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Old Mar 8, 2012, 10:50 PM   #1
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With all the discussion elsewhere about the K-01, I decided to do a little experiment. Even with my very first digital camera (Sony F717) I preferred using a viewfinder and didn't mind it's EVF at all. The first time I used Live View on the K20, it was outdoors and I could barely see enough to frame the shot - certainly couldn't see enough to check focus. So while the idea of the K-01 with that little 40mm prime lens really appeals to me, I didn't think I could live using only an LCD.

So today I took the K5 out at lunch, sat on top of a parking structure under a cloudless, bright California sunny skies and pointed my camera with an AF lens on it, at a couple of things. The FA31 focused without any problem at all, and I could see the focus on the LCD well enough to judge that the camera had focused on what I wanted it to. Granted, I only once gave it something even slightly difficult, but I was pretty impressed that I could tell anything with such bright overhead sunlight.

After sitting for a while, just soaking up the warmth, I decided to try something more difficult - I put on the manual focus Viv. Series One 105 macro lens and headed for some lilies, to see if I could manually focus using the LCD. The bright sunlight did make things difficult. The breeze that picked up made it even more difficult, since the flower went in and out of the frame. The camera didn't "beep" when it thought it was in focus - something I depend a great deal on I discovered. I tried to zoom the LCD in to get a better idea of the focus, but the bobbing flower made it impossible to figure out how close to hold the camera - whenever I thought it was starting to come into focus, the flower moved out of view. I then went back to seeing the entire picture in the viewfinder, moved the camera in and out to get close to the range, then zoomed in the LCD to refine the focus, patiently waiting for the flower to bob back. For those that don't shoot macro, you can set the lens for the magnification (i.e., 1:2, 1:1.5, 1:1 etc.) and then lean in and out a bit to get the focus right. I'd get the range, zoom in a click or two, refine the distance/focus, click in another one, refine and shoot. Since I don't have macro focus rails and didn't have a tripod with me, I did this completely hand-held.

What really surprised me was that I was reasonably successful, getting better the more I practiced. After a bit I managed almost as many keepers as I would using the viewfinder, though it was a much slower, somewhat more frustrating process. Not unexpectedly, I had to use faster shutter speeds to avoid camera shake - 1/500 sec seemed to be what I could reliably shoot at with a relatively heavy 100mm lens (I was also not using a flash).

Here's three examples, all with the lens set to 1:1:



I had trouble getting the initial range with this one - not a lot of contrast. It was also bouncing around more than the flower in the next two pictures.

I have no idea what type of bug this is, but it was interesting. Every time I focused, it watched me closely (and I could more or less tell that as I was shooting). This one isn't quite focused correctly - the eyes are very slightly in front of the sharpest point of focus.



I used a faster shutter speed on this next one, and as soon as I reviewed it, I knew I had gotten the focus right and the picture was sharp. I actually took this picture as a horizontal and cropped off the left and right, making it into a vertical. Also took a bit off the top and bottom, but it's not cropped to 100%.



I then tried to take some close-ups and macros with the DA 35 using AF. It didn't work all that well - the breeze was back and the AF with live view is relatively slow, especially with a macro lens. I'd point the camera at a stamen and by the time the lens went through the focus range, the stamen was not at the focus point. I also found it really hard to hold the camera still enough for a relatively small spot to stay under the focus point the whole time. It was fine for whole leaves and flat things, but didn't work very well at all for 1:2 or 1:3 flower parts. But then, that's pretty normal for macro where your dof is so small.

After spending about a half hour using live view exclusively, I came away with the impression that owning a camera without a viewfinder might not be so out of the question after all. That really surprised me as the only time I've used it before was when I was using a tripod. I really believe that with a little practice and some changes in settings (i.e., faster shutter speed), it would be possible for me to shoot macros with almost as many keepers as I do now.

The budget at the moment is squeezed so much that the academic version of the new LR is out of the question, so the K-01 isn't an option right now. But this little exercise did convince me that it's not completely out of the question, and I'm going to continue to follow how this camera does, with half a mind to get one at some point later on. Even if I don't get one, I'm now much more likely to try live view with the K5.
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Old Mar 8, 2012, 11:56 PM   #2
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Nice work, Harriet. Not only did you snare some interesting images but you learned something in the process. Like you, I'm on the fence about the K-01 and, frankly, I have more important things to spend money on right now anyway.

I will add this: If you could get these results with the K-5's live view, the K-01 should be at least a bit easier. It is slightly smaller and lighter than the K-5, and reportedly also has a new coating on the rear LCD that cuts down on glare and reflections, and allows one to view the LCD at an angle of 170 degrees.

All of that has to help but I want to hear from a few K-01 owners first. I wonder if Adorama, where I've purchased two Pentax DSLRs, would let me take the camera outside on a bright, sunny day before I made a purchase. It guess it can't hurt to ask. I wonder if Helen from Adorama is reading this.

P.S. That bug looks like it could be an immature preying mantis. Just a thought.

Last edited by Biro; Mar 8, 2012 at 11:59 PM.
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Old Mar 9, 2012, 2:47 AM   #3
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Nice write up Harriet. As Biro says the LCD on the K-01 is supposed to be slightly better than on the K5 - as it would need to be to frame in strong sunlight.

Looks like a young katydid or cricket to me, though those mandibles do look very mantis-like - but it looks great whatever it is !
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Old Mar 9, 2012, 8:49 AM   #4
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I'm thinking that it might be some type of katydid, I've seen green ones around this spot before, and the body (which you can't really see in these two pictures but which I had gotten decent shots of earlier) looks similar to those. But I've never seen one with this coloring, which I thought was much more interesting than the green ones.

Before I get serious about the K-01 I'd want to closely compare weights. The Viv is a heavy macro lens and I'm not sure if the lower weight of the camera would make enough difference. I really want to actually see one in person before I spend any money on one.
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Old Mar 9, 2012, 10:46 AM   #5
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Can't see the images from the office, but a vast majority of my damselfly photo's are taken with live view and the camera held at arms length (with battery grip, Tamron 90mm and the ringflash mounted... not the lightest setup...) and find sometimes it's better than using the viewfinder, not all the time, but when taking shots in lower light (in a bush or under a tree) it makes fine tuning the focus a lot easier and doesn't spook the bugs as much.
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Old Mar 9, 2012, 1:31 PM   #6
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Excellent photos, Mtngal, BTW.

Interesting topic...live view.

I have two cameras with LV....one my small Canon G 12 and then my K-5.

The Canon has a viewfinder, but it only shows 77 % of the view through the lens. Not very valuable I find, except for locking onto subjects such as animals, birds when using the G 12's moderate telephoto.

But the G 12 has an excellent LV monitor...I can maneuver to extreme angles and for closeups I find I use the LV almost all the time.

Mostly because I can get see at very extreme and odd angles with that little maneuverable LV monitor.

Also the G 12's monitor is very bright and clear...I can see the subject very well....even in bright sunlight.

Now to my K-5's viewfinder. I like it....but not as much as the G 12's.

Reasons:

  • K-5's weight...much heavier (I have the battery grip) than the G 12 and I find it harder to hold and maneuver than the relative flyweight- G12.
  • K-5's LV monitor does not maneuver...it's in a fixed position. If I'm taking a low down....looking up picture....I'm more or less out of luck. When using these awkward angles I usually have my 12-24 set at 12 and hope for the best...works out quite well though.
  • The K-5 has a 100 % eye level viewfinder and it's so good it's hard to go to a LV monitor. It's very precise, clear and after 40 odd years of photography my right eye naturally gravitates towards this viewfinder. I also tend to tightly crop using my viewfinder and I find the K-5 unparallelled in my experience for cropping .
So I tend to use the eye level viewfinder with the K-5.


With the G 12 I tend to use the excellent, maneuverable LV monitor as the 77% viewfinder doesn't cut it for me.


I haven't handled a K-01 yet so I don't know if this camera has a maneuverable LV monitor. If it doesn't I think Pentax should get one...they're that handy.


I also find that with both the K-5 and the G 12 that the LV monitors are not so hot with telephoto applications. I have more trouble homing in on a wild bird/animal/ race car with LV, than with eye level finders.


I find the eye level works much better for me when it comes to homing into a subject.
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Old Mar 9, 2012, 3:08 PM   #7
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I keep thinking about how many users of older cameras like the Minolta DiMAGE 7, 7Hi; KM A1, A2, etc., used to complain so much when dSLR models started to "take their place", wanting an EVIL (Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lens) model a few years back, when major manufacturers tended to focus more of their efforts on dSLR models with Optical Viewfinders without any Live View features in that price range.

For one thing, you could see the results of exposure changes in the EVF or LCD with some models.

IOW, if you were using an exposure that was too dark or too bright, many (but not all) camera manufacturers designed their Live View Systems (either via an EVF or LCD) to reflect the results of those settings changes (Exposure, White Balance, etc.), making it easier to determine the optimum settings for the subject and conditions (features you don't get with an Optical Viewfinder). Some of the Minolta (and later Konica-Minolta) cameras like the DiMAGE 7, 7i, 7Hi, A1 and A2 were known for those features.

Now, we're seeing the same cameras that users of higher end non-dSLR models wanted a few years back, and many users are not taking advantage of the advances that are being made in EVF and LCD technology.

Sure, there are pros and cons to a live view feed versus and optical viewfinder (refresh rates, etc.). But, as time passes, I think we'll see more and more advantages to a Live View Feed, as progress in LCD and EVF technology is advancing at a rapid pace.
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Old Mar 9, 2012, 7:40 PM   #8
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I also am one who grew up framing photos in an optical viewfinder, and even though I have owned and used P&S digicams for several years, it still feels unnatural to hold a camera at arm's length. But there is one undeniable advantage of my P&S (a Panasonic TZ3, several years old and starting to act a bit wonky): I can have the camera provide a real time histogram as I'm composing the shot. I don't think many P&S cameras can do this -- I remember that it was quite a rarity when i was shopping for the Panasonic about 4 or 5 years ago. But you are talking about the K01, which is a much more sophisticated camera, and I assume it's aimed at sophisticated users. If it's possible to display a histogram in real time, as you're framing as hot, you can tell immediately if the exposure is off, and that's a real advantage. I still prefer the optical viewfinders of DSLRs, but live view units certainly have that advantage. Again, I'm assuming that Pentax designers put in that capability, but I don't know that.
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Old Mar 9, 2012, 10:25 PM   #9
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Owning both my traditional Pentax DSLRs with optical viewfinders and my micro four-third cameras with electronic viewfinders and live view, I find I can use them all with no problem. So I have no philosophical problem with any of them. But I need to know if the K-01's rear LCD is highly useful in bright sunlight. Not all cameras are the same and if the $750 K-01 camera body is not excellent in this area, it's a non-starter for me. That's because there is no option for a external EVF. So this will be my top priority before thinking about any other feature, strength or weakness of the K-01. So here's hoping...
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Old Mar 10, 2012, 9:29 PM   #10
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I played around a bit more with live view. The main thing I noticed yesterday has to do with my getting older eyes - I'm naturally near-sighted. Much of the time I wear contacts for distance. As I've gotten older, my focusing dof has gotten smaller. Now I wear contacts and then use bifocals on top of them - mid-distance on top and close focus on the bottom. When I use a camera it's no problem because I have the dioper set to give me a clear image with the contacts (or my back-up glasses, which have distance on top and close-up below). I only need to put on my reading glasses when reviewing pictures or settings, not for shooting. However, holding the camera at arm's length means that I need to use the reading glasses to see focus - if I want to see the object I pretty much have to peer at it over the glasses. That's somewhat annoying, but not all that big of a deal. It's easier when I'm using my back-up glasses.

I admit that a couple of times as I transitioned from the EVF of the Sony F717 to a dSLR, I didn't pick up on the fact my settings were wrong because I was used to the Sony's EVF seemed to be what-you-see-is-what-you-get, at least for how I used it.

I'm keeping an open mind about using an LCD only.
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