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04-22-2009, 06:23 AM   #1
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love the k20d, but...

It seems to have a very hard time focusing in low light (no flash, sigma 30mm 1.4).

i shoot in clubs and bands.

i have tried both auto modes (one is better than the other, cant remember the abbreviation)

anybody else having a hard time with this?

is it typical?

Anybody got a solution or advice?

Cheers


04-22-2009, 06:38 AM   #2
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Are you saying you cannot manually focus or that autofocus is having a hard time locking into focus?
04-22-2009, 07:33 AM   #3
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way too dark for quick manual focus in the club.

My 1ds mk2 peforms focus much better in the Band atmosphere (more light), pentax is slow.

yet i find the 1ds hunts more than the pentax in the dark clubs but the pentax is out of focus when it fires...
04-22-2009, 07:42 AM   #4
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Can you provide some samples and exif data? Could be the shallow depth of field, shutter lag, focal point (are you selecting the focal point or letting the camera figure out what to focus on?), poor lighting, etc.............

04-22-2009, 09:08 AM   #5
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Some cameras can do AF better in low light because they provide an AF assist lamp. Pentax cameras don't - unless you pup op the flash to serve as an AF assist, then close it again after focus is achieved. Which works but is clumsy, slow, and more distracting than the more focused AF assist lamps employed by other cameras. Such is life.

However, I'd challenge the notion that focusing manually won't work. It takes practce, and you might find installing a split prism screen will help, but in the end, it generally yields better results, for several reasons. One is that with the very shallow DOF you deal with when using large apertures, even the slightest focus error on the camera can make your subject out of focus, and most cameras are not as accurate under strongly colored but weak artificial lighting (eg, virtually all club lighting) as they are in daylight. but more important, the AF sensors are pretyt big, and even though you might be pointing directly at the subject's face and seeing the little red square light up right on their nose, the AF system is still likely to notice the microphone, stand, cord, guitar neck, trumpet bell, cymbal, or other object somewhere kind of near the face and choose to focu on that instead, because it's still within range of that same AF sensor. So you end up with lots of sharp pictures of microphones and cymbals with blurry faces behind them. MF oftens ends up being the only way to guarantee focus is where you want it.

Like I said, though, it does take practice, and for many people, a split prism focus screen like the Katz Eye helps.
04-22-2009, 09:19 AM   #6
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Not really having a hard time here, since I hardly ever use auto focus. I use K20d only in manual mode and focus also manually. Once u get used to it it is actually much faster and accurate ( I used to have a lot of out of focus shots before).

Marc made some really good points in the previous post on the area selection.

Finally, is your lens focusing normally in daylight conditions. Could there be front/back-focusing problem?
04-22-2009, 09:55 AM   #7
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30mm, how far away are you shooting from. Shoot manuel, find hyperfocal.
04-22-2009, 05:46 PM   #8
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buy a D700


Last edited by mrt10x; 04-23-2009 at 02:21 AM.
04-22-2009, 10:16 PM   #9
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You have been given lots of good advice. Picking up a split-prism is a great idea. If funds are short, many of us have gotten great results with less expensive options than the Katz Eye---Haoda, focusingscreeens.com & Ebay all provide split-prism options.

Get the split prism & practice with it. You can get spot-on focusing in dim light with a split prism without too much effort.
04-22-2009, 10:40 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by mrt10x Quote
buy a D700
You are kidding, right? I didn't see no smiley face next to that post.
04-23-2009, 02:21 AM   #11
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One question.

Why are you using the Pentax in place of the C*****n 1ds Mk11?

I thought the 1ds was a far superior camera with regards to focus and low light conditions?

D
04-23-2009, 02:24 AM   #12
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Now there is a smiley.. but I was pretty serious. I have been shooting Pentax for 35 years, so dont go all postal on me.. but if I was shooting in low light all the time I would do whatever it took to get into a Nikon D700, Its high ISO performance is light years better than Pentax's. I love my K20 and my K10, but high ISO is their glaring weakness. IMHO
04-23-2009, 06:42 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by mrt10x Quote
if I was shooting in low light all the time I would do whatever it took to get into a Nikon D700, Its high ISO performance is light years better than Pentax's. I love my K20 and my K10, but high ISO is their glaring weakness. IMHO
The D700 gives you roughly 1.7 stops better performance than the K20D if the D300 vs. D700 comparison is any indication. I've seen some great stuff done w/ a lowly Canon 40D and K20D at concerts though.

Looks like the OP has vanished off the planet after that one post. Pretty funny...
04-23-2009, 08:33 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by mrt10x Quote
Now there is a smiley.. but I was pretty serious. I have been shooting Pentax for 35 years, so dont go all postal on me.. but if I was shooting in low light all the time I would do whatever it took to get into a Nikon D700, Its high ISO performance is light years better than Pentax's. I love my K20 and my K10, but high ISO is their glaring weakness.
An odd perspective coming from someone who has been shooting for 35 years, then - even the K10D is already at least a couple of stops better than 35mm film in the high ISO department, and the K20D somewhat better than that. The D700 isn't "light years" beyond that - it's another stop or so. That extra stop or so you get by going from an APS-C to a FF digital camera kind of pales in comparison to the improvement one already gets just by switching from 35mm film to digital. And Pentax cameras do as well or better than any other APS-C cameras.

So Pentax DSLR's are certainly not weak compared to 35mm film or to other APS-C cameras. And if they do maybe a stop or so worse than a camera system costing thousands more, that's hardly a "glaring weakness", either.

All that said, yes, of course, going to a FF sensor with larger pixels will provide improvement. Whether it is worth it or not to any given photographer or not is another matter. It is possible to get fine results from Pentax DSLR's at ISO 3200 - fine if you aren't trying to print posters, anyhow.

Here is a sample ISO 1600 image from the K200D. The K20D would presumably do even better. This was also done with manual focus, BTW:



Could the D700 have improved on that somewhat? Sure. Would it be worth the thousands of dollars it would have taken to upgrade the camera and get the correspondingly longer stabilized lens? I guess that's for each person to decide for themselves. I'm happy enough with images like the above that no way would I be feeling the need to spend thousands more to get whatever marginal improvement a D700 would provide.
04-23-2009, 11:11 AM   #15
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Thank you everybody!

I have just walked in from another gig, as usual i mainly used the 1ds for the stage work and then the k20d in the far darker nightclub around the corner.

I only tried using the 1ds in the club once and it was a nightmare (another forum perhaps)

I started manually focusing the pentax tonight and even though the subject is almost completely in the dark my eyesight is still good and i can see the hard edges of focus.

Cant help but think i would get a better auto result out of a 40d though... thoughts anybody?

If comments in this thread are correct the 40 should have a built in 'assist lamp'

ps im selecting the focal point.

Cheers
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