone who is using the K-x or K-r tell me if they are actually using the 11 point AF or primarily sticking with Center focus? And if you are using the 11 point is it usually selecting the correct point, or are you adjusting it? When is the 11 point focus something I would miss?

Thanks for your input!
I just upgraded to K-r from K-100. Although the K-r makes better decisions, I still find that the multi-point sometimes chooses the wrong thing to focus on. For instance, it may focus on the microphone stand in front of the performer. I still use center focus and recompose most of the time. By the way, the focus fine adjust feature on the K-r really helped sharpen up my large-apature shots.
11-29-2010, 03:52 PM   #10
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AF may choose the wrong thing for focus anyway. The camera tends to lock on high contrast areas, and these may not be exactly where you think the focus point should like.

I use the center point (and recompose) exclusively on the K-x (unless I am using live view) just because it is too easy to forget where the focus point is set, turn the camera off, and start shooting again later with the wrong assumption. As has been discussed on PF many times, the most annoying omission on the K-x is the omission of indicators in the viewfinder of which focus point is active. Also, the center point has markings which more precisely describe the focus area than those for the other points.

I still love my K-x, but I just don't move the focus points around.
11-29-2010, 06:54 PM   #11
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Seems like most people use the center point focus and I am no different. When I first got my Kx I played around with the 11 point (this is my first DSLR ever) and once I learned a little bit I switched to center point and have never changed it and it's been about 6 months now.
11-29-2010, 08:03 PM   #12
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Just wondering if this could be fixed with a firmware update ?
11-29-2010, 08:15 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by knaff Quote
Just wondering if this could be fixed with a firmware update ?
What are you referring to as possibly being fixable with firmware? There are no lights in the finder, so adding firmware won't change that.
11-29-2010, 08:18 PM   #14
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I guess Brad will be overwhelmed when he sees all the posts!

I used to use multi-point, then for the past 3 years: centre point focus only.

I too take a lot of bird shots, many BIF shots, wildlife ... and although it is sometimes more difficult to hand hold a 300mm/4 during the process, once you get used to it, the single (centre) point focus seems to produce better results.
That's for me, personally; others will vote for multipoint focusing.

I also like the fact that it is easier to point (centre) focus and recompose for other-than-bird photography.

To the OP: A matter of choice after fiddling with the different options on your camera.

JP
11-29-2010, 08:18 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
I haven't used the K-x, but on all my DSLRs before the K-5, I used the center point only just because the 11-point AF wasn't as reliable. So I'd stick to the center point if I where you.
On my other DSLRs (K-ds) I will use the points other than the center when I can't easily move the camera to recompose, such as on a tripod. Using the center to focus comes naturally to me because that is where the focus aids were on the manual focus cameras on which I learned decades ago.
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