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Forum: Pentax DSLR Discussion 01-31-2009, 02:27 PM  
K2000 - I wish I had never read the review
Posted By aabram
Replies: 65
Views: 12,538
Well, I rather agree with them. I used K2000/K-m for a week and while initially excited, finally it just felt underwhelming. If I'd be looking for small cam I'd go for E-420, if I'd be looking for Pentax specifically, then perhaps K200D. Probably it's just me but I failed to see any benefits of having K-m over anything else. It's not like it beats competion by miles with anything other than being available in white. I could possibly fancy white camera, I imagine, but then again I couldn't live with that kit lens quality.

So for me the review was pretty much spot on and I agree with the conclusion -- average camera, nothing special. Not a bad purchase but nothing to write home about too.
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 08-31-2008, 01:08 PM  
Would I notice the extra sharpness?
Posted By aabram
Replies: 18
Views: 3,757
Yes, you would notice the difference. Small prints do mitigate the sharpness somewhat but contrast and color differences are there nevertheless.
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 08-31-2008, 04:23 AM  
Sigma 17-70 or Sigma 18-50 EX F/2.8
Posted By aabram
Replies: 11
Views: 2,637
I used to have sigma 17-70 but sold it with my K100D to my friend. I was considering buying Pentax DA* 16-50, but at my test shots Sigma 18-50 beat it at any focal lenght wide open (using K10D) and since I had shooting coming up in few days I bought Sigma 18-50, though with little hesitation. Well, some 600-700 shots later I'm very pleased with it. I previously thought that Sigma 17-70 was sharp, but little did I know, 18-50 is sharper yet. Most important for me is that it's sharp right from f2.8.

Sharpness, clarity, contrast and colors are visibly better than with 17-70. At times the image quality scarily approaches my FA50 f1.4. 18-50 bokeh is smoother than that of a 17-70, weight, feel and handling is about the same. There have been few times when I wish I had longer reach than 50 and better magnification (17-70 has 1:2, 18-50 1:3), but within its range the 18-50 clearly tops 17-70 for image quality. 17-70 itself is remarkable lens and you can't go wrong with it, but constant f2.8 does come handy, especially when it's sharp across the range.

I don't shoot brick walls or test charts so others may have different opinions though.
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 08-15-2008, 01:30 AM  
Poll: Question for 16-50mm owners
Posted By aabram
Replies: 1,099
Views: 120,736
Well, look for scenes that are important to the type of photography you do. If there are bags and bacpacks on display, they usually have fine texture that you can test the sharpness on, there are batteries or memory cards hanging on the wall with all those various coloured multiple size texts and letters which may just be good enough target to test lens sharpnesse of softness from center to corner. There are darker and lighter coloured bags that you can check for focussing speed and sensitivity. There are usually some bright lights and darker corners to fool the metering, lots of reflections to throw autofocus off etc. There are straight lines (shelves, display cases, ceiling junction stripes) to test the distortion. Be creative.
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 08-15-2008, 01:15 AM  
Poll: Question for 16-50mm owners
Posted By aabram
Replies: 1,099
Views: 120,736
I'm not starting new thread but add my recent experience here. Having amassed necessary funds I went to camera shop yesterday, secretly hoping to walk away later with 16-60 DA*. Well, it didn't happen. As I was taking test shots in shop I was surprised to see the softness at wide end wide open. For comparison I tested Sigma 18-50 EX f2.8 which was also on display on same subjects with same settings and it beat 16-60 DA* at f2.8 in all focal lengths up to 50. At 50 Pentax was tad sharper, but from 16 to around 28 it was just horr-rrri-ble. I didn't just believe my K10D LCD but I went home, unloaded pics to my computer and duly examined the shots on big screen. It was uniformly softer, not just the edges. Texts on small items that I could clearly read on Sigma shots where pure guesswork on Pentax shots. 16-50 become much better when stepped down, but for me that defeats the point of having f2.8 throughout whole range in the first place. I can live with softness when it is within acceptable limits but this was too much, especially compared to cheaper Sigma next to it. To be fair, one wide open shot was tack sharp with 16-50 too, though I did nothing differently than with other shots. So perhaps it is true, that focusing may be off with K10D, instead of lens being faulty.

Anyway, no 16-50 DA* for me then for a while. I was sceptical at first with all the talk about DA* lemons but apparently old saying "where there's smoke, there's fire" still applies. I have been lucky with my lenses so far and had no problems with any of them but now I'm probably going to wait for next generation or until I get K20D to try again. I think I can wait and not bother with testing truckload of copies to get the perfect one.
Forum: Photographic Technique 08-13-2008, 09:00 AM  
Quantity versus Quality
Posted By aabram
Replies: 43
Views: 5,887
It's easier when you concentrate not on ditching the bad ones but rather keeping the good ones.
Don't go through your pics looking for bad ones that you can delete. You end up debating with yourself "but it's not THAT bad" and before you know it, you've kept all those mediocre pics. Just look for really good ones, pick those out and delete the rest. It really is easier that way.
Forum: Photographic Technique 05-19-2008, 12:07 AM  
Techniques for macro
Posted By aabram
Replies: 24
Views: 8,481
While recommendations for tripod are generally very true, there are subjects you can't shoot with tripod. Insects which keep crawling up and down, for example, are hard to nail down from tripod unless they're dead or play dead just for you. With practice you can have some good shots with that combination handheld.

Sigma 70mm has quite slow AF so turn it off and use manual focus. When you have achieved good enough focus manually try finetuning it rocking yourself back and forth, especially if subject has moved even for few mm. When shooting extreme closeups with wide aperture avoid focus-recompose, moving lens axis will inevitably throw focus off. Use manual focus points, if subject is not in center. With K10D it's really quick so there's no excuse not to use them instead of focusing and recomposing at close distances. Learn your breathing patterns and find your own sweet spot during breathing cycle where your cam is most steady. Some find that holding breath helps, but for some people it is opposite, it hinders their concentration. Know thyself.

As bjors said, support yourself. When shooting from low position support your elbow or camera on your knee. Kneel or lie down, if needed, the steadier support you have, the better. Bring thick cloth or something else so you can support your elbows or knees comfortably for longer time. You may have to stay in that position for a minut or longer, waiting that darn bug to finally move a bit so that you can get clear shot. Use beanbag or your backpack to support the camera for even steadier shots.

Take several shots, even if some may look out of focus in viewfinder. Your or subjects movement in the last millisecond may bring it in focus, if you're lucky. If subjects seem focus in viewfinder but are not in actual pictures, check dioptre correction lever, you may have bumped it off slightly.

My own two favourite bug macros have both been taken without tripod.



Forum: Post Your Photos! 10-04-2007, 01:11 PM  
blossoming beauties
Posted By aabram
Replies: 4
Views: 2,264
Ah, yes, I myself quite fancy these colors too.

All these are handheld with my 70mm macro, most with manual focusing. The weather was overcast and that helped greatly, because I didn't have to worry about blowing the highlights. Fortunately there was not too much work involved. I already got sharp pics with and tender colors from my camera so there was nothing else involved but a bit of tweaking the curves. For pictures that have lot of greens and reds I sometimes use Petteri Sulonen's crossprocess curves as starting point. You can read more about his experimenting with curves here and download the actual files here. His crossprocess gives bluish/yellowish tint which works very well with greens and gives the reds pinkish cast, which is very much in line with my current taste. The downside is that the contrast increases considerably and some details are lost both in shadows and in highlights. That's why I apply the base curves and then tweak separate channels and/or curve level opacity until I find the combination that works for that particular photo. I usually combine several adjustment layers with different blending modes until I get the look I want.

The price for all that is, of course, the amount of time it all takes. I never batch process, always go through images one by one, even if the look OK in first glance. I look for possible dust spots, correct possible framing errors, straighten if needed and check for other defects. After that I'll see if I can bring the mood I want into the picture. Darker, lighter, color cast, increased contrast, increased or decreased saturation etc. Sometimes it's not needed. Sometimes it is. Took me 4-5 hours to go through 90+ pics but it was time well spent.
Forum: General Talk 10-04-2007, 11:17 AM  
Why did you choose Pentax ?
Posted By aabram
Replies: 62
Views: 6,994
Shake reduction. For my style of shooting it's invaluable. As long as photography is my hobby and as long as I have pay for my own equipment I'll never have enough money to buy ridiculously expensive VR/IS lenses that some other brands offer.

Pentax offered best price/features ratio. By far.
Forum: General Talk 10-03-2007, 04:44 AM  
RAW or JPEG
Posted By aabram
Replies: 26
Views: 3,524
Pentax PEF files use lossless compression, thus the smaller size. PEF files are similar to TIFF, that's why some software assumes they're TIFF files but fails to open them. TIFF can also be either compressed or not, in uncompressed form it is bound to be much bigger. Try saving with various compression methods (LZW or ZIP for exmple) and see if that makes a difference.



True, only saving affects the quality. After you save-reopen-save the same image for 4-5 times even the blindest will see ugly artifacts, smearing of colours and the lack of crispness.



In general JPG uses ALWAYS compression. There are lossless JPG formats such as JPEG-LS, JPEG-2000, but if not stated otherwise in image editing software, the default is standard format, which is lossy. 100% quality settig gives you maximum image quality considering the JPG format, that is it gives you minimum quality loss. But there is a loss nevertheless. Though there are exeptions, for example it is possible to rotate image by 90 degrees (and thus by 180 and 270 also) and re-save it without loss, without actually altering image date but just rearranging data blocks inside JPG file.

Suppose the original image quality is 100% and maximum JPG quality is 99% (can't be 100% as it wouldn't be JPG). But within the editor it still makes sense to indicate 100%, but this doesn't mean 100% of original quality but rather 100% or maximum available quality. Which may happen to be 99% (or 95% or whatever) of original quality.

Suppose you get from camera JPG image where there is 99% of image data available. As soon as you save it with maximum settings (99% quality retained) you will have 99% of original 99%, which would make 98.01% or original quality. Saving yet again gives another decreas and so forth. If you use stronger compression (=more loss) then the quality will degrade much faster. Say if you save 90% first time you get 90% of original quality. Saving yet again with 90% gives you 81% of original quality. Saving third time gives you 72.0% of orginal quality and it's obvious downhill from there.

Of course these numbers are just illustrative and fairly arbitrary, I have no idea how to truthfully represent the JPG quality loss precentages, but it gives the rough idea. Also, the percentages or the scale you see in image editor save dialog may not actually tell you how much image data is retained or discarded, it may just be an arbitrary scale for inbuilt compression engine, which then applies it's own secret algorithms. So 50% compression doesn't equal 50% loss in image quality.

It all relates to RAW vs JPG because RAW gives you at minimum one less image quality decrease step compared to JPG. Perhaps it is just 1% which cannot be possibly distinguished without extreme pixel peeping and comparing but still. If cameras would put out TIFF instead of JPG then it would be different story. But with JPG there is really nothing to argue about.

It all boils down to "is it worth it?" And that is what people start arguing about. Which is kind of silly.
Forum: Photographic Technique 10-03-2007, 12:54 AM  
If it's on Flickr... anyone can use it for anything!
Posted By aabram
Replies: 27
Views: 5,408
As I understood her lawyer is not disputing so much the publishing of that particular image but rather accompanying texts "dump your pen-pal" and "from virgin to virgin" or whatever the exact wording was. And that is something the original image had not, it is something that Virgin added, thus giving it entire new context.
Forum: General Talk 10-02-2007, 11:41 PM  
RAW or JPEG
Posted By aabram
Replies: 26
Views: 3,524
Of course it can. But at cost.
The whole "prove it" part is a bit... pointless.

RAW contains more image data to begin with. JPG, which comes out of the camera uses lossy compression (correct me please, if you know any digital camera that uses lossless compression). This means that image editor, as good as it is, has less data to work with JPG files than when working with RAW files. You may or may not see the difference in final result, depending on the subject and the complexity of processing needed.

Further, when you save edited JPG as JPG again, you now have reduced image data twice, whereas when saving tweaked RAW as JPG has had image data reduced just once. That, by definition, is difference in quality. Again, depending on the picture and the complexity of processing you may or may not see the difference. But technically, there is a difference, hence some may describe RAW as superior. The difference is disputable subjectively, but not technically.

Also, JPG from one camera may be inherently better (in regards to compression and loss of image data) than from other camera and the gain from RAW may be different for different brands/models.

Whether one needs that "extra" from RAW is down to personal taste and/or needs.
Forum: General Talk 10-01-2007, 11:46 PM  
RAW or JPEG
Posted By aabram
Replies: 26
Views: 3,524
RAW is not magic bullet which will give you automatically superior image quality. You have to process it to get the best out of it. It's like manual gearbox - you can make the engine do things it wouldn't do with automatic gearbox and squeeze some extra power out of it. But the driver has to know how to make it work. There is no correlation between expensiveness of the camera and shooting RAW. It's just that people who have professional equipment are more likely to try to squeeze every little bit out of their images.

If you find that you usually tweak your photos, shoot RAW. If you don't tweak or tweak rarely, shoot JPEG. But shooting RAW and converting to JPG with default converter settings is pointless in my opinion. RAW conversion vs straight JPG doesn't necessarily have quality difference.

However, as soon as you tweak your JPG-shot photos and re-save, image quality will degrade as JPG lossy compression will get progressively worse with each save. It may or may not be significant for people.

I personally shoot RAW always. I like to keep my originals in lossless format.
Forum: Post Your Photos! 10-01-2007, 08:38 AM  
blossoming beauties
Posted By aabram
Replies: 4
Views: 2,264
Life has been busy lately and I haven't had much time to either take pics or visit here. Time to make it up a little. Here's a flashback from last month. All taken with Sigma 70mm macro.

#1


#2


#3


#4


#5


#6


There's plenty more, but I won't bother you with more at the moment :)
Forum: Weekly Photo Challenges 10-01-2007, 08:04 AM  
Weekly Challenge #32 - Landscapes
Posted By aabram
Replies: 70
Views: 6,646
From my last bog trip.



Pentax K100D, Sigma 17-70, 1/320s, f/8, 37mm, 200 ISO

Before anyone asks - yes, I've postprocessed it to add warmth and smoothness to the colors.
Forum: Post Your Photos! 10-01-2007, 07:44 AM  
Let's all kick the newbie!!
Posted By aabram
Replies: 9
Views: 1,212
With all three pics I have to think "what am I supposed to be looking here?".
As has been said, the light is too harsh and is killing all nuances.

#1 has potential, but I don't know where the focus (of interestingness) is. Is it supposed to be the rocks? Or the path? Or path passing the rocks? I cant fix my attention to anything in particular.

#2 My first reaction was "the tree is blocking my view". Honestly, that's what I felt during split second.

#3 I can understand what you're trying to do there but it doesn't work for me. The branch is blocking instead of framing the lower part, as perhaps planned. But even if the branch is removed then what? Cliffs? What about them? From this angle I can't appreciate the depth and width of that scene.

... and now for the constructive part

I have to say that if I would've taken the shots from those angles with same light then I wouldn't've had better luck either. But I can tell you what I would've done differently.

#1 There's a bush with bright yellow leaves on lower right, I would've tried to shoot so yellow leaves would've been in the foreground and either rocks or the path in the background. Perhaps even shot through the leaves and focused somewhere way further.

#2 I would've framed so that only that middle tree would've been in the frame, cropping out leftmost half-tree. Since I don't know what lies to the right I have no idea, would that have been feasible or not.

#3 Probably I would've done closeup of the branch instead :)
Forum: Photographic Technique 10-01-2007, 04:45 AM  
I suck at this...
Posted By aabram
Replies: 46
Views: 9,544
About framing shots and picking interesting points.



We all know the feeling. The problem really lies in that you, while being there in person, can see behind the shot, so to speak. Others look at one static frame, but at the time of shooting you see not only what's left out of the frame but you have seen what happened before and how the scene turned interesting. For example, when you show me a picture of a dog wagging its tail, it's just that for me - a dog in the grass. But for you it is your trusty old friend on beautiful meadow, who just performed an amazing trick you've been teaching him for past six months. Of course you want to share it with us, but we don't have the surroundings and the history of that shot for help. We can only form our opinion from what we see in the photo.

The trick is to compose the shot so that it contains that "something" which will convey the emotion. Since we can't see outside the borders, you have bring something in the picture to our attention and tell the story with the help of perspective, focus, lighting...

To illustrate the point, look at these two shots. These are not mine, these are random pics from Flickr. I link to their respective pages as well.

First, here is the dog and the grass. This is how most of us would shoot. Few moments before the dog was wading through grass, it must have been nice sight.



But, here's another dog in the grass. Same subject but very different photo.



Can you guess, which one speaks to me more? Which one makes me smile and say "I wish I would've taken that!"?

Of course, it is not always possible to spend time planning and framing, sometimes you just have to take the snap before the situation passes. But with enough practice you start automatically placing yourself to get not only clean shot but also an interesting one. But the time you pick up the camera and turn it on, your brain has already calculated the best line of shooting, possible framing and your other hand has already turned zoom ring for approximate distance.

But you can't acquire all that just in one afternoon. Just start taking buckload of pics in various conditions and see what works best for you. Don't do just one snap of your dog, do six snaps. Stand, crouch, lie down on the ground with him. Do a wide angle, do a tele. Do landspace, do portrait. Try until you find that particular angle that works for that particular subject. To me majority of the boring photos I've ever seen have been taken from the eye level of a standing adult...
Forum: Photographic Technique 09-27-2007, 12:16 AM  
I suck at this...
Posted By aabram
Replies: 46
Views: 9,544
Disagree. Pro / good photographer may have different taste and working in different field, but he'll be able to appreciate a good photo, whatever the subject.

One common pitfall (that I myself have been through) is that when you start up with new thing (new camera, new lens, new PP program) then for a while everything you do seems totally awesome to yourself. Witness the flood of "my first pics with ..." posts in popular photography forums. I thought my first 2000 shots were awesome too. Well, they were not. Not composition-wise, not lighting-wise, not subject-wise and certainly not overall quality-wise.

Can't comment on OP pics though.
WMBP and mmcmanamey advices are very sound.
Forum: Pentax DSLR Discussion 09-21-2007, 02:56 PM  
Tamron18-250 or Sigma17-70 (Range or Speed thats the question)
Posted By aabram
Replies: 23
Views: 5,343
To be honest, I do not see the dilemma here. If you need the range, it's no-brainer, get Tamron, because you need it. If you don't need that range, it's no-brainer, get Sigma, because it gives better quality.

The fact that you're willing to give up 180mm of range hints that you may not need Tamron after all. Or am I missing here something?
Forum: Pentax DSLR Discussion 09-14-2007, 09:30 AM  
Eye glasses
Posted By aabram
Replies: 32
Views: 8,270
To be perfectly honest I'm a bit astonished that so many have problems with using their cameras with glasses on. I never take off my glasses and I have never thought that I have a problem. I can't press my eye into the eyecup and I don't get home-theater-view as I should, instead I get strong realtime vignetting, but that hasn't worried me slightest. Because viewfinder doesn't cover 100% anyway I frame approximately all the time anyway. And I still can manual focus. I consider glasses my little handicap, which makes photographing uncomfortable, but not impossible.

Though yes, sideways sun shining through is a problem. I have to use my other hand for cover then.
Forum: General Talk 09-12-2007, 01:08 PM  
Where have you been ?
Posted By aabram
Replies: 49
Views: 5,530
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 09-06-2007, 12:33 PM  
I need lens and am on a tight budget
Posted By aabram
Replies: 13
Views: 2,300
During past year I have read in various forums WAY MORE reports about broken SR-buttons and banding in K10D than defective Sigma 17-70 lenses. And 17-70 is definitely popular lens and there should be loads of those out here.

Then again, if you have no way of returning it conveniently I can understand your worries. Sometimes it pays to pay extra (higher price instead of ordering from USA) to have just-in-case insurance.
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 09-04-2007, 11:24 PM  
sigma 10-20?
Posted By aabram
Replies: 29
Views: 25,636
Also there's Sigma 10-20 group on flickr.
Forum: Pentax DSLR Discussion 09-04-2007, 11:05 PM  
First RAW image for me
Posted By aabram
Replies: 5
Views: 1,597
"Me too! Me too!"

Once I blew few hundred birthday shots which happened to be very psychedelic because of mixed tungsten/fluorescent light. I had to spend too much time saving them as good as I could. From that day on I saved myself future hassle and went RAW all the way. Never looked back.
Forum: Pentax DSLR Discussion 09-03-2007, 01:54 PM  
k100d battery recommendation
Posted By aabram
Replies: 86
Views: 22,393
I've had very good experience with GP and Panasonic 2700 rechargeables. I have regular Uniross's (not hybrio) but they lose their charge ridiculously quickly (few days, a week tops). My record is 900+ shots with Panasonic ones. Since most of the times I carry backup set, I never worry about running out of juice. I do use expensive-ish slow charger though.
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