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08-31-2019, 09:47 PM   #1
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Will Pentax ever be able to get a stellar review of it's focusing speed?

Its always the same. A review will give high praise to a particular Pentax DSLR for innovative features, handling, IQ, etc, but never, never, not once have I seen a Pentax DSLR's autofocus speed rate as high or higher than just about every DSLR made over the past 10 years. Surely Pentax engineers are aware of this, they have to know; they can't possibly be proud of their autofocus design work. Can they?

08-31-2019, 10:00 PM - 4 Likes   #2
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Blazing fast autofocus is not needed for most photography. Pentax's AF speed is plenty adequate for most photographers needs. Mick, I just clicked on the hyperlink to your beautiful black & white photos. Not a single one of them was of an object/subject that moved. Why are you so concerned about autofocusing speed?

There are advantages to manual focusing. For example, even highly regarded Sony's "Eye Focus" sometimes misses the eyeball and instead focuses on the eyelash, eyebrow, or even nose. When I shoot fast lenses at wide apertures up close, I nail critical focus nearly 100% of the time using manual focusing. For nailing critical focus for most photography (except BIF, fast action sports, etc.) I get more razor sharp keepers using my manual focusing techniques than by using auto focus (with any brand of camera).

I can certainly understand why autofocus is important to newer photographers, because it takes much MUCH longer to master manual focusing.
08-31-2019, 10:28 PM - 4 Likes   #3
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I dunno...I find my K1 has good auto focusing..in my opinion.

Now, I haven't read too many reviews, so I'm basing my opinion on my 50+ years of photography.

Time for disclosure..of that 50 years, I've only used AF cameras for 12 years...starting with my K10D, then Km, then K5, then Canon G 12, then K1, then Ricoh GR ll. I do notice a difference between my K10D and my K1, but still, having said that, the K10D...ain't too bad in the AF department.

I also take a lot of pictures, some of fast moving objects such as wild birds, drag racing cars whipping down the track and my 20 month old grandson...who is fast as greased lightning...and when I'm snapping away at my little speed demon, this is in available light, indoors, with either my 28-105 or D FA 100 Macro.

It (AF speed) works fine for me and yes, I do take pics of birds in flight.

Now it could be, that my standards might be regarded by some, as abysmal...or maybe I have got the hang of using Pentax equipment. Hard to say.

But I know, that with everything I've done in life, the more I do it, the better I get at it. Practice makes...almost...perfect, I guess.
Maybe the key is, to stop reading reviews of Pentax AF qualities..usually by reviewers who only have the equipment to test for a very brief period...week or so, I'm guessing.

I find it takes me awhile, to learn how to use unfamiliar equipment and I don't think I'm that unusual.
08-31-2019, 11:25 PM - 1 Like   #4
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It seems lenses have more to do with AF speed than cameras. I don't have one, but I believe the DA 300 PLM is lighting fast, on any compatible Pentax camera.

For 95% of my shots, Pentax AF (K1 + DFA 150-450) is very adequate for my needs. Where I would appreciate something faster is for birds in flight. Even there, I get a lot spot-on, but certainly not all or even most.

08-31-2019, 11:39 PM - 3 Likes   #5
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A fast camera auto focus is not all, you also need fast lenses too.
Also a Nikon D850 is lame with lame lenses...
08-31-2019, 11:42 PM - 1 Like   #6
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Owning a K30 and K-m, that's for sure than every other brand models of 2019 will be faster to focus. Anyway , you are late to the party regarding the nurturing of Pentax AF bad reputation, so don't worry: in 2018 Ricoh released a K1 tweak, and so far in 2019 they have released anything. Whenever Pentax would be discontinued, you wouldn't have to suffer with Pentax AF reviews anymore.

---------- Post added 01-09-19 at 08:53 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by HolgerS Quote
Also a Nikon D850 is lame with lame lenses...
Yes, the D-FA24-70 is a Tamron 24-70 SP, is limited by its AF motor, for whether on Pentax K1 or D850, the AF speed is the max the Tamron 24-70 can do.
I've compared the D-FA 28-105 on K1 with FE28-75 on A7III, and the K1 kit is faster to focus. Never mind.

---------- Post added 01-09-19 at 09:10 ----------

P.S.: -> this is the kind of thread in forums that move my photography forward (sarcasm). Time to go elsewhere.

Last edited by biz-engineer; 08-31-2019 at 11:53 PM.
09-01-2019, 12:43 AM - 3 Likes   #7
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True, Pentax needs to level up its AFC performance. However, Pentax also needs to update its lens line up particularly using PLM technology or any other equivalent. Then maybe we will see a huge difference in performance using AFC mode.

Still, I don't think it's that bad as others would put it. I've practiced what clackers said using single focus point and CJones recommended settings on my K-3II and now, I'm having more keepers shooting moving subjects.

Some of us here have very good techniques when shooting action shots. Last month I was in Africa and I knew if I would simply use AF on the HD 55-300 WR I would scare the parrots away due to its focusing sound. The lens would sometimes focus back and forth before locking on the subject. To avoid this problem, I pre-focused manually and when the parrots came in, I had a great time shooting using AFC. Pre-focusing manually is one good technique. It is also recommended by some sports shooters here.
09-01-2019, 01:03 AM - 3 Likes   #8
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Good technique and back button focussing ( BBF ) helps.

09-01-2019, 01:21 AM - 5 Likes   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by MD Optofonik Quote
Its always the same. A review will give high praise to a particular Pentax DSLR for innovative features, handling, IQ, etc, but never, never, not once have I seen a Pentax DSLR's autofocus speed rate as high or higher than just about every DSLR made over the past 10 years. Surely Pentax engineers are aware of this, they have to know; they can't possibly be proud of their autofocus design work. Can they?
MD, you're really going to have to explain yourself here, because that doesn't tally with the facts.

The Imaging Resource review of autofocus actually times shots, and of the K-1 they reported:

"The Pentax K-1's full autofocus shutter lag when shooting the same target multiple times was very fast for a pro-level DSLR. The K-1 required only 0.090 second for full AF using the Pentax 55mm f/1.4 SDM DA* lens. Manual focus shutter lag was just a touch faster at 0.087 second. When prefocused, shutter lag dropped only slightly to 0.086 second, which is a little slower than average for a pro DSLR."

The review on this forum for the KP says:

"Assuming you're shooting in good light, the lens you choose has a much larger effect on focusing speed than the camera itself. The fastest-focusing Pentax lens (by a large margin) is the DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3 PLM. With its new pulse motor, this lens focuses nearly instantly, many times faster than even the latest DC silent-focusing lenses. It is thus an excellent choice for sports or any sort of action.

Screwdrive lenses with a short throw (such as DA Limiteds) are typically also very fast to focus, as are DC lenses such as the DA 18-135mm or DA 16-85mm with their rear-mounted focusing rings. Slower-focusing lenses include screwdrive lenses with a long throw, such as the D FA 100mm macro or the DA 55-300mm F4-5.8, as well as DA* lenses with first-generation SDM silent AF. f you are upgrading from the K-50 or older, you will notice much faster screwdrive AF speed, as the KP has a new generation screwdrive motor.

Everyday focusing speed is quite good for both viewfinder and live view shooting. Gone are the days of hunting or slow live view AF, and only the most demanding action shooters will see the KP's AF performance as a shortcoming."

And as for continuous focus/"tracking", below for example was the K-3 II compared by a German academic with a controlled setup a few years back:.

That you let hearsay or your own shooting technique cause you to say something that isn't true, is interesting.

But as Totsmuyco found, your own keeper rate rises when you learn to how use your camera.
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Last edited by clackers; 09-01-2019 at 03:07 AM.
09-01-2019, 02:19 AM - 5 Likes   #10
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As noted by other posters, reviews and perceptions of Pentax AF-C performance can be and often are wildly distorted by a number of factors:
  • shooting technique and experience in getting the most out of Pentax gear (the latter being a huge problem with reviewers who have rarely shot Pentax extensively)
  • the lens used
  • the firmware version running on the camera
  • the camera model used
  • the shooting situation (light, direction and speed of movement)
  • camera and lens settings (although this is arguably linked to shooting technique)
The list may be incomplete. Okay, even if the above is factored in, Pentax may not take the take for fastest AF. But it's certainly adequate for most situations, and it isn't lightyears behind the competition either, as is so often suggested. (There must be countless PF threads by now covering that.)

I can only say that I was positively surprised by the number of keepers I got from a chance visit of Duisburg Dolphinarium back in the summer. I was equipped with my K-3 on the latest firmware, coupled with my good old screwdrive-AF smc DA55-300. The generous afternoon sun filtering through the glass ceiling of the building certainly helped, as did pre-focussing on where I anticipated the dolphins to appear, having the camera configured to use back-button AF, single-point AF, stopping down a tad but keeping my shutter speed high, and otherwise following recommended AF settings by some of the action shooters on these forums. Full-res JPEGs can be viewed here: Duisburg Dolphinarium - Marc
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09-01-2019, 02:38 AM - 3 Likes   #11
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As others have said, a lot is ti do with particular lenses rather than the camera, and the lens situation is compex - Ricoh have said for instance that PLM is not powerful enough for any but small focusing groups (which generally means slower lenses, though it might be usable if they upgraded Ltds?) - but also, another big factor is the the design choices made, which Ricoh are often less forthcoming about - focusing accuracy and AF speed are to some extent in conflict - accuracy benefits from a longer focusing throw and AF speed is increased by shortening it - point being that there is a compromise between speed and accuracy, and maybe (I don't know) different manufacturers make different decisions there too.
09-01-2019, 02:48 AM - 3 Likes   #12
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Let's put things in perspective. You have read the same complaint over the last 10+ years, yet the K-1 AF is so much better than the K10D AF.
The current Pentax technology is probably behind the top pro-DSLR ones but it's a wonder compared to the rustic focusing systems found in the entry level cameras of other manufacturers.
09-01-2019, 03:20 AM - 6 Likes   #13
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I don't bother too much with review sites, mainly because I'm not purchasing any new gear right now and also because they all seem to have "moved on" to the mirrorless revolution where most of what they care about is tracking auto focus and video performance. Truthfully, neither one of these items is terribly important to me.

That said, there are a few things to bear in mind (1) Every new Pentax camera has improved on previous generations of cameras when it comes to auto focus. The K-1 II is actually very good when it comes to keeping up with a scene. (2) Auto focus performance is dependent on the lens as much as the camera used. Most of the people who are so negative on auto focus performance are using older cameras with SDM or screw driven lenses. I own a DA *55 and a DFA *70-200. The difference in focus speed between the two is night and day. I still use the DA *55, but not if I am expecting to need speedy auto focus. (3) The photographer is often the weak link in the equation. Probably the number one issue with review sites is that when they review Pentax gear they have a few hours to spend with a brand of camera that they don't typically shoot. They are much more familiar with Canon, Nikon, and Sony. My wife shoots weddings and has never had an issue with the auto focus, even when shooting in candle lit venues. She is aware of her gear and knows how to make it work in the situations she uses it in.

I guess that's my 2 cents. Review sites aren't likely to change and as time goes by, I think it likely that most will start to downgrade SLRs simply because they aren't mirrorless cameras.
09-01-2019, 03:25 AM - 3 Likes   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Zav Quote
Let's put things in perspective. You have read the same complaint over the last 10+ years, yet the K-1 AF is so much better than the K10D AF.
The current Pentax technology is probably behind the top pro-DSLR ones but it's a wonder compared to the rustic focusing systems found in the entry level cameras of other manufacturers.
Yes, Zav, and onine reviewers who are advertisers rather than scientific testers will just *say stuff*.

Beholder3 reported that the German magazine Digital Photography tested some of the most hyped top pro cameras with the following disappointing AF.C autofocus results. These are cameras that cost a lot of money!
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09-01-2019, 07:45 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by MD Optofonik Quote
Its always the same. A review will give high praise to a particular Pentax DSLR for innovative features, handling, IQ, etc, but never, never, not once have I seen a Pentax DSLR's autofocus speed rate as high or higher than just about every DSLR made over the past 10 years. Surely Pentax engineers are aware of this, they have to know; they can't possibly be proud of their autofocus design work. Can they?
If you want to own a dSLR camera with widely acclaimed AF, the solution is as close as your Nikon dealer's Web front. If your need is for world-class AF, the product is there waiting to be purchased and it says Nikon on the front.

As for the jab at Pentax engineers...I don't think they hang out here.


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