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Forum: Travel, Events, and Groups 1 Day Ago  
NYC to Boston trip in early Fall
Posted By DeadJohn
Replies: 1
Views: 87
Leaf color changes inland earlier than it does along the coast. Consider heading north from NYC. The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams is worth a visit if you're not too tired of museums after NYC. Then take Route 2 all the way to Boston, it's a more scenic route than the Mass Turnpike. This path is approx 6 hours total driving, while the most direct highway route using I-95 through Connecticut is around half that time.

Don't lock in your NYC->Boston route too far in advance. Wait until leaf color maps get updated in early autumn, then pick a route with good color.
Forum: Post Your Photos! 3 Days Ago  
People Street Photo
Posted By DeadJohn
Replies: 4
Views: 141
Good use of the slope to show so many people.
Forum: Do-It-Yourself 5 Days Ago  
Lens Scatches repaires to abrasive # 6 micron and/or finer.
Posted By DeadJohn
Replies: 4
Views: 314
How bad are the scratches?

If they are so bad to hurt image quality, I think the amount of glass you'll need to grind off will have other negative effects on the image quality, such as removing coatings and leaving microstratches over a larger area.

I've read about a trick using a black marker to darken scratches. A black scratch won't flare as much as an untreated scratch. Be careful about permanently staining too much of the lens, though. Trace over a scratch, then immediately wipe off the ink using a lens cloth lightly moistened with an appropriate cleaner (alcohol, lens cleaning, even water might work if you work quickly) so that only ink inside the scratch is left. Test the ink and cleaner on some junk glass first. I TAKE NO RESPONSIBILITY IF THIS RUINS YOUR LENS.
Forum: Photo Critique 5 Days Ago  
Night Trees in the Starry Sky
Posted By DeadJohn
Replies: 3
Views: 177
#1 is my favorite. The Milky Way is visible without being overdone.

#2 is arguably overprocessed. Heavy processing like this can look good in small doses. If displaying a single night sky photo I prefer it like #1. If showing a set of different compositions, maybe mix several processed like #1, and 1 or two like #2.

#3 and #4 are less-good versions of #1. More subtle but not enough contrast.

The brightest stars have purple halos. Several options for fixing it during processing. In Lightroom, you can try any one of these:
  • Use manual lens correction, zoom in on a bright star and click on one example of purple fringing. This is my usual approach.

  • Use automatic lens correction "remove chromatic aberration". Works inconsistently with different lenses I own.

  • In the HSL panel, decrease purple saturation. There's not much purple within the Milky Way. Don't go too low with the slider because it can leave visible artifacts at the extreme ends.

Forum: Photo Critique 5 Days Ago  
Misc How much is too much?
Posted By DeadJohn
Replies: 3
Views: 187
#3 is my favorite of the set. I'm curious would it would like in B&W. Boost shadows to get a little more light, then drop black point to offset the shadow boost. I suppose the same thing could be done by boosting the white point + contrast.

#1 is IMO too busy behind the central sharp point of the wire.
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 6 Days Ago  
Some travel issues with Pentax lenses. Or: Will there be a 15-30mm f4. anytime "soon"
Posted By DeadJohn
Replies: 43
Views: 1,516
re. general travel, my Pentax K-1 remains my main kit near home and on road trips.

I added a small micro43 kit for airline travel and strenuous hikes. Body (Panasonic GX85) and 2 small lenses covers 24-300mm equivalent for $600 total. Dynamic range and noise lags behind the K-1, as expected, but is a good alternative when space or weight is limited.
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 6 Days Ago  
Some travel issues with Pentax lenses. Or: Will there be a 15-30mm f4. anytime "soon"
Posted By DeadJohn
Replies: 43
Views: 1,516
There is nothing like a 15-30 f4 on the lens roadmap. There's always a small chance of a surprise release, but it's much more likely that such a lens is a minimum of 3 years away, if ever.

Consider a Tamron 10-24. It covers the full K-1 sensor in the 15-24 range. It's a much lighter lens than the Pentax 15-30.
Forum: Pentax Camera and Field Accessories 07-08-2018, 06:59 PM  
Best Equatorial mount for under 600$
Posted By DeadJohn
Replies: 17
Views: 583
I'll let others diagnose the astrotracer issue and go to the question of equatorial mounts. For modest focal lengths, certainly 100mm and less, and likely even to 300mm, I'm aware of these options under $600 USD. based on your location I'll let you track down Can$ pricing.

iOptron SmartEQ Pro: A traditional German Equatorial Mount with go-to capability.

iOptron SkyGuider Pro: A more compact camera mount. Can be used without counterweight for light loads and wide angles. Accessories available such as a better head for polar aligning, counterweights to balance heavier loads. If you plan to use the 70-200 lens look for the full kit with most accessories included. No go-to.

Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer: Similar to the SkyGuider Pro above; it's a Different product not just a rebadge but all my comments apply.

If I was shopping I'd pick the SkyGuider Pro. I know enough about astronomy to not care about go-to for typical 200mm targets. iOptron support in USA is very good. On the other hand I know people with the Sky-Watcher and they have gotten decent results with it.
Forum: Troubleshooting and Beginner Help 07-08-2018, 06:26 PM  
K-S1 video works, photos do not
Posted By DeadJohn
Replies: 9
Views: 468
If you have a 2nd lens with you, try swapping lenses.

Regarding overexposure, test Manual mode. Pick a wide aperture (the lowest f number, so if the aperture isn't working it won't matter), and a shutter speed and ISO to get a proper exposure. Do you get consistent exposures? If yes, then change to a narrow aperture, adjust ISO the same number of stops to get the same exposure as before, and see what happens.

Regarding focus, is your lens screw-drive or in-lens motor? Do you hear it try to focus, or is the camera not even trying?
Forum: Pentax K-1 07-08-2018, 06:14 PM  
Testing Timelapse Feature
Posted By DeadJohn
Replies: 7
Views: 419
IMO the clouds aren't bad, and add some interest.

I see it as 4K on Youtube.
Forum: General Photography 07-07-2018, 09:46 PM  
Plastic - Why so much shy-away, hatred?
Posted By DeadJohn
Replies: 36
Views: 995
Uninformed people. There are admittedly some junky products made from plastic, but also good products. There are a lot of different types of "plastic".
Forum: Pentax Price Watch 07-06-2018, 09:19 PM  
If you've got to have it all
Posted By DeadJohn
Replies: 31
Views: 1,238
An equipment list from any version of Word should still be readable today. The seller was able to use eBay so should know enough to email.

Maybe the whole ad is an elaborate scam to trick people to pay for a 54 page list. Chain letters are making a comeback.
Forum: Pentax Price Watch 07-06-2018, 05:49 AM  
If you've got to have it all
Posted By DeadJohn
Replies: 31
Views: 1,238
Wow, so many of the cameras have flashes attached. That's a lot of flashes.

I doubt anyone local will want all that. The ad mentions a $4k shipping estimate. That's not unreasonable for a $65k sale.

Why did 1 person collect so much ordinary stuff? Did they own a camera shop, or have they been buying a few pieces at a time on craigslist?
Forum: General Photography 07-05-2018, 01:23 PM  
My work flow time saver
Posted By DeadJohn
Replies: 11
Views: 530
I always use raw and process in Lightroom. My first step is to review all the photos doing minimal or no processing. Potential keepers get 1-star rating. Completely failed photos - missed focus, wrong settings - get permanently deleted.

I then return to the 1-star photos and process them, increasing the rating if good, and unstarring ones that no longer seem like keepers.

Action photography is a little different. If I'm shooting bursts, I try to evaluate each burst as a group to find the best one. I'll process that one and apply settings to the group, to see if I change my mind about the best one.
Forum: Troubleshooting and Beginner Help 07-04-2018, 12:33 PM  
Some wierd spots on my lens
Posted By DeadJohn
Replies: 20
Views: 807
Agreed it looks like fungus on one of the internal glass surfaces. It shouldn't show in photos, although you might lose a little contrast when bright lights are within your photo.

Your profile says India so I assume it's very humid where you are. Fungus spores are everywhere but they need humidity to thrive. Store lenses in a "dry box". There are a few options.
  • Use a plastic storage container with airtight lid. It doesn't have to be a fancy Pelican-style travel case, some simple home storage containers have lids sealed with gaskets. Add a rechargeable desiccant pack ("Rem Dri 35" is what I use). I recommend this approach; it's reliable and low cost.

  • Special cabinets with electrical dehumidifiers and interior lighting. Looks great, but more expensive and has to be plugged in to a wall outlet.

  • Take an existing home cabinet, add small light bulb to the bottom shelf for heat. You need to be careful with this approach because you can overheat your lenses if you use too large a bulb. Use a humidity gauge and work your way up from small bulbs until you are below 45% humidity.

Forum: Photographic Technique 07-04-2018, 12:14 PM  
Low-Light Astrophotography tips - a short tutorial
Posted By DeadJohn
Replies: 8
Views: 457
Usually, I do a rough aim, take a test photo, look at the LCD to see if I have something interesting on the back. Re-aim if needed. If photographing a dim object you can crank up the ISO to shorten exposure time on the test, then return to a more moderate ISO with longer exposure for the actual photos.

Wide angle makes it easy to find targets. Look for the band of the Milky Way during summer and you are good. The Milky Way changes orientation each season and sometimes hugs the horizon, so be wary of that.

You are further north than me. Good for aurora, bad for Milky Way. The brighter portions of the Milky Way near the constellation Sagittarius will be low on your southern horizon during summer. That's a target-rich area with 50mm or 100mm. Try scanning the Milky Way working your way up from there. The Cygnus area has some interesting dust lane detail.

With a 200mm or 300mm lens and astrotracer, you can try the Andromeda Galaxy. You might be able to see it naked eye from a dark site to aim, otherwise learn how to "star hop" to find it. The Orion nebula is a winter object very east to find near visible stars in the "sword" of Orion.

TLDR; it pays to learn some astronomy.
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 07-03-2018, 08:23 PM  
Either I'm a noob or I had a bad copy or I'm just Paranoid. What's your say?
Posted By DeadJohn
Replies: 51
Views: 1,818
The "kit" 28-105 is a very good lens.

Anyway, to test your new 70-200 for sharpness, or any other lens, I recommend:
  • Tripod. That will eliminate shake from handholding. Yes, shake reduction in the K-1 should fix that, but you're testing your lens and try to eliminate other variables. (Alternate: rest the camera on a table)

  • 2 second timer. That turns off shake reduction while allowing time for vibrations to settle from pressing the shutter button. (Alternate: use a remote)

  • Turn on live view. That eliminates any mirror slap from the camera.

  • Manual focus, or autofocus within live view. You want to rule out any autofocus issues with PDAF, the type of focus that operates when using the optical viewfinder. PDAF can be fine-adjusted in the camera menus later, if needed.

  • Pick a flat non-moving target with detail. A brick wall can work. A paper with fine print attached to a wall. A hung tapestry.

  • Compare test photos at f2.8, 4,5.6, and 8. f2.8 with the 70-200 should be sharp but thin depth of field. Sharpness and depth of field should increase as you stop down.

Forum: Photographic Technique 07-03-2018, 01:04 PM  
Low-Light Astrophotography tips - a short tutorial
Posted By DeadJohn
Replies: 8
Views: 457
How much light pollution? My linked photo was taken from the outer edge of NYC suburbs, Southold NY.

My example photo was done with 100mm. It's a relatively small slice of the sky so background light pollution is even across the frame, allowing me to hide it with the black point slider. As you go wider angle the gradients become more visible - horizon is bright, zenith is darker.
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 07-03-2018, 06:13 AM  
What new lens would you purchase on release?
Posted By DeadJohn
Replies: 48
Views: 1,108
Sounds nearly identical to the 15-30.
Forum: Troubleshooting and Beginner Help 07-02-2018, 10:32 PM  
Which lens is best??
Posted By DeadJohn
Replies: 34
Views: 1,164
I think you have the K-70.

Landscape: There are lots of different ways to do landscapes. Your 18-135 covers a lot of it with decent image quality, versatility, and is weather resistant. If you want to try going wider I recommend the DA 15 Limited - it's one of the best Pentax lenses IMO. The DA 15 shows good contrast and legendary flare resistance. It's small enough to add to your bag without weighing you down.

Wildlife: Wildlife is all about focal length; get to 300mm or more. Any variant of the Pentax 55-300 is good: the one with "PLM" in the name focuses the fastest, other variants can be found for less money.

For more reach than 300mm it starts getting heavy and costly. The Pentax 150-450 is very good image quality if you are willing to spend nearly $2000. A used copy of a Sigma 50-500 or 150-500 is a much less expensive option. All of those lenses are heavy. A less heavy option if you are willing to forego zoom is the DA* 300 plus a 1.4 teleconverter to reach 420mm. I strongly recommend learning with a 55-300 so you can make a more informed decision on these other options. Wildlife photography has a comparatively long learning curve because, in addition to the photography part, you also need to figure out wildlife behavior to be in the right place, right time, and not scare animals away.
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 07-02-2018, 12:38 PM  
What new lens would you purchase on release?
Posted By DeadJohn
Replies: 48
Views: 1,108
A compact 20 or 24 f2.0. Full frame. f2.0 is slower than similar Samyang/Rokinon offerings but that could allow the Pentax lens to be more compact. I'd use it for day landscapes and night Milky Way when hiking. It would be a much smaller, slightly faster alternative to the 15-30.
Forum: Pentax Compact Cameras 07-01-2018, 03:45 PM  
Is the GRII Premium kit worth it? @ $996
Posted By DeadJohn
Replies: 5
Views: 363
What is your planned use for the GR? I use my GR as my carry-everywhere camera and street photography. Most of the stuff in that kit is useless for me. YMMV.

Here's the list of 9 items. The list is Ricoh's, the snark is mine.

1 Aluminium carrying case: That's a little awkward as a carrying case. It might pull my pants down if use it as a belt pouch or stick it into cargo pants. They couldn't even spell "aluminum" correctly ;) If I was going on a trip and had room for this case, I'd use that room for a normal camera bag with DSLR plus the GR.

2 Neck strap GS-3: Bright orange!? There goes the GR's stealth.

3 Jacket case GC-6: More orange!? The case looks to be only a lower portion so still needs another full coverage case for transit.

4 Hood & adapter GH-3: Ruins the compact size. The front element of the GR lens is recessed and that already acts like a hood.

5 GR II: Ooh, a camera! Finally something good.

6 External viewfinder GV-1: I wouldn't want this for free, again because it spoils the compact size. I realize other photographers might like this and I'll concede the point.

7 GR DIGITAL 10th anniversary pin badge: Is this like an award badge? Congratulations on the achievement of spending $400 on questionable stuff.

8 Wide-angle conversion lens GW-3: A useful item. It gives a wider view while maintaining the GR's image quality. It has to be used with the GH-3 adapter, though.

9 Ring cap: My ring cap got lost 4 years ago. I've never missed it since. I don't need multicolor bling.
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 07-01-2018, 09:33 AM  
Pentax lenses that are worthy of an A* or Limited designation but are not
Posted By DeadJohn
Replies: 49
Views: 1,836
I agree that the DFA 100 WR should be considered a * or Limited. Possible upgrades during a makeover:
  1. Focus limiter switch.

  2. Reduced CA. Don't aim to get rid of it completely; work within the compact size of the current 100.

I think such a refresh should wait indefinitely. Finish the existing roadmap.
Forum: Photographic Technique 06-30-2018, 01:01 PM  
Low-Light Astrophotography tips - a short tutorial
Posted By DeadJohn
Replies: 8
Views: 457
Someone PMed me with questions about an astrophoto I posted in a different thread. Rather than just reply to them, I figured I'd make it a little bit of a tutorial here. I use Lightroom but the concepts apply to other software.

The attached image shows before and after processing a photo of the Sagittarius region of the Milky Way.

  • K-1 using astrotracer. These concepts apply with any camera, even my comparatively limiter micro four-thirds camera.

  • Lens: DFA 100 WR macro. Macro lenses tend to be evenly sharp across the frame, making them good for stars.

  • Tripod

  • ISO 1600. If I redid this shot, I probably would use ISO 800 based on how I've seen my K-1 work. Lower ISO looks darker in camera but offers further processing leeway.

  • Shutter speed 60 seconds. I usually stay with conservative exposure lengths with the astrotracer, using less than the maximum the camera says because calibration and tracking can be hit-and-miss.

  • Aperture f3.5. The DFA 100 can show a purple halo around bright stars, especially when dim parts of a photo are brightened during processing. Stopping down a little reduces the fringing.

  • Single exposure, no stacking used.

  • Raw DNG. That offers more processing headroom than JPG.

  • Take a few photos, in case one or more are ruined by aircraft lights or other issues.

  1. All processing for this photo done in Lightroom. Photoshop was not needed. It looks like a lot of steps below, but it only takes 10 minutes, then I step away and come back later for a fresh look.

  2. The first step is to assess whether the photo has potential. Check the overall photo for composition. Zoom in 100% to make sure focus is reasonably good, check that I didn't accidentally kick a tripod leg, and make sure wind didn't shake the camera. There's no sense wasting further procesing on a fundamentally bad photo.

  3. Basic panel - to get exposure and colors correct
    1. The first processing settings are lowering the black point slider and raising the white point slider. Hold the Alt key (on Windows, I think different on Mac) as you move the sliders to see if any area are getting too black or too white. The sky background should retain a little gray in it. It's okay if the center point of stars hit 100% white.

    2. I then test the other bright/dark sliders in the basic panel: highlights, shadows, contrast. Exposure slider usually stays at 0 because I already used the white point slider. Sometimes I'll add clarity instead of contrast - using both usually looks overprocessed to me. In hindsight I'm surprised to see I went as high as +88 contrast.

    3. Get an overall pleasing color. I compare White Balance as shot to around 4000K. I prefer a gray rather than too-blue background. Saturation usually gets boosted a little bit.

  4. Detail panel - for sharpness and noise reduction
    1. Boosting brightness like we just did makes noise more visible. I usually use little or no sharpening. If you do sharpen make sure to use the masking slider, to avoid false sharpening of noise in bare areas.

    2. I'll add some luminance noise reduction (this photo was at 27) and color noise reduction (29).

    3. When using micro four-thirds, I get too much color noise to fix without blurring details, so I just convert the entire photo to B&W.

  5. Lens Corrections panel - varies by lens
    1. I enable profile corrections by default to reduce vignetting. It's more important with my K-1 than prior K-5.

    2. That purple fringing I mentioned earlier ... fix it in the Manual panel. Zoom in on a bright star that has a purple halo, click the eyedropper, click on the halo. Tweak sliders as needed.

  6. You might be done! Take a break. Come back later.

  7. Take a fresh look.
    1. Beginners often process too much. Return to earlier panels and back off some sliders if needed.

    2. Visit additional panels to do further tweaks. When I used the K-5, the IR cut filter blocked more red than happens with the K-1, so I would go into the HSL panel to bring back some red.

    3. Are there any dust spots or other issues? In this photo, I caught a short trail from a satellite. You can see it in the before image upper-right from center. It's small, but I wanted to fix it. The Lightroom Heal brush was able to do a satisfactory job. usually, planes and satellites leave longer trails that require Photoshop context aware erase.

Note that this is how *I* do it. Others get great results using different techniques. For example, you can use the Tone Curve panel and spend less time in the Basic sliders. You can work exclusively in Photoshop or other software.

Astrophotography can be an exercise in fun plus frustration. Some nights I get good results. Other nights nothing works out well because of human error, subtle equipment glitches, extra humidity in the air, and other factors. Be patient and persistent.
Forum: Pentax News and Rumors 06-29-2018, 07:18 AM  
DA*11-18/2.8 delay to 2019
Posted By DeadJohn
Replies: 192
Views: 7,916
Maybe faster focusing on the 70-200. The 60-250 is optically very good. Tamron 70-200 f2.8 is also an option; I don't want the extra weight and size for f2.8 but this one doesn't seem to heavy, still undecided whether noisier screwdrive AF is okay.

I don't want to derail this thread. PM me or tag me in a new thread if you want to talk more.
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