Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digital SLR and Interchangeable Lens Cameras > Pentax / Samsung dSLR, K Mount Mirrorless

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Oct 22, 2009, 2:15 PM   #21
Senior Member
 
snostorm's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Chicago Suburb, IL, USA
Posts: 2,770
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by anthony_b View Post
I've read about this camera not having a feature to let you know what part of the frame you're focusing on, and to remedy this you need to have it at "center" focus....but what if I'm taking a large family picture ?...what do you do then ?...is this a major drawback ?....is it the same with the K-X ?...Would you still consider buying this camera ?
Hi Anthony,

This is one of the most overblown "cons" that I've seen to date concerning a camera. Consider this -- for about 30 years of film SLRs in the manual focus era, the only focusing aid was a split screen/microprism area in the center of the frame -- that was all that generations of photographers (including the pros) used to focus their cameras. Is it realistic to now consider this inadequate? -- I don't think so. Granted, Auto Focusing technology has given us the ability to choose between different areas within the frame to focus on, but I'd venture to say that the great majority of shooters, and many very advanced shooters, just use center focus, lock focus on the most important subject, then recompose to frame the shot as desired. That's what I do in most of the shots I take. It worked in the MF era, it still works now.

Now, in the digital era, the great majority of DSLR shooters use "crop" sensored cameras. Smaller sensors allow the same lenses to give greater Depth of Field (range of distances that are in focus) than they do on a full 35mm film frame, which makes spot-on focus less critical. For advanced photographers, this is sometimes considered a negative for crop sensors because it limits the use of DOF as a creative tool. For the great majority of more casual shooters, it's an advantage because it makes focusing less critical.

Photo fora are great places to get information, tips, and to share experiences, but one has to keep things in perspective. They are mostly populated by enthusiastic hobbyists, serious amateurs, and professional photographers. The actual needs of each of these groups are significantly different, but it's easy for the hobbyist to get carried away with the technical minutiae that can obsess the advanced amateur/Pro shooters, and you have to remember that camera reviewers fall into this later category.

The ability to change focusing area is an advanced feature that IMO most people don't use. The feature is still available with the K2000 and K-x, but these cameras just don't remind you which area you've chosen for each shot. The assumption that Pentax makes is that if the photographer has chosen to change the focusing area, that they will remember which one they've chosen.

Be very aware that there is an In-Focus indicator at the bottom of the viewfinder and you can set the camera to beep when focus is locked, so the camera will tell you when focus has been achieved, but it just won't remind you which AF area you've chosen for each shot. Also be aware that there are 3 choices for AF area selection, Auto, Manual choice, and center area.
In Auto, the camera chooses -- usually the closest distinct subject. In manual choice, you choose the area and have to remember your choice, and center area which is roughly indicated by the central circular grid in the viewfinder, and was good enough for 30 years of film SLR shooters.

You could probably guess, but I think that this focus point indicator thing is mostly hot air. . .

As for shooting a large group -- you stop down your lens (use a smaller aperture = higher f-stop number) for greater DOF as a hedge against any small focusing error.

Good luck in your choice, and if you choose a Pentax, be sure to stop by and show us some of your results.

Scott

Last edited by snostorm; Oct 22, 2009 at 2:21 PM.
snostorm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Oct 23, 2009, 10:32 AM   #22
Senior Member
 
anthony_b's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Florida
Posts: 211
Default

Snostorm, thanks for the reply.
anthony_b is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Oct 23, 2009, 10:49 AM   #23
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 629
Default

Sno storm that was well said!!!
littlejohn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Oct 23, 2009, 12:15 PM   #24
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 8,529
Default

Scott,

I hear what you're saying, but I'm going to somewhat disagree. In my opinion, entry level shooters fall into 2 categories:
1) leave AF point selection on auto
2) select center point only and focus/recompose

Option 2 is probably a step up - and for this method, the camera should work fine.

It's the option 1 method that is problematic. In my experience a lot of people new to DSLRs get out-of-focus images. Mainly because there is still a BIG difference in DOF from digicam to DSLR. Not as much as to full frame but enough that when the camera focuses on the wall behind the subject instead of the subject your subject will be out of focus. I think one of the big learning curves is learning to make sure a focus point is over your subject. In reality, with the small viewfinders in the entry level DSLRs it can be difficult to judge what is in focus and what isn't. It's a little easier with the larger viewfinders on more advanced DSLRs.

Now, at least with a confirmation of which focus point is being used, a user can see - oh the camera is focusing on that tree instead of the person then they try to focus again until the foccus point on their subject lights up instead of the one on the tree. Even on the pro level body I have, when left up to the camera the camera will get it wrong. When I see those focus points light up I know when the camera got it wrong.

The alternative is to use center-only. then you don't have to worry about the camera getting it wrong and because you know it's center only,all you care about is the focus confirmation light - you don't need a focus point to light up.

So I disagree that with todays entry level DSLRs and their small viewfinders that focus-point-confirmation is an advanced feature they don't need. In my opinion the viewfinders are too small/dim to accurately judge it's your subject and not another object the camera has locked onto and it will lead to frustration. I have yet to own any digital camera - up to and including my current pro body where the camera accurately reads my mind and uses the correct focus point. Given that I think it's highly beneficial to see which one is being used - otherwise, use center point only.
JohnG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Oct 23, 2009, 1:34 PM   #25
Senior Member
 
anthony_b's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Florida
Posts: 211
Default

John G, in my case I will just set it to "center" focus and leave it like that forever.
anthony_b is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Oct 23, 2009, 1:52 PM   #26
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 8,529
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by anthony_b View Post
John G, in my case I will just set it to "center" focus and leave it like that forever.
Then I think you're good to go - the focs confirmation is all you need.
JohnG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Oct 23, 2009, 3:25 PM   #27
Senior Member
 
mtngal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Frazier Park, CA
Posts: 16,056
Default

I got curious as to how the K2000 (and I guess the K-x) handled auto focus, so I took a look at the owners manual. It actually cleared up a couple of things in my mind, things I didn't know about how their focus sytems worked.

The K10/20/K-7 AF system has 11 points and you can scroll through, choosing the particular point you want, or the camera can choose for you. My personal experience is that the camera rarely chooses the right spot and so I avoid "auto" at all possible costs.

Being able to choose the lower left corner spot (for instance) is handy when I'm shooting with a tripod, or if the DOF is so tiny that recomposing might change the camera/subject distance (which can happen). I don't use this very often (some people depend on it, use it all the time), but it's handy. I couldn't imagine trying to select your focus point without having some indication in the viewfinder which one you are choosing, which is what led me to the owners manual.

What I found out is that the K2000 doesn't have 11 focus points, I think it only has 3. It doesn't allow you to choose one side or the other - it has the choice of center point or "wide" which looks like it uses an elongated center point orientation, not a whole lot bigger than the center point. With that type of set-up, the focus points don't mean all that much, you'll be focusing and recomposing anyway, unless you are taking a subject that's centered top/bottom.

My conclusion was that not having the indicators on the focus screen aren't all that big of a limiting factor for this particular camera. The limited AF system could certainly be a limitation for some. But, for me personally, I could probably happily shoot center point only and recompose all the time - that's pretty much what I do anyway. Selecting other points falls into the nice-to-have-but-I-could-live-without-it category for me. Others will disagree.
mtngal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Oct 23, 2009, 4:08 PM   #28
Senior Member
 
snostorm's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Chicago Suburb, IL, USA
Posts: 2,770
Default

HI John,

A very good point.

Don''t get me wrong -- I personally like focus point indicators. Even though I mainly shoot using the center point only, there are many times when I'm forced to look through the VF at an odd angle, and seeing the lit up focus indicator off center in my eye's FOV has allowed me to correct a potentially critical mis-aiming (and the consequential misfocusing) of a shot. . . but if I didn't have the focus point indicators, I'd just have to make more of an effort to make sure my eye was square with the VF. I also use select point on occasion, and truly appreciate it's usefulness. The only time I use multipoint is when shooting a rapidly moving object and I hope that relying on automation will cover my obvious deficiency in developing the technique to track these types of subjects accurately in the viewfinder. That being said, I know I could get used to not having the indicators because I've turned them off to experiment and didn't really miss them, but I turned them back on, and even use the focus confirmation beep because it allows me to react a tiny fraction more quickly and I can concentrate more closely on composition and timing.

IMO, one of the most common "user's error" situations is caused by people mistakenly thinking that the lit up focus "point" indicator is the actual area of the focus sensor when this area is actually on the order of at least five or six times larger. Just this week alone I've answered at least 3 posts in different fora where this misconception was causing complaints of "focus errors" from the camera -- and some of the posters seemed to be pretty experienced DSLR users. Discovering the actual AF sensor area and that a "dumb" AF sensor will lock on the highest contrast border within its effective area, and that it will prefer those borders that are the closest to either vertical or horizontal is the biggest step a new user can take towards getting consistently satisfactory accuracy with AF.

IMO, DSLR designers are forced into a quandary concerning this. One option would be to design an entry level camera to AF only on center point, but that would immediately turn off advanced users from buying the camera as an economical backup or second body, and would give the camera a major "con" against the camera when compared to the specs and reviews of the competition. They can add the focus point indicators, but that would involve greater cost in production and assembly, and inject some well documented confusion leading to increased cost in time and effort in CS, warranty claims, and customer dissatisfaction -- this has been the standard solution chosen by most of the companies, which only contributes to the status quo.

Pentax has chosen another tack -- leave out the focus point indicators in an otherwise very highly featured body for its class. This has cost them in review standings and probably lost some sales from those who consider this a critical omission without considering any workarounds. It has also generated a lot of discussion in the fora, as we see right here. This has prompted the dissemination of good technical information concerning AF sensor areas and ways to correct an admittedly very common user error situation, and has introduced the possibility of a paradigm shift concerning the perception of this particular feature. If this forces entry level (or actually any level) user to think and learn more about how their camera's AF actually works, I think it's a good thing.

I don't know if this will be good or bad for Pentax in the big picture, but philosophically, I like it. Pentax has a history of doing things a bit differently, even if it works against their financial bottom line (like making all their previous SLR lenses compatible in all levels of their DSLR line, and adding SR to the body instead of the lenses). That has been, and continues to be a primary reason for me to support this brand. . . And yes, I do realize that considerations other than altruism were involved in these decisions.

Scott
snostorm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Oct 23, 2009, 4:50 PM   #29
Senior Member
 
mtclimber's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Oregon, USA
Posts: 18,143
Default

I use my K-2000 all the time and have it set up for center point focusing. So just like Harriet related, I get my focus where I want it, and then re-compose. It has never be a problem for me.

Sarah Joyce
mtclimber is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Oct 23, 2009, 5:49 PM   #30
Senior Member
 
anthony_b's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Florida
Posts: 211
Default

I keep on hearing the term "recompose" what is this exactley ?
anthony_b is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 7:50 PM.