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01-12-2013, 01:12 AM   #1
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Pentax: Is it really that bad for moving objects?

Hi all- I'm new to the Pentax world...bought Canon and Nikon like the rest of the herd and it served me well shooting weddings for the last 5 years. But I'm really intrigued by Pentax on several levels. First, I love that Pentax is different- there's a certain photojournalistic bend to how Pentax does things- the weather sealing, smaller lenses, incognito style that I appreciate and thinking about using as a second camera system. My other system is the anti-Pentax: Sony a99 + Zeiss lenses. Super heavy, not weather sealed, loud focusing, but brilliant for portraits. What I want is a second camera system that is rugged, more of a photojournalistic/on the run kind of camera.

Problem is, it seems like everyone's saying that Pentax's continuous AF is behind the times...the K5 ii reviews seem to show an improved single subject AF, but as I've seen with Sony and even Canon, continuous tracking AF is not a given even on flagship cameras. Even the Canon 5d mark iii has its issues. My Sony a99, for example, is super fast to focus on the first shot, then the tracking gets really skiddish and misses quite a bit if the subject is moving fast towards you. Canon is better, but still misses, and Nikon is stellar in this department. I'm thinking about a setup that includes the 31 1.8 and 50-135...my main worry are the processionals at a wedding and in a darker reception hall...AF is tested when the subject is moving towards you.

Any thoughts from the Pentax veterans? I would love to see samples/hear real life testimonials...

01-12-2013, 03:04 AM   #2
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I have had an opportunity to use tracking AF on my Pentax K5IIs recently, I was deliberately seeing how well it tracked bats flying under the contrasty tree canopy - and to be honest the K5IIs did pretty well With the Sigma 100-300mm f/4 APO EX DG, My Nikon D4 and canon 1 series cameras did perform better due to the fact that many of my Canon L and Nikkor telephoto lenses have focus limiters so that hardware limitation has to be taken into account. I would say the tracking AF from SAFOX X locks on with greater confidence on single shot AF and that characteristic is maintained with tracking AF which puts it ahead of previous iterations of the system, it is also considerably more accurate when used under different lighting temperatures ( I tested it under hot lights in the studio from temperatures from 8500K to 2200K, I'm sure Falk Lumo will be relieved to hear that)

Last edited by Digitalis; 01-12-2013 at 03:26 AM.
01-12-2013, 03:07 AM   #3
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It's not bad, its just not as good as some of the top-tier sports oriented bodies from canon and nikon. I've shot soccer with pentax for a while and found it to be a manageable experience
01-12-2013, 04:49 AM   #4
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Interestingly I never had problem with Eagle in flight and jumping fish around 1.5 feet long 15 metre away. And it was k5.

01-12-2013, 05:05 AM   #5
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The k5 2 is super in low light. The focus sensors are huge which is probably its only reall drawback now. The CF is not bad at all though. The focus system works better with longer focal lenghs too it would seem. Wide angle is where it often gets a little undone. Being aware of the ultra large sensors is about the most important thing. Bear those in mind and it should hold its own against most. As you already mentioned, Nikon is in a leauge of its own for focus ability. Bear in mind also, that while the large sensors are not so good for pin point accuracy on small objects they can actualy help when it comes to tracking moving objects as long as they are obviously not too small an object in the frame.
01-12-2013, 08:01 AM   #6
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Well I can use my K-5 for sports as hockey through a (nightmarish) dirty plexiglass. Is it perfect? No. Does it work? Yes.
01-12-2013, 08:06 AM - 2 Likes   #7
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With subjects moving directly towards you, I don't know of any focus system that could nail that. I was surprised how well the K5 focused continually as apposed to my K10D. I'm sure the K5ii would be very comparable to the Canikons.

-This was my fav out of burst of about 8 frames, shot on the fly in continuous, all of which were in focus with the bikers going ~30-40 mph. (K5 w/ Sigma 18-50)
Just wish they brought back the physical SR switch, barely got these after digging through the menus.
01-12-2013, 02:50 PM   #8
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Nice work, Manacho! I love the panning and isolation of your subject.

Regarding moving objects, I recently got recruited as the team photog for my son's soccer team. I mainly use the tamron 70-200 and F*300 and I have no problems getting lots of keepers. I always hear that other brands have better AF tracking and I have no reason not to believe it, but I would never complain that the present system is inadequate in any way.

01-12-2013, 05:04 PM   #9
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I've used my K20D and K5 in motorsports. Not a problem. I've found the AF quick enough. Here's a shot with the K20D and the DA*16-20 at 16mm. I ended up covered in dust...as well as the camera and lens. Not a problem. After the race I just poured some water over and it was clean again.



Here's a link to my Flickr Motocross gallery...all taken with Pentax.
Motocross - a set on Flickr
01-12-2013, 05:16 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by CRPhoto Quote
I've used my K20D and K5 in motorsports. Not a problem. I've found the AF quick enough. Here's a shot with the K20D and the DA*16-20 at 16mm. I ended up covered in dust...as well as the camera and lens. Not a problem. After the race I just poured some water over and it was clean again.



Here's a link to my Flickr Motocross gallery...all taken with Pentax.
I have been happy with AF on the K-5 too, when shooting BIF.
But just have to say that this is an amazing Picture, very well done!
01-12-2013, 05:27 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by manacho2005 Quote


-This was my fav out of burst of about 8 frames, shot on the fly in continuous, all of which were in focus with the bikers going ~30-40 mph. (K5 w/ Sigma 18-50)
Just wish they brought back the physical SR switch, barely got these after digging through the menus.
Only do panning when she rides

Well simply to say it is a tragedy. But when you can't make a descent picture it just never is "only" your gear.
01-12-2013, 05:29 PM   #12
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I only do panning just once a year or so. Almost no experience, but then I do got some nice shots:

This one made with K20D in 2009:

01-12-2013, 05:47 PM   #13
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Focusing using AF-C and with release priority gives very good results (my hit/miss ratio increased using my k-30) - however I personally feel there is room for much improvement and this is in particular true when the subject is moving towards or away from the camera even at a slow pace. It seems the AF has a hard time figuring the distances out.

Edit: Panning is super easy and tbh I'd discount any such shots when talking about the Pentax AF systems ability to track.
01-12-2013, 09:41 PM - 1 Like   #14
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All done with a K200D and a 55-300mm zoom.





Through a fence.






01-12-2013, 09:59 PM - 3 Likes   #15
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