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10-19-2018, 08:50 PM - 15 Likes   #1
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A Pentax Hidden Feature Perhaps?

Recently we had a thread from a newcomer who was concerned about Pentax's future, seemingly thinking that the brand was lacking in some basic functionality that the competition have. Among a list of features mentioned 'touchscreen' came up, something I have heard other brands having and for sure Pentax doesn't (yet). The announcement of the new GRIII which has a touchscreen is interesting and perhaps this feature will be ported across to other models in the future... who knows.

I think touchscreens in general were not really well received by this Pentax community as being something that we urgently wanted, however it is this OP's opinion that a touchscreen would be a welcome addition (if that technology does not replace tactile buttons, but is an addition to the feature set).
It got me thinking, and I went to check something out on my K-1 (and then KP) and I discovered something that I didn't know the cameras could do before, and I bet a few of you are also unaware of this little trick, so I thought I'd share my findings.

Where I would value touchscreen technology on a camera would be times I am doing portrait shooting at very wide apertures (f1.4-1.8 etc), and what I am of course trying to nail correctly is that sharp pin focus on the eyes. By perhaps touching the persons face on the Live View screen, double tap to zoom in further or even perhaps pinch and zoom would I think be really helpful.

Currently (in LV mode) we have to press the 'ok' button which zooms into the middle of the screen, and we use the rear dial wheel to zoom in more and use the directional pad to change it's location (as not every portrait has a persons face centre in the middle). ZZzzz... takes too long...

Well... here apparently is the next best thing, which I can confirm works for the K-1 and KP at least. Here's what you can do;

1) Using Live View, select the Autofocus method to being 'Face Detection' (this is important as this won't work on any other AF mode).

2) Once you get presented with the YELLOW box/Face Detection, use the AF/Shutter button and get a lock on focus.

3) Now... once you have that YELLOW/Face Detection focus box you can press 'Ok' button (no need to be a long press either, just a quick press will do) and the Live View will zoom in on that location, even if that face is away from the centre of the LV screen)!

4) Now that you are zoomed in, with Quick Shift lenses you can fine tune that focus and get the eyes exactly how you want, with lenses that don't support this I actually just move the camera a tad closer or further away from me to get what I perceive to being sharper focus on the eyes.

Basically, this Face Detection AF option seems to be the only one whereby you can bypass the directional pad controls and instead it will zoom in on the face regardless where it is on the screen, it's a pretty streamlined way of getting a quick shot off with added fine tuning, not a bad compromise for lacking touchscreen


Who else knew the K-1/KP (and perhaps other models) could do this?

It seems that any other LV AF Mode cannot do this, the 'green focus confirmation box' will not zoom in like this, it will take you to the centre only. You can however using the AF directional pad method select where about you want to zoom (as I point out above), but that takes time... and it cannot recall that point between shut downs or mode skips. At least with Face Detection you can get an off centre quick zoom in feature between different modes and power downs/ups. Sweet!


Cheers,

Bruce

10-19-2018, 08:59 PM - 1 Like   #2
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This is gold

Thanks!
10-19-2018, 09:34 PM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by BruceBanner Quote
4) Now that you are zoomed in, with Quick Shift lenses you can fine tune that focus and get the eyes exactly how you want, with lenses that don't support this I actually just move the camera a tad closer or further away from me to get what I perceive to being sharper focus on the eyes.
Yes, that works pretty well, no one is using it, but everyone complains about Pentax not having eye AF. In order to check if face detect could be used reliably, I took a hundred of test shots of faces with face detection AF, and I used focus peaking in my post processing software to check focus, and the result was that > 90% of the shots are indeed focused on the eye! It happens that the eye is naturally a part of the face that has sharpest contrast between the white and the iris... just think about it for a minute... and then think about all the folks saying that Pentax does not do eye AF... And in fact, if you try the face detect of Pentax with subject wearing sunglasses or face profile, AF won't lock on the face... simply because Pentax AF face detect algorithm is trying to locate a pattern of two round balls in order to conclude that a face is there... So, the Pentax face detect is actually an eye detect AF but Ricoh never stated it.

With regards to adjusting the focus manually with quick-shift... I've found that I can refine focus better than the camera but I am very slow to do that.

And with regards to the "hidden feature", I agree, looks like the guys writing Pentax camera manuals are talking to the guys who designed the camera. To me it looks like the Pentax camera designers are living on an island at Pentax, deep hidden from marketing and customers.

Last edited by biz-engineer; 10-19-2018 at 09:44 PM.
10-19-2018, 10:00 PM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by jpipg Quote
This is gold

Thanks!
No worries

QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
Yes, that works pretty well, no one is using it, but everyone complains about Pentax not having eye AF. In order to check if face detect could be used reliably, I took a hundred of test shots of faces with face detection AF, and I used focus peaking in my post processing software to check focus, and the result was that > 90% of the shots are indeed focused on the eye! It happens that the eye is naturally a part of the face that has sharpest contrast between the white and the iris... just think about it for a minute... and then think about all the folks saying that Pentax does not do eye AF... And in fact, if you try the face detect of Pentax with subject wearing sunglasses or face profile, AF won't lock on the face... simply because Pentax AF face detect algorithm is trying to locate a pattern of two round balls in order to conclude that a face is there... So, the Pentax face detect is actually an eye detect AF but Ricoh never stated it.

With regards to adjusting the focus manually with quick-shift... I've found that I can refine focus better than the camera but I am very slow to do that.

And with regards to the "hidden feature", I agree, looks like the guys writing Pentax camera manuals are talking to the guys who designed the camera. To me it looks like the Pentax camera designers are living on an island at Pentax, deep hidden from marketing and customers.
I have to say I can believe that, the few tests shots I have done to determine if this feature was working as I thought it was, I was pleasantly surprised that indeed most FD shots had great eye focus anyway (still... nice to be able to zoom in and check ). I wonder... with your hundred test shots, were some of those taken with the face not necessarily looking directly ahead but side on angle headshots etc? I wonder if what I have stumbled upon will be useful for 'squinty' face shots where you can shift the focus onto the correct eye you want etc.

10-19-2018, 10:59 PM   #5
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Yet another feature that could be readily included, should the mooted hybrid viewfinder ever come to pass.
10-20-2018, 01:19 AM   #6
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Does this work in video mode as well

No but seriously it is cool, I'll have to try this.
10-20-2018, 07:09 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by BruceBanner Quote
Who else knew the K-1/KP (and perhaps other models) could do this?
I was aware (works on K-3 too), but have never actually used the feature. FWIW, zoom follows focus point/zone as the general behavior on the K-3 and presumably most other bodies made since 2014.


Steve
10-20-2018, 07:20 AM - 1 Like   #8
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Really neat - thanks for posting. Not only is this a really neat trick, but I like the fact you don't have to touch the screen. Hate touch screens. To me, they just become fingerprint smears. I don't like looking at images through finger print smears, so this really hits the spot.

10-20-2018, 11:02 AM   #9
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Nice find Bruce. I may give that a try. Of course it will only be of benefit if you are comfortable working in LV mode. I can see many applications for it other than portrait too.

I generally find that using the AF in viewfinder mode works best for me. You have to keep a note of where the AF points are lighting up (9 points or single works for me), but I find this more intuitive.

My portrait subjects are dogs so telling them to keep still while I fine-tune the focus in LV is hopeless

I can usually get the eyes in focus !!


Last edited by pschlute; 10-20-2018 at 11:08 AM.
10-20-2018, 11:39 AM - 1 Like   #10
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You can get some of the touchscreen functionality in image sync using a smart phone and the K-1 or K-1ii. Canít say I am a fan of that software but with the camera on a tripod it does let you move the focus point around and is fairly stable now. It at least allows you to see whether you would like a touchscreen interface.
10-20-2018, 01:28 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
I was aware (works on K-3 too), but have never actually used the feature. FWIW, zoom follows focus point/zone as the general behavior on the K-3 and presumably most other bodies made since 2014.


Steve
But that's not actually quite what's happening here. The K-1 and KP at least don't zoom to focus point/zone all the time and that's what's annoying! It's only on this Face Detection mode that it does so quickly (without resorting to directional pad use).

Let's have a look at each LV AF Mode and break down what's occurring;

1) Face Detection, nuff said here already, once you get presented with a yellow face box, hit the shutter/af button and get focus, press 'ok' and it zooms in on that point. This is the only mode that does that (ie straight from the bat, no directional pad needed).

2) Tracking. I think some people are confused as to how this mode is supposed to be used, it's actually a pretty good mode when used correctly. Let's think of an example. Pretend you want to photograph a railing, one of those fancy railings with attention to detail in the mouldings. You want to position yourself so that the railing is orientated as such that the railing fades away from the viewer, ie yer standing diagonally to it and not facing straight on, just like this shot;



With Tracking you always have to select the object you want to track from the middle (the white box), you select the railing tip you want and press the AF Button (or half press shutter) to 'grab it' (white box turns green), then you can now recompose your image (whilst continuing to hold the AF/Shutter half way button down) so that the focus of the shot is not necessarily in the middle but towards the edge (in fact just like the image above). Now... as you recompose and continue to hold that AF Button/Half Shutter down, it will not continue to keep focus on that point (ie it's not AF.C), but it will track it reasonably well. Once you have framed your image the way you want you can let go of the AF Button/Half Press Shutter (green box turns white) and the AF Point will stay where you left it, now... once more press the AF Button/Half Shutter and it will focus at this point (turns green again). Now you can take the shot.
That's cool, however, should you at any time during the above process press the 'ok' button to zoom in more... it will actually reset the AF point back to the middle, and a second press of the ok button will zoom you in on the middle. Sigh... so this mode definitely does not zoom in on focus points.

3) Multiple AF Points. You press the AF Button/Shutter to get focus, multiple or even a single green box shows somewhere other than the middle, you press the OK button... nope doesn't zoom to those focus points, just zooms in on the middle.

4) Select. This mode will zoom in on AF Focus Point, however you do need to use the directional pad to change where that AF point is, once again just being a tad slow for some situations (I use this mode quite a bit for landscape stuff where time is not an issue).

5) Spot. And of course spot mode zooms in on the middle only.

So, to my eyes Face Detection is doing something a little different to the rest of the modes.

QuoteOriginally posted by clickclick Quote
Really neat - thanks for posting. Not only is this a really neat trick, but I like the fact you don't have to touch the screen. Hate touch screens. To me, they just become fingerprint smears. I don't like looking at images through finger print smears, so this really hits the spot.
Yeah, it is neat. I would really like to see it ported to the Tracking AF mode as well, helpful for those times you want to do a similar thing but with non face thingies
10-20-2018, 02:08 PM   #12
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This feature works on K-5II too, but CDAF is slower than on K-1.
10-21-2018, 01:17 AM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by BruceBanner Quote
2) Tracking. ... Now... as you recompose and continue to hold that AF Button/Half Shutter down, it will not continue to keep focus on that point (ie it's not AF.C), but it will track it reasonably well. Once you have framed your image the way you want you can let go of the AF Button/Half Press Shutter (green box turns white) and the AF Point will stay where you left it, now... once more press the AF Button/Half Shutter and it will focus at this point (turns green again). Now you can take the shot.
It should be noted that you also can keep half-pressing the shutter button and just push the backside AF-button to activate focus again.

This is a reasonably well working technique for close distance portraits with fast aperture lenses where you put the tracking box over the one eye you want in focus.
10-21-2018, 03:57 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by BruceBanner Quote
features mentioned 'touchscreen' came up
And here's me trying desperately hard not to touch the screen with... nose, cheek, fingers, so I can actually see what's going on when I'm photographing.

Maybe it's just me then...

10-21-2018, 04:11 AM - 2 Likes   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by BruceBanner Quote

Who else knew the K-1/KP (and perhaps other models) could do this?

Bruce
Well, if you had read the manual you would know already. Its on page 53
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