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10-31-2018, 08:16 AM - 1 Like   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by SarahF Quote
The auto-focus struggles, so I often have to shoot manual focus.
Any Pentax camera from The K5II/IIs onward will auto-focus dramatically better in low light than your K5, so there are plenty of budget options. The K1 on the other hand while not the budget option has the brilliant combination of fast reliable auto-focus in low light and a wonderful large bright viewfinder.


10-31-2018, 08:59 AM - 1 Like   #17

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The other option, of course, is to wait to see what the K-3 II replacement will bring. Probably next year, and more likely I think in the earlier part of the year, since the left-over new K-3 II stock is basically gone from the shelves. It will most likely come in at around $1,300 or so. It will have a deeper buffer if you do burst shooting very much. In my case, I am very happy with the exceptional results I get from my KP. It is compact for when I want that, and I also have the optional battery grip for longer battery life per charge, and for doing a lot of vertical shooting with its duplicate vertical controls. With it attached, it is similar in weight to the K-3 II with no battery grip.

And besides, it comes in silver, which I like, as well as the usual all black.

Last edited by mikesbike; 10-31-2018 at 09:13 AM.
10-31-2018, 09:05 AM - 1 Like   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by SarahF Quote
I'd be really interested to hear what cameras you use in similar circumstances and what recommendations you have. I'd be interested in both money-is-no-object (ambition's no bad thing), and reasonably-priced recommendations.
The K-1 if you can afford it, but more realistically, the KP would probably be the way to go, as it's got considerably better image quality, better low-light AF, and retains the APS-C format.

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10-31-2018, 10:49 AM - 1 Like   #19
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Are you still among us? This sort of gig has been your bread and butter; can you advise the OP accordingly?

10-31-2018, 11:23 AM   #20
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Running after a hardware fix, is probably the second thing to do, after you perfect your technique.

I can tell you what I would do first (based on my theatre photograph experience and problems I had using higher iso and often blowing out highlights, and having problems with missed focus). You will need to address it the way you think best.

The following assumes the shot you show is typical (iso 3200 at f/1.8 and 1/50s); and use of raw capture--if you don't--you should in order to allow significant underexposure.

Firstly, to address the focus problem, shooting wide open is problematic, and I would suggest closing down about 1-2 stops. E.g., f/2.8 would be 1.5 stops closed down, and a better starting point.

As regards the shutter speed--I see some blurring--enough to suggest movement, but not too much, so it is likely a good choice/not likely you can go much lower.

Finally about the iso 3200, there is no advantage to using a high iso as the K-5 is "isoless," so instead use iso 400 (or lower), and increase exposure in pp. E.g., using iso 400, you would about +4 e.v. pp.

Other things are:
1) Consider trying a different viewpoint--such as a wider FOV lens--to give more depth of field. This means you are expressing/emphasizing the performer more in the environment.
2) Try and perfect better manual focusing technique.
3) If the distance to the performer is fixed, set the lens distance manually, using the distance scale on the lens.**
** Just realized your lens does not have a distance scale (personally I think that makes no sense!), and thus maybe you can prefocus the lens at some point when the lighting is better.

Last edited by dms; 10-31-2018 at 11:32 AM. Reason: Added footnote about focusing/distance scale.
10-31-2018, 11:41 AM   #21
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I'm very happy with my K-5 II for low light photography. My Sigma 28 EX 1.8 and Pentax DA 50 1.8 are both excellent for low-light shooting in club situations. An FA 50 1.4 would be a bit of an improvement but not huge.

A KP and an F or FA 50 1.4 would probably be the combo to go find. But I don't know that a K-5 II or IIs is really going to be left behind by much and would be much cheaper.
10-31-2018, 11:50 AM - 1 Like   #22
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Another thought/comment--about hardware fix. I use a K-20d, a K-x, and two K-5 bodies when I shoot theatre; and while there are differences in cameras, the bottom line is I get about the same number of keepers/satisfying images with each of them (And yes most images are not great.)

The techniques are different--e.g., the K-20d is not isoless (and the K-x only somewhat) so I use iso 1600 on the K-20d; and usually only one of the cameras has an AF (zoom) lens on it; but that is simply using the camera-lens combo in a way that plays to its strengths.

It also helps that my K-20d has a split screen (split image focussing screen), so it usually is the one that gets a telephoto lens. But again, that (likely) is a hardware change for you, and I suggest you "milk what you have" to a greater degree.

Last edited by dms; 10-31-2018 at 11:56 AM.
10-31-2018, 11:59 AM - 1 Like   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote

Are you still among us? This sort of gig has been your bread and butter; can you advise the OP accordingly?
I assume that the gigs Kenspo is shooting are usually happening at a little better light.
F1.8 and 1/50 sec @ISO3200 means the venue is definitely very dark.

A lot of good advice already for the OP and when a K1 is beyond the budget a KP or K70 would be a significant improvement.

But besides a "better" camera the OP might also consider a few more comments:
Shooting a moving subject @F1.8 will hardly lead to any really sharp shot. The DOF is extremely small and any movement of the photographer and/or the artist will get you out of focus shots.
I would consider moderate underexposure and lifting the darker areas in post processing an option to be able to work with a "more forgiving" aperture (K5 RAW files should work well for that).
In general, a lot of practise, good shooting technique and pp-skills will help a lot.

This example was shot with a K200D (and a SMC M 2/85) and should just illustrate that you don't necessarily need a "high-ISO" monster.

May I also say that the K3 should not be considered too bad at higher ISO numbers. I found the AF fairly good in low light situations.

10-31-2018, 12:17 PM - 1 Like   #24
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My low light APS-C combo is the KP with a SIgma 30mm F1.4 art lens the only affordable art lens in the series. I have an older Sigma 50 F1.4 which I use on my K1 and it works great sadly the Sigma 50 F1.4 is no longer available in K mount
10-31-2018, 12:54 PM - 2 Likes   #25
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KP has the 5 axis SR and the accelerator for high ISO shooting. Also I think a better shutter than the others as far as quiet goes. Love mine and usable at 12,800 ISO depending on your needs.
10-31-2018, 02:00 PM - 1 Like   #26

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It seems, according to the comments supplied with the OP's sample photo, her subjects move around a lot, and although the sample photo is satisfactory for her needs, too many shots are not, due to AF shortcomings. Probably so, since the K-5 is not known to have the best AF compared to subsequent models, but the primary thing also is her shutter speed is too low for dealing with movement by the subjects. Therefore, a higher ISO would enable a higher shutter speed. I have dealt with stage events and lower lighting, and also shoot indoor sports, so I am familiar with such problems. I found improved AF with my K-5 IIs over the original K-5, but then significantly better yet with my KP. I think the KP could provide improved performance for such endeavors in both higher ISO for shutter speed, as well as AF.

Last edited by mikesbike; 10-31-2018 at 05:41 PM.
10-31-2018, 02:58 PM   #27
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What post processing noise reduction do you do @SarahF?
10-31-2018, 03:28 PM   #28
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When the K-3 was introduced and the price of the K-5 II dropped, I purchased the latter. There were several reasons for this: the lower price, grip compatability with my K-5 and K-7, comparable feel, and the comparisons of the K-3 and K-5 II at that time indicated the phase detection autofocusing was comparable between the two cameras (contrast detection, which was definitely better in the K-3, was not important to me). My tests of dim light focusing (street photography at night) indicated that the K-5 II was definitely better than the K-5. It also made it possible for me to convert my then-backup K-7 to infrared. A K-5 II might be worth a try, especially since the cost will be relatively low.

Last edited by cpk; 10-31-2018 at 06:44 PM. Reason: word correction
10-31-2018, 04:13 PM   #29

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I believe the OP is saying she can do a new camera here, instead of a budget used one. A new camera and latest technology is nearly always better if one can. Definitely true in this case. I still love my K-5 IIs, which is no slouch for IQ, for its extra controls and layout, but my KP is nearly as good in this regard, and offers numerous other upgrades. It is for sure my go-to for low light situations, among other improvements.

Last edited by mikesbike; 10-31-2018 at 04:19 PM.
10-31-2018, 04:16 PM - 1 Like   #30
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Hi Sarah,

The K-5 has very good low light characteristics … it's really a half wafer of the K-1. f1.8 is nice and fast on your fifty, too.

Poor light at a venue of course means our photography skills get sharpened. We have to keep shutter speeds up in some photos to freeze action, slow 'em down if we want to show motion blur for excitement, depth of field might be acceptable wide open many yards away from the stage but too narrow if we're privileged enough to be up front, and so on. The PDAF focus system needs to see a line to target, and that might be impossible if the subject's backlit, or it might go for the microphone instead of the singer's face, so just like wildlife photography, there are situations where we focus on something nearby in the same plane as the face or even go to manual focus.

I have used the K-30 (same sensor as the K-5) and the K-1 for lots of low light events and concerts. Here are my pics, if I can take 'em, you can, but there is a skillset involved which is why forum members like Kenspo are paid to do what they do:

Last edited by clackers; 10-31-2018 at 04:28 PM.

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