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03-19-2010, 06:05 AM   #1
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Questions for K20 Users

Hi There, Had posted a few days ago with some questions ( but didn't get a response. I suspect my rambling message wasn't to the point. My fault. Thought I would try again but more focused - sorry for the double post.

My main questions are:

1) How fast is the focusing? I've read some folks think it's plenty fast, some think it's slow. I guess it's all relative. I do know that I seem to miss allot of shots of my moving 11 month old daughter in-doors with the K100D. Not sure how much this has to do with the lenses (50mm 1.4, 35mm 2.0, Sigma 17-70)? Would the K20 help significantly in this dept?

2) How is the low-light performance (noise). Our place tends to be dark. Any point and shoot (Panasonic Zs3, Canon s90) is almost unuseable. I'd love to keep the ISO down and have a longer exposure but my daughter is a mover! K100D is great noise-wise...but again, has the slower focussing issue. What should I expect to see with the 14mp sensor of the K20 compared to the 6mp sensor of the K100 noise-wise?

3) The K100D preset white balance isn't great and the manual options are fairly basic. You lose the user setting on the K100 as soon as you switch to a preset. I know shooting raw is best but it means I am less likely to take as many shots since I don't always have the time to sit down to do the post-processing. Still trying to figure out babies at the moment 8-). Can the "user" setting on the K20 (or any of the most recent Pentax bodies) be saved for recall?

Would also consider a different body (K-x, K7, etc) if anyone feels those may be better suited to our main needs but it seemed to me that the K20 was the best mix of the above main concerns for our family. Some of the others seemed to excel at many things...but didn't do well with one of our main concerns. ex. K-7 seems to suffer in the noise dept, k-x seems to have low headroom and a less efficient shake reduction (again - moving baby, low light 8-).

Any help is greatly appreciated.


03-19-2010, 06:34 AM   #2
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FunBobby: The lenses you have are fast. I had the K10D and now the K20D. If the place is dark, you definitely needs high ISO and High speed shutter. Try the different setting and see how it works. I am under the impression that the KX is better for low light/High ISO than the other Pentax DSLR bodies. WB in the K20D is a little better than the one in the K10D, so it is safely to say that it will be better than your K100D.

I hope it helps.
03-19-2010, 06:40 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by FunBobby Quote
Would also consider a different body (K-x, K7, etc) if anyone feels those may be better suited to our main needs
I'd get the K7 in your situation...better white balance, better focusing because of the built-in LED. Even the K-x would probably work well...faster focusing (less AF points) and better high ISO.
I'd seriously think about getting an external flash though...I find that for dslrs, it's just about mandatory indoors...
03-19-2010, 06:54 AM   #4
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I agree with kenyee. Make sure if you get a flash, get a Stofen Omnibounce or similar thing. This way you do not scar/spook your daughter.

03-19-2010, 06:57 AM   #5
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Well, got one for 6 months last year, shooting my kids exclusivey...

1 - AF is on par with the pentax film bodies... Meaning it's definitely faster than *istD/k100, and slightly more than k10 (talking about maybe 5% faster here, nothing to write home about). With careful technique, I realized that AF was not so important, except for running/riding kids (and even here, I often end up using MF anyway).

2 - if you meter correctly (at least +1Ev in tungsten-lit rooms), the noise is rather bearable... I've made 4x6 prints out of 3200/6400 iso shots (but nothing bigger!)
But the k20 will start hunting in low-light far earlier than the k7.

3 - The k20 is pretty well stocked on this point. The custom WB is recorded and available anytime. The tungsten preset is not that bad. Now for the time fleeing by, you can always shot RAW + small JPEG (2Mp is OK for 4x6), so you have the best of both... 8Gb SD cards are cheap...

4 - the kX having a much better noise control, what you lose in SR is gained in iso, so that would not bother me in your place. AF speed/Accuracy is supposedly less than with the k7, but should be on par with the k20...
One argument going for the kx/k7 is the video, IMO... With kids, that's a real treat! The cinematic-like quality is way above what you can do with tiny camcorders...
03-19-2010, 09:14 AM   #6
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Pretty much *all* more recent models do as well as or better than the K100D in terms of noise when comparing images at the same size. The K10D and K-m may be the only exceptions. But any APS-C camera is going to be so much better than a smaller sensor P&S that the difference between APS-C cameras will seem trivial in comparison.

Focus might be faster with some models than others, but low light focus is never going to be lightning quick, especially without an AF assist lamp (which only the K-7 provides).

Shooting RAW does *not* mean spending time in PP. Create a simple preset (using whatever software you have available) to apply a WB that works for your household lighting, and batch apply it - this process takes *seconds*. I'm not saying you *have* to do this - the tungsten preset in recent models isn't bad, and manyal WB works too - just that you shouldn't avoid RAW simply because you've heard it takes a lot of your time to deal with. That just isn't true.

Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 03-19-2010 at 09:26 AM.
03-19-2010, 09:43 AM   #7
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After posting the above, I got curious to see a direct comparison of the K-7 and K100D. Not having any better way to do it, I used the Imaging Resource Comparometer, which isn't a perfect test by any means, but can have value if you understand what you are looking at. In this case, we're seeing straight-from-camera JPEG with default settings, and in the case of the K-7, that means the in-camera NR is set to "med" (the K100D provides no options to control the amount of in-camera NR, but I'd have to assume it's a similar amount of NR being applied). It's possible with more trouble to get at other versions of these images - including the K-7 JPEG with other NR settings NR off, as well as RAW versions. But they don't tell any different story than what you see below. In particular, even with NR off completely, the K-7 still looks as as good as or better than the K100D with whatever NR it does.

Here's the K100D on the right at 100%, the K-7 on the left sized similarly. If there's any reason to prefer the K100D for noise (or anything else) on the basis of this, I don't see it.

Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 03-19-2010 at 09:57 AM.
03-19-2010, 10:17 AM   #8
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Dad shot us kids running around, using a hand-metered and -focused 120 TLR with a 80/3.5 lens and ASA 100 film, with crisp deadly accuracy (and very few flash bulbs). I shot an active daughter with a match-needle hand-focused 135 rangefinder with a 45/2.8 lens and ASA 80-125 films, and did pretty well (with the occasional strobe flash).

Photo technology in 2010 is rather more advanced. The tools are much better now; now you need the right techniques.

If your house is dark, brighten it, and/or use bounce flash. Set ISO to AUTO and use Tav mode to set the exposure you want and don't worry about the noise. Don't depend on AF; pre-focus or use trap-focus. Anticipate where a kid is going to be and shoot them there, under conditions you've prepared. (You can treat your daughter like a wild animal on a trail, with the camera on a tripod, lens aimed where she'll be, Continuous Shooting ON and Catch-In-Focus enabled.)

Yell HEY!! when you want a kid to slow or stop and look at you; in other words, train your daughter for the camera. Give your daughter her own (indestructible) P&S cam and make a game of shooting each other; my granddaughter (now 15 months) has loved pushing buttons on devices for at least 6 months. Et cetera.

03-19-2010, 10:53 AM   #9
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RioRico: Great advice. When my son started walking, I dish my Digital P&S for a DSLR. However, the kit lens was not up to the task in low light so I got the FA 50mm 1.4. I had some film DSLR but the Digital instant gratification proved to be hard to resist.
03-19-2010, 11:34 AM   #10
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Original Poster

Hi Everyone. Thanks for the great hardware and technique advice. Much appreciated. There are definitely some things I can be doing better like anticipating movement, pre-focusing, setting up a batch process in photoshop (I tend to want to do each picture seperately - I need to let go a bit 8-) . Still lots to learn! I'll be trying those out with the K100 to see if I can milk some better results out of it\me.

I do have a flash - the 540. I need to look into some sort of diffuser on it so I don't accidentally blind my daughter 8-) I love it and it's opened up a whole new world but I think there's definitely still some experimenting I need to do on that front too.

All that being said, like many I still have a bit of a gear adiction 8-) We want to have two (camera) bodies eventually for my wife and I....but I think I may take a step back and re-evaluate. Try some of the suggestions here and look into the K-x and K-7 again. The points about the higher ISO capabilites on the K-x potentially offsetting any difference in the SR funtion and the awesome side-by side of the K-7 vs K100D in relation to noise (thanks a ton) are great points which address two of the major concerns I've seen with those particular cameras. The AF-focus assist lamp on the K-7 is also nice. Idea of some video capabilty on hand is nice too - as dlacouture has suggested. We have a video camera but it's not always within reach when the DSLR is in-hand. With the K-x I'll have to go try one out and see if I'd miss the top LCD and the visible AF points.

Once again, the forum has answered some questions while also reminding me it's not always the next camera that'll fix the issues I'm having 8-)

Thanks all,
03-21-2010, 07:18 AM   #11
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Don't rely on the Sigma 17-70mm to much for fast focus indoors or with low light, its a good lens but likes a good bit of light to. I use it on my K20D and although I like it there is better, but for the cost its pretty good. After getting a Sigma 70-200 f2.8 with HSM the 17-70 seems extremely slow now. HSM or SDM lenses are the way to go for faster focus. Still need light though.

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