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Old Sep 5, 2010, 1:08 AM   #1
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Default First Time using Pentax K-X

Well, I want to say thank you for everyone helping me out for the last few weeks. I finally brought the Pentax K-X and took it out to the zoo for the first time.

Here is my first picture with it:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/?saved=1

Overall, I am happy with it, very nice picture under day light. But it is a little noisy indoor. And I don't really like the video quality, I think my point and shoot do better with video than k-x. Maybe I don't know how to use it yet.

Does anyone have any suggestion about how I can adjust the setting to have a even better picture?

Thanks
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Old Sep 5, 2010, 2:18 AM   #2
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Hi Raylee,

Congratulations on your Kx - wonderful camera !

Actually the indoor shots from the Kx should come out better than any other DSLR for under US$1,500 ! It has a great sensor made by Sony. You probably just need to get used to the settings first. Using any camera indoors with a bounced flash is going to improve the number of 'keepers' dramatically though.

Video - I also have a Sony HX1 and I'm sure the video is better and easier to use than that from my K7 - however I don't want to traipse around with 2 cameras on me for most of the time, so for the rare occasions I use it the video from the K7 is fine (even though you can't zoom and maintain focus).

Your Photo : The Green Mode does well in most situations but that is a very difficult shot for you to get right due to the very high contrast (bright sunny day and Koala in the shadows).

The way to get around that is to maybe try spot metering and focus directly on the Koala or maybe zooming in closer on the subject so the camera doesn't have to do so much work in processing the high contrast in the overall scene.

In the Koala scene the likelihood is you'll blow out the highlights anyway (over-expose the bright areas of the shot) - it would be very difficult not to. It seems like you took the shot in early or mid-afternoon ? If you could have taken it when the sun wasn't shining directly into the Koala's compound then you would have much less contrast and so an improved chance of getting a better exposed picture of the Koala. Later afternoon when the sun is going down is best (the reason they call it the 'golden hour') as the light is soft and not as harsh (which causes hard shadows) as when it is high in the sky.

Practice makes us good not perfect !
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Old Sep 5, 2010, 2:58 AM   #3
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Hi raylee,

Congrats on the Kx. It's a fine camera, but there's a learning curve to get great images out of it

It's a very nice pic, but there would have been some ways to make it better. I'm taking the liberty to attach both a slightly downsized original with a quick PP'd version so they'd be easy to compare.

The problem with this scene is there's too much Dynamic Range (DR) -- the range of tones from the lightest to the darkest. The leaves in front of the Koala are brightly lit by direct sunlight, and the bear itself is kinda lost in the shadows. The Kx sensor has shown itself to have one of the best DR of any camera of this sensor size, so this shot shows that even the best can be beaten by mother nature's conditions at times.

I can't get an exif out of the image file, so I have no idea what settings or shooting mode you used. Since you just got the camera, I'm guessing Auto Pict Mode, where the camera decides everything -- that's where I'd start. . .

If I were taking this shot, I'd meter specifically to not blow out the leaves in front of the Koala, or forget about them and try to expose the bear as well as possible. This shot is going to be a trade-off, unless you set up to shoot it using a technique called HDR (high dynamic range), which uses multiple exposures at different exposure values and combines them using specialty software into one image. Since the little guy was sleeping, this would be possible, though it's not practical for most wildlife situations. There is a related technique called tone mapping, where you use a single shot, process it for different exposures, and save it in a number of different versions, then use HDR software to combine these into a single image, hopefully taking the best parts from each.

In any event, the camera tried to get as much of an average between the very bright and very dark areas the metering sensor saw, and you'll not that the great majority of the area of the image is pretty reasonably exposed. I don't think that many digital cameras could have done much better in matrix metering.

I haven't used HDR much, and shoot handheld mostly, so I usually go the PP route on a single shot. In this case, I would probably have spot metered for the bright leaves and brought up the shadows in PP. another alternative would have been to spot meter the bear and let the rest of the scene go wherever. I tend to not like blown out areas since they have no detail. Another option might have been to use an external flash in high speed synch to provide fill light, cutting the DR.

I don't expect you to understand the steps here, but I'll explain them anyway. I used the darken mode of the clone brush to tone down the blown out leaves, BTW, the Kx shows admirable lack of abrupt clipping at the borders of the blown areas. . .very nice! I used this on the leaves and on the large branches in the foreground. I used PSPP X2's fill light tool to bring up the shadows without further effecting the highlights. I selectively sharpened the Koala to give it more contrast so it wouldn't get lost in the shadows. I then cropped the shot slighly, retaining the 3:2 aspect ratio, and moving the bear into the "rule of thirds" area of the frame.

If you're getting very noisy shots indoors with available light, I'd try cutting the max setting for the Auto ISO down to maybe 3200. The camera, when given the choice, will normally choose the highest possible ISO in a low light situation in order to give you the fastest shutter speed. You might have to use a bit more slow shutter speed technique, but your shots should be cleaner, as the Kx has shown itself to be about the best high ISO camera anywhere near its class.

I don't shoot video, but I'm guessing that you need to experiment here, and maybe get some tips from DSLR video shooters. I can't imagine that with the available lenses and the larger sensor, you can't pretty easily beat a P&S in quality for video, but you'd have to work a bit harder for it, I'd think.

Anyway, here are the shots:

Scott
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Old Sep 5, 2010, 4:46 AM   #4
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Thank you so much for the suggestion. Focusing on the subject....that is a good idea and I don't think there will be any (Computerized) camera that will be able to read my mind about what I am trying to shoot. If I zoom in a little more, then the camera will be able to focus on the subject. Great Idea.

HDR - I read about it on the menu, but I have not try it. I will give it a shot.

Well, I have annual pass to the zoo, so I will try again. Beside, Koala always sleep anyway. LOL
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Old Sep 5, 2010, 9:19 AM   #5
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Welcome to the Pentax world! I'm impressed with how much Scott recovered on the foreground leaves - I'm not sure that the K7, in the same situation, would allow that graceful a recovery. Dynamic range is always a problem for any camera in a situation like this. Blow the highlights or lose the shadows or shoot for HDR? I don't have a Kx (though I've wanted one since they came out - right now I want either a white one or the olive one) so I'm not sure if their in-camera HDR is the same as the K7's. If it is, you definitely need to shoot with a tripod when you use the in-camera HDR feature (and don't shoot a moving subject). I'd recommend shooting both HDR1 and HDR2 for each subject you try it on - the different modes do things somewhat differently and I can't reliably predict which one is going to produce the better picture for a given scene (often one is better than the other but sometimes it's 1 and sometimes its 2, you can't say "always use this one"). Since I haven't been carrying the tripod all that much recently (rotator cuff problems), I mostly shoot hand-held and exposure bracket, letting the program Photomatix align things.

I've tried a couple of little things with video, but I haven't done much. The advantage of shooting video with a dSLR is that you can shoot with all sorts of various lenses, and can get shots with a small depth of field if you want. But it can be a lot more work, takes a lot more thought to get it right and there's limitations (focus being the big one). I keep saying that someday I'll really play around with it all, to try to figure out how to use video effectively with my camera, but I never do.
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Old Sep 5, 2010, 1:10 PM   #6
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Hello, Raylee.
There isn't really anything I can add so, I'll just say hi, and welcome to the forum.
there is a great bunch of people here that are more than willing to help out so, don't be afraid to ask.
Cheers,
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Old Sep 5, 2010, 1:56 PM   #7
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Here is another take on it. In PSE there are tools for darkening highlights and lightening shadows, as well as brightness and contrast. These act on the overall image without having to isolate any portions. Kind of "quick and dirty" tweaking. The nice thing about digital imaging is that you can do so much experimenting with different techniques without losing the original image, so don't let yourself get discouraged.

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Old Sep 5, 2010, 6:00 PM   #8
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Welcome! Can't really add anything to the great advice already given, except to keep on taking lots of photos, enjoying the process, and learning to use that great camera. (and keep on posting more of your photos here!)
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Old Sep 6, 2010, 1:44 AM   #9
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Thank you so much,

I have another question now. Yesterday, I took a picture of my wife and my daughter together. The shot is that my daughter sitting closer (on the table) to the camera and my wife sit across the table.

I like the concept of the picture, but the focus is on my wife. My daughter is blurry. I was using the 55 to 300 Kit lens.

Is there a way to have it focus on both people?
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Old Sep 6, 2010, 2:07 AM   #10
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Can you post the photo so we can see what happened ?

I'm not sure Kaylee but doesn't the Kx have the same face recognition as the K7 ? I have never used it but maybe if you check through the manual you'll find it and work out how to use it.

Other than that you'll need much more DoF (smaller aperture i.e. higher number F stop) and if you were inside that might prove very difficult even with the Kx's renowned low light capabilities. You'll probably need to use flash.
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