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05-27-2015, 02:50 PM   #1
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Setting my Pentax for optimum photos

My Pentax Kx, and other cameras, gives me the option to select settings for "optimal" exposures. I can select macro, landscape, action, etc. In some cases I have accidentally taken a photo of a landscape when the dial is set to macro, and I get a good shot. As far as I can tell, the setting that I use doesn't seem to make a bit of difference. Is it all a bunch of kidology? Is their really a noticeable difference so long as the image is in focus? What does the camera do to optimize the photo for macro or landscape? Please enlighten me.

05-27-2015, 03:05 PM - 1 Like   #2
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The 'Scene' modes are intended for users that have little or no knowledge of photography and do not wish to learn. They bias the camera settings and turn on / off certain options that work better in a particular type of photograph.

So for example putting it in the 'sports' setting might set AF to AF-C and bias the camera toward a higher shutter speed at the expense of aperture and / or ISO. In 'landscape' it might bias toward a smaller aperture to get more depth of focus and set the jpeg engine to render using a landscape setting.

I do not believe I have ever seen a definitive list of what each mode actually does.

YMMV but I personally feel no one serious about photography should be using those. They act as a crutch and arrest your development as a photographer without really teaching anything. And as you point out don't seem to make all that much difference anyway.

Better, IMHO, to put the camera in Av or M modes and actually learn what you should be doing.

Of course they are handy if you have to hand your camera to the waiter to get a shot of you.
05-27-2015, 03:24 PM   #3

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As jatrax says, this feature is for newbees, to get acceptable results right from the beginning, before they learn about what a DSLR can do.

For me, it would only make sense for simple P&S cameras, which besides the scene modes don't have many options.
With some of these, I remember the biggest influence could be seen in "text", "night", and "food" mode (there you get results with near to maximum colour saturation).
05-27-2015, 07:53 PM   #4
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While initially a skeptic, I've come to appreciate the K-3 MTF Program Line setting. I would recommend that setting (assuming your Pentax supports it) especially if you use a lot of auto exposure settings (e.g. auto ISO) -- basically the Pentax engineers have decided the "sharpest" auto settings for you. And for most photos they have done a darn good job. Of course, knowing how and when to use manual is equally important.


05-27-2015, 08:51 PM   #5
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To add to what was said--if you make a decision to use whatever settings you choose--and then see the result--that instant feedback improves your understanding--if you are paying attention! If you rely on the camera to make the decision you will not likely know what the reasons are for it's doing it, and thus what it may or may not do in a somewhat different situation.

As an aside this is one reason I also think matrix metering is not a good tool for learning photography. Of course it is convenient, and has gotten pretty good, but the logic/rules it uses are "fuzzy." If you use center weighted or even better spot metering and think about what the reading is and how possibly you should adjust it, the whole exposure process can become clearer--and thus enable you do do more optimum exposure control.
05-28-2015, 12:45 AM   #6
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If macro and landscape give exactly the same output, it means the chosen settings were exactly the same. But a newbee might not be confident to choose landscape for macro and hence the macro mode.

I only have the K100D as a camera that supports scene modes. There are a number of things that change depending on the mode. A thing that might be obvious is the shutter speed / aperture combination in sport mode vs landscape. The K100D also switches to AF.C in sport mode.

Two things that I picked up with a quick check on the K100D is the change in the image tone setting and sharpness setting (I have set the camera to a sharpness of +1 and switching to any scene mode sets it to 0. The latter might however be relative to what the camera already applies in that mode. More playing reveals that in macro mode and portrait mode the camera pops up the built-in flash.

The K-x has probably more settings that are affected.
05-28-2015, 02:20 AM   #7
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Look at it and give it a try:
the initial settings
05-28-2015, 08:42 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by BertH Quote
Look at it and give it a try: Pentax K-3 Initial Settings - YouTube the initial settings
Thanks BertH, the video was useful. My Kx is less sophisticated than the K3 and doesn't have all the options shown in the video. However, I did, to the best of my ability, go through the Kx menu to choose those options that I thought would provide the best photos for my type of photography.

05-28-2015, 12:48 PM   #9
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I'd like to thank you all for your comments. Some of you may define me as a Newbee although I have been taking photos for over 60 years. My first sophisticated camera was a Pentax S1. I used to read a lot about photography and had my own darkroom for developing and printing black and white photos. I used to spend a lot of time thinking about the correct f-stop and speed to get the best images. However, as I get older, I get my enjoyment in more casual photography during my trips to different placed around the US. My question really addresses whether I should be fiddling around with the mode dial every few shots in the hope that it will make a noticeable difference or whether I should preset the camera as BertH suggests and leave the mode dial on P. This is actually what I normally do. However, when I use a special lens for macros of flowers and insects, or an ultra-wide angle lens for landscapes, I do think carefully about f-stops, speeds,and ISO and set my camera accordingly. Thanks again for your insights.

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