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11-02-2009, 10:44 AM   #1
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Refurbed K20D won't autofocus

Hi all:

My apologies if this has been covered elsewhere on the site, I searched and didn't see anything, and the window of time I have to return this camera is closing fast, if the camera is the problem. I bought it last month when Best Buy had K20D refurbs on sale, but I didn't get a lens till a couple weeks later (I'm totally new to DSLRs and digital photography in general, just had a digital P&S prior to this).

The problem is that autofocus seems to stop working for no reason while I'm shooting. I'll take a few shots, then on the next shot, the camera seems to run the AF motor through all of the lens' AF range, then quit without focusing. The camera won't allow me to take the photo (not that I'd want to, since it's not focused). Switching to Live View mode and back again seems to fix it, so does switching from AF-Single to AF-Continuous mode and back again. Turning the camera off and on again fixes it some of the time. The lens I'm using is a brand new Pentax 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 DA AL WR. As this is a new endeavor for me I unfortunately don't have another lens I can test this with, nor do I have the knowhow to determine whether this is some problem with the camera or some user error on my part. The camera is firmware version 1.03 (it came with 1.01, I flashed it to 1.03). I'm also using a Metz 48AF-1 flash.

Any ideas?

11-02-2009, 11:08 AM   #2
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My only experience with Pentax refurbs was 50/50. Bought a K100d Super refurb (not from Best Buy), and it was perfect. Looked brand new and operated as such. It was a very good deal, so I thought I'd get another. The second one came, and it had a large hair in the viewfinder, but worse yet, it would not stay powered up. Both were labeled as refurbished by Pentax (with a note re the switch to Hoya Corp). So I guess it's a crap shoot. I'd play it safe and return the camera (which I believe with Best Buy can be done in-store).
11-02-2009, 11:13 AM   #3
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It certainly could be a defect. It' also possible it's user error of sort, but only if you were trying to focus on somethng that the camera just wasn't going to be likely to succeed in focusing on. That would be the case if the subject were somrthing like a plain wall with nothign to focus on, or if the light was very low, or if the subejct were closer than the minimum focus distance for the lens. If none of those weere the case, then it's probably the camera.
11-02-2009, 12:29 PM   #4
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Have you tried it with a different lens and without the flash just to isolate the problem and rule out a faulty lens?

11-02-2009, 12:29 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
It certainly could be a defect. It' also possible it's user error of sort, but only if you were trying to focus on somethng that the camera just wasn't going to be likely to succeed in focusing on. That would be the case if the subject were somrthing like a plain wall with nothign to focus on, or if the light was very low, or if the subejct were closer than the minimum focus distance for the lens. If none of those weere the case, then it's probably the camera.
Thanks, that helps: this was happening while I was shooting the same subject, from nearly the same exact position. I'd take 3 or 4 photos successfully, pausing to review them on the LCD after each exposure, then on the 4th or 5th one the AF would just stop working, even though I just took a nearly-identical photo a few seconds before.

QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
Have you tried it with a different lens and without the flash just to isolate the problem and rule out a faulty lens?
I only have the one lens, so I can't test that, but I'll try it without the flash and see what happens. The lens is brand new and I've taken good pictures with it on the camera, so I don't think it's at fault.
11-02-2009, 12:46 PM   #6
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I honestly think it's the camera not able to lock focus, a feature of the K20D. Go outside on a bright day and try it. The autofocus should never fail against a subject with decent contrast.
11-03-2009, 09:05 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by innershell Quote
I honestly think it's the camera not able to lock focus, a feature of the K20D.
Are you saying that it's a feature, not a bug? What's the purpose of this behavior?

QuoteOriginally posted by innershell Quote
Go outside on a bright day and try it. The autofocus should never fail against a subject with decent contrast.
I did this this morning and snapped 22 shots of various parts of my back yard and it autofocused perfectly on all of them. I had shot a few photos outside the previous day, but it was much later in the day with not as much light, and it did exhibit the problem (or feature) then, but I guess it's possible I just didn't have enough light for AF to work?
11-03-2009, 09:29 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by jacquestrapp Quote
Are you saying that it's a feature, not a bug? What's the purpose of this behavior?
Pentaxes of last year were not the best for AF in low(er) light. The purpose of this behavior is to teach the photographer how to master the art of manual focusing. Seriously, I'm pretty quick with manual focusing now.


QuoteOriginally posted by jacquestrapp Quote
I did this this morning and snapped 22 shots of various parts of my back yard and it autofocused perfectly on all of them. I had shot a few photos outside the previous day, but it was much later in the day with not as much light, and it did exhibit the problem (or feature) then, but I guess it's possible I just didn't have enough light for AF to work?
BINGO! Not enough light. You just have to learn to live with it or upgrade to a K-7 or K-x.

11-03-2009, 10:05 AM   #9
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I think we nailed the cause of the problem but just to be sure, go to a camera store with the body and try focusing with other lenses there. Normal store lighting should have plenty enough light for the K20D to autofocus with And remember you can't focus on a white wall, there have to be some sort of contrast on the point of focus.

Use the DA 40 if you can just to be sure
11-03-2009, 02:20 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by jacquestrapp Quote
Are you saying that it's a feature, not a bug? What's the purpose of this behavior?
Just to be clear: he was being facetious. He just means that it is indeed normal for any camera to have difficulty achieving focus in certain conditions, but since the K20D lacks an AF assist lamp, it is normal for the K20D to have *more* difficulty in low light than some other cameras.
11-03-2009, 02:24 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
Just to be clear: he was being facetious. He just means that it is indeed normal for any camera to have difficulty achieving focus in certain conditions, but since the K20D lacks an AF assist lamp, it is normal for the K20D to have *more* difficulty in low light than some other cameras.
I was being facetious.

That being said, you can overcome this by using the AF assist. Pop up the flash, autofocus, but before shooting, drop the flash back down and fire away. It works, if you cared to use it that way.
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