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11-06-2008, 10:13 PM   #1
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Ok have camera, time for newby questions!

Now I have my K20D in my hot little hands, I've got a couple of questions. *edit* I'm using a DA 18-250mm lens on it if that makes a difference.

Now I'm not a complete newby, but it's my first DSLR. My last camera was an FZ30 so I understand shutter, aperture, priority settings, white balance etc.

For those who own the K20D and even the K10D or K200D, I'd be interested to know which in-camera settings you find best.

I'm after things like Dynamic Range. Noise reduction, white balance, and anything else you can set through the menu for everyday shooting (to begin with). Obviously once I start having a play in different settings, I'll find what works best for me, but I'd like to get a starting point.

I'll most likely use Tv or Av priority separately for most shots until I get used to the TAv mode, which I haven't had before. What priority mode do most people use?

Also what would be good settings for the "P" or "USER" modes if I was to use it for indoor shots of people, using an external or on-camera flash most of the time? It would be nice to have it as a quick mode I could switch to for those moments when the baby does something cool and I don't want to muck around with priority settings.

Sorry for all the questions, but I don't want to waste time mucking about with settings if someone has already done it successfully and is happy with the results.

Cheers


Last edited by ViS; 11-06-2008 at 10:15 PM. Reason: added type of lens
11-06-2008, 10:30 PM   #2
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I use the [User] mode somewhat flexibly. I set it for the main purpose of the day, and switch in and out as needed. I might, for example, working a kid sports event, want to set the camera to two sets of parameters, one for the playing field, and the other for the spectator shots. Doing this, and sticking with [P] mode - which on the Pentax cameras includes Aperture and Shutter priority through hyper* - on both, but with different ISO's for the two different subjects. I would set one for the playing field, for example, and memorize it to the [User] setting, then switch to [P] and set it to the spectator shots. [User] will memorize a whole bunch of things, and the camera will switch the settings back and forth with two clicks of the mode dial. I never, never use the green square.

* When in program mode, moving the shutter speed edial will instantly swith the camera to shutter priority [Tv]. Moving the aperture edial will instantly switch you to aperture priority [Av]. Pressing the green button next to the shutter release will return you to Program mode.
11-06-2008, 11:10 PM   #3
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There is no way we can answer the settings question for you as it is strickly personal. But, I bumped contrast +1.
11-06-2008, 11:21 PM   #4
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I don't want the BEST settings as they are subjective, I just want to know what works for individuals in regards to dynamic range, noise reduction etc that gives them the output they think is best straight out of the camera.

That way, I can start with those settings, and go from there, making slight adjustments for personal taste.

Thanks for the contrast tip.

11-06-2008, 11:21 PM   #5
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Get the Magic Lantern guide, the book is great for teaching you how to get the best out of the camera from the get go.
11-07-2008, 01:04 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by ViS Quote
I don't want the BEST settings as they are subjective, I just want to know what works for individuals in regards to dynamic range, noise reduction etc that gives them the output they think is best straight out of the camera.

That way, I can start with those settings, and go from there, making slight adjustments for personal taste.

Thanks for the contrast tip.
Hi ViS,

I've got a 7mo old son, so there's likely some synergy in our shooting. I shoot in Av or M the vast majority of the time. Av when I'm out taking candids of family; M when I'm doing something "serious".

Here are the basic settings I've settled into after about 3mos with the K20D; I have the DA18-250 also...

Capture Mode: RAW, just do it.

Center weighted metering. I find in my use that matrix metering tends to underexpose ~1/2 stop.

Center focus. I don't trust the camera to decide what my subject is in the frame.

High Sensitivity NR: OFF. Tests I did showed no appreciable benefit.

Long Exp. NR: Auto. I wish at least the option existed to turn this off like the K10D has.

Custom Image (Fn menu): Bright.

White Balance: Auto - unless I know from test shots it needs to be otherwise. Super easy to correct in post if needed.

Extended DR (Fn menu): Don't care for it (so far).

Auto ISO: 100-800 for normal shooting. If the lighting good I'll bump it to 100-1600; if it's really good and bright 100-3200. I do not use auto-ISO when using flash, and typically use 200 or 400 depending on the situation.

Program Line: MTF

Green Button in TAv/M: Program Line.

Dust Removal: On Startup.

I have my e-dials set for Av/Tv so that the rear e-dial sets aperture/shutter and front e-dial sets EV comp.

Some tips from my use with the DA18-250 to get consistent results...
+ Treat it as if it's an f/8 lens, at least make f/8 where you start. That's the first whole stop that is usable throughout the zoom range; you can always adjust in/out for specific situations.
+ The built-in flash is worthless with this lens past about 50mm or so as the barrel will begin to interfere, so buy an external flash. (I like manual flashes and have Vivitar 285HVs - they're workhorses and cheap.)
+ Get friendly with the zoom lock NOW. The zoom creep on this lens is insane but once un/locking it becomes second nature it won't bother you anymore.

The Magic Lantern book mentioned above is a good tip as well. If this is your first Pentax DSLR it will help decifer and flesh things out. Definitely worth the $15.

Enjoy, and post pics when you have some!
11-07-2008, 02:33 AM   #7
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Nice

That's the sort of stuff I'm after. Hopefully I'll get another post or two confirming some of the settings you mentioned and I'm well on my way. I'll set up my camera as you've suggested for shooting in the morning.

What do you mean about the zoom lock? I assume it's the lockout button at 18mm? Are you saying you get forward creep at 18mm?
11-07-2008, 02:57 AM   #8
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One more thing,

With RAW shooting, do you normally use the PEF or DNG? The DNG is the Adobe version obviously, but is there any difference, and which RAW converters do you recommend? I haven't checked out the included software yet but I assume there is a Pentax RAW converter included in there? Is it any good?

11-07-2008, 04:57 AM   #9
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Ok stating the obvious here, but RAW ROCKS!

I haven't shot in RAW much before and it didn't make much difference with my old camera, but boy can you tell the difference with the K20D! I'm using the DNG format as it opens up right away in photoshop and it's my editor of choice.

Looks like I'll have to invest in another SD card

I got a 4GB Sandisk Extreme III thinking it would probably do the job, but it's only going to hold 150 pictures (which should be enough but would hate for it not to be on the day I need those extra shots). I might grab a slightly slower 8GB card as a backup.

Well after playing around with 100 or so shots tonight in the house, I can't wait to get outside tomorrow and see what this baby can do......
11-07-2008, 07:38 AM   #10
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Here is one person's view of DNG vs PEF:

QuoteQuote:
This has been an issue for me from the first image I ever shot with my K10D. Actually, it started long before that, but the reality of it didn't hit home until I was holding the camera in my hands, trying to decide which was the best format for me to shoot in. There are a few questions here, not the least of which is image quality, but there is also file sizes and time consumption to consider. The DNGs produced by the K10D are nearly twice the size of the compressed PEFs. That being said, if you compress the uncompressed DNGs created by the K10 with the aid of Adobe's DNG conversion tool the DNGs themselves come out 1 MB smaller than the converted PEF using the same program. But, if you have to convert the DNGs from the camera in the same process you would use to convert the PEFs, then the point of having the ability to shoot DNGs in camera, and the use there of becomes somewhat pointless.

When it comes to image quality, I was truly surprised to see any major differences. Your take may differ from mine, but this is what I came away from the test with.

In the case of the DNG straight from the camera, and the compressed version, I saw no difference. This in itself is no suprise, because the DNG compression is a lossless process. However, when comparing the in camera DNG to that of the converted PEF-DNG the difference was striking. I shot this test several times, and each time I came out with the same results. PEFs showed noticeably better AWB performance, color rendition, and noise patterns. The images from the converted PEFs appeared crisper, smoother, and over all just better looking.

One of the biggest selling points of the K10D for me was the ability to shoot in the non-proprietary DNG format. I was proud of Pentax for taking this stand to say, no it's not just all about name brands and dollar signs, it is also about the needs of individual photographer who chooses to use our equipment or everyone else's. Well I can see now that this step was more lip service to an idea than the full implimentation of that idea.

So what does this mean? Well, what it means to me is that I will be shooting in the PEF format for now on and taking the extra step of converting my PEFs into DNGs, even though this can take hours depending on file loads, and I will be using twice the storage space to save them all.

I would like to make it clear that this is not a hate fest on the K10D or Pentax. It is just an honest look at the issue of DNGs Vs PEFs. I have "0" regrets about my choice to switch to Pentax, and I have even less regret than that about my K10D. This is a wonderful camera, and I see myself using it for years to come.

The following images were all shot at 1/60s, f/7.1, ISO 100, using the 18-55mm DA lens set at 21.0mm. The only processing rendered on them was a straight conversion from RAW to high quality JPEGs using ACR, and cropping of the overall image.
11-07-2008, 07:52 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by ViS Quote
Nice

What do you mean about the zoom lock? I assume it's the lockout button at 18mm? Are you saying you get forward creep at 18mm?
Yup. Both the Tamron and Pentax versions of this lens creep like the slide on a trombone. Leave it unlocked while you're walking around, or just standing there with the camera hanging from the neck strap, and gravity will do the rest. I just mentally treat it like the safety on a firearm - lock it when you're not shooting.

QuoteOriginally posted by ViS Quote
With RAW shooting, do you normally use the PEF or DNG? The DNG is the Adobe version obviously, but is there any difference, and which RAW converters do you recommend? I haven't checked out the included software yet but I assume there is a Pentax RAW converter included in there? Is it any good?
I use DNG, others use PEF; it's a personal taste and to a lessor degree software decision. For software I use LightZone; it's powerful and has a photographer intuitive interface. I run Linux so the Pentax software wasn't really a viable option. If Adobe released a Linux version of Lightroom I would probably buy it and switch off between LZ and LR as they have similar workflows but each have unique features.

QuoteOriginally posted by ViS Quote
Ok stating the obvious here, but RAW ROCKS!

...

Looks like I'll have to invest in another SD card

I got a 4GB Sandisk Extreme III thinking it would probably do the job, but it's only going to hold 150 pictures (which should be enough but would hate for it not to be on the day I need those extra shots). I might grab a slightly slower 8GB card as a backup.
I have a pair of Extreme III 8GB and Kingston 4GB cards. The Kingstons sit in my SD wallet as backups - they're too slow for my taste. I shot a wedding last Saturday using Sandisk Ultra II 8GB cards though and they worked really well. I didn't experience any hurry-up-and-wait with them at all.

QuoteOriginally posted by ViS Quote
Well after playing around with 100 or so shots tonight in the house, I can't wait to get outside tomorrow and see what this baby can do......
Post 'em when you got 'em!

One other thing. That 18-250 looms out there pretty far when it's extended. You may find that the D-BG2 battery grip adds a bit of comfort and stability. Also, I have found I do a lot of portrait oriented shots with my son and the grip, with its built-in controls, is invaluable for that. I think there's a couple for sale in the marketplace for around $60.

I did forget the most important advice last night.... Have fun and shoot often!
11-07-2008, 10:04 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by ViS Quote
Ok stating the obvious here, but RAW ROCKS!
Yes, and it kind of negates your original questions. Settings for sharpness, contrast etc don't matter, because they don't affect the RAW data.

QuoteQuote:
I'm using the DNG format as it opens up right away in photoshop and it's my editor of choice.

Looks like I'll have to invest in another SD card
Photoshop definitely supports K20D PEF, although depending on how old a version of Photoshop, you might need to install an ACR update. The advantage of shooting PEF would be much smaller files.

As for differences betwene PEF and DNG aside from size, if your RAW processor is showing any differences whatsoever, it is defective, and a bug report should be files with the developers of the application.
11-07-2008, 10:16 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Damn Brit Quote
Get the Magic Lantern guide, the book is great for teaching you how to get the best out of the camera from the get go.
I agree with Gary. I bought the Magic Lantern guide for my K10D a couple years back shortly after my purchase. It was money well spent and I still reference it quite frequently. Great tips and tricks.

Gee Gary, we are agreeing more all the time!
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