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01-15-2009, 10:37 AM   #1
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Taking night shots w/ K20D.....

I was wondering if anyone had some quick tips on shooting very long exposures with a K20D. I'm thinking of shots like when we're up at our cabin and there's a full moon over the lake, or through the leaf-less trees, etc. Since we're in the woods it's VERY dark - outside of the moonlight.

I don't have a cable release or a remote, but I'm thinking if I have the camera on a sturdy tripod I should still be able to get some decent shots by locking up the mirror. The 2 second delay should give me time to get my hands off the camera so things are steady - I would think. Does that sound like it'd work, or do you really need a remote or cable to do this right?

Also, any tips on settings would be appreciated. I'm assuming I could shoot at an ISO like 100? Do you set the aperture for maximum depth of field, or does that not really matter because there will be so much dark space in the shot? How about shutter speed?

Thanks in advance for any pointers,

Tim

01-15-2009, 10:53 AM   #2
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I've done some time exposure with my K200D. From what it sounds like you want out of the picture, the lowest ISO you can use would be best. This will lengthen the shutter speed, but provide better detail in the end. For aperture, you can set it as you normally would in everyday shooting, unless you're intentionally trying to prolong the shutter speed, in which case you can increase the aperture some. I was shooting light trails from an overpass, and so I wanted to get a properly exposed 30 second shot, thus shooting at F16 was necessary.

The other thing about this type of work is the metering. Don't expect the camera to get the metering correct on a shot like this, and be prepared to try four or five times before getting the exposure the way you want it. Best to use the metering as a suggestion, and if you don't like what it produces, move from there. I suspect if there will be a moon in the picture, overexposure will likely be necessary to get the other items in the shot properly exposed. All I'm saying is don't wait for "the moment" to fire the first shot. Do some tests first.

Your idea with the mirror lockup is fine. As long as your hand is off the camera when the shutter fires, and it's mounted on a sturdy pod, you're good to go. Make sure what you're standing on isn't moving, however. I discovered that the overpass I was on had some slight vibrations running through it, and you wouldn't think it would effect the pictures much, but it did.

Last edited by drewdlephone; 01-15-2009 at 10:59 AM.
01-15-2009, 12:29 PM   #3
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yep, 2sec MLU works fine. I do this a lot. Set the ISO to 100 or 200 and expose as needed.
01-15-2009, 02:07 PM   #4
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Tim, one thing to take into consideration is that the moon actually moves enough to blur long exposures, especially at rising and setting when apparent movement is accentuated by the atmosphere. I found that anything longer than 1/4 sec became somewhat blurred. However, in an area with low light pollution, the moon should be bright enough so that you don't need anything longer than 1/4. The other pointer is make sure no extraneous light enters the camera via the rear eyepiece. If you are in a dark area, this should be no problem as long as you don't shine a flashlight at the rear of the camera. But with night city scenes this can be a problem. I tape a tiny piece of cardboard over the eyepiece, flip it up to focus etc, then down to make the shot.

NaCl(too much light in the wrong place can be a problem)H2O

01-15-2009, 04:39 PM   #5
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The moon moves quite a bit. Surprisingly so. Technically, I guess the whole sky does... D'oh.

I have used the long delay (12 sec) more successfully than the short delay. Of course, my tripod is a junker and I haven't worked out anything better yet.

With my heavier lens (A-Series Sigma 500 APO), the whole rig is springy. I have only had luck with the legs retracted as short as possible, placing the tripod on the trunk of my car. Definitely use long delay for sitting on the car.

The camera with just about any lens I have tried has enough resolution that even a short exposure of the night sky will show arcs for stars.
01-15-2009, 05:48 PM   #6
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Tim. You may wish to check out this thread on firmware update, K20D, and using 2 sec timer. Ken.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-dslr-discussion/46039-k20d-worth-u...=firmware+K20D
01-16-2009, 12:14 AM   #7
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Just remember that with the K20D, any exposure longer than 2 seconds initiates a dark frame subtraction process that lasts as long as the actual exposure. So if you do a 30 minute exposure, there will be a 30 minute long dark frame done. This cannot be turned off so needs to be taken into consideration.

Jack
01-16-2009, 10:18 AM   #8
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If the moon it's on the frame and the rest it's dark,
you end-up probably with the moon burnt.
If I remember rigth for the full-moon there is the moony-11 math,
so for a correct exposed moon if you are using ISO 100
with exposure time of 1/100s you need F-11 and so on.
No way to have the moon and dark woods correctly exposed,
maybe with multiple exposure.

01-16-2009, 01:29 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbinpg Quote
Just remember that with the K20D, any exposure longer than 2 seconds initiates a dark frame subtraction process that lasts as long as the actual exposure. So if you do a 30 minute exposure, there will be a 30 minute long dark frame done. This cannot be turned off so needs to be taken into consideration.

Jack
I thought the firmware upgrade eliminated that problem.

Please tell me that it has! There is no way I'm going to wait the same amount of time for a dark frame! That's the nuttiest idea ever that Pentax wouldn't make this optional. I have a lot of experience with low-light and long exposures and all that is necessary is one or a few reference dark frames, not one for every photo taken!
01-16-2009, 02:52 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by pentaxmz Quote
Please tell me that it has! There is no way I'm going to wait the same amount of time for a dark frame! That's the nuttiest idea ever that Pentax wouldn't make this optional. I have a lot of experience with low-light and long exposures and all that is necessary is one or a few reference dark frames, not one for every photo taken!
You can turn dark frame subtraction off on the K10D but you *cannot* turn it off on the K20D, even w/ the latest firmware. Look at the Wish List sticky thread in the News forum and you'll see it's wishlisted there.
If it bugs you a lot, please take the time to email Pentax about it on their web site...the squeakiest wheels....
01-16-2009, 04:31 PM   #11
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How to contact Pentax about the K20D DFS problem

Make no mistake, the inability to turn off Dark Frame Subtraction is unusual and wrong!

I am very experienced in Astrophotography and I can assure you that, for example, taking many five minute exposures only requires one (ONE) single five minute Dark Frame reference, NOT one for each photo. That is why the owner should have control over whether or not to engage DFS.

If you ever plan to take exposures of greater than eight seconds with the K20D, you're in for a long wait (double the initial exposure). Think of the shots you'll miss if you are taking photos of a meteor shower, lightning, the starry night, car trails on a highway, etc. Most other DSLR owners will out shoot you!

Other CMOS cameras, such as the Canon 40D (et al) do not force their users to endure this additional wait (the DFS is entirely optional). So the argument that this is simply the nature of owning a CMOS DSLR doesn't wash!

Either it is an oversight OR Pentax is covering up a serious deficiency in the K20D imaging hardware.

Do use all a favor and complaint loud and often.

Here is a link to where you might voice your concern:
http://pentax.quicksupportlink.com/callform/pages/callform.asp?origin_us=true

If there is a better/more direct way to complain, please share it with the group.
01-16-2009, 05:35 PM   #12
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Brrrrrr

A little off subject, but keep in mind the temperatures outside this time of the year at night in Minnesota. Unless it's unseasonably warm right now, you run a risk of F'ing up your camera in sub-freezing temps, especially when shooting long frame and doing anything much more than just a quick snap of something.

Jason
01-16-2009, 06:17 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jasvox Quote
A little off subject, but keep in mind the temperatures outside this time of the year at night in Minnesota. Unless it's unseasonably warm right now, you run a risk of F'ing up your camera in sub-freezing temps, especially when shooting long frame and doing anything much more than just a quick snap of something.

Jason
Guess you better tell that to my K20D. Had it on the tripod at -24C for 72 minutes the other month and it is still working just fine. Mind you, I had it on the 120V adapter, not battery power. And just be careful to warm it up slowly to avoid condensation.

Jack
01-17-2009, 01:40 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbinpg Quote
Guess you better tell that to my K20D. Had it on the tripod at -24C for 72 minutes the other month and it is still working just fine. Mind you, I had it on the 120V adapter, not battery power. And just be careful to warm it up slowly to avoid condensation.

Jack
Exactly! Just avoid a rapid change in temperature, especially in higher humidity conditions.

With all due respect, Jasvox is wrong. Yes, Pentax specifications due have temperature limits (I think the low is 0 deg. Celsius) but these camera should function at lower temperatures without incident.

Is Jasvox suggesting that the K20D cannot be used outdoors by more than 1/3 of its owners for several months of the year? Silly person!

For real extremes, check out this posting: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-dslr-discussion/31970-pentax-k10d-space.html

Pentax K10 at -60c and near 0 pressure! And it still works after hitting the ground at 20 miles per hour.

Last edited by pentaxmz; 01-17-2009 at 01:49 AM.
01-17-2009, 09:42 AM   #15
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Remember though that without a cable release you are limited to max 30 seconds exposure (at least on the k10). That might not be enough...
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