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10-06-2016, 08:31 AM   #1
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How bad/good is Pentax AF compared to other systems (using price for comparisons)?

Never having used anything other than a Pentax DSLR starting with istdl2 then a K7, Kx, K50, K5ll and K3 (I still have them all) I occasionally wonder if I'm missing out on some wondrous AF that would change my life
I still occasionally use my K7, it's good for landscapes and I don't mind dropping it off a cliff, and it's a bit slow at AF but would probably still be good enough for the 'average' shooters needs.
Do the mid range Canikons have blazing fast and perfectly accurate AF or is that reserved for the upper tier?

BTW although I learnt on purely manual SLRs I really don't like using manual focusing

10-06-2016, 09:07 AM   #2
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Is the Pentax slow? No. Is the Nikon much faster? Yes, for sure.


Same story here with the 24-70s:

Pentax:


Nikon:


Last edited by FantasticMrFox; 10-06-2016 at 09:13 AM.
10-06-2016, 09:16 AM   #3
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In most head to head reviews I've noticed that they hold there own. Most often the "auto focus issue" comes up when Pentax cameras are reviewed by themselves. In my experience the "auto focus issue" is more myth than reality. I have shoot marathons and other action events with just as good of a keeper rate as the other photographers I am working with that shoot Canon and Nikon. Some may be because I come from the film era and manual focus where you relied on anticipation and timing as much as the camera.
10-06-2016, 09:20 AM   #4
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My Sony A99-based Hasselblad HV is generally quicker, more consistently accurate, and better at tracking (both holding onto a subject and adjusting focus), than my Pentax DSLRs (K-5, K-3 and K-3II). With certain older 3rd party screw-drive lenses, it is about the same or a little slower. Overall, though, I do find the AF superior. My Pentax cameras are still my favourites, though

10-06-2016, 09:21 AM - 1 Like   #5
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To me the biggest issue has always been uncertainty rather than flat speed - the lens has a tendency to set off in the wrong direction, and then go all the way before coming back, rather than notice it's going in the wrong direction and change immediately. Perhaps a legacy of screw drive, and definitely improved enormously in more recent cameras.
10-06-2016, 09:55 AM   #6
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I know I'm comparing an orange to an apple, but the AF difference in speed, accuracy, & tracking between my Pentax K-50 & my dad's Nikon D7200 is leaps & bounds. I know that the K-3II has better AF than the K-50, but it's not quite at the D7200 level. Hopefully the next APS-C flagship gets even better AF.
10-06-2016, 10:09 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by macman24054 Quote
In my experience the "auto focus issue" is more myth than reality.
People blame the camera for AF issues, blaming the camera is a shorter route than trying to understand how it works and coping with it. Once the same persons get a Canikon that's supposed to be the best, they still fail and suddenly try to understand, then they confirm their purchase decision saying Canikon is much better. They'd be using a Canon or Nikon PDAF is the same conditions as the Pentax, they'd also have miss focused shots. I've seem a video a wildlife photographer struggling with a 7DII with a number of shots blurred. By definition, the camera does not know what the photographer want to focus on, and the only way is that the photographer provide the camera with suitable conditions so that it can perform focus correctly.

---------- Post added 06-10-16 at 19:15 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by The Squirrel Mafia Quote
I know I'm comparing an orange to an apple, but the AF difference in speed, accuracy, & tracking between my Pentax K-50 & my dad's Nikon D7200 is leaps & bounds. I know that the K-3II has better AF than the K-50, but it's not quite at the D7200 level. Hopefully the next APS-C flagship gets even better AF.
If I understand your sentence correctly, you say that you K50 is not as good as a D7200 by comparing both and agree they are not in the same class of cameras, then, you make the assumption that the K3II being better than the K50 isn't as good as the D7200. As soon as you make an assumption, it is an assumption. In addition to that, if you'd understand AF servo, you'd know that the K3 AF system is working the same way as what Canon implement in the 7DII, which is , for instance, that the 7DII has the FPS priority servo which , while maximizing the FPS also yield a number of shots out of focus. I am sorry, by before people start talking about AF , they have to be knowledgeable enough. It is really bad to negate something we don't know.
10-06-2016, 10:17 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
People blame the camera for AF issues, blaming the camera is a shorter route than trying to understand how it works and coping with it. Once the same persons get a Canikon that's supposed to be the best, they still fail ...
I don't know about you, but if I got a D500 with an appropriate lens I wouldn't "fail", rather I would be able to take significantly better action shots than I can now with my K3.

QuoteQuote:
They'd be using a Canon or Nikon PDAF is the same conditions as the Pentax, they'd also have miss focused shots.
Yes, but provided they have a basic understanding of what they are doing, they'd get significantly less mis-focused shots than before.

10-06-2016, 10:20 AM   #9
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Maybe a test using a same lens on two systems will tell us more about the AF performance, say, Tamron 24-70 on Nikon and Pentax 24-70 on K1. Camera might cause AF inconsistency and inaccuracy, and lens (those have motor built-in) affect speed more, unless camera doesn't know where to focus.
10-06-2016, 10:20 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by ffking Quote
the lens has a tendency to set off in the wrong direction, and then go all the way before coming back,
Please mention the lens you are considering with this statement. With SDM lenses, the AF do a full cycle when the AF position is between the closest focus distance and the subject. That is no the case anymore with DFA lenses. Furthermore, as soon as the defocus is so much that the PDAF sensor can measure a phase shift beyong 180 degree, there is no way the camera can know where the subject is, and this is the case of ALL phase detect AF systems, Canon, Nikon, whatever.

I've seem the "bad Pentax AF" topic coming back on the table over and over again, although Pentax AF improved an order of magnitude over the last 5 years. I shooting BiF tracking all the time with Pentax AF , and I find it disgusting that folks barely using less than half of the capabilities of the Pentax AF , criticizing it.

---------- Post added 06-10-16 at 19:24 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by FantasticMrFox Quote
I don't know about you, but if I got a D500 with an appropriate lens I wouldn't "fail", rather I would be able to take significantly better action shots than I can now with my K3.
Why not compare a F1 race car and conclude the car you own is crap.

If I take a 1Dx II, or a D5, AF module size does not fit into a K3 or K1, but performance beats the Pentax. It's always the same , you get a Pentax because it is the best bang for the bucks and then you say: hummm the AF isn't as good.

---------- Post added 06-10-16 at 19:28 ----------

==========================

I mean, if I'd ever switch to Nikon or Canon, it wouldn't be because of Pentax gear, it would be because I'm disgusted by Pentax community of amateurs bring down photography to camera performance. When I shoot along with pros using Canon and Nikon, getting the same results by applying the same techniques as Canon and Nikon users, I just feel like I have nothing to do in Pentax land.
10-06-2016, 10:54 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
Why not compare a F1 race car and conclude the car you own is crap.

If I take a 1Dx II, or a D5, AF module size does not fit into a K3 or K1, but performance beats the Pentax. It's always the same , you get a Pentax because it is the best bang for the bucks and then you say: hummm the AF isn't as good.
You were writing: "Once the same persons get a Canikon that's supposed to be the best, they still fail ..." I simply listed what with Nikon is currently 'the best'.

But okay, make that a D7200. Or D7100, the direct competitor to the K3. Or a Sony A6000, also a direct competitor. And I have actually tried one out - guess what, that thing tracked football ('soccer') players quite well. My K3 didn't.
10-06-2016, 10:56 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by grahame Quote
Maybe a test using a same lens on two systems will tell us more about the AF performance, say, Tamron 24-70 on Nikon and Pentax 24-70 on K1. Camera might cause AF inconsistency and inaccuracy, and lens (those have motor built-in) affect speed more, unless camera doesn't know where to focus.
This has been done. Look on YouTube for the video of The Camera Store where they compared 70-200/2.8 amongst Canon, Nikon, Sony and Pentax. For AF, in real world situation, their conclusion are Canon/Nikon on top, Pentax slightly behind, Sony last. In this side by side review, Pentax is much closer to Canon and Nikon than many people would have tought based on results from lab tests...
10-06-2016, 11:03 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by CarlJF Quote
This has been done. Look on YouTube for the video of The Camera Store where they compared 70-200/2.8 amongst Canon, Nikon, Sony and Pentax. For AF, in real world situation, their conclusion are Canon/Nikon on top, Pentax slightly behind, Sony last. In this side by side review, Pentax is much closer to Canon and Nikon than many people would have tought based on results from lab tests...
I think what they used was the 24-70 f/2.8, not the 70-200.
10-06-2016, 11:08 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by CarlJF Quote
In this side by side review, Pentax is much closer to Canon and Nikon than many people would have thought
This makes Pentax AF 'rubbish' if you want to find fault with the system. If like me you think the Pentax system produces great photos at a great price with great cameras then all it means is the AF is not quite as good as Canikon.
10-06-2016, 11:12 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by CarlJF Quote
This has been done. Look on YouTube for the video of The Camera Store
I haven't watched the entire video, but from title I thought they used different lenses. Both 24-70 and 70-200 are Nikon and Pentax's own lenses. Try sigma or Tamron (if same version has both mounts) on both cameras will tell the story better.
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