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12-04-2009, 04:01 PM - 1 Like   #1
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K-x in Use

Kx received Nov/24/2009 from Newegg - obviously used it straight away - but it wasn't really until the past two nights that I managed to really try out its paces.

This was at two consecutive Derek Trucks Band shows - with Col Bruce Hampton and Tinsley Ellis opening on the first and second nights respectively.

This kind of shooting is the reason I own a dSLR - the flexibility of having lenses of different focal lengths and the good performance at high ISO.

I like zoom lenses - as I do my framing/cropping as I take the picture so I don't have to do any cropping post-processing - this is mainly due to laziness - but it also means that I maximize the quality and train my own eyes to see the picture before I take it.

I had used a K100D - I am now enjoying the Kx - I only have the two basic kit lenses 18-55 and 50-200 - other than occasionally wishing I had the other lens on the camera - I have found them to be adequate for what I do. I consider the quality very good as most reviews have tested out - it's just they have relatively slow apertures - that's why I bought the Kx for its great high ISO performance. I set the Kx to AutoISO 200-3200 and have 1/3 stop steps so the exposures are "fine tuned" by the Kx by ISO adjustments as well as aperture/shutter speed.

From the past two nights I can say I am really impressed with the Kx - its focusing seems to be good/fast - certainly good enough for my usage - I feel it is more responsive/positive than the K100D - I use only the central spot.

I also really like the AWB (Auto White Balance) as that has a Custom menu setting of strong tungsten correction - which makes the Kx correct much better for tungsten lighting - one of the main criticisms of almost all dSLRs in reviews.

Anyway here are a few results from my foray -

Col Bruce Hampton -

ISO1250, f/4.5, 1/80; 43mm .................................................. ISO3200, f/4.5, 1/50; 138mm
(apparently PhotoBucket has mysteriously dropped the metadata)

rest of album - link to first pic - navigate forwards from there (17 pics)
Picasa Web Albums - UnknownVincent - Col Bruce

Derek Trucks Wed Dec/2

ISO800, f/4.5, 1/16; 35mm


ISO2000, f/4.5, 1/100; 45mm

Derek Trucks Thu Dec/3

ISO3200, f/4, 1/100; 50mm ................................................... ISO2500, f/4, 1/100; 50mm

rest of album -
Picasa Web Albums - UnknownVincent - Derek Trucks

pics have EXIF data re-attached.


Last edited by UnknownVT; 07-11-2010 at 02:19 PM. Reason: Added Hyphen to K-x in title - typos, added exposure details as PhotoBucket has dropped the metadata
12-04-2009, 10:06 PM   #2
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awesome lighting man, well done


cheers
12-05-2009, 07:11 AM   #3
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Music clubs are possibly the toughest shoot around with the myriad of lights coming from all directions. That you got those shots with the kit lenses is a tribute to your skills and the Kx.
12-05-2009, 10:55 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by tarsus Quote
Music clubs are possibly the toughest shoot around with the myriad of lights coming from all directions. That you got those shots with the kit lenses is a tribute to your skills and the Kx.
Thank you for your kind comments.

This is considered a "big" venue with really good lighting -
and credit where credit is due -
the lighting was by my favorite lighting person - Wendy Palmore who works for Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks - we have been mutual fans since 2000 when I wondered why so many of my shots from a gig looked so good, and found out who did the lighting.

This shot is from October, 2000 and still one of my favorites -

EXIF data re-attached....
It may surprise some -
this was taken with a Canon S100 - the original Digital ELPH -
a mere 2Mp p&s without any true manual exposure modes.

Which brings me to the other point - in clubs I normally shoot a compact, and not my dSLR - because it is faster to manuveur and use - this may seem perverse - but I use the optical viewfinder and can see well enough to anticipate my shots - other than the first Digital ELPH, I use p&s compacts that have Tv shutter priority as well as slow-sync flash. It used to be that anything above ISO100 was more or less unacceptable on compacts - but today compacts can manage ISO800 quite comfortably and at much higher pixel counts.

The majority of my photos in the links in my sig were shot on the Canon S70 (7Mp), S80 (8Mp) and since June/16/2009 then G10 (14.6Mp but I shoot at 9Mp) - and I have literally 10's of thousands of photos posted - many on band's websites - for example the Blind Boys of Alabama - the top row on this page are mine -
Blind Boys of Alabama
(and ha-ha! those were also shot on the 2Mp Canon S100 Digital ELPH p&s!)

This shot -

EXIF re-attached - was on a Canon S80 - on its night scene mode with slow-sync flash and a 1 sec exposure..... flash freezes the image while the long shutter speed captures the "trailing" image movement/blur.
(that's one of my favorite acts - Unknown Hinson - where I got my monikor from).

This is on my current Canon G10 -

EXIF re-attached.

So in clubs I use p&s and at bigger venues where I shoot mostly without flash I use my dSLR - which used to be the K100D and now the Kx - for me each has its place.

(there are some exceptions - the first shot from 2000 of Derek Trucks was at a big venue with (obviously) good lights, and that was on a full auto p&s - that was the days before dSLRs were affordable)

I should add that the Kx is in just about every way superior to anything I have owned in digital cameras.
The kit lenses give almost nothing away in terms of quality and AF speed - as I said I like zoom lenses as it allows me to do my "cropping"/framing during shooting which means I hardly do any cropping in post-processing - this is good training for me to develop good composition in camera - and not waste shots - it also maximizes any quality captured as mostly I am using the full frame - without cropping.

Even on the p&s - by looking at the original thumbnail on PhotoMe one can see there was NO cropping those were all full-frames - I have got used to the "inaccurate" optical viewfinder and know how to compensate for it.


Last edited by UnknownVT; 12-05-2009 at 11:09 AM. Reason: comment about Kx and kit lenses
12-26-2009, 11:23 AM   #5
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Over the past couple of weeks I had been taking my K-x to a pretty dark jazz venue to a super gig where lots of musicians come to sit-in jam - it's both great music (otherwise I wouldn't go) and a real challenge for any photography.......

This past Thursday Christmas Eve they had a short session and it was pretty dark - but seemed more so than usual - I think they had some of the lights on dimmer settings.......

Anyway excuses aside - I knew enough to set my auto ISO to ISO5000 max - and of course all of my shots were at ISO5000 -
here's an overall scene setting shot -
(all should have EXIF re-attached)


ISO5000 1/50 f/3.5

As one can see the lighting is very challenging - bright spot for the center and hardly anything for the back of the stage.

Probably can't be seen on the overall shot - but there is a bass player behind and perhaps just barely visible past/below the right elbow of the trumpeter (stage front center). This guy -


ISO5000 1/13 f/4.5 - this is starting to get pretty seriously difficult -
in fact this shot shows some blurring (subject movement) so I had to over-sharpen it a bit.....
the amp/speaker bottom left should have been blurred a bit PP - but I'm too lazy - and this actually shows how well the K-x and its SR are working........

You think this is low light - the musicians have a a tendency to play supporting parts off-stage (told you this was a good gig) - as kind of shown in this shot -


there's a trumpeter and a flugelhorn player to the extreme right
ISO5000 1/13 f3.5

So this one is pretty darned seriously low light (for me) -

this would be past the right of the previous shot off-stage in the audience area where there was only candle light and reflected light (as the front tables which were relatively "well lit" show) .......
ISO5000, 1/4, f/3.5 -
yes I was lucky - that the K-x SR worked so well, and the subjects didn't move so much....... (yes, I had plenty of blurred shots - this is a stupidly slow shutter speed - but hey, that's what I have to put up with....)

But I can still get shots like this one -

ISO5000, 1/40, f/4
If one looks with PhotoMe the original thumbnail shows the face very much in shadow due to the cap the player was wearing and the light high and above the peak. So I selected the face area and upp'ed the brightness and contrast.

Here are some bigger sized shots from the week before - under similar circumstances -


ISO3200, 1/20, f/3.5


ISO3200, 1/13, f/4

(see.. the lights were just a bit brighter the week before)

Link to rest of album:

Picasa Web Albums - UnknownVincent - Pure Soundz

Last edited by UnknownVT; 12-26-2009 at 12:18 PM. Reason: replaced one shot with bigger size
01-14-2010, 02:46 PM   #6
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Some more photos from the K-x at high ISO -

Still under pretty trying conditions. Had K-x set to AutoISO with max at ISO5000 - basically all 230 shots were at ISO5000 average exposure was f/4 @ 1/30... some lower, a few higher.


K-x ISO5000 f/4 @ 1/30
(EXIF re-attached - but PhotoBucket can mysteriously lose the metadata - it is still attached at this time)

I was really pleased with this set of photos - they were all in focus (I use center focus only, comment because my thread: K-x Mis-Focus?) the AWB seemed miraculous - there is noise/grain - but acceptable and virtually none - once I shrink the photo.

This is the first of a set of 30 I posted (link to 1st photo (navigate forwards to view the rest or use the play in the slideshow) - showing how well the K-x worked last night.

The rest of the album actually in perhaps even worse available light conditions all are on the Canon G10 compact.

==========================
I seem to be always shooting in less than ideal conditions - and the K-x has been a real boon to me - really am enjoying using it......

Shot a couple of bands last night including this one -

this shot is just to set the scene.

The guitarist - second from the left - yes, the one in the shadows remained there all night -
so it was difficult to say the least to try and get a reasonable shot of him -
I have my K-x set on AutoISO max at ISO5000 - needless to say most of my shots were at ISO5000 - straight JPG Brightness/Contrast adjusted, sharpening - but NO noise reduction - (EXIF ought to be still attached - but PhotoBucket can mysteriously drop the metadata - it is still attached at the time of posting)

ISO5000 f/4.5 @ 1/13 AWB center point focus.

Just so you don't think any less of the K-x quality -
since I have been posting shots under difficult conditions -
here's one from the same gig in better lighting, not much, but better -
still ISO5000 (EXIF attached - with the same PhotoBucket caveat)

ISO5000 f/3.5 @ 1/30 AWB, center point focus

Link to first shot of the set - there are 15 shots - navigate forwards from there.

Here's the other band at the same venue -


ISO5000 f/3.5 @ 1/30 AWB, center point focus


Link to first shot in set of 8
01-14-2010, 06:18 PM   #7
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Stage lighting is the toughest shoot there is. The Kx performed wonderfully in this ISO 6400 shot. It caught the different colored lights perfectly. Shot in RAW with pass through Noiseware.
Attached Images
 
01-16-2010, 02:07 PM   #8
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The beauty with the K-x is its ability to handle "challenging" situations with (as I have found, with aplomb) - back again to that jazz gig with the dark venue.

I go because I like the music - and because its lighting is just so challenging - and as I am finding, the K-x copes well.

As usual my K-x setting are AutoISO max at ISO5000, center point focus, AWB.

But with the AWB I found I had to switch between strong and subtle tungsten correction.....

stage:

ISO5000 f/3.5 1/25

really difficult and contrasty situation -
at the front center literally in the spot light - the AWB needed subtle correction otherwise it was too cool to my eyes -
elsewhere where there was a real lack of light it needed the strong correction.

Stage center -

ISO1600 f/3.5 1/50 - see that? 2 2/3 stops brighter difference from the overall exposure.

In relatively "good" light just to the left of the center you can see where he was sitting in the stage pic -

ISO5000 f/3.5 1/50 - 1 stop brighter then overall average.

Now look at the extreme right -
Conga player -

ISO5000 f/3.5 1/13 darker by another stop from overall average.

Thought that was dark?
look to extreme left, at the pianist -

ISO5000 f/3.5 1/4 - yes, I was lucky - most of my shots showed SR did its job - but had subject movement .

More darkness -
players sat off-stage in audience area and played -

ISO5000 f/3.5 1/4 - luck was not needed as the player was sitting pretty still - but this shows SR did its job well for me.


ISO5000 f/3.5 1/6 - I was surprised the light was slightly up - but probably due to the single candle in the picture!

The main point is that the K-x is producing good quality shots for me in what I'd consider really challenging lighting situations.

01-17-2010, 05:14 PM   #9
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More....

AutoISO does not always mean the max ISO set.
Stage lighting can vary greatly in its dynamic range - especially where a light-person is involved:

Overall stage

ISO5000 f/3.5 1/50

Center -

ISO2000 f/3.5 1/50 (1.6 stops brighter than average)

off to the side -

EXIF attached (caveat PhotoBucket sometimes mysteriously loses metadata)
ISO5000 f/4.5 1/15 (2.5 stops lower)

But once in a while the center gets extra light -

EXIF attached (PhotoBucket caveat)
ISO800 f/3.5 1/50 (that's 2.5 stops brighter) notice how the K-x adjusted the ISO for the lighting..... pretty smart.

Link to first pic in this set of 28

Last edited by UnknownVT; 01-17-2010 at 05:29 PM.
01-17-2010, 06:25 PM   #10
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Great shots man. Coming from a customization-crippled Sony, I'm lovin' my K-x as well!
01-18-2010, 10:34 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by dotsync Quote
Great shots man. Coming from a customization-crippled Sony, I'm lovin' my K-x as well!
Many thanks for your kind words.

Hope you'll enjoy your new K-x -
as you see the mere kit zoom lenses (I only have the 18-55 and 50-200 kit zooms) perform really well.

With the K-x's great high ISO performance the slower max apertures of the kit zoom lenses are no longer a real limitation -
of course I'm bound to find some situation when a faster lens would be helpful -
However even though some seem to automatically poo-pooh kit zooms -
I really like the quality of those two kit zooms .

Hopefully it ought to be pretty obvious that these two humble kit zooms on the K-x do pretty well - even in what I consider challenging shooting environments.

Those two kit zoom lenses seemed to have reviewed very well -

Links to PopPhoto.com reviews of the Samsung clones -

18-55 Zoom
50-200 Zoom

PopPhoto.com seems to have dropped their very useful SQF (Subjective Quality Factor) charts from these web versions -
scans from the magazine -
01-18-2010, 04:20 PM   #12
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Great shots!

Wasn't long ago that you'd need exotic glass to pull those shots off. I can't help feeling that in less than 5 years there'll be a lot of uneeded big 2.8 zooms sitting in drawers.
01-18-2010, 05:46 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Unsinkable II Quote
Wasn't long ago that you'd need exotic glass to pull those shots off. I can't help feeling that in less than 5 years there'll be a lot of uneeded big 2.8 zooms sitting in drawers.
Thank you for your kind words......

There'll always be the need for wider aperture lenses not just for lower light work - but for shallower depth of field.

However I do take your point -
and in turn would like to point out that the max aperture of the 18-55 kit zoom at 18mm is f/3.5 which is really only 2/3 stop slower than f/2.8 -
as you quite rightly point out with improvements - like on the K-x where it has gained about one stop in higher ISO performance - then using the kit zoom at 2/3 stop higher in ISO is getting about the same results as the more expensive f/2.8 lens on an older dSLR (at the 2/3 stop lower ISO).

Like I said the Pentax kit zoom lenses doesn't seem to give that much away in terms of quality and performance - as I have found.
01-22-2010, 08:00 PM   #14
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There must be a perverse streak somewhere ......

The conditions I shoot in is best described as "challenging" -
for me it probably should be in block CAPs.

Same dark jazz venue -

But one can get pretty good overall stage shots -
I like this one a lot -


ISO5000, f/3.5, 1/13

yes, a more upmarket prime or premium zoom may have f/2.8 at 18mm -
but that is a gain of only 2/3 stop - so yes, I might be able to drop to ISO3200 for the same settings, or up the shutter speed to 1/20 - so that's really only pretty marginal gain - so in this shot/case the 18-55 kit zoom is not really giving away that much.

Up closer -

ISO5000, f/3.5, 1/25
improves by about one stop - the player moved a lot so I had to catch a peak in motion - he also moved his head into the shade whereas his off-white shirt was in the spot light making this a difficult high contrast shot - the K-x acquitted itself quite well (I have Highlight protection on).

When he was more stationary -

ISO5000, f/4, 1/60
brighter by about 1 1/2 stops -
BUT the light was right overhead making this another difficult high contrast shot....

Then there's the uneven stage lighting - see the bass player behind and to the left - most of the time he had his head down - so face was in pretty deep shadow - tried most of the night to get a good shot - although this was one of my earlier shots that came out pretty well -

ISO5000, f/4, 1/10, focal length = 31mm

So much for whining over difficulties -

Here's a bit more whining -
See the pianist to the left of the overall stage shot?

Yes, I've written about him before........

ISO5000, f/3.5, 1/4
"best" shot I got all night - every shot showed subject motion - not surprising since the shutter speed was 1/4 sec!
Not only that for some reason the K-x had real difficulty focusing using the central spot AF - so much that I switched to Auto 5 point AF which seemed to focus a bit better - but really I was better off getting off of trying to focus on the face and trying to focus on the hands where there was higher contrast against the keyboard..... but obviously that introduced another problem his hands obviously were always moving!

I got so frustrated I tried to take a flash shot hoping the use of pre-flashes to illuminate the scene may help - nope, that was not reliable either - I think just because of subject motion, there are multiple pre-flashes which I think the K-x uses to make sure the each focus corresponds - so if the subject is moving - it does not confirm focus.........
anyway I manage this shot with flash -

ISO250, f/3.5, 1/6 (-0.7 flash compensation)
oh, it's definitely sharp, and exposure was good - but I just didn't like the results - so went back to no flash - that's why I had so many "failures" -
one, there was real difficulty focusing - then if it managed to focus the shot showed too much subject motion.

So OK 2/3 stop gain with a f/2.8 prime or premium zoom may have helped here - I would have been shooting at 1/6 - would that really have reduced the subjection motion? - probably not that much.

Of course my option should have been to crank the sensitivity to the max at ISO12,800 which would have given me 1 1/3 stop gain - ie: 1/10sec then may be underexpose/compensation by another stop which could have potentially given me 1/20sec - that definitely would have helped - the point is that the K-x potentially could cope if only I had tried that..... ah well... next time ....
- but I still have to overcome the focusing - dark+motion does not = good AF

A slightly easier subject under the same lighting conditions -

ISO5000, f/3.5, 1/5

The problem is that even though the overall exposure was better -
this guy moved even more - there was literally no point when I saw him stationary - but the focusing was a tiny bit easier - however no shot without some subject movement - oh, the face was a lot worse in the original - I had to work with USM (unsharp Mask) to get it to this barely presentable shot ..... but look at his jacket - one can see that the K-x worked fine - if that is any consolation

OK I've stopped complaining

One of the main attractions for this gig is that there are lots of musicians who turn up and they often just play from off stage in the audience area....

ISO5000, f/3.5, 1/5 candles brought the exposure up a fraction as I found last time.....


ISO5000, f/3.5, 1/4


Back to the stage - a guest vocalist - actually pretty wonderful, toward the end of the evening -

ISO5000, f/3.5, 1/13 (same exposure as my first overall stage shot)

Close up -

ISO5000, f/4, 1/10
no I don't just sit and zoom, I walk up closer, then use the zoom to frame...... (focal length = 31mm or 46.5mm equiv for 35mm)

Slower shutter speeds can make the shot - like this -

ISO5000, f/4, 1/20 where motion helps emphasize the dynamic scene.

Last edited by UnknownVT; 01-22-2010 at 08:11 PM. Reason: typos
01-22-2010, 09:04 PM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by UnknownVT Quote
There'll always be the need for wider aperture lenses not just for lower light work - but for shallower depth of field.
Yep, it's not just about speed, it's also about separation. But the speed is nice.
QuoteOriginally posted by UnknownVT Quote
Of course my option should have been to crank the sensitivity to the max at ISO12,800 which would have given me 1 1/3 stop gain - ie: 1/10sec then may be underexpose/compensation by another stop which could have potentially given me 1/20sec - that definitely would have helped - the point is that the K-x potentially could cope if only I had tried that..... ah well... next time ....
- but I still have to overcome the focusing - dark+motion does not = good AF
I just tried basically the same experiment with the Kx. In a very dark venue, at max ISO:

1/180 @ f/2.8
Focal Length: 200 mm
ISO: 12800

Pretty much straight from the camera. Shot with a Tamron 70-200. It and the Kx hunted a bit with the lights were really low, but for the most part focused pretty well - a think the aperture helps there as well. I did miss the point indicators a little; I'm actually on the wrong point here, so the face is softer than it should be. But all in all, a very capable machine for this type of thing.
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