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03-29-2009, 12:00 PM   #1
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Pentax vs. Canon AF performance


I really love my K10D. However, I made the mistake of firing off a few shots this weekend with my old Canon Rebel XT that I gave to my sister-in-law. Now, I wouldn't trade my K10D for that tiny old plasticky thing for the world, but...

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In hindsight I realize now how many shots I have missed over the years with my Pentax due to its poor autofocus performance. The most frustrating part is that the vast majority of shots I'm missing are while the camera is tick, tick, ticking its way towards focus lock, not because it has mis-focused. Once it gets there it is generally just as accurate as any other camera I have used. I hope Pentax is listening and improves the performance of their next generation of DSLRs. In my opinion, this is much more important than live view, more megapixels, movie recording, higher frame rates, and/or higher ISO performance (though I would like to be able to shoot over ISO 800).
Read the rest of my latest blog article to see how I came to this conclusion and tell me what you think.


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03-29-2009, 12:20 PM   #2
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I don't read blogs when the author is quite capable of posting here but if you are just going to say the Canon is faster than Pentax then obviously you don't read the forums that often because its old (and repetative) news.
03-29-2009, 12:25 PM   #3
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Thanks, Mike. I'm new to the forum and figured they might appreciate me not posting my entire blog post here. The purpose of even starting this discussion (again) is to get Pentax's attention so that maybe they will do something. IMO it is our responsibility as consumers (and Pentaxians) to make our opinions heard. Sorry if I wasted your time...

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03-29-2009, 12:34 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Robert S Donovan Quote
Thanks, Mike. I'm new to the forum and figured they might appreciate me not posting my entire blog post here. The purpose of even starting this discussion (again) is to get Pentax's attention so that maybe they will do something. Sorry if I wasted your time...
Sorry if I sounded a bit abrupt but time and time again I see people come on the forum moaning about FPS, AF, ISO performance. If it was me and I wasn't happy with my camera I would swap makes, simple as that.
As for posting your blog contents, if its Pentax related then go for it .. I will be happy to read it then .. even if I am right

03-29-2009, 12:43 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike.P® Quote
Sorry if I sounded a bit abrupt but time and time again I see people come on the forum moaning about FPS, AF, ISO performance. If it was me and I wasn't happy with my camera I would swap makes, simple as that.
As for posting your blog contents, if its Pentax related then go for it .. I will be happy to read it then .. even if I am right
Problem is I don't want to swap makes. I'm happy where I am and really prefer the compactness and value of Pentax's fast primes over the bulk and expense of Canon and Nikon's (remember, we're investing in a lens system here). I just want Pentax to do better with their DSLRs.
03-29-2009, 01:03 PM   #6
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Mike.P is right in that it is a worn out overly-discussed topic. He's also right about how we don't like to transfer to some other web page to read your comments elsewhere. We'd rather that you simply summarize here what you said in your blog.

But I understand your frustration with the Pentax AF vs. Canon. I have both Canon and Pentax systems. I was just shooting a wedding a week ago and had both my Canon and Pentax hanging from my neck. I kept trying to use the Pentax for many shots but was frustrated at how long it took to lock a focus. I missed important shots. So I would pick up my Canon and was able to fire off quick successive shots time and again.

Having said that, as I reviewed my photos later, I would say that overall, my Pentax shots were better quality. Lighting just looked better than the Canon's. I used external flash with both cameras and I think Pentax's flash system performed better. So there's pros and cons to both systems.

One more point.... just because Pentax AF isn't as fast as Canon or Nikon, that doesn't mean it is poor, it just means that RELATIVE to Canon or Nikon it isn't as fast. I have still taken thousands and thousands of excellent photos with my pentax.
03-29-2009, 01:10 PM   #7
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short summary of blog entry: Pentax double check is annoying. Canon Rebel is faster. Canon 1DmkIII can track ticks hopping on dog

As I mentioned in a comment on the blog entry, try running w/ AF-ON or AF-C mode to bypass the double check...you have to time it though...fire the shutter at the initial swing but not the 2nd check. Your DOF has to be big enough to hide the partial focus.
Not the optimal solution but seems to be the best that can be done for now...(and yes I've played w/ a D700, D300, D80, Rebel, 1DmkIII, and A700...there's a reason the 1DmkIII adn D700/D300 are used for sports... :-)
03-29-2009, 01:19 PM   #8
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@sevenarrow, I added my concluding paragraph to my original post above. I hope I made it clear that I am referring to focus speed and not accuracy.

@kenyee, Thanks for your summary ;-) I will have to give your suggestion a try and see what happens. I've resisted the whole AF button thing b/c I find it counter-intuitive. Plus, I use a BG2 battery grip which has no AF button...

03-29-2009, 02:08 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by kenyee Quote
...try running w/ AF-ON or AF-C mode to bypass the double check...you have to time it though...fire the shutter at the initial swing but not the 2nd check...
Ken, tried your approach. I can see how this might help speed things up a bit but the difficulty in getting the timing just right is sure to result in a higher number of misses than hits. Perhaps if one is shooting in continuous mode there might be a keeper or two. This doesn't seem that much different than the spraying away in AF-C mode hoping to get a decent shot I do sometimes when the action is too fast for deliberate focus. However, I typically prefer to spend a bit more time composing my shots and just want the focus to be right when I need it. I'll play around with it a bit more.

On a related note, one of the guys working the Pentax booth at PMA explained a way I could set my camera up to automatically release the shutter when focus is achieved in when using my manual focus SMC-A 50mm f/1.7 lens. You simply leave the camera in AF-S mode and fully depress the shutter while manually focusing. As soon as focus is achieved the shutter releases. This has been pretty handy for me when shooting action with my old MF lens. In fact, I even resorted to this technique with the 35m Macro at one point yesterday. However, it is basically useless for me the rest of the time as I am a focus-compose-shoot kind of photographer and constantly jiggering around with focus points is tiresome to me.
03-29-2009, 02:22 PM   #10
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First off, it is not that slow and secondly Pentax did listen. They launched the K200D, K20D and K2000D aka Km which all focus faster than the K10D. I still have my K10D's and they still seem to capture images quickly, but perhaps not as fast as Canon's or Nikon's.
03-29-2009, 02:25 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Robert S Donovan Quote
the difficulty in getting the timing just right is sure to result in a higher number of misses than hits
That's why I mentioned you needed extra DOF. It's not perfect, but it's another option. I agree about the BG not having the AF button...dum design IMHO
As far as the AF-ON technique being non-intuitive, I was at a studio workshop/meetup a few months back w/ Canon folks and 1/3 of them used AF-ON, including the instructor. Bear in mind that this is studio work where you shouldn't even need fast AF, and these are Canon cameras that have "fast AF"

BTW, Catch In Focus (the manual focus technique you mentioned) works w/ any DA lens w/ the K20D as long as you set the menu setting to enable it.
03-29-2009, 02:32 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by kenyee Quote
BTW, Catch In Focus (the manual focus technique you mentioned) works w/ any DA lens w/ the K20D as long as you set the menu setting to enable it.
Ah ha! Works with the K20D. No wonder I couldn't find it in my K10D's menus ;-)
03-29-2009, 02:38 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by benjikan Quote
First off, it is not that slow and secondly Pentax did listen. They launched the K200D, K20D and K2000D aka Km which all focus faster than the K10D. I still have my K10D's and they still seem to capture images quickly, but perhaps not as fast as Canon's or Nikon's.
I was under the impression from Pentax's literature that I recall reading at the time of the K20D's launch that the focus system was a carry-over from the K10D. Is the K20D's focus performance better than the K10D's?
03-29-2009, 03:00 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Robert S Donovan Quote
I was under the impression from Pentax's literature that I recall reading at the time of the K20D's launch that the focus system was a carry-over from the K10D. Is the K20D's focus performance better than the K10D's?

yes the AF performance of the K20, K200, and K2000 (k-m) is faster than the K10. the K-m being the fastest of the bunch.
03-29-2009, 03:45 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by séamuis Quote
yes the AF performance of the K20, K200, and K2000 (k-m) is faster than the K10. the K-m being the fastest of the bunch.
That gives me hope for the K30D
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