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05-14-2022, 10:48 AM   #1
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Which camera has good AF tracking?

Hi guys,

I have a Pentax K1 II and love it to bits. I bought it for astro and night photography mainly and have been working on targets in space since I bought the camera. It's still an infant at less then a year old and as this is my first DSLR outside of a Nikon FM (SLR) film camera, I don't have much experience yet with things like AF.

Recently there haven't been any objects in space that are visible to my location so I've been trying out different things in the linear photography segment (normal photography). It's hard!!! lol.... I think it's because I am just more of a science and engineering type that it's easier to connect a whole much of different equipment together and use a different approach then for standard optical photography.

One thing that I have been really disappointed with in my K1 is the AF on moving targets. I played with various settings but most of the shots are coming out blurred. There was quite a bit of dust and other stuff within the sensor cavity which I cleaned out but performance hasn't really improved significantly.


What would be a good alternative as a secondary camera for wildlife and action? I am considering a Nikon D4S with a Tokina 150-600mm lens.... would it be worth investing in or would something like the K3 III have superior AF tracking capabilities??

Or.... even would it be worth looking at something like Fuji or Canon?


It's a really difficult situation as even static subjects like birds (Robbins, Crows etc...) are coming out slightly out of focus. Gulls which are hovering close by and well within the reach of my FA*300mm lens are also slightly out of focus and take quite a whilte to lock on to it seems. I also have the DFA28-105mm which struggles too, though it's too short really for subjects at range.


Does anyone use a different system for action style targets that can offer a comparison or contrast to the pros and cons??


Many thanks in advance


Kaya

05-14-2022, 01:35 PM - 1 Like   #2
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from the " in depth review "

QuoteQuote:
Pentax K-3 Mark III Review
Autofocus
One of the key highlights of the Pentax K-3 III is its reportedly improved autofocus performances. From improved tracking, to faster single AF, to face detection, the K-3 III makes bold claims regarding its AF capabilities.

This section will look at AF performances in detail. First, single AF will be studied. We will then evaluate AF-C in a variety of scenarios. Observations will also be made about various improvements and new features of the camera's AF system. . . .

Conclusion
AF performances of the K-3 III are an incremental but visible improvement over previous generations. The camera does everything a bit better and a bit faster.

Where the true changes occur is not with AF speed per se. Rather, it is in the capabilities of the camera. More AF points, covering a wider area, eye detection, improved detection of low-contrast subjects (something that's difficult to quantify, but observable); all of these let the camera step into new territories for Pentax users.

What is particularly impressive is that many of these improvements are available to the user when using the viewfinder. While a few years ago Phase Detection AF was seen as having reached its limit, and on-sensor AF (like what is found on mirrorless cameras) was the way to the future, the K-3 III shows that improvements are still possible, and that it is possible to obtain impressive results while using PDAF.

Another key element is that the K-3 III really steps up its game when used with modern lenses. In particular, the DA* 16-50mm PLM (v2) is ideally matched to the new camera. Together they perform superbly, both in pure AF speed and when tracking subjects. Older lenses are not worse than they were, but the camera cannot truly show its mettle with them. . . .
Pentax K-3 Mark III Review - Autofocus | PentaxForums.com Reviews

I like mine

Last edited by aslyfox; 05-14-2022 at 01:41 PM.
05-14-2022, 01:55 PM   #3
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Thanks!

I was hoping someone with experience with both Pentax and different brands could give a comparison. If the K3 iii is vastly superior and good enough for wildlife and action eg. sports and fast moving subjects then it's perfect to go with that.


of course AstroTracer version 3 is really good people are saying, especially with firmware updates it keeps getting better!

But I want to find out if going for an older top of the line Pro DSLR would be an improvement or not over the AF? After all the high end CaNikon line is what you find almost all pro photo journalists using..... though when I checked the manual for the Nikon D4S, my K1 ii has more features. Really difficult to figure this out when you haven't played with other manufacturers equipment!
05-14-2022, 01:56 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Pretty much all current top-tier cameras have excellent AF tracking, particularly those of us accustomed to Pentax cameras older than the K-3 III.

A Nikon D4S seems like overkill when kitted with a 150-600... you wrote "Tokina" but I'm assuming you meant "Tamron".

Prior to the K-3 III, a number of Pentax users acquired a Nikon D500 + 200-500 or Tamron/Sigma 150-600 for wildlife photography.

The screwdrive of the FA* 300/4.5 isn't really a match for the in-lens motors found in modern telephotos.

05-14-2022, 02:03 PM   #5
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My Pentax K-1 II AF is excellent. If you are planning on doing wildlife, which may be at a distance, you may want to resort to something like the Pentax K-3 III which is an aps-c type camera.
05-14-2022, 02:07 PM   #6
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A little digging on the Web uncovered that the Nikon D500 uses the AF system from the D5, so its AF performance is just about as good as it gets for a DSLR.

Any chance you could rent a K-3 III + DFA 150-450...?
05-14-2022, 02:09 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
Pretty much all current top-tier cameras have excellent AF tracking, particularly those of us accustomed to Pentax cameras older than the K-3 III.

A Nikon D4S seems like overkill when kitted with a 150-600... you wrote "Tokina" but I'm assuming you meant "Tamron".

Prior to the K-3 III, a number of Pentax users acquired a Nikon D500 + 200-500 or Tamron/Sigma 150-600 for wildlife photography.

The screwdrive of the FA* 300/4.5 isn't really a match for the in-lens motors found in modern telephotos.
Yep it was Tamron, sorry... I compared the Sigma and Tamron 150-600mm and read reviews.


Obviously I would like to stick with Pentax if I can. Yeah, the FA*300mm screwdrive is slow, and I have the 28-105mm as a comparison (which is faster, my other lenses are MF - Samyang 24mm and Irix 150mm), but the AF performance in terms of getting sharp focus is difficult.


This is a crop but unfortunately it is what I face unless the subject is really large and slow: _IMG9668-4.jpg - Google Drive


That's why I was thinking of going for a D4S with the Tamron, which would give me faster AF and longer reach: https://photographylife.com/reviews/tamron-sp-150-600mm-f5-6-3/5

I have been given reports that the 150-450mm is a great lens but when coupled with the K1, the AF doesn't always lock on target. One friend told me the hit rate was around 1 in 10 shots.

05-14-2022, 02:11 PM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by kayasaman Quote
. . .

I have been given reports that the 150-450mm is a great lens but when coupled with the K1, the AF doesn't always lock on target. One friend told me the hit rate was around 1 in 10 shots.
you may want to check the price of the K 3 III

it is currently on sale here in the US

in your area ???

Greater Prairie Chicken Tympanuchus cupido on lek

K 3 III plus 150-450mm hand held from blind:
Attached Images
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-3 Mark III  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-3 Mark III  Photo 

Last edited by aslyfox; 05-14-2022 at 02:18 PM.
05-14-2022, 02:22 PM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by kayasaman Quote
This is a crop but unfortunately it is what I face unless the subject is really large and slow: _IMG9668-4.jpg - Google Drive.
Wow, that is pretty bad Does the FA* 300/4.5 focus properly when shooting non-moving subjects? Perhaps AF calibration is in order?

The K-1 just wasn't designed for that type of shooting, though. It's a field and studio camera, mostly. The K-3 III was designed specifically for "dynamic" photography, according to Ricoh. Of course, AF performance isn't solely upon the body, but also the lens. I don't know if there are any current Pentax lenses that fully take advantage of the K-3 III's AF tracking capabilities.
05-14-2022, 02:23 PM - 1 Like   #10
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I would suggest a Nikon D700. I have two of them I use for my theatre photography, although my work is not challenging for the AF, I have heard it is quite good in tracking. And as you are considering the 4S, this is professional build but smaller/less expensive--$400 for a good condition one at KEH or B&H.
05-14-2022, 02:26 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by aslyfox Quote
you may want to check the price of the K 3 III

it is currently on sale here in the US

in your area ???

K 3 III plus 150-450mm hand held from blind:
Interesting!!

I'm not in the US but Europe. Will need to check prices again. Last time I saw, it was more expensive then the K1 mk ii.


Here are some examples of my results:

_IMG9921.jpg - Google Drive

_IMG0055.jpg - Google Drive


_IMG9550-2.jpg - Google Drive

_IMG0514.jpg - Google Drive


The planes maybe due to atmosphere, but it is a little angle dependant. At some angles they come out really blurry??

---------- Post added 05-14-22 at 02:34 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
Wow, that is pretty bad Does the FA* 300/4.5 focus properly when shooting non-moving subjects? Perhaps AF calibration is in order?

The K-1 just wasn't designed for that type of shooting, though. It's a field and studio camera, mostly. The K-3 III was designed specifically for "dynamic" photography, according to Ricoh. Of course, AF performance isn't solely upon the body, but also the lens. I don't know if there are any current Pentax lenses that fully take advantage of the K-3 III's AF tracking capabilities.
I got a few good pigeon shots lol.... though they where only about 2 or 3 meters (6-8ft) in front of me and walking on the ground!


Yeah, like I said I mainly bought the K1 for astro stuff as the K3 iii with AT3 had not come out yet.

There's no problem with the lens or AF as both work fine as long as targets are a) still and b) large

---------- Post added 05-14-22 at 02:37 PM ----------

This is with AF and 300mm: _IMG0804.jpg - Google Drive

The overall scene is in focus and the lens performed really well! Just the plane was blurred when zoomed in (sigh)
05-14-2022, 05:58 PM - 1 Like   #12
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I shot Pentax for years before moving to Canon for AF and lens selection. I owned the K50, K3, K1 and 645Z and I started with the Sigma 150-500 then added the DA*300 F4 and DA560 lenses. I moved to Canon and started with the 5DSR and EF600 F4 IS II then added a 7D II that I replaced with the 1DX II. I'm now using the R5 and RF100-500 and RF 600 F4 and about 99% of the shooting I do is wildlife.

When it comes to auto focus the Canon DSLR's were way ahead of the Pentax and now the Canon mirrorless are way ahead of the Canon DSLR's. If you're interested in wildlife I would highly suggest going with a mirrorless system that has animal eye AF it's game changing. If you want to stick with DSLR's you can't go wrong with the Nikon D500 and one of the Sigma or Tamron 150-600 lenses, that is a great combo and you can pick them up used at good prices with lots of people switching to the Z9.

I've never used the K3 III but I would think it's better than the K1 but you are limited in lens selection to really just the 150-450.
05-14-2022, 07:31 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by KiloHotelphoto Quote
I shot Pentax for years before moving to Canon for AF and lens selection. I owned the K50, K3, K1 and 645Z and I started with the Sigma 150-500 then added the DA*300 F4 and DA560 lenses. I moved to Canon and started with the 5DSR and EF600 F4 IS II then added a 7D II that I replaced with the 1DX II. I'm now using the R5 and RF100-500 and RF 600 F4 and about 99% of the shooting I do is wildlife.

When it comes to auto focus the Canon DSLR's were way ahead of the Pentax and now the Canon mirrorless are way ahead of the Canon DSLR's. If you're interested in wildlife I would highly suggest going with a mirrorless system that has animal eye AF it's game changing. If you want to stick with DSLR's you can't go wrong with the Nikon D500 and one of the Sigma or Tamron 150-600 lenses, that is a great combo and you can pick them up used at good prices with lots of people switching to the Z9.

I've never used the K3 III but I would think it's better than the K1 but you are limited in lens selection to really just the 150-450.

Between Nikon and Canon, which one would you consider as having the better AF performance? By that I mean lock-on accuracy?
05-14-2022, 08:08 PM - 2 Likes   #14
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I really couldn't answer that, I never shot with the Nikon but have friends that are Nikon shooters.

Just my opinion if you are looking for a DSLR on a budget for wildlife the D500 is the way to go. If you have the budget for mirrorless the R5 or R6 and the RF100-500 are great combos as well. I could never imagine going back to a DSLR for wildlife now, the animal eye AF has changed things so much. With 100% frame AF coverage it is so much easier to compose shots and to track all sorts of subjects.

The Nikon Z9 and the Sony A1 also seem to be very good if you have the budget for them. I have no experience with either, I do know a guy with the A1 and the Sony 200-600 and that is a nice combo for wildlife but the A1 is pricey and small for my hands.
05-14-2022, 08:43 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by KiloHotelphoto Quote
I really couldn't answer that, I never shot with the Nikon but have friends that are Nikon shooters.

Just my opinion if you are looking for a DSLR on a budget for wildlife the D500 is the way to go. If you have the budget for mirrorless the R5 or R6 and the RF100-500 are great combos as well. I could never imagine going back to a DSLR for wildlife now, the animal eye AF has changed things so much. With 100% frame AF coverage it is so much easier to compose shots and to track all sorts of subjects.

The Nikon Z9 and the Sony A1 also seem to be very good if you have the budget for them. I have no experience with either, I do know a guy with the A1 and the Sony 200-600 and that is a nice combo for wildlife but the A1 is pricey and small for my hands.
Thanks so much!

Yeah probably will look at the Nikon D500 as it seems to be what everyone is suggesting. I also have a friend with a Sony and ironically he switched from a Pentax K5. Not sure about the size of the Sony though. Another of my friends has the R6 I believe. The major advantage it seems with mirrorless is the weight compared to DSLR's. Though I probably prefer the larger size of a DSLR in comparison. I regularly use my K1 gripped, though mostly for the second battery which will last me through the night while astro imaging.
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