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04-02-2012, 05:56 PM   #1
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K-5 or K-x with focus filter?

Hi,

I am a DSLR newbie, having bought a K-X last year, and am still trying to get my skill level up(recently started shooting manual mode exclusively). One problem I have with K-X is that sometime my center focus seems to go left or right of the spot that I think I am focusing on, especially for items that might be more than 20-25 ft away. I tested the lens to make sure the focusing is not off.

I noticed that some of my friend's canon cameras had a 'dot' at the center of the viewfinder, and found that helped to improve my accuracy. Then I saw that K-5, among its many other improved features, has this sort of center focus dot. So I was about to buy one, but then ran across a craigslist post about a 'focusing screen' for K-X. I googled that, and found it it might be the thing that might help me to get some more milage from the K-X.

So my questions is

1. Am I correct that focusing screen will help me with K-X, in terms of making sure my focus is correct( I don't do manual focusing, almost always AF)

2. would you suggest adding this focusing screen to my K-X (about $80-100), or should I buy a new K-5($1000). Actually, price is not as much of a consideration, I am thinking will I be able to use all the features of K-5, or is K-X good enough to last me another year or two?

Thanks!

04-02-2012, 06:17 PM   #2
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I don't think the K-5 has a focusing screen. If you're planning on buying the K-5, i suggest getting the K-01. It has the same sensor as the K-5 and focus peaking, which is a great help for MF. If you plan on using many manual focus lenses, then I would suggest a focusing screen, but imo, it gets annoying if you plan on using just AF most of the time.
04-02-2012, 06:22 PM   #3
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My delaminating eyeballs need all the help they can get with focusing. Soon after I got my K20D, I bought a cheap katzeye-clone screen. It helps, but not a lot. It really needs a well-lit contrasty subject to focus on. Dimmer and blander subjects remain a challenge.

I depend more on focus confirmation (FC) and catch-in-focus (CIF) aka trap-focus. All these together make a useful tool suite. It's like: the screen lets me know I'm in the vicinity of focus; the green FC hexagon lets me know I'm there; and CIF nails the shot.

I also use zone focus (if the DOF zone reaches infinity, it's hyperfocus), and measurement, either pacing-off a distance or just guesstimating. These are relics of Ye Olde Dayse, back before AF and FC and CIF. And sometimes I just aim in the right direction, and hope.

EDIT: I'm pretty sure the K5 can take an add-on focusing screen. Check the manual.
04-02-2012, 07:16 PM   #4
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hi RicoRico and JellyFish,

thank you for the quick reply. Actually, I looked at the title of my post, and realised why the answers were somewhat different from what I was asking. Here is what I meant to ask :

(K5) or (K-X with focusing filter).

i.e. instead of a K-x with filter, should I just buy a K-5 directly(without adding any focus screen, since K-5 has that dot in the center of the eyepiece, which shows exactly where center focus is)

Thanks!

04-02-2012, 07:51 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by gopentax Quote
since K-5 has that dot in the center of the eyepiece, which shows exactly where center focus is
If only it were that easy. The actual focus "point" is much larger than the little red square that lights up. The same is true of your K-x. This would be why you noticed that you were getting unintended areas in focus to the sides of where the "point" would be. The light up points are useful, particularly when using a non-center one, but you would still have to take into account the actual size of the points.

A good focusing screen will help you more than trying to use the dots in the viewfinder. Research both the split screen types, and the Canon S type, and see what you think you'd prefer. There are clips on youtube demonstrating them, and focusingscreen.com has some good pictures comparing them.

That all said, the K-5 is a huge step up in terms of IQ, dynamic range and ISO. If you can comfortably afford one, why not? It's too bad the sale just ended on them though. And yes, the K-5 can take 3rd party focusing screens as well, of course. All Pentax DSLRs can.
04-02-2012, 08:51 PM   #6
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Thanks for the advise, Philo. I did see some youtube videos about the split type screen. Actually, on craigslist I saw the ad for a $30 screen(new-$78 on focusingscreen.com), that's why I was thinking of keeping my k-x. But its true that the K-5 is just a lot more camera.


QuoteOriginally posted by Philoslothical Quote

That all said, the K-5 is a huge step up in terms of IQ, dynamic range and ISO. If you can comfortably afford one, why not? It's too bad the sale just ended on them though. And yes, the K-5 can take 3rd party focusing screens as well, of course. All Pentax DSLRs can.
I also thought that I may have missed out the sale on K-5, but the prices today are lower than the sale prices (at least on amazon!)
04-02-2012, 09:26 PM   #7
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Well (and I say this because you stated first that cost isn't a big consideration), I've never heard of anyone disappointed with the upgrade of K-x (or K-r) to K-5. Wish I could swing one this year. If the ones you're looking at on amazon are through an authorized seller, I'd say go for it. You could still pick up that used screen, for that matter. Just be aware that focusing screens are Very soft, and there's a very good chance it will have at least minor scratches that will be visible in the viewfinder. They have to be handled very gently, hopefully the person selling it knew that when they pulled it out of their camera.
04-02-2012, 11:58 PM   #8
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I don't think K-x was advertised as having exchangeable focusing screen. I use central point, and my conclusion is yes, it is big. i tend to believe as big as what's between the center ( ).

04-03-2012, 12:07 AM   #9
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It wasn't advertised as a feature, but the process is identical. Same goes for the K-r. There are many satisfied customers for both types of screen.
04-03-2012, 01:37 PM   #10
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Just to be clear: all camera have focus screens. Without one, you wouldn't see an image in the viewfinder. It's just that some people elect to replaceir their focusing screens with "better" ones, and some cameras make it easier to do this replacement. What makes one focusing screen better than another usually has nothing to do with autofocus, but is just about how easy it is to *manually* focus. And when using AF, the red dot that appears at the point where focus is being achieved is not something that is drawn right on the focus screen - it is projected by the camera. So if your camera lacks the ability to project a red dot onto the screen, it will continue to lack that ability with a different screen. Finally, the usefulness of the red dot is indeed overrated, seeing as it is just showing you the center of the focus region, and the actual focus region is much larger. So it's still must a matter of making sure your subject covers the entire general area of the focus sensor, which is about as big as the "( )" markings your focus screen already provides. Seeing a red dot in the middle of that bracket isn't going to change a thing. Autofocus may be partially automatic, but it still requires the photographer to make good choices in how he frames his subject.
04-03-2012, 09:00 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
Autofocus may be partially automatic, but it still requires the photographer to make good choices in how he frames his subject.
Or wait for a firmware upgrade that includes the READMYMIND.EXE module.

I suspect that more than a few AF|FC|CIF-related problems are attributable to user error, or at least to unfamiliarity with the system. A red dot shows the center of the zone where the system is trying to focus. A green hex indicates focus confirmation (FC). A green hand indicates SR lock. If a red dot doesn't appear where the subject is, the system will focus somewhere else. But focus still won't be achieved until the FC green hex appears. AF.S and AF.C apparently handle focus differently on different models; on my K20D, AF.C may cause a shutter-trip even without focus lock. And AF or CIF may fire the shutter when a subject enters the focus zone, not necessarily when it's firmly in focus. Oh yeah, there's also the green '*' indicating AE lock, and maybe a flashing shutter-speed number. Too much information to grasp quickly?

It doesn't help that the indicators are spread around the viewfinder; and that watching for all those while trying to track a moving subject in bright-glare surroundings can be tricky, or worse.

For example: I was up Tombstone Canyon an hour after sunrise today with my K50/1.2 on my K20D, depending on CIF as usual. Of course I was trying for thin-DOF shots, but I sometimes stopped-down as needed for bright light. So the aperture was at f/4, AF at AF.S, and the mode dial at TAv for wide-open shooting; a quick flick of the dial puts me in M mode for Green-button metering. And as I visually tracked moving subjects (no javelinas, alas!), I had to stay aware of the center red dot, and the green hex and hand, and the shutter-speed indicator (is it flashing 4000?), all while suffering from desert glare. Ay yi yi.

My katzeye-clone focus screen didn't really help here; it's better for still subjects IMHO.

I think the real answer is: SLOW DOWN! If I try to shoot too fast, I screw up. I get carried away, make sloppy mistakes. Careful methodical shooting yields better results. Ah, but when the adrenaline is coursing madly through my hot veins and brains, it's hard to be careful. And I hadn't even had any coffee! No excuses...

Last edited by RioRico; 04-03-2012 at 09:16 PM.
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