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03-04-2019, 02:14 PM - 4 Likes   #1
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(Un)popular Opinion: Pentax AF Doesn't Suck

Dear Pentaxians,

Last Friday, while I was on my way to get my watch repaired, I noticed a local photo/video gear store and decided to walk in. First of all, I was quite surprised to see a brick&mortar store of this size in the age of online shopping. However, not to my surprise, they didn't carry any Pentax gear. So, I decided to take a look at the Fuji X stuff, just to see if the grass is really greener out there. I took an X-T20 for a spin around the store. Admittedly, I didn't spend nearly enough time with X-T20 to reach a clear judgement on its full capabilities, but here is what happened:

The store manager put a XF 27mm f2.8 prime on it, because I told them I like small lenses. Then, I set the camera to ISO400 and started shooting around the well-lit store. After trying to shoot some close-ups of objects without much background contrast, this is the first sentence that came out of my mouth: "Man, this thing hunts like a pack of wolves!". Frankly, I was expecting a night and day difference from Fuji compared to my K-x in auto-focusing. I didn't check what setting the camera was at, but Fuji had a hard time deciding which points to focus on in the frame. In a similar situation, set at AF.S and center point, my K-x would lock on pretty decisively and quickly too with a DA21.

All in all, I wasn't impressed with Fuji's ability to auto-focus at all with the aforementioned lens. Focusing speed didn't change much with a higher quality lens (XF23 f1.8), but it was dead silent, which I liked a lot.

Cheers,

Brofessor.

03-04-2019, 02:29 PM - 7 Likes   #2
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It's an overstated myth that pentax has terrible AF, especially with the modern KP/K3II/K1. In fact AFC on the KP is so good I use it with barely any issues at all.

Sure pentax doesn't have a rival for the 1ds or D4 but those cameras cost more than a used corolla.
03-04-2019, 02:37 PM - 3 Likes   #3
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Of course Pentax AF doesn't suck. You have to pick the right tool for the right job......and don't believe everything you read online about Pentax, without a hands on test of your own. Unrealistic expectations lead to predictable disappointment.
03-04-2019, 02:40 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by brofessor Quote
Dear Pentaxians,

Last Friday, while I was on my way to get my watch repaired, I noticed a local photo/video gear store and decided to walk in. First of all, I was quite surprised to see a brick&mortar store of this size in the age of online shopping. However, not to my surprise, they didn't carry any Pentax gear. So, I decided to take a look at the Fuji X stuff, just to see if the grass is really greener out there. I took an X-T20 for a spin around the store. Admittedly, I didn't spend nearly enough time with X-T20 to reach a clear judgement on its full capabilities, but here is what happened:

The store manager put a XF 27mm f2.8 prime on it, because I told them I like small lenses. Then, I set the camera to ISO400 and started shooting around the well-lit store. After trying to shoot some close-ups of objects without much background contrast, this is the first sentence that came out of my mouth: "Man, this thing hunts like a pack of wolves!". Frankly, I was expecting a night and day difference from Fuji compared to my K-x in auto-focusing. I didn't check what setting the camera was at, but Fuji had a hard time deciding which points to focus on in the frame. In a similar situation, set at AF.S and center point, my K-x would lock on pretty decisively and quickly too with a DA21.

All in all, I wasn't impressed with Fuji's ability to auto-focus at all with the aforementioned lens. Focusing speed didn't change much with a higher quality lens (XF23 f1.8), but it was dead silent, which I liked a lot.

Cheers,

Brofessor.
Generally, I have been satisfied with Pentax gear over the several decades. The AF revolution from them has been acceptable for my uses. The PLM design on my 55-300mm zoom has been a delight to use! However, my health & grumpiness have separated into 2 camps, so I recently tested Olympus and was very impressed with its tech and AF speeds! M43 is now in my carry kit, mostly for street use, with my Pentax apsc field camera & lenses. GAS attack! Lol!

03-04-2019, 03:03 PM - 1 Like   #5
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I can only compare Pentax and Canon auto focus. I used a K50,K3 and then K1 each seemed to be a improvement mostly with the DA*300 and DA560. For still objects they did good and for tracking objects, mostly bald eagles and ospreys I thought they did ok but I had never used any other brand so I really had nothing to compare to.

I then switched to Canon for the greater lens lineup. My first purchase was the 5dsr and 600/4 IS II, right away the tracking autofocus was a huge improvement for still subjects only a little faster. I’ve since added a 7d2 then upgraded to the 1DX2 and added the 70-200 2.8 IS II and also the 1.4 and 2x III teleconverters. All combos in my experience have been much faster in continuous than my Pentax gear and my keeper rate is much higher.

Is my Canon gear perfect, no. I miss shots still with Canon, no system is perfect but for me the switch made sense and has improved my shots. If I wasn’t shooting 98% wildlife Pentax would’ve been just fine.
03-04-2019, 03:18 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by ZombieArmy Quote
...but those cameras cost more than a used corolla.
...but don't last as long. My colleague's 1Dx (bought new) only lasted 4 years and 200,000 exposures before it was uneconomical to repair. It cost $7,000 (Canadian dollars) new.
03-04-2019, 03:21 PM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by KiloHotelphoto Quote
Is my Canon gear perfect, no. I miss shots still with Canon, no system is perfect but for me the switch made sense and has improved my shots. If I wasn’t shooting 98% wildlife Pentax would’ve been just fine.
Yes, that's understandable, because you compared Pentax DSLR to Canon DSLR, but you haven't experience mirrorless. It is just in the last two year that mirrorless finally catched up with DSLR (including Pentax). In fact, the X-Pro1 and XT-1 and all mirrorless cameras that came along, were worse than the Pentax for Autofocus even for stills, but the differences between Fuji , Sony and Pentax was that Pentax has no marketing, while Fuji and Fuji were doing a good job at training brand "evangelists". And even in 2019, some cameras AF sucks, and they aren't cheap: GFX50S, GFX50R, Hasselblad X1D (using CDAF) are a hit & miss. Even the A7III can be slower to AF than a Pentax Kp/K1 in low light, but Sony takes care of the marketing, while Ricoh does not.
03-04-2019, 03:26 PM - 1 Like   #8
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Reviews tend to focus on tracking or recently the graphics of tracking. It's understandably difficult but it'd be great to see more tests of low light performance, precision, and decisiveness.

After trying canikons the thing that stood out most was the "experience" of focusing. Beeps and viewfinder graphics were much crisper, giving a feeling of speed regardless of actual performance (which I didn't test reliably). Both sounds and focusing graphics are more fuzzy with Pentax.

I was left with the feeling that those aspects of the experience are tuned the wrong way.

03-04-2019, 03:45 PM - 1 Like   #9
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There are a few folks on these forums that have valid criticisms of Pentax AF.C performance. Many, I would hazard a guess, criticise it too quickly in order to compensate for a lack of skill. Not all, but many. I say that with some personal experience, as I struggled with it too, and still do on occasion (despite being a reasonably competent photographer). But the fact is, skilful use of the camera can often overcome the limitations. I'm probably the forum's worst "birds in flight" photographer, but when I've followed the examples and advice of others here that are more experienced in this discipline, I've managed to get some very decent shots. That advice, incidentally, has helped me on more than one system - not just Pentax.

As for AF.S performance, I have absolutely no problems. Pentax appears to compare very well with other DSLR systems using phase detect AF sensors, and once AF fine adjustment is carried out for the relevant lens(es), accuracy is generally excellent
03-04-2019, 04:33 PM - 10 Likes   #10
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I was shooting birds on a beach with my K1+DFA 150-450 on Sunday, including many in flight. I was using AF.C and multipoint focus. I missed a lot of shots, especially of the in-flight birds when I didn't have time to get the first shot of a burst focussed. But I also got very many pin-sharp keepers. My son shoots a Nikon D850 with their 200-500, and he was very impressed.

03-04-2019, 04:33 PM   #11
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AF issues with Pentax

I used to experience some focus hunting a few years back, when I was using my K5. Later on, I found that my K3 hunted a lot less and now my K1 ll has never been a problem at all. Perhaps this is due to incremental improvements in design to various lenses, especially the newer designs. Possibly this is partly due to software updates also? I cannot remember when I have had any hunting issues in the past 6 months with any of these 3 bodies. Therefore, for me, there is no hunting issue to speak of at this time. However, I do mainly concentrate on landscape type photography.
03-04-2019, 04:36 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
Yes, that's understandable, because you compared Pentax DSLR to Canon DSLR, but you haven't experience mirrorless. It is just in the last two year that mirrorless finally catched up with DSLR (including Pentax). In fact, the X-Pro1 and XT-1 and all mirrorless cameras that came along, were worse than the Pentax for Autofocus even for stills, but the differences between Fuji , Sony and Pentax was that Pentax has no marketing, while Fuji and Fuji were doing a good job at training brand "evangelists". And even in 2019, some cameras AF sucks, and they aren't cheap: GFX50S, GFX50R, Hasselblad X1D (using CDAF) are a hit & miss. Even the A7III can be slower to AF than a Pentax Kp/K1 in low light, but Sony takes care of the marketing, while Ricoh does not.
No never tried mirrorless, looked at the A9 when I switched but sony long lens selection was worse than Pentax at the time. Held one about a year ago, felt like a toy and didnít fit my hand at all just way to small donít think I could ever get used to shooting something like that.

It is amazing that Pentax doesnít do any type of advertising, would love to hear their reason why.
03-04-2019, 05:14 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by KiloHotelphoto Quote
Held one about a year ago, felt like a toy and didnít fit my hand at all just way to small donít think I could ever get used to shooting something like that..
Fuji X-T20 felt the same way in my hands. My K-x has a much more assuring feel, no matter how much plastic went into it.
03-04-2019, 05:38 PM - 2 Likes   #14
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Autofocus works great when you're at least ten feet away from your subject, but for macro/close focus work, I just switch the camera to manual focus and save myself some headaches. That way, the camera's focus mechanism is linked directly to my brain via my fingertips and I more consistently get the shots I want. That's how I learned to shoot almost 40 years ago and you know what? No matter how complicated the technology gets it still just plain works.
03-04-2019, 06:20 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by brofessor Quote
Dear Pentaxians,
So, you didn't have your Pentax there as a control on your experiment?

QuoteOriginally posted by brofessor Quote
a higher quality lens (XF23 f1.8)
That hasn't been announced or released!

---------- Post added 03-05-19 at 12:22 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by brofessor Quote
I took an X-T20 for a spin
An obsolete model,was there not an XT3 to test?
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