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05-07-2007, 12:08 PM   #1
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Couple of tech questions from new K10D owner

A couple of questions have arisen as I've been alternating my time between paying work, yard work (note: will host photographers interested in Glacier National Park 20 minutes away in exchange for yard work) and methodically working my way through my new K10D and manual. I tend to read manuals as soon as possible after purchasing, odd in this day and age, I know...

As I'm going through pages 145-147 of the manual, I see the usual speed and aperture priority programs, and then a new one (for me): MTF. Pentax says this setting prioritizes settings for the current lens you have mounted (assuming one of the newer lens models).

The idea that Pentax has included the MTF data for each of their qualifying lenses in the camera, along with a program line that optimizes the performance of those lenses is rather intriguing. All the more so when I'm currently using a couple of older, mediocre (relatively speaking) Pentax FA lenses at the moment. A Sigma 17-70 is on the way, but the MTF program line will be irrelevant for it, I expect.

Not having yet finished my manual reading and having a chance to do some comparison testing, has anyone yet put the MTF program line to the test to see if it does indeed noticeably optimize lens performance? I'd be interested in your impressions.

It seems like we're approaching the point where we'll have something along the lines of Dx0 built into our cameras - an intriguing concept. If the MTF programming is well done, then presumably you get the best the lens is capable of (assuming you don't need speed or DOF priority instead, of course) - a nice touch for those who can't afford the truly pricey stuff. Not too helpful with third party lenses of course...

Anyways, it will be interesting to do some comparison shooting at some point down the road to see what if any difference this makes.

Also leaves me wondering how long before something like Dx0 is built into our cameras, to correct lens distortion and whatnot at the instant the image is captured.

My second question concerns my equally new 540FGZ flash - whose manual I have yet to get around to, nor have I used it for much more than a couple of test shots. If I'm reading my K10D manual correctly on p. 181, to get wireless abilities, I need to own TWO external 360/540 flashes!

Agghhhhh! Say it ain't so - couldn't they at least have built the 360/540's to be triggered by the built in flash, instead of by a second pricey optional flash mounted on the hot shoe? It would be nice if I'm just reading this wrong, and the manual for the flash will tell me otherwise...

Oh well... the only reason I stepped up to the 540 was because the 360 didn't swivel on the horizontal axis, not over any wireless issues. But a wireless capability would have been nice, none the less. I was really impressed at what I could do with my buddies D200 and being able to put his speedlight just about wherever you wanted it.

Anyways, I better get back to slashing and my other yard chores; otherwise, when the weather improves I'll still be working instead of running around with my camera.

05-07-2007, 01:14 PM   #2
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From Pentax site about firmware upgrade 1.10:

“The following function has been added in version 1.10
1. Wireless control of external flash through built-in flash.
2. Instantly retu ” SNIP.

Sounds good, I haven't tried it though.

link
PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERA INFORMATION PAPER
05-07-2007, 01:42 PM   #3
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But the manual is still wrong??

QuoteOriginally posted by Gimbal Quote
From Pentax site about firmware upgrade 1.10:

“The following function has been added in version 1.10
1. Wireless control of external flash through built-in flash.
2. Instantly retu ” SNIP.

Sounds good, I haven't tried it though.
Yes, and it works just fine... is a great feature to be able to control external flashes remotely, funny though, I checked my manual for the K10D and it still says it does not work!!

And people prefer printed manuals

Phil
05-07-2007, 10:28 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gimbal Quote
From Pentax site about firmware upgrade 1.10:

“The following function has been added in version 1.10
1. Wireless control of external flash through built-in flash.
2. Instantly retu ” SNIP.

Sounds good, I haven't tried it though.

link
PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERA INFORMATION PAPER
Ah, wireless! Works for me. The instructions in their information papers are less than crystal clear however. But I'm sure I'll figure it out quickly enough once I get to that point.

It's amazing, really. 35 years after I bought my first Pentax, and countless other electronic devices made in Japan... and most of those companies STILL can't write a crystal clear translation of their operating manuals in English.

We get literally thousands of Japanese tourists in this area every year, many of whom are flawlessly bilingual in English. Some probably even speak and write English better than the natives do. And yet... Pentax and many other Japanese companies can't seem to find ONE of these fluently bilingual people to do the technical writing and translation for their English manuals/tech papers. I wonder if it's the same thing for German, French, Swedish, etc...

QuoteOriginally posted by matix Quote
Yes, and it works just fine... is a great feature to be able to control external flashes remotely, funny though, I checked my manual for the K10D and it still says it does not work!!

And people prefer printed manuals
I prefer printed manuals. Besides, if you bother to download the K10D manual and look on page 181 of the .pdf, you'll find that it is apparently word for word what the printed manual says - you supposedly need two external flashes.

So if the electronic user manual isn't frequently upgraded as new firmware upgrades are released, what advantage does it have over a printed manual? At least I can keep my paper manual in a ziplock bag in the back compartment of my camera bag, should I need to refer to it ten days out on a backpacking trip...

Electronic manuals would be great if they updated them at the same time new firmware was made available.

05-08-2007, 12:26 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rick Quote

As I'm going through pages 145-147 of the manual, I see the usual speed and aperture priority programs, and then a new one (for me): MTF. Pentax says this setting prioritizes settings for the current lens you have mounted (assuming one of the newer lens models).

The idea that Pentax has included the MTF data for each of their qualifying lenses in the camera, along with a program line that optimizes the performance of those lenses is rather intriguing. All the more so when I'm currently using a couple of older, mediocre (relatively speaking) Pentax FA lenses at the moment. A Sigma 17-70 is on the way, but the MTF program line will be irrelevant for it, I expect.

Not having yet finished my manual reading and having a chance to do some comparison testing, has anyone yet put the MTF program line to the test to see if it does indeed noticeably optimize lens performance? I'd be interested in your impressions.
Okay, the story is, that every pentax lens from the FA series back in the early 90s has the MTF ROM, for the MTF priority. Now, the story goes that for the standard lenses it is the data for that model, for exmaple, all FA 28-105 f4-5.6 lenses have the same MTF data. But the premium lenses, FA* and Limited each individual lens is tested, to find that particular ones sweet spot, though the minor differences aren't reflected in the readouts, the aperture is able to be set sleeplessly so while the aperture may read on the camera f4, in reality it may be f4.2, as the next 1/3rd step is 4.5.

I use the MTF as my "f8 and be there" i usually when doing that kind of shooting just leave it on what the program line has selected.

Now, for lenses that do not have the MTF line in them, ie A, F and Sigma lenses (unsure about Tamron or Tokina as they have both licensed the KAF(2) mount while sigma reverse engineered it.) The program will determine this and guesstimate about 1.5-2.5 stops from wide open.
05-08-2007, 11:35 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Cideway Quote
Okay, the story is, that every pentax lens from the FA series back in the early 90s has the MTF ROM, for the MTF priority. Now, the story goes that for the standard lenses it is the data for that model, for exmaple, all FA 28-105 f4-5.6 lenses have the same MTF data. But the premium lenses, FA* and Limited each individual lens is tested, to find that particular ones sweet spot, though the minor differences aren't reflected in the readouts, the aperture is able to be set sleeplessly so while the aperture may read on the camera f4, in reality it may be f4.2, as the next 1/3rd step is 4.5.
If I understand what you're saying, the lenses from the FA onward all have an internal ROM chip with the information on it?. (so he runs off to look at his old manuals).

Well, you learn something new every day... The manuals for my FA lenses don't make any mention of this, or the fact they make MTF data available to some camera bodies. HOWEVER... looking at my PZ-1 manual, there is a discription of MTF as an optional program line on page 86. I've owned that camera for 15 years and never noticed that before... Have to make some program line changes here...

I can see the FA* and Limited lenses getting the extra custom touch with MTF data - you get what you pay for. Still, it is probably the more ordinary lines of lenses, with lower QC/QA during components manufacturing and assembly that would be most likely to benefit from individualized MTF data.

Interesting bits of information - thanks a lot!

QuoteQuote:
I use the MTF as my "f8 and be there" i usually when doing that kind of shooting just leave it on what the program line has selected.
When you consider that as well as the "user" customizable mode, there's a lot of different setups that you can grab on the fly, using nothing more than the mode selector wheel. Pretty handy for grab as you go shooting. And I used to think just being able to choose between aperture priority and shutter priority was a big deal...

QuoteQuote:
Now, for lenses that do not have the MTF line in them, ie A, F and Sigma lenses (unsure about Tamron or Tokina as they have both licensed the KAF(2) mount while sigma reverse engineered it.) The program will determine this and guesstimate about 1.5-2.5 stops from wide open.
Oh well... best guess is that the guy behind the camera is still far and away the greatest limiting factor in the quality of the resulting images. I'll work on improving that part before I get too bent out of shape worrying about how well a program line works or anything similar.

Still, might be worth an email to Pentax to simply ask them about it. At worst you get a noncommital answer, at best they provide definitive information.
05-08-2007, 12:25 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rick Quote
Pentax and many other Japanese companies can't seem to find ONE of these fluently bilingual people to do the technical writing and translation for their English manuals/tech papers. I wonder if it's the same thing for German, French, Swedish, etc...

Since each country uses it's own confusing technical terminology, language translation of technical documents can be especially difficult. And this problem is not limited just to the Japanese. I've seen English manuals writtten by German companies that are just plain horrible. And I'm sure some of the manuals translated into other languages by American companies are occasionally less than perfect as well.

Living in Europe, surrounded by a half dozen languages, one quickly learns to just add your own translation of the translation, study the pictures carefully, and laugh a lot.

Of course, even that doesn't mean everything will go smoothly. For example, I just bought an outdoor grill made in Asia and distributed in Europe by a German company, with that German company evidently translating the Asian instructions into English (for the UK market). I eventually gave up trying to follow the instructions, totally convinced nobody could possibly assemble that grill using those instructions.

The grill is now working, by the way. I just hope this message doesn't have to be followed up with a report of how efficient the German fire department is (with pictures, of course).

stewart
05-08-2007, 02:22 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by stewart_photo Quote
Since each country uses it's own confusing technical terminology, language translation of technical documents can be especially difficult. And this problem is not limited just to the Japanese. I've seen English manuals writtten by German companies that are just plain horrible. And I'm sure some of the manuals translated into other languages by American companies are occasionally less than perfect as well.
I wouldn't doubt for a minute that other language translations can be equally "off". Nor that English speaking companies selling in other parts of the world might even be the absolute worst in this respect.

However, I'm not speaking so much about technical terminology as much as simple sentence structure.

I also refuse to believe that, given the budget global marketing companies must have to sell on the global market, they can't find at least ONE person familiar in both languages in question as well as the technology at hand to proofread their documents for them in regards to sentence structure, etc.

Perhaps more illustrative of the point, I use Topcon GPS equipment quite a bit in my profession. Topcon is a Japanese company, the equipment is considerably more complex in operation than a camera, and the user manuals are about as clear as one could reasonably ask for. Sentence structure is as though it was written by a "native", etc. My French-Canadian counterparts tell me the French versions of the manuals are equally as fluent. So it isn't a stretch of the imagination to expect fairly fluent documentation, whether it was originally in English, Japanese, French, etc.

It is more of a mild annoyance than anything major, but stuff like this should have been resolved after 30 some odd years in the English speaking market for a wide range of products.

05-13-2007, 04:02 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rick Quote
I wouldn't doubt for a minute that other language translations can be equally "off". Nor that English speaking companies selling in other parts of the world might even be the absolute worst in this respect.

However, I'm not speaking so much about technical terminology as much as simple sentence structure.

I also refuse to believe that, ... (snip)....

Please understand that I'm not trying to justify or defend anything. Instead, I'm simply relating how difficult it might be to produce manuals in multiple languages. When trying to produce manuals in another language, many companies likely use the following hiring criteria...

1. Person understands product well enough to write a manual.
2. Person can read/write in the required language.
3. Person has writing ability and/or experience.
4. Person has writing ability and/or experience in the required language.

Since "writing ability" is seldom at the very top of that list (especially writing ability in the other language), the quality of writing in those manuals can easily be less than perfect. Of course, the employer, seldom fluent in the language himself, is poorly equipped to judge the quality of that writing on his own. Instead, his only recourse is to have the results checked by another person and that checked by still another person. Throughout that process, efforts must be made to ensure the manual stays true to the product (and lets not forget the lawyers in all this).

And this entire process (from hiring to proofreading) must be repeated for the numerous languages spoken in the various markets around the world. To put is mildly, a rather daunting, complicated, and expensive, task that I certainly wouldn't want to be in charge of.

As you say, some companies are better at this than others, using native writers in the later proofreading for example. At the same time, some companies simply don't know their manuals are that bad, while other companies just can't afford better. And, clearly, some companies just don't care - it's good enough.

stewart
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