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05-02-2012, 07:19 AM   #1
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Trouble focusing K20D

Hi everyone. I am new to the group and have been using Pentax cameras for about 28 years. I have the K20D and recently bought the Pentax DA* 50-135 to use at horse shows. I see arenas that are covered, but have open sides quiet a bit. There is usually a strong backlight. This lens is working great for low light inside, but I had trouble getting it to focus. Some of the pictures are not focused as well as they could be. I tried all kinds of settings just playing with it on Saturday and tried to narrow it down on Sunday. They got better, but I am still a little frustrated. I think it worked best with the ISO at 800. There wasn't enough light if I went down to 400. I don't think it was camera shake, I think it just wasn't getting focused. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time!

The pictures can be seen here: Banks County Horse Show

05-02-2012, 09:16 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by mspentax Quote
Hi everyone. I am new to the group and have been using Pentax cameras for about 28 years. I have the K20D and recently bought the Pentax DA* 50-135 to use at horse shows. I see arenas that are covered, but have open sides quiet a bit. There is usually a strong backlight. This lens is working great for low light inside, but I had trouble getting it to focus. Some of the pictures are not focused as well as they could be. I tried all kinds of settings just playing with it on Saturday and tried to narrow it down on Sunday. They got better, but I am still a little frustrated. I think it worked best with the ISO at 800. There wasn't enough light if I went down to 400. I don't think it was camera shake, I think it just wasn't getting focused. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time!

The pictures can be seen here: Banks County Horse Show
I've checked your images and I don't think they are that badly OOF.
That said, I own a K20D as well, the AF will hunt a bit under low light conditions vs. let's say, the K5 which will perform better under those circumstances.

(One other thing I noticed is the exposure: what mode did you use for that? Seems like you metered smack in the middle and hit dark "targets", causing some highlights to be almost blown out ?? )

My K20D, using a DA* lens (in my case the DA*300/4) does hunt for focus under low light conditions too.

I have learned to manually focus under such instances. I does help. But that's not what you want ... you want acurate AF with low light availibility.

Going ISO 400 vs. ISO 800 will allow for more light availability and that should not affect the focus (AF) ... I'll leave that to the expert to offer more help.

By the way, what aperture were you shooting at?

Cheers!

JP
05-02-2012, 10:26 AM   #3
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Thanks for the response JP. I used a light meter on my iPhone to get the settings. I need to get a new light meter since the battery leaked and ruined mine. I set the mode to auto, then shutter and finally went to manual. Most of the pics did the best with a manual setting based on the light meter.

I think most on the website were taken at this or close: ISO 800, 500 or 750 shutter & 2.8 or 3.5 aperture.

The light is just really bright behind the riders and this sport is a lot of very short quick movements from the horse and rider. The ideal shot is to catch those hard stops by the horse and cow right together in the middle of the arena. It helps me a little with my timing since I ride cutting horses. I can usually tell when a cow is getting ready to turn or stop.

I started out with a K1000 and got used to manual. This K20D has more buttons than a jet and sometimes I can't remember which one does what. I made some cheat sheet cards that I laminated yesterday. This way I can grab them quickly if needed.

Some are completely enclosed arenas with crappy flourescent lighting. I have to figure those out next.

-MAB
05-02-2012, 11:30 AM   #4
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I say, forget all settngs but the same three you used on your K1000: ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. Well, OK, I guess white balance too (which also existed on your K1000 - it was called "daylight" versus "tungsten" film), if for some reason you are forced to shoot JOEG rather than RAW.

With all the other buttons you don't need out of the way, you can focus (sorry) more on focusing. Moving targets are tough for both AF or MF, but sometimes, MF wins, and you should consider building your experience and using MF more often.

05-02-2012, 11:52 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by mspentax Quote
Thanks for the response JP. I used a light meter on my iPhone to get the settings. I need to get a new light meter since the battery leaked and ruined mine. I set the mode to auto, then shutter and finally went to manual. Most of the pics did the best with a manual setting based on the light meter.
This might be a dumb question, but why not use the K20's built-in light meter? Do you find the handheld or iPhone meters more accurately? Just curious.
05-02-2012, 07:05 PM   #6
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I used a light meter because of the strong backlight. I could have zoomed in close and gotten the reading and maybe used the exposure lock. I do that sometimes for these situations, but that's a lot of trouble when shooting a lot of pictures. I don't think it's just my camera, but most everyone I've seen trying to get pictures at these type of arenas have trouble. I did compare the light meter reading to the camera and it was very close. It was really just simpler to check it on my iPhone app and set it manually. I am fine with everything manual except the focus. I have never been good with manual focus. Forgot to add that most of this was at 70-85 focal length.
05-02-2012, 10:36 PM   #7
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That still doesn't make sense. You can still use the camera's light meter ehen shooting manually; either the Green button or DOF preview. There's nothin an iphone meter can do that the camera cannot do better and more easily. I assume you are using the iphone as an incident light meter, but you'd get that same effect using the camera meter and metering off the ground, or some other nearby object.
05-03-2012, 06:00 AM   #8
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I was just using the light meter to double check, but I am not really worried about the metering. I just wondered why I have such a hard time getting it to focus clearly.

05-03-2012, 10:33 AM   #9
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Depth of field. Unfortunately at those larger apertures your depth of field is not very deep. A smaller aperture will get you a larger depth of field and be a little more forgiving. The problem with that though is getting enough light for a proper exposure. Higher ISO maybe? I don't own a K20D so I'm not sure what the options are with that camera. Another thought, Try turning the Shake Reduction off. For some reason SR does not play well with panning or side to side motion.
05-03-2012, 01:03 PM   #10
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That makes a lot of sense to me kkoether. I did have the shake reduction on some of the time. I will make sure it's turned off next time. I have read in some reviews that things get a little grainy at 1000+ ISO so I was trying to stay away from it. I will play around more with it with the SR off. Maybe I had the SR on when I was testing the 1000+ ISO's and thought it was the high ISO instead of the SR. I think it will help if I can get a bigger DOF. Hoping there is enough light. I have thought about buying a new flash, but I'm not sure if I can afford one that will reach that far. I keep wanting to bug the pros at some of the big shows to see what equipment they are using. I am sure I am not a threat to their business, but some people are funny about that sort of thing. Thanks everyone. I knew someone would finally make me have an aha moment. lol
05-03-2012, 04:31 PM   #11
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The other thing if you are using SR make sure it's activated before you trip the shutter. There is a small delay when you half press the shutter button before it activates. As long as the hand shows in the viewfinder it is active. I think it's real easy when taking action shots to trip the shutter before SR has had a chance to activate and stabilize. That's why I usually turn it off instead of trying to fight it. If it's not fully activated and stabilized I can see were it will make a picture worse instead of better.

As far as grainy picture above ISO 1000 there is always Noiseware Community Edition. I use it a lot with my old picture scans. It comes as freeware and for a reasonable price you can buy a license to unlock the automated tools to do batch work.

By the way I'm getting pretty good with horses myself. We have friends in Perryville, KY the have Quarter Horses. Here's Patrick. He's a retired cutting horse that belongs to my friend.



This is Parker. He's 2 years old and a distant relative of Patrick. I believe Gary is going to train him as a cutting horse also.


Last edited by kkoether; 05-03-2012 at 04:45 PM.
05-04-2012, 05:48 PM   #12
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Nice horses. Only problem with going to a show is I can't decide if I want to ride or take pictures. lol
05-04-2012, 05:53 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by mspentax Quote
Nice horses. Only problem with going to a show is I can't decide if I want to ride or take pictures. lol
Sound like a bit of a conundrum. Since I don't ride it's easy for me to just take pictures. Good luck with your next event.
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