Feedback on K-5 low light tungsten focussing issue in real life / portrait photos ?

Started May 5, 2011 | Discussions thread
Philnw2 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,683
Re: Feedback on K-5 low light tungsten focussing issue in real life / portrait photos

I'll feel your pain There must be thousands of posts by now on the K5 Tungsten light issue, and i've have read a lot of them, including posts on the Nikon D7000 site for their similar issue.

All cameras, of course, are affected by tungsten light. The real issue here is whether the K5 with firmware 1.03 has focusing capabilities sufficient to meet our standards.

I do a lot of volunteer work at a live play theatre organization. We do portraits for the actors and photos of the dress rehearsals etc. They are very strict about no flash usage for any stage work. And they also will not accomodate photography by altering their light program for any play. So thats the background.

So I knew for a long time that i needed a better iso camera than my K20, i found it limiting for candid shots around the theatre and also for some plays, like Chekov's Seagull play. I was about to bite on the Kx, and then the K5 came onto the scene. I waited for this whole thing to settle out and finally bought a K5 in Feb 2011. I'm currently the lead photographer, but often call in friends to help with the workload. Two of these friends have upgraded to the Nikon D7000, because we all became acutely aware of the difficulties faced by our older generation camera sensors.

For the current play, i sorted through 1000 photos from my K5 and about 400 from a D7000 shooter. The D7000 shooter has yet to "learn" her camera, when she shot at 25,000 iso, i found the shots generally too noisy to use in the lobby, but then she switched to 10,000 iso during the play and those shots were much better. She doesn't as yet know how to auto-float the iso for her camera. I usually shot with TAV at a top sensitivity of 12,800 iso.

For the lobby display of 30 photos from the play, about 75% of mine and the rest hers. With my K20, i would often use 3200 iso and sometimes up to 4500 but the IQ due to noise was limited at higher than 3200 iso.

Conclusion: I'm getting more compliments over the latest photo display than anything i put together before. Personally, I would not consider going back to the K20, although i'm keeping it as a backup camera. When i'm not shooting for the theatre, I also like low light stuff, shooting street lamp lit sidewalks, dark alleys, and bridges when its so inky black, one can't see the water below. IQ and percent of keepers went up when i shifted to the K5. I think i got one of the newer K5's, no stain and focus performance has been fine. I do put in a -5 focus adjustment on my Tamy 28-75 f2.8 that i often use in the theatre, but i used that same adjustment with the K20.

By the way, I read one post/thread on Pentax Forums where someone claimed that he got less front focus by using the tungsten setting rather than the auto WB. I plan on trying that. I actually find it easier to process photos that are all done under the same manual setting, for synchronizing toning adjustments for the same scenes.

By the way2, I found that processing the photos to be a similar experience between those taken with the K5 and the D7000. Up to 12,800, Lightroom3 NR does a commendable shot cleaning them up.

If you are just going to do static shooting with a tripod, then one can forget the upgrade. But if you are doing lowlight subject movement pictures, then i think the upgrade is worth trying. The quiet shutter on the K5 is really nice, the D7000 is almost as quiet. The auto horizon sounded to me like superficial nonsense, but then i found myself doing a lot less straightening of photos. When you are developing photos in time for opening night performance the next day, it can make a difference.

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Phil B
K5, K20D,

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