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01-22-2014, 12:06 PM   #1
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K-3 or switching systems (sony, fuji)?

Sorry if this is a bit long. Any responses are appreciated.

I purchased a K-r the week it was released. It was my first SLR. It's been an OK camera, and I've learned a lot about photography by using it.

I've acquired a decent number of lenses and things over the years (10-17mm, 50mm F1.7m, 18-55mm DAL, 55-300mm DA, 35mm F2.8 limited, 540fg-z), so switching systems isn't the most cost effective upgrade for me, but I'm willing to if that means less headaches.

Ever since I've had my K-r, I've struggled with the autofocus. Every now and then, it's bang on, but a lot of the times shots that I think I hit, were soft and the focus missed. When I'm traveling, and take pictures that I think will be amazing at a place I'll never see again, only to realize that a shot I thought I nailed is out of focus and looks terrible, it really frustrates me. I'm talking center point focus, portrait, no recomposing, and missing focus in broad daylight. I've put up with it because the occasional shot is amazing, but I'm getting tired of it.

I purchased a Olympus Pen epm-1 for a trip to Thailand, and I was blown away by the autofocus. It seemed to nail it consistently, and I hardly missed a shot. Even at F2.5 in a dimly lit location. The only problem is that it gets really REALLY noisy over ISO800. I've started to use the Pen a lot more than the K-r though, simply because I have more confidence that that files will be in focus.

I want the ability to shoot and know that the image will be in focus. I like to shoot in available light, so accurate focusing with a wide open lens is crucial. It would be great if focusing was quick, and I could track moving objects (but not sports). I love the shallow depth of field of full frame cameras, but I think that the gap in image quality is close enough that I'm fine staying with APS-c. Will I be happy enough with the focus accuracy and speed of the k-3, or will a Fuji X series or Sony a7 be a better option for my needs?

It would be great to hear from people who have experiences the Fuji or Sony systems as well as the K-3. Or if there are other cameras I should consider.

Thanks!

01-22-2014, 12:21 PM   #2
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Have you tried a tripod? Maybe it's not the autofocus so much as camera shake? Or have you tested for front/back focus?
01-22-2014, 12:27 PM   #3
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I have owned *DS2, K-X, K5 and now a K3. The autofocus on K3 is *considerably* superior.
01-22-2014, 12:31 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by kever Quote
Will I be happy enough with the focus accuracy and speed of the k-3, or will a Fuji X series or Sony a7 be a better option for my needs?
You'll probably be happy with the K-3- it's much faster in low light and accurate as long as you make sure there is no FF/BF (which can happen with any PDAF camera). With that said, CDAF (live view autofocus) is generally going to be more accurate just because of the way it works. So if you spend most of your time looking at the screen rather than through the viewfinder, then a Fuji or Sony would certainly work. But nothing beats an OVF in my opinion!


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01-22-2014, 12:33 PM   #5
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I say save up for a K-3. It seems that since the K-5II Pentax has really improved their AF system.

I'm in the same boat as you, but I've come up with a few tricks to get better AF for the K-r. Have it in AF-C mode, center point (or selective point), with back button AF enabled. The camera will hunt a bit more to autofocus, but it will be a lot more accurate. The other thing to do is check for front/back focusing in different light. Mine does quite poorly in tungsten with pretty much all lenses I have. I dial in the amount I need when shooting indoors, and go back to 0 outdoors. Make sure your contacts are clean, both on camera and lens.

Really though, I'm waiting for the K-3 to go down in price.
01-22-2014, 12:33 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by narual Quote
Have you tried a tripod? Maybe it's not the autofocus so much as camera shake? Or have you tested for front/back focus?

Yes, I've tried a tripod. I don't think camera shake is really a factor at 1/500 or quicker shutter speeds on a 35mm lens though.
01-22-2014, 12:42 PM   #7
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If that can be of any help, I had a k-x and upgraded to a k-30. My keeper rate is much higher with the k-30. The k-3 is even better, so going from k-r to k-3 would be a huge improvement in autofocus. But as others have said, pdaf autofocus will have errors in any systems.
01-22-2014, 01:24 PM   #8
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The smaller sensor will have a better DOF at given f-stops, won't it? I do think the K-x is a couple generations old. I know my K5 is much better at autofocus than my K-10 was, though I still have to remember how and where it's probably focusing... The K5 does let me stop down more for better DOF because I can let the ISO drift up significantly higher.

I'm not trying to talk you out of the mirrorless systems, some of them are really nice...

01-22-2014, 01:25 PM   #9
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I don't think you have enough lenses/accessories to really be committed to the system. So you can move to another if you like.

But since the problems you mention are with AF, and your needs aren't even as demanding as sports, a move to the K-30, K-5 II, or newer model should do the trick. From your description, it sounds like the Pentax system suits you well, as long as the AF is performing properly.


Also, the alternative systems you mention are on the expensive side - Fuji in particular has some really nice lenses - so I'm not sure it would be very economical. I think you should just pick one of the newer bodies - for example the K-5 IIs currently on closeout. If it doesn't do the trick, sell it (because it's already gone through most of its depreciation) knowing you've already tried the best (or next to it) and begin the much more involved task of picking an entirely new system.

Last edited by DSims; 01-22-2014 at 01:38 PM.
01-22-2014, 01:30 PM   #10
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A new K-50, K-500 might do the trick as well...

In your situation, I would personally go for the K-5IIs... best bang for the buck as they say. Good quality with pretty much similar AF speeds as the K-3 and considerably cheaper.
That camera will be more than you need for a while...
01-22-2014, 02:01 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by drei3 Quote
I've come up with a few tricks to get better AF for the K-r. Have it in AF-C mode, center point (or selective point), with back button AF enabled.
Interesting - I found I got better results with my K-r when I kept it in AF.S (single), because AF.A (auto) almost always selected AF.C (continuous), and AF.C was more likely to miss. I liked my K-r, but it required constant attention, especially with certain lenses, and especially in tungsten lighting.

At any rate, @kever, I wouldn't base a decision to jump ship on the K-r's AF. Every Pentax DSLR after it (K-30, K-50, K-500, K-5, K-5II, K-5IIs, K-3), has had much better AF. Some have claimed the K-r's AF was a step down (or at least more quirky) than its predecessor, the K-x.
01-22-2014, 04:06 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by kever Quote
I'm talking center point focus, portrait, no recomposing, and missing focus in broad daylight.
If I wanted good DOF with my travel photos, then a "portrait" mode would be the last thing I would use. Just saying
If you mean portrait orientation, then disregard...
01-23-2014, 01:45 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by kever Quote
Sorry if this is a bit long. Any responses are appreciated.

I purchased a K-r the week it was released. It was my first SLR. It's been an OK camera, and I've learned a lot about photography by using it.

I've acquired a decent number of lenses and things over the years (10-17mm, 50mm F1.7m, 18-55mm DAL, 55-300mm DA, 35mm F2.8 limited, 540fg-z), so switching systems isn't the most cost effective upgrade for me, but I'm willing to if that means less headaches.

Ever since I've had my K-r, I've struggled with the autofocus. Every now and then, it's bang on, but a lot of the times shots that I think I hit, were soft and the focus missed. When I'm traveling, and take pictures that I think will be amazing at a place I'll never see again, only to realize that a shot I thought I nailed is out of focus and looks terrible, it really frustrates me. I'm talking center point focus, portrait, no recomposing, and missing focus in broad daylight. I've put up with it because the occasional shot is amazing, but I'm getting tired of it.

I purchased a Olympus Pen epm-1 for a trip to Thailand, and I was blown away by the autofocus. It seemed to nail it consistently, and I hardly missed a shot. Even at F2.5 in a dimly lit location. The only problem is that it gets really REALLY noisy over ISO800. I've started to use the Pen a lot more than the K-r though, simply because I have more confidence that that files will be in focus.

I want the ability to shoot and know that the image will be in focus. I like to shoot in available light, so accurate focusing with a wide open lens is crucial. It would be great if focusing was quick, and I could track moving objects (but not sports). I love the shallow depth of field of full frame cameras, but I think that the gap in image quality is close enough that I'm fine staying with APS-c. Will I be happy enough with the focus accuracy and speed of the k-3, or will a Fuji X series or Sony a7 be a better option for my needs?

It would be great to hear from people who have experiences the Fuji or Sony systems as well as the K-3. Or if there are other cameras I should consider.

Thanks!
I don't have a kr, but I have a k5, k30, and k5iis - haven't had a problem with any of these though in lower light the k30 and k5iis are more reliable, particularly in artificial light. Just got back from thailand a couple months ago - missed focus was not a problem on the 3 Pentax cameras I brought. I don't think your experience means that all Pentax cameras are that way. Of course it must be incredibly frustrating to go through what you have...
01-23-2014, 04:02 AM   #14
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I think either a K5 II or a K3 would be quite a bit better. Live view focusing is a lot better on the K3 than the K5 II...
01-23-2014, 07:45 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ex Finn. Quote
If I wanted good DOF with my travel photos, then a "portrait" mode would be the last thing I would use. Just saying
If you mean portrait orientation, then disregard...
I should have been more clear. I meant taking a portrait picture of someone with a landscape in the background (pictures of my wife in front of Ankor Wat, for example). I don't use the picture modes on my camera like "portrait".
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