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12-15-2017, 01:39 PM   #1
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If you do Professional work, you might need two bodies... (because of buffering)

I thought I would share my findings over what has been a very eventful week of shooting with the K-1 and KP.
I've been shooting Pentax for well over two years now, starting with a K-50 then moving onto a K-1 and then later acquiring the KP (mostly for backup reasons). During this period I have done some low paid work and community stuff, never high stress jobs, nothing that got me shooting like my first wedding (11am-9pm) and a music concert last night by a fairly 'famous' UK outfit (the kinda gig where you only get to shoot for the first 3 songs, then you and the others are escorted out).
On both those jobs I ran into buffering issues, whereby I could not take another shot, I would have to wait for the buffering to finish before getting some more shots off. In certain situations (like the concert) it wasn't too much of a biggy, just switch cameras for a bit. Other times when there's a flash connected... well by the time you unhook and reattach it might be getting close to being able to take some more shots anyway...

I am aware that perhaps I overburst, still an amateur trying to get better at this game, other styles of shooting (such as Brenizer that I mentioned elsewhere this week) rely on actually shooting lots of shots off quickly, sometimes you can't avoid it.

Changing to jpg only helps things massively, perhaps writing to one card (in case of the K-1) instead of two at once helps also (although I believe the KP with its one card slot seems to run into the issue just about as much as the K-1 when writing to two...). Obviously all jpg in camera PP is turned off.

I look at other shooters who use a single Nikon and Canon, I wonder if they run into these problems?

Why am I buying expensive Extreme Pro 95mb/s cards, if the camera is the issue and clearly not taking full advantage of this current tech card. I could happily wait 30 more minutes for content to copy across during transfer of files from SD card to PC, if I save half or more $ on the card themselves because really using a 45mb/s is going to be the same performance wise in the field...

I'm not dissing Pentax! I have no idea if this is an issue among the other brands, my feeling it is not, otherwise the 'camera SD card' business would not be pushing for such speeds unless some tech somewhere could use it fully. I know my K-1 came at a far far cheaper price than its competitor FF equivalent, but I do think for those high pressure jobs, two bodies helps immensely when encountering buffering issues. I also think (and I could be wrong here) but the buffering process is speeded up if you power down the camera that's struggling (rather than wait for it with it still on).

I'll be sticking with Pentax for quite some years I'm sure. Two bodies is not a bad thing, I think further down the line if I have something like a 24-70 on one and a 70-200 on the other, that would offer a lot of versatility without really needing to lens swap at all.

Anyway... I just wanted to share my findings this week, intense shooting experiences, I pushed my gear more than I have in the past and for the first time encountered a reoccurring issue on both jobs but luckily a second body has helped lesson the problem.

Cheers!

Bruce

12-15-2017, 01:45 PM   #2
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The only Pentax that ever had a decent buffer was the K-3. 23 Raw at 8FPS. In four-6 shot bursts it lasts pretty much forever. Sadly, I can't imagine a K-3 would be much of a wedding camera. As soon as I say that I know someone is going to say " I have 5 K-3s and shoot 50 weddings a year with them." That's just the way it is around here.
12-15-2017, 01:52 PM   #3
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Bruce - are you getting more or less the same results as these tests?:

Pentax K-1 Review - Performance
12-15-2017, 02:09 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
The only Pentax that ever had a decent buffer was the K-3. 23 Raw at 8FPS. In four-6 shot bursts it lasts pretty much forever. Sadly, I can't imagine a K-3 would be much of a wedding camera. As soon as I say that I know someone is going to say " I have 5 K-3s and shoot 50 weddings a year with them." That's just the way it is around here.
Haha I'm not going to say that because I don't, but I am curious in why you think so

12-15-2017, 02:15 PM   #5
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It’s not just Pentax. The Nikon D7100 is their K-3 equivalent, and there was much complaining in Nikon circles about its buffer (only 6 RAW images at max frame rate, less than one second to fill the buffer). They fixed that with the D7200.

Regarding SD cards, the faster cards really do make a difference in the field, provided the camera can make use of it. I can really tell the difference on my K-3 between a good 90 Mbps card and a cheap 40ish Mbps card. Note that the card makers promote READ speed. Write speed is always slower, but NOT by the same amount. Some cards have good read speeds and truly abysmal write speeds. You have to really dig into the specs to find out. I gave up on cheap cards long ago, you have to pay for good performance. Note that no card can keep up with the burst speed of any decent DSLR, card performance determines how long it takes to drain the buffer. Finally, note that card speeds are typically given in bits per second, not bytes. This can make cards seem 8 times slower than they really are. A K-3 RAW is about 24 MBytes, or about 200 MBits. K-1 RAW files will be even bigger, and the K-1 probably writes at about the same speed as the K-3.

Last edited by Cthulhugan; 12-15-2017 at 02:20 PM.
12-15-2017, 02:17 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Bruce - are you getting more or less the same results as these tests?:

Pentax K-1 Review - Performance
Yeh I would say so. I mean I haven't set a watch to it, but falling over around 17 RAW shots with the K-1 sounds about right. Set to Jpg only and its barely 'encounter-able' (70+ odd)
12-15-2017, 02:19 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Bruce - are you getting more or less the same results as these tests?:

Pentax K-1 Review - Performance
I am not a pro. I shoot RAW writing to 1 card. I pretty much get this performance. I shoot about 17 frames at max speed after which it slows down to less than 1 frame a second. The camera is only unresponsive while the buffer is full. After 1 frame is cleared I can shoot another. If I wait a few seconds I can shoot a few frames at max speed then it slows down again. Since I never am close to having 17 frames in the buffer, I am never waiting for my camera, except to acquire focus.
12-15-2017, 02:20 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Cthulhugan Quote
It’s not just Pentax. The Nikon D7100 is their K-3 equivalent, and there was much complaining in Nikon circles about its buffer (only 6 RAW images at max frame rate, less than one second to fill the buffer). They fixed that with the D7200.
Good to know.

QuoteOriginally posted by Cthulhugan Quote
Regarding SD cards, the faster cards really do make a difference in the field, provided the camera can make use of it. I can really tell the difference between a good 90 Mbps card and a 40ish Mbps card. Note that the card makers promote READ speed. Write speed is always slower, but NOT by the same amount. Some cards have good read speeds and truly abysmal write speeds. You have to really dig into the specs to find out. I gave up on cheap cards long ago, you have to pay for good performance. Note that no card can keep up with the burst speed of any decent DSLR, card performance determines how long it takes to drain the buffer. Finally, note that card speeds are typically given in bits per second, not bytes. This can make cards seem 8 times slower than they really are. A K-3 RAW is about 24 MBytes, or about 200 MBits. K-1 RAW files will be even bigger, and the K-1 probably writes at about the same speed as the K-3.
Not sure I can tell a difference between the two tbh, I will test a little more but I toggled today between the two and it still felt a similar time lapse of fast successive shooting before buffer time. What exact cards are you using?

12-15-2017, 02:20 PM - 2 Likes   #9
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I'm with Norm. If you want to shoot action in bursts, the K-3 is best Pentax camera for the job. By a mile.

I nearly always use the K-1 and KP in single shot mode, even when I'm shooting live music. My spray and pray days are over - sorting through 4000 images after an all day music festival is a drag.
12-15-2017, 02:23 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by 77me Quote
I am not a pro. I shoot RAW writing to 1 card. I pretty much get this performance. I shoot about 17 frames at max speed after which it slows down to less than 1 frame a second. The camera is only unresponsive while the buffer is full. After 1 frame is cleared I can shoot another. If I wait a few seconds I can shoot a few frames at max speed then it slows down again. Since I never am close to having 17 frames in the buffer, I am never waiting for my camera, except to acquire focus.
Don't worry... I'm not really a pro either

Yes there have been times when although encountering the buffer you can kinda 'ride' it's buffer wave, and not suffer too badly. On the wedding day however, I spammed it so much even once powered down I was waiting well over a minute for the orange light to eventually toggle off.
12-15-2017, 02:32 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by BruceBanner Quote
Yeh I would say so. I mean I haven't set a watch to it, but falling over around 17 RAW shots with the K-1 sounds about right. Set to Jpg only and its barely 'encounter-able' (70+ odd)
OK...

Looking at the figures, I'd say the K-1's Achilles heel is the buffer clearing time. Buffer size seems reasonable (though not startling) given the resolution of the sensor, but it's the clearing that holds things up after the first long burst.

It's worth noting that few cameras of similar or higher resolution (except for the very latest models at higher price points) are particularly fast at clearing the buffer. But, the K-1 does seem to lag somewhat, and there are certainly better fast action / continuous shooting models than the K-1, if that's a priority...
12-15-2017, 02:33 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
I'm with Norm. If you want to shoot action in bursts, the K-3 is best Pentax camera for the job. By a mile.

I nearly always use the K-1 and KP in single shot mode, even when I'm shooting live music. My spray and pray days are over - sorting through 4000 images after an all day music festival is a drag.
Yeh I'm managing that process a lot better these days. Using Faststone Image Viewer I can press a single button when scrolling through the shots that 'tag' the file I think is worth of a second look. I do one pass through, then a second, after that I'm usually left with the shots worth processing. Last nights gig for example, 248 shots taken during the 3 songs played, 2 quick passes through in this manner and I had the 15 shots worth working on.
Remember, I might take/burst 25 pictures within a 8-10 second window, I've shot wide open or close too therefore only one or two might have the focus I want where I intended, that and also all 25 pics are of the same subject same angle, I don't really want to edit multiple versions of that angle, just looking for the best shot from that perspective etc. But yes... 4000 is quite different entirely lol
12-15-2017, 02:39 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by BruceBanner Quote
Not sure I can tell a difference between the two tbh, I will test a little more but I toggled today between the two and it still felt a similar time lapse of fast successive shooting before buffer time. What exact cards are you using?
I have Lexar Professional cards in my K-3. My primary card (#1 slot) is a 95 MB/s 633x Class 10 U3 card. My secondary card is older, a 600x U1.

Note that when I say I can feel the difference of a good card, it is not due to any significant change in the onset of “full buffer paralysis” (that is pretty much fixed by the buffer size). Rather it is in how long I have to wait for the buffer to drain. You mentioned waiting over a minute. With a slow card it could be over five minutes.

Last edited by Cthulhugan; 12-15-2017 at 02:59 PM.
12-15-2017, 02:44 PM - 1 Like   #14
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This test of different memory cards with the K-1 makes for quite interesting reading:

Best Memory Cards For The Pentax K-1 - Alik Griffin
12-15-2017, 02:45 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Cthulhugan Quote
I have Lexar Professional cards in my K-3. My primary card (#1 slot) is a 95 MB/s 633x Class 10 UHS 3 card. My secondary card is older, a 600x UHS 1.

Note that when I say I can feel the difference of a good card, it is not due to any significant change in the onset of “full buffer paralysis” (that is pretty much fixed by the buffer size). Rather it is in how long I have to wait for the buffer to drain. You mentioned waiting over a minute. With a slow card it could be over five minutes.
Ah... Thanks!
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