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09-25-2006, 09:07 AM   #1
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Avoiding mid-day blow outs...

I'm moving from small sensor fixed-lens cameras (Oly C2100z, K-M A1, Panasonic FZ5) to a K100D for a couple of reasons, increased dynamic range being foremost.

I travel a lot and wander around during the day grabbing pictures of things that interest me. Think street shooting in bright sunlight. Very wide DR is a often encountered problem and blown out parts of the frame are a big hazard.

I learned how to shoot the small sensor cameras under those conditions - set EV to ~-0.3, bracket, and use the live histogram. And then use the Shadow/Highlight tool to pull detail from the underexposed portions of the frame. In general this allowed me to avoid blow outs.

While I'm waiting for my K100D to arrive I'm wondering about what technique is going to work best with this new beast. I'm anticipating that the K100D's higher DR will help. I assume underexposing and bracketing as well?

(And I'm grieving the loss of a live histogram.)

Any suggestions/insights?

09-25-2006, 11:04 AM   #2
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Welcome to the wonderful world of Pentax dSLRs!

You're going to really enjoy your K100D, I'm sure. It might not be quite as simple as your smaller cameras, though. It seems like every body/lens combo behaves a little differently. For instance, my Tamron 28mm consistently needs about 1 stop overexposure, while the kit lens I can take what the camera gives me, or overexpose 0.5 stop. I can't imagine why this should be, but I've heard similar comments from others.

I tend to overexpose rather than underexpose, but then I think my DL tends to underexpose in the first place. There's the whole "expose to the right" vs "avoid blown highlights" debate, and I'm not sure where I sit on that! As long as the histogram shows a fair amount to the right, I'm happy, but then, I'm not necessarily a paragon of fine photographic skill, either. Shooting raw really helps. This weekend I got lazy and shot a few jpgs, and the results just aren't the same. It took me a week or two of reading and experimenting to get comfortable with raw, but it was well worth the effort!

You're still going to encounter situations where the DR of the scene exceeds that of your camera - that's a fact of digital photography, as you no doubt already know. But the slr will definitely help you to deal with that, and you've just tapped into a wonderful resource here for discussing techniques, etc. When does your camera arrive, i.e. when do we get to see some photos??

09-25-2006, 02:41 PM   #3
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I think the techniques you're already using will work, it's just that you won't need as much adjustment and you'll get wider DR. Also, the "live" preview will give you a histogram, plus you can have the highlights blink if you'd like. It's not the same as a digicam, of course, but you get almost instant feedback so you can fix it if it's not to your liking.
09-25-2006, 03:00 PM   #4
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I would say get to know your camera's metering. I don't use a Pentax (yet) but know my D70's metering behaviour very well so I can tell how much EV to dial in with any given scene. Keep in mind that you can recover at least 1 stop of highlights if you shoot RAW, so you might not need to underexpose as much as with a digicam.

09-25-2006, 05:02 PM   #5
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(And I'm grieving the loss of a live histogram.)
The K100D has electronic preview which takes a shot (but doesn't save it) and shows it on the LCD with a histogram and flashing highlights. Not as good as a live histogram but better than nothing.
09-25-2006, 10:05 PM   #6
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Pentax is rather conservative in their metering system. It tries to preserve higlights as much as possible. Usually it succeeds in that and many inexperienced users are complaining about too dark pictures. With your shooting style, it seams you're going to like Pentax exposure system.

I find multisegment metering quite useful when I try to avoid blown out highlights. In fact I find it quite good overall and I use it most of the time, just occationally switching to spot metering.
10-02-2006, 06:29 PM   #7
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If you are interested in getting into PP you might want to take a look at shooting 3 bracketed shots then blend them in PS. I find it is a lot of fun and can increase the DR a lot.
10-02-2006, 09:35 PM   #8
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Original Poster
Thanks for the replies. I'm looking forward to getting started with my K100D.

(Received the 10-17 and 50-200 today. They came UPS. Probably won't see the camera until late this week or late next week. Fed Ex only delivers once a week and not at all if they don't have several packages for our area.)

I've done a bit of blending of two exposure shots but non-posed people pictures aren't the best subjects for that technique. I'm sure I'll figure things out.

10-03-2006, 03:07 PM   #9
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Hi Bob,

I have just started using Cokin filters "A" series and my first purchase was a A121 G2 (ND8) Gradual Grey Filter. It helps bring brightness under control and gradually decreases filtering effect to the lower part of the picture. I am only just starting to use the filter and it really does help. Cokin is great as you can use the same filter on multiple lenses, you just have to buy the right size adapter for the lens thread. Just an idea.....


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