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06-12-2011, 09:36 PM   #1
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Area AF systems and PENTAX

For starters, an area AF system uses a dense grid of AF points, of the type used on professional cameras from Canon and Nikon, as opposed to more widely spaced points found on entry-level and most mid-range models. This type of AF system was first introduced on the Canon EOS-3 35mm SLR camera, delivering an unheard-of 45 AF points (7 cross-type) in a world where no more than five points were commonly seen. For Canon, this type of AF system is only found on professional models; for Nikon, a 39-point (9 cross-type) Multi-CAM 4800DX is present in the D7000 - the first time an area AF system was ever introduced in an mid-range DSLR - with the more advanced 51-point (15 cross-type) Multi-CAM 3500DX/FX systems found in higher models.

This type of AF system is able to use a large group of points simultaneously instead of just one or two to focus on a subject. This also means that the system can track moving subjects with far greater accuracy and speed than a conventional AF system. Unfortunately, only Canon and Nikon offer this type of AF system, and PENTAX AF technology has historically been short of the performance that C&N have delivered over the years (although significantly improved with SAFOX IX). With that in mind, what should PENTAX do with regard to autofocus? Do you believe that PENTAX can develop this technology for use in a future camera? If so, how should PENTAX do it? If successfully implemented, how great do you think the benefit will be? I personally feel that PENTAX should start with about 25-30 points, with the center cluster cross-type, and develop new, more advanced predictive focus tracking algorithms. What are your thoughts on area AF for PENTAX?

--DragonLord

06-12-2011, 11:54 PM   #2
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I think it's not going to happen in the foreseeable future. I would be mighty satisfied if the next Pentax I purchased would be spot on on all AF points with all lenses I have had. I would just settle with shooting static subjects if it happened.
06-13-2011, 03:12 AM   #3
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i guess that Pentax know how to do it (reverse ingeneering helps a lot ), but maybe there is some patents from C&N (and maybe sony ?) that prevent Pentax to do the same AF system.
06-13-2011, 03:43 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by wlachan Quote
I would be mighty satisfied if the next Pentax I purchased would be spot on on all AF points with all lenses I have had.
As if this could be said about the area AF system. At least with Nikon this is still impossible.

06-13-2011, 04:23 AM   #5
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personally 11 AF points are more than enough for me, I use the centre point only 99% of the time, MF 0.5% of the time, and 0.5% all focus points.
06-13-2011, 04:50 AM   #6
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Perhaps more or denser AF points (more like Canon EOS 7D than EOS-1D) would do the trick? This doesn't mean that this is better than a well-implemented area AF system, but it nonetheless should make a clear difference.

If only PENTAX could develop more advanced AF technology... (I'm not saying that the new SAFOX IX is bad - it is a major improvement compared to SAFOX VIII with none of the hesitation or indecisiveness - but PENTAX needs to step up and be more competitive.)

--DragonLord

Last edited by bwDraco; 06-13-2011 at 04:57 AM.
06-13-2011, 05:09 AM - 1 Like   #7
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K-5 has been out how long before the 'I wish Pentax had better AF' threads started?

I was quite taken with the D300 and it's massive number of sensors - it'd be great for birds in flight, I thought.

Then I thought some more. If a BIF is moving from sensor to sensor with any speed, it's too small to be worth photographing. I suppose a bird covering several sensors is more likely to be kept in focus than one covering only one sensor though.

All these sensors need paying for though - it's inevitable there will be a Pentax with loads at some point, when the cost can be kept down. Canon and Nikon have to offer it because they have the pro market sewn up, and time matters there. Those of us taking pictures for fun have a little more time, so it's not so critical.
06-13-2011, 05:24 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Northern Soul Quote
All these sensors need paying for though - it's inevitable there will be a Pentax with loads at some point, when the cost can be kept down. Canon and Nikon have to offer it because they have the pro market sewn up, and time matters there. Those of us taking pictures for fun have a little more time, so it's not so critical.
Keep in mind that while this technology was initially only seen on professional cameras, Nikon has managed to deliver area AF technology in the US$1200 enthusiast-class D7000.

--DragonLord

06-13-2011, 05:52 AM   #9
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And still the D7000 AF performance is worse than that of K-5 most of the time.
06-13-2011, 06:32 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by DragonLord Quote
Keep in mind that while this technology was initially only seen on professional cameras, Nikon has managed to deliver area AF technology in the US$1200 enthusiast-class D7000.

--DragonLord
Keep in mind that Nikon sells a lot more cameras than Pentax and has much better economies of scale. Patience. It will come.
06-13-2011, 07:54 AM   #11
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Everyone here knows how to run a camera business. Why doesn't Hoya recruit Pentax directors here on the forums?
06-13-2011, 08:18 AM   #12
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Maybe because Hoya/Pentax is only focusing on Japan, and not on the rest of the world ?
06-13-2011, 08:38 AM   #13
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Maybe working together with Olympus on this one would even be a great idea. Spending a lot of R&D budget is trickey on this one, since we don't pay extra for this future in the camera.
06-13-2011, 08:42 AM   #14
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If HOYA/PENTAX has the R&D resources to develop new optics and technologies such as the DA 18-135mm lens with DC motor, why can't they invest in better AF? They've already taken a step forward with SAFOX IX. The K-5 is selling well in spite of its initial problems (which have mostly been resolved) and is finding a place in the camera bags of many camera enthusiasts.

Also, if PENTAX markets its products better, it would be able to reach more potential customers that can find out what makes the K system unique. I've seen good attempts to advertise compact cameras (see PENTAX Optio WG-1 --Adventure is Everywhere Home), but their overall marketing is still inadequate. Why doesn't PENTAX advertise the K-5 as having "the world's highest dynamic range sensor as tested by DxOMark"? PENTAX has fairly advanced technologies in its cameras. Why doesn't it advertise them? Nikon ads are pervasive all over the Internet, but I have seen only a few PENTAX banners.

In the end, I wholeheartedly believe that while much better than previous generations, PENTAX AF still needs improvement; if PENTAX manages to develop an area AF system that is fast, responsive, and accurate even in low light, than its products would find a place in the hands of more sports and other professional photographers.

--DragonLord

Last edited by bwDraco; 06-13-2011 at 09:00 AM.
06-13-2011, 11:09 AM   #15
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Improving on the under-the-hood-technology is necessary in the long run of course but Pentax could do a lot better with very simple improvements to the AF controls. The most important would be to mechanically separate selecting the AF point from selecting filters, WB, shooting mode, flash while in shooting mode, like it was on the K10/K20.
Then levers and buttons for different AF-related functions, plus the silly LV-button, also need rethinking.
All this could be done with no new tech or patents needed. Getting the AF in the right mode when shooting speeds things up a lot.
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