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09-22-2012, 04:34 AM   #1
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Why people complain about Pentax AF and Flash

I've seen a ton of posts in threads about poor AF performance and not up to snuff flash function. Sure you have justifiable reasons to do this taking into consideration flash photography has been an integral part of the photographic process since the 1800's when they used flash powder--powdered magnesium that burned quickly and sometimes the photographer blew themselves up. Then in 1980 Pentax introduced the ME-F, the world's first TTL SLR Autofocus camera. Nikon came out with the F3AF in 1983.

So looking back at the beginning and where auto focus is today 2012 and looking at how advanced Canon and Nikon are with auto focus and flash, you have to wonder why Pentax is still stuck in the dark ages when it comes to auto focus tracking and AF points and accurate flash control.

Perhaps AF and Flash were not big on the things to do list. When you read the Official Pentax Forum review on the K30 and read the dog test and how poorly it did and even the K5 didn't do well annnnnnnnnnnd this is 22 years down the AF road.

So I can't blame people for complaining.

09-22-2012, 05:30 AM   #2
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How poorly did these cameras really do? I have the K-5, and sure, it front focuses significantly in bad lighting but I wouldn't call that 'poor'. SAFOX X might quieten that discord. As for flash, I see little to complain about with say the AF540. If I don't use its spotbeam for focusing then it does the job reliably and well. These are decent products.
09-22-2012, 06:08 AM   #3
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Because of this.

09-22-2012, 06:26 AM   #4
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The photo shows the the guy in the red shirt in focus. This is a common auto focus problem in a crowded scene and happens to every camera brand. The camera focuses on the wrong thing. Sometimes it's better to manual focus.

09-22-2012, 06:38 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by reeftool Quote
The photo shows the the guy in the red shirt in focus. This is a common auto focus problem in a crowded scene and happens to every camera brand. The camera focuses on the wrong thing. Sometimes it's better to manual focus.
+1. Photographer error. You should decide the focus point. How is the camera supposed to know what your intended subject is?
09-22-2012, 06:47 AM   #6
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No, this is the camera's character. I shot this with Auto-11 Area AF, and centered the guy's head.

The camera instead chose to focus on another color which is distinctly away from the subject. I first thought that the color of the man's body is similar to the rocks, so the camera couldn't find focus, but then comes the green helmet. No, the camera thought it wasn't good enough either.

I am not blaming the equipment tho. I had a whole thread on that misfocus picture. It is just how the K5 AF system is. And I did'nt want to deal with such self-serving AF character (including large AF sensors and everything) so I decided not to bear any more. Switched to Nikon D7k and have been happy ever since.

Going through my .DNG archive I can exhibit more examples of this AF character, which you may call "Photohrapher Error" to exculpate your loyalty.

edit: DNG, not NEF

Last edited by Crosshair; 09-22-2012 at 06:50 AM. Reason: correction
09-22-2012, 08:55 AM   #7
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People complain because in those two respects, Pentax simply isn't up to the levels of the competition. Pentax does many things well and many things better than the others, but the flash system and AF are (so far) not at Canikon levels.
09-22-2012, 10:22 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Crosshair Quote
No, this is the camera's character. I shot this with Auto-11 Area AF, and centered the guy's head.
Never use Area AF. Yes, the K-5 AF is a little behind technology curve relative to Nikon and Canon, but it is better than the K-5 original (which I used) so I assume it is better than the 5DII since they are the same. The K-5 is faster than my Contax 645. I don't have many missed shots at all with the 645, but the VF is so big I can catch it before I release the shutter.

Pentax obviously knows they are playing catch up. They are obviously making an effort to fix the problems. K-5 was an improvement over the K-7. The K-5II is expected to much better than the K-5. I expect the K-3 will be an even bigger improvement.

This is a lot like the FF complaints. If you need really good AF for what you shoot then Nikon, Canon, or Sony would be a better choice. Sony's new SLT technology allows for very accurate AF.

09-22-2012, 10:31 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Crosshair Quote
No, this is the camera's character. I shot this with Auto-11 Area AF, and centered the guy's head.

The camera instead chose to focus on another color which is distinctly away from the subject. I first thought that the color of the man's body is similar to the rocks, so the camera couldn't find focus, but then comes the green helmet. No, the camera thought it wasn't good enough either.

I am not blaming the equipment tho. I had a whole thread on that misfocus picture. It is just how the K5 AF system is. And I did'nt want to deal with such self-serving AF character (including large AF sensors and everything) so I decided not to bear any more. Switched to Nikon D7k and have been happy ever since.

Going through my .DNG archive I can exhibit more examples of this AF character, which you may call "Photohrapher Error" to exculpate your loyalty.

edit: DNG, not NEF
Auto-11 is stupid..

Auto mode is stupid...
09-22-2012, 10:37 AM   #10
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well, I have to admit, after switch to canon 7d.
my keep rate in low light significantly increased
now I can shoot at bar with almost no light.
it just need a little bit contrast, then it can lock focus
it is slow to lock in that condition, and not every photo is 100% focused.
but about 80% pic come out is well focused
I could barely lock focus and get good focus in this kind condition with my k-5 before.
09-22-2012, 10:38 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Crosshair Quote

Going through my .DNG archive I can exhibit more examples of this AF character, which you may call "Photohrapher Error" to exculpate your loyalty.

edit: DNG, not NEF

why press the shutter if you didn't achieve proper focus? or was this an on-purpose example to demonstrate an issue you are having? I only press the shutter after I know the correct subject is in focus. I am kinda glad I cannot see all that chest hair in crisp focus, i must say.
09-22-2012, 11:12 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by JinDesu Quote
Auto-11 is stupid..

Auto mode is stupid...
I agree, mostly, but I have found that 5 point with AF-C works pretty well for runners.
09-22-2012, 11:53 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jeff Charles Quote
I agree, mostly, but I have found that 5 point with AF-C works pretty well for runners.
AF-C is the only mode I'll consider using area Auto AF, and if I don't get it properly focused that way I won't blame the camera because, well, how could it know where I wanted the focus to be?
09-22-2012, 12:03 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by liukaitc Quote
well, I have to admit, after switch to canon 7d.
my keep rate in low light significantly increased
now I can shoot at bar with almost no light.
it just need a little bit contrast, then it can lock focus
it is slow to lock in that condition, and not every photo is 100% focused.
but about 80% pic come out is well focused
I could barely lock focus and get good focus in this kind condition with my k-5 before.
I sold my 60D and got a 7D. My only complain is the IQ under low light due to the 18mp sensor. K30 is much better.
09-22-2012, 01:51 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Crosshair Quote
Going through my .DNG archive I can exhibit more examples of this AF character, which you may call "Photohrapher Error" to exculpate your loyalty.
This image is misfocused. The camera is simply not to blame here. There is good light, and the auto AF 'decided' on the guy in the red shirt. It is definitely photographer error, and there is no loyalty to the K-5 involved here. Your own image archive may well show more of such erroneously focused images, but if they are of the same problem as above, then you will find little difference from auto modes between the K-5, other Pentax cameras, or indeed cameras of other brands. Get off the auto AF point mode, use centre-point focusing and all of a sudden ALL your images using the centre AF point will have the intended subject in focus.

What the K-5 has had issues with is focusing accuracy in low light, particularly at night, where it has exhibited consistent gross front focusing. Low tungsten lighting also poses a challenge for the K-5, and Pentax are no doubt aware of this.
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