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05-13-2013, 08:20 AM   #16
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After checking out your photo's: I agree the lighting was hard to cope with, and RAW will serve you a lot better. I converted to RAW and invested in Lightroom and it has been a life-saver on many occasions. Still, many of the pictures are OK from a souvenir standpoint. It doesn't always have to be art.

On some there definitely is a focus issue, often it's not the faces but something else in the pic that is in focus, like the speaker's desk. I assume you use 11 point focus? I find spot focus gives a lot more control. And you are standing in the crowd? Tough job! Be a bit more brutal and go stand in front, I would say

You have little chance of focusing on the photography job if you are also minding young kids. Can't someone help you keep an eye on them during the final ceremony? Alternatively growing two more eyes might help as well

05-13-2013, 08:25 AM   #17
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I wasn't aware of a Pentax 50 f1.7 autofocus lens, so you shooting manual focus? (I refuse to do Facebook so I haven't seen your shots.) I find the K-5 bad for manual focus, but a change in focusing screen helps quite a bit with 50 and longer lenses.
I never use autofocus for anything important!
05-13-2013, 08:59 AM   #18
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Thanks everyone.
A lot of information to dissect here.

The camera was on green mode, auto focus. It is an older lens but is auto.
It was not a $1600 lens. I meant while I was blaming the equipment and not the operator I was blaming the lens and camera.
My hands were shaking some...They always do, after a while, but I cannot duplicate the blur produced in the images.

I'm off to shoot w the recommendations.
I will update!
05-13-2013, 09:58 AM - 2 Likes   #19
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Does this make sense?



05-13-2013, 11:07 AM   #20
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Main problems I see without looking at the EXIF is exposure problems and too slow shutter speed.

The exposure was going to be tough as it seems the location was in/out of sun and shadow.
Shooting RAW would give you more dynamic range to post process and be able to even out the exposure some

The Auto setting killed you on shutter speed.
Since these folks are not going to stand there and pose, you needed to shoot at a higher shutter speed.

Next time use TAV mode, set a higher shutter, set a decent aperture for larger depth of field and let the ISO float as high as it wants.
The K-5 will not disappoint at High ISO.

The F50 1.7 is a sharp lens so it will allow for creative cropping to fix framing and composition.

Main advice is use TAV next time and get the shutter speed up much higher. Forget AUTO unless you are posing the shot and can get folks to stand still and say 'cheese'.
05-13-2013, 11:08 AM   #21
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I'd blame the kids. A shooting situation like this requires more attention than you are likely able to give with two children in tow. As you suggest, a new camera is not going to fix that.

Next time I'd ask a friend to come along to mind the children as you photograph, then you can pay attention to all of the technical things that people are mentioning here.
05-13-2013, 11:20 AM   #22
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If you're looking for an inexpensive zoom, I can say the DA-16-45 is very good, but others may tell you the 18-55WR could be better (and WR). In a lot of closer events these zooms perform above their costs. I only mention this because sometimes just managing settings is enough to worry about without manual focus as well.
05-13-2013, 11:33 AM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by TER-OR Quote
If you're looking for an inexpensive zoom, I can say the DA-16-45 is very good, but others may tell you the 18-55WR could be better (and WR). In a lot of closer events these zooms perform above their costs. I only mention this because sometimes just managing settings is enough to worry about without manual focus as well.
The F50 is an AF lens.

05-13-2013, 11:34 AM   #24
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OK, I somehow misread it as an M-series...thanks, that's one variable handled.
05-13-2013, 02:40 PM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by crewl1 Quote
Main problems I see without looking at the EXIF is exposure problems and too slow shutter speed.

The exposure was going to be tough as it seems the location was in/out of sun and shadow.
Shooting RAW would give you more dynamic range to post process and be able to even out the exposure some

The Auto setting killed you on shutter speed.
Since these folks are not going to stand there and pose, you needed to shoot at a higher shutter speed.

Next time use TAV mode, set a higher shutter, set a decent aperture for larger depth of field and let the ISO float as high as it wants.
The K-5 will not disappoint at High ISO.

The F50 1.7 is a sharp lens so it will allow for creative cropping to fix framing and composition.

Main advice is use TAV next time and get the shutter speed up much higher. Forget AUTO unless you are posing the shot and can get folks to stand still and say 'cheese'.
I think someone else mentioned this, but since your subjects were going from bright sunlight to shadow, you probably would want metering to be on spot or center, making sure your metering point is where your subject is. Then make adjustments based on what your subject is wearing - if they are wearing something light, dial in some negative exposure compensation to make sure their shirts aren't blown out. Of course try to remember to change this back when your subject moves or if situations change. But shooting RAW will help you tons in terms of having more dynamic range. The K5 has some amazing ability at recovering detail in the shadows without a lot of noise/static.

What software are you using to develop your photos? If you don't have something yet, think about getting Lightroom 4 - it's at the end of it's product cycle now so it can be had on sale for under $100 and it is very powerful yet very easy to use. It will help lift shadows and it has great sharpening and noise reduction tools.

Good luck!
05-14-2013, 07:57 PM   #26
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First of all, it is okay to have a bad shoot with a brand new camera. It takes some time to get to know your camera and it doesn't sound like you really had adequate time prior to this event.

As mentioned before, you will need to move from the green/auto mode. Shutter speed will be most important for an event like that, so use the kids to begin practicing with shutter priority. Practice in all kinds of weather too since the change in light will make a difference.

Finally, you mentioned that your hands shake, so get a monopod. You can still chase after the kids with a monopod and it is much easier than a tripod for events.
05-15-2013, 02:46 AM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by Allison Quote
First of all, it is okay to have a bad shoot with a brand new camera. It takes some time to get to know your camera and it doesn't sound like you really had adequate time prior to this event.

As mentioned before, you will need to move from the green/auto mode. Shutter speed will be most important for an event like that, so use the kids to begin practicing with shutter priority. Practice in all kinds of weather too since the change in light will make a difference.

Finally, you mentioned that your hands shake, so get a monopod. You can still chase after the kids with a monopod and it is much easier than a tripod for events.
+1 for the monopod....indispensable for event photography. Plus, I am given to understand that it can be quite serviceable to discipline the kids if being too unruly (kidding, of course....)
05-15-2013, 05:54 AM   #28
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I've taken a look at the pictures - chalk it down to experience. It was clearly a spray-and-pray situation that didn't suit your preferred shooting style.

A lot of advice given here seems to say that you should have more things to worry about (metering, monopod, manual focus, etc.). I'd say you need fewer. So here are some suggestions for your operating mode:
  • "P" (Program) mode (Green mode is just program mode with manual controls disabled)
  • Set the program line to favour shutter speed (look up "program line" in the manual)
  • Auto-ISO to your choice of 1600 or 3200 so that you don't have to worry about that either
  • Stick these in a user slot for instant recall (again check the manual for how to do this).
Other suggestions:
  • Lose the F 50mm; it won't help if you only have a short tele for framing. There is no shame in zooming to get the frame you want - it's a lot quicker than walking. Got an 18-55mm? That will be more useful.
  • The light wasn't good - it was harsh with hard shadows. When life hands you lemons and all that, but you can't make lemonade from a mouldy apple. Here's where flash comes to the rescue. Fill-flash will make those hard shadows from the sun go away (or at least lessen them) and will even out the exposure. I suggest a P-TTL flash so that you don't have to worry about that as well. For fill your popup may well be enough.
  • Pentax does not have a world leading JPEG engine, so images straight out of the camera can look a bit meh. The CD that came with your camera has a rebadged version of StinkyPix. I would suggest that you invest ~$100 in Lightroom instead. Raw development doesn't have to be hard - the medium contrast tone curve and tasteful use of the vignette tool can go a long way to making your images pop. It comes with a good cropping and straightening tool as well. There is nothing else for $100 that will do more to improve your images. If you want a safety net, you can configure the camera to shoot RAW+JPEG.
  • Play with the white balance a little. Midday light looks so uninspiring because our eyes are accustomed to it. Moving the white balance slider to the right will "warm" the image and can turn midday light into late evening light which looks a lot nicer.
  • Chimp. Heavily.
  • Practise on your husband. When he goes fishing, get him to stand with his trophies and snap away. See how they turn out. For example, you may find that the flash produces light that is too harsh. If adjusting flash exposure compensation doesn't help, invest a few dollars in a little diffuser or an external flash or both (recommend an AF360 for about $150 on the used market). Take the images home and play with the sliders in Lightroom - eventually you'll get a handle on what works for you and the subject.
  • Metering. If you're photographing a guy in a white t-shirt, it can confuse the camera's metering. You don't need to switch to spot metering or center weighted or whatever. Just dial in something like -2/3 EV exposure compensation. Likewise if a guy's wearing a black polo shirt and baseball cap, dial in a little bit of positive exposure compensation. You can adjust the exposure afterwards in Lightroom, but you can't recover blown highlights or crushed blacks.
  • Get a better position and get the guys to pose for you. Your images will always look like snapshots of you're shooting from below or from the left. Presumably the proud fishermen want to look good just as much as you want them to. Don't feel obliged to take single snaps (use that six frames per second capability). And chimp.
  • Play with framing. Your subject may think that the fish he's just caught should be the focal point. Doesn't mean that you need to agree. The pleased-as-punch expression on his face may well make a better shot. You can still show that he's cuddling a fish, but don't feel obliged to get it all on the frame if you want the viewer's eyes to look elsewhere. Then do a second shot that concentrates on the dead fish. The two images then tell a narrative: why's he looking so pleased with himself? Because...
  • If, when you get home, and you've adjusted tone curves and white balance and cropped unwanted stuff out of the frame and it still doesn't look quite right, try converting to black-and-white. Do not, however, simply move the saturation slider all the way left - that just looks flat. Try a Google search for "Lightroom black and white presets". Black-and-white with strong contrast and simulated film grain can hide a lot of sins.
  • Resize before you upload to Facebook. Facebook does horrible things to photographs. Lightroom has a tool that automatically uploads to Facebook to save you the hassle. Alternatively, consider linking to Flickr which doesn't do horrible things to photographs.
  • The NEX is pretty much as capable as the K-5. Doesn't mean its auto-mode is better. If anything, I'd say it's overall a harder camera to use because you've got to menu dive for everything. If you really want to go full auto, the iAuto mode on Olympus cameras is actually quite good (and Olympus do have a good JPEG engine).
  • It's a hobby. Have fun.
05-15-2013, 09:04 PM   #29
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Wow, this forum is the main reason to shoot Pentax!

I have taken everyones advice and printed it and am working through it. Also reading and working through the book Photographers Field Guide.
So far my shots are much better and I am beginning to understanding why my shots were so bad.
I have shot everyday since I posted, morning and afternoon and have tackled some raw editing. I did a one month trial to adobe ($70!!!) and like Camera Raw. At the end of the day I will be going with Lightroom though. The price tag just cannot be justified. I am trying not to buy a lens or any other equipment until I can pin point much more. It's so easy to throw money at something and hope it goes away.
Hopefully I can figure out how to post some improved shots soon.

Thank you- everyone! It is always so humbling to have so many people try to help you. I especially liked the chart that was posted.
05-16-2013, 12:54 AM   #30
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That F50 mm is probably the wrong lens for that kind of photography. It is great for low light but pretty restricted when you are out in the audience like that.

You might have better results investing in a relatively inexpensive mid-range zoom like the Pentax 18-135 mm. Put the camera in Av or even P if you are unsure of yourself, set the ISO up some to give you higher shutter speeds, set the F-stop at around 5.6 to start and be careful about back or side lighting. Check a few of your shots as you shoot and as you start getting more in-focus and properly exposed shots, try dropping the f-stop down as low as it will go to blur the background.

Keep working at it. It gets better with practice.
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