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05-16-2008, 07:18 AM   #1
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AF problems - Pentax K20D vs S**y A 350 review - Amateur Photogr'y Magazine 17.5.2008

Hi all

I've just picked up the latest edition of Amateur Photographer magazine

17th May 2008 issue - Amateur Photographer - news, camera reviews, lens reviews, camera equipment guides, photography courses, competitions, photography forums

from the news-stand, in which there is a fascinating in-depth head-to-head comparison written by Technical Writer Richard Sibley between Pentax's K20D and S**y's Alpha 350 (pp 019-024). Whilst not wishing to 'flog-a-dead-horse-to-death', the subject of the K20D's focussing anomalies has regrettably surfaced yet again.....

QuoteQuote:
The low-light conditions I used when taking the portrait shots proved difficult for the Pentax K20D, particularly when it tried to focus - the camera almost continuously searched for a focus point, and even in centre-spot focusing mode it struggled at times. By contrast, the Alpha 350 had no such problems and snapped into focus quickly and accurately.
and

QuoteQuote:
It was not only in low-light conditions that the K20D had problems. Using Live View mode outside, in bright sunshine and in centre-spot mode, the camera failed to focus on a statue that was in the centre of the frame. This happened a couple of times over a run of about 15 shots, and it is a shame because it does let the camera down.
I thought that the latest SDM lenses had addressed this issue to some extent, so users comments are welcome........

Best regards
Richard


Last edited by Confused; 05-16-2008 at 07:34 AM.
05-16-2008, 07:34 AM   #2
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No Surprise

I am of no surprise here. In fact, I reported about the sluggishness and unsatisfactory responsiveness of the K20D AF system already more than two months ago:

RiceHigh's Pentax Blog: K20D First Hands-on Impressions
05-16-2008, 07:54 AM   #3
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Yeah, you did, but no one likes to listen to you.
05-16-2008, 07:58 AM   #4
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That's a shame. My experience is completely opposite the reviewer's. I rarely miss shots with my K20D even in low lighting. This is using the 16-50, the 50-135, the 200, the 10-17, the 18-250. I wonder if he got a flakey test camera?

I can't say I've tested Live View AF that much, just a couple of times. However, I didn't notice any problems with it.

05-16-2008, 08:08 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Buddha Jones Quote
Yeah, you did, but no one likes to listen to you.
dont be a bully.
05-16-2008, 08:28 AM   #6
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What does the rest of the test say?
Can you give us some high lights?

- Bert
05-16-2008, 09:16 AM   #7
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Hi Bert

I have been reading this particular publication for many decades and therefore choose to lend slightly more credence to the contributors articles in comparison with their advertising-dependant competitors, simply because it's writers are not afraid to highlight a product's weaknesses which others (for obvious pecuniary reasons) tend to sweep under the carpet ! Incidentally, both of these cameras received a final mark of 86%.....

QuoteQuote:
As both have similar specifications, we've decided to pit them against each other in a 'head-to-head' test to find out which comes out on top. I was struck by the K20D's superb build quality and handling, as well as it's excellent control over noise at high ISO sensitivities. However, it was let down by it's slow autofocus, metering and Live View modes.
....and....

QuoteQuote:
Although Live View in the Pentax K20D is just as simple to activate as that of the Alpha 350, there are a few peculiarities that hinder its use. My biggest gripe is that you cannot change exposure values while Live View is on. The Alpha 350's system operates far more fluidly and allows exposure settings to be changed. Likewise, when in Live View, the Alpha 350's focusing system operates in the same way as when using the viewfinder. This makes it as simple to use as a compact or bridge camera. The K20D, however, has to release the mirror lock-up before it captures the image.......it presents a problem for moving subjects, as by the time the image is focused the subject will have most likely moved.
So to sum up:

QuoteQuote:
The verdict

Inheriting it's build quality from the K10D, the K20D is extremely well built, and intuitive to use. Sadly, it's tone curve and autofocusing need improving to compete with the likes of C***n EOS 40D and N***n D300. What the K20D does offer is excellent value for money....Overall, both are great cameras for their respective niches.
Best regards
Richard

Last edited by Confused; 05-16-2008 at 09:32 AM.
05-16-2008, 09:47 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Confused Quote
Hi all


I thought that the latest SDM lenses had addressed this issue to some extent, so users comments are welcome........

Best regards
Richard
I wanted to stay with Pentax totally but wound up buying a Sony A 700 this morning for faster AF. Got the body and two Minolta zooms that cover the 35-200 range for the price of the Pentax 50-135. The A 700 is a lot faster than the A350.

Once I test the system out I'll decide if I'm going to keep my Pentax prime system or not. To bad they didn't react to the market fast enough to keep me hanging around.

regards,
ken

05-16-2008, 10:05 AM   #9
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Richard,

Very helpfull, I did decide to wait for a K?0D anyway untill AF and LV are upgraded. Seems like a good decision.
Thanks a lot!

- Bert
05-16-2008, 10:28 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by regken Quote
I wanted to stay with Pentax totally but wound up buying a Sony A 700 this morning for faster AF. Got the body and two Minolta zooms that cover the 35-200 range for the price of the Pentax 50-135. The A 700 is a lot faster than the A350.

Once I test the system out I'll decide if I'm going to keep my Pentax prime system or not. To bad they didn't react to the market fast enough to keep me hanging around.

regards,
ken
Now, you just have to lurk around the minolta glass, it is my understanding that the have some marvels over there. Congrats on your purchase and enjoy it.
05-16-2008, 10:47 AM   #11
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Hi again Bert

Glad to be of some assistance ! I'm with you fully on this one, because currently I feel that there are insufficient reasons to upgrade to the K20D, despite the apparent improvements. Having previously employed both Medium Format and 35mm film SLR's for more years than I care to admit, the primary reason for choosing to upgrade to a digital equivalent in the first place was to avoid the necessity of having to peer through the dreadful LCD eyepiece in my old bridge camera. I'd held off buying a DSLR until I felt that it's price-point had reached what I regarded as sufficient value for money, but simply couldn't wait to return to using a decent optical viewfinder. In those rare instances where one might actually benefit from using Live View (low-down or over-head shots) I simply fail to see the point of the K20D's FIXED rear LCD screen. I already own a C***n A620 P&S with a fully articulating LCD screen and cannot understand why Pentax haven't followed in the footsteps of Oly***s, who have produced a weather-sealed articulating screen on one of their 4/3rds DSLR's ?

Best regards
Richard

Last edited by Confused; 05-16-2008 at 11:03 AM.
05-16-2008, 11:12 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Confused Quote
I thought that the latest SDM lenses had addressed this issue to some extent, so users comments are welcome........
I think the issue is not raw AF speed but how Pentax DSLRs behave in general. As the EV drops, the bodies would lag, start to AF, then lag again, re-AF and again till focus confirmed. It is the "lag" that costs the speed. The quietness of SDM might mask the lag and give false impression. In terms of RAW motor speed, my 40D with some ring type USM lenses aren't any faster than my DS based on how fast they can drive the lenses. But in practice, the 40D just zoom right in and lock focus without hestitation even in low light. In the most extreme case, the 40D would lock focus before the DS would even start (yeah I know it is not K20D). They both focus just as accurately so I consider all those open/close loop arguements BS.
05-16-2008, 11:46 AM   #13
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I can't belive this new insistance with live view!

Sorry to say but the point of a DSLR is to use the finder and not the lcd! I mean I am already seeing new DSLR owners trying to frame shots handheld with long lenses using live view and they are getting no where. Now you want articulating lcds!

I can't wait to see someone try a 300mm lens at arms length with a dslr in live view now.
05-16-2008, 11:47 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Torphoto Quote
I can't belive this new insistance with live view!

Sorry to say but the point of a DSLR is to use the finder and not the lcd! I mean I am already seeing new DSLR owners trying to frame shots handheld with long lenses using live view and they are getting no where. Now you want articulating lcds!

I can't wait to see someone try a 300mm lens at arms length with a dslr in live view now.
in bright daylight!
05-16-2008, 11:57 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Confused Quote
Whilst not wishing to 'flog-a-dead-horse-to-death', the subject of the K20D's focussing anomalies has regrettably surfaced yet again.....
I haven't shot with an A350 or a K20D yet, but we bought my mother a Sony A200 for mothers day last week. I have to say, I was shocked in the difference in focus speed between the Sony and my K100D. It seriously gave me pause and made me question if going with Pentax was the right choice. As I said in another thread, I'm seriously thinking about jumping ship now...
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