Link Posted 13/12/2014 - 06:00
I have a few family portrait shoots lined up. I'm currently using the Pentax K5 with either the Pentax 17-70 F4 or the Tamron 17-50 F2.8. I also have a Tamron 70-200 F2.8 which is a great lens.

I do sometimes get frustrated with the focus accuracy on the K5 - in particular:

Its tracking of moving subjects can be a little off and I find some shots are lost because it can't keep up with a running child etc.
Also although I use spot focus mode and go for the eyes the camera sometimes still focuses on something else nearby. I recently did a shoot in a forest and lost quite a few otherwise brilliant pics because when there were branches or leaves in front of the subject's face I sometimes found the camera would focus on the leaves/twigs - and crucially the eyes were then just slightly off focus. The problem is that the subtle difference wasn't visible to me at the time on the rear screen (although to be fair perhaps I should have used live view but I don't really like shooting with it as I find it spoils my fluidity in a shoot and my interaction with the subject. I tend to just review pics after shooting on the rear screen.

Do people here think the K3 offers a worthwhile improvement on a K5 (not a K5ii) especially with respect to focus and would it help to eliminate these issues. A friend has a Canon EOS 5D MK3 and there's no doubt his rear screen is a lot clearer for reviewing pics than mine is...

My dilemma is whether to spring for one of the very attractive body only deals on the K3 at the moment or wait in case 2015 brings an affordable full frame. Part of the problem is that even if there is a full frame launch at say 1500-2000, I've got to factor in the purchase of a grip plus some sort of decent standard zoom. It could easily be 2500 with that little lot and realistically I can't afford it at present (although if I started getting a lot more paid work I might be able to). On the other hand if the K3 offfers the prospect of a big jump in the number of 'keepers' then with a number of paid shoots coming up I could spring for one now. I could do with knowing if Pentax are going to launch something full frame at say the March NEC show - if they are it might be prudent to hold off and wait. On the other hand if it's going to be the back end of the year that's a bit long to wait.

Grateful for any insights/views.



Link Posted 13/12/2014 - 06:47
It's odd how different expectations and different subjects lead to different experiences. I was about to add a post praising the faultless accuracy of the K5's focusing (with a Tamron 17-50 2. in an exceptionally gloomy Victorian cemetery. (What fun we have on Friday afternoons.) I suppose the difference is my subjects weren't moving and although I didn't use a tripod, the IS system kept things sharp enough for my uses.

If someone were paying me to photograph their children running around, I might well share your dilemma. Apparently the K3 is even better at finding focus so should be big help to you. A lot of extra money for a hobbyist as most of us on the forum are, but a professional deserves the very best tools.
Best wishes,


"These places mean something and it's the job of a photographer to figure-out what the hell it is."
Robert Adams
"The camera doesn't make a bit of difference. All of them can record what you are seeing. But, you have to SEE."
Ernst Hass
My website: http://www.ephotozine.com/user/bwlchmawr-199050 http://s927.photobucket.com/home/ADC3440/index


Link Posted 13/12/2014 - 08:21
I wouldn't use that sort of technique in a forest. There are so many small branches that a camera might lock onto. I tried it and within minutes abandoned it in favour of the centre point only focus. Focus on an area, tweak with manual QuickShift on lenses that have it, and there shouldn't be a problem.

It's similar with wildlife photos, we can pre-focus on the spot and wait for the wildlife, and that comes from watching the pattern of behaviour. So, if a bird constantly revisits a particular branch, we just focus on the spot and wait for the bird.

It's similar with children, they will repeat things, run round the same area, and we can predict up to a point. Also, depth of field outside is not usually so wafer thin that we don't have a bit of leeway. f/8, a high enough ISO to make a decent shutter speed possible and we do have some scope.

Hope those musings help!
Best regards, John


Link Posted 13/12/2014 - 08:28
I'm keen to here from K-3 owners on this one. Predictive or similar tracking just doesn't seem to be Pentaxs strong point.


Link Posted 13/12/2014 - 12:12
You mention you use a Tamron 70-200 f2.8...presumably this would feature a lot in the 'children running around the woods' scenario? Is it the lens that's on offer at 499 at many retailers currently? I might be wrong about this but i'm sure i've read a few customer reviews of this lens praising its optical quality but saying that it was a snail to focus on fast moving subjects...could this be a factor coupled with the K5?

Concerning the 'Dilemma' in your post...can readily appreciate this. My gut feeling is that Pentax will announce a new Top Dog before Easter...possibly as early as mid January...once the current deals finish!

Lets face it, the rather limited DSLR range peaks at a body only price now of 750-800. There is only so much growth capability left in APS-C though and I can't see the sensor size fetching more than 1000 another year or two from now and for that the customer will expect flawless wireless/wired compatibility with everything else out there and also WR and importantly a capable and accurate predictive focus system. the K3 mk 2 must offer all this..it has to be at least as good as CANIKON rivals at the 1000 - 1200 mark... preferably better.

Beyond this though there is only FF . Retro APS-C top end might offer a diversion and buy them another year or so but without a 1500 - 2000 aspirational model Pentax can never attract the full time professionals which it needs long term to survive. Pentax USP's like WR and smartie colours are now being adopted by other manufacturers so they can't rely on this generating volume sales any longer.

That's how I see it and for these reasons think it about 95% likely that a FF will be on sale in the shops this year.


Link Posted 13/12/2014 - 13:06
As far as I can tell the K3 has marginally faster focus with non-HSM-type lenses. It's certainly a bit louder and seems faster at least... although I am not sure whether it is absolutely more accurate. I regularly spend time taking photos of the family - especially the kids as they hurtle about. generally (esp. if the lighting is not great, which is often... esp. indoors) I try to use fast lenses (normally shoot between f1.4 and f2.2) which presents a challenge anyway as the DOF is thin and when people are shifting around it's not surprising to get a few missed focusses. Having used a bunch of camera/lens combos, the set-up which I have found gave me (marginally) the best hit rate was actually to manually focus... takes a couple of shots to get into the 'zone' but then you're away. That said, I was using a mirrorless body with an electronic viewfinder with focus peaking, which certainly helped...
Mat W

My Flickr: link


Link Posted 13/12/2014 - 14:11
The K-3 has more focus points and they are grouped tighter so I found it more accurate when needing to focus on specific points such as eyes where movement wasn't an issue (previous Pentax cameras points cover a far larger area and can lock onto anything in that area) but as for tracking, forget it, I found it no better than my K-5II (and current 5IIs).

I sold my K-3 because (IMO) the tracking was no better and there was a slight drop in high ISO/DR performance (note the IMO, as usual others have different opinions). I'm waiting for the next Pentax camera and hoping for a decent upgrade in AF tracking performance and not the small incremental change we always seem to get ... mind you, I have been saying that since my K10D and have been through every top Pentax DSLR since.

The K-3 is a great camera but AF tracking isn't one of it's strong points and a 5D MKIII it isn't ... although you could buy 3 Pentax K-3's to one 5D MKIII.
. My Flickr


Link Posted 13/12/2014 - 20:14
Some really great points here as ever on the forum and I am very grateful to you all for posting your thoughts. Just to clarify John I was using centre point only spot focussing on the K5 but either because of my own carelessless or the focussing system or the lack of a really clear back screen I didn't spot the fact it had locked onto nearby leaves very near the subject's face on a couple of the shots. I was shooting wide open unfortunately because it was a mid afternoon shoot a couple of weeks ago in a forest so light levels were low and dropping, depth of field was narrow. We were in a gorgeous forest of bright red leaved Japanese maple trees so I was using them by placing the child in amongst the leaves and unfortunately lost a couple of otherwise excellent shots. I did get plenty of others I'm happy with but it did lead me to question the K5 and myself!

It's interesting to hear that many of you haven't found the K3 much of an upgrade in terms of motion tracking. I too don't really know why they lag Canon and Nikon in this respect. If I ever switched system it would probably be to Nikon although to be honest I really do love Pentax cameras and anyway once you've held a 645 as I did today for the first time ever nothing else comes close!! I think I'm in love...

So the update to this story is that with the prospect of a few shoots coming up I decided to go down to SRS because the deals are just so good at the moment. I ended up buying the K3, the grip, a Flucard and they were throwing in both a rather useful small Lowepro 140AW bag which is just what I need for a go anywhere small kit bag and a 32GB SD card. I already have a large rucsack for taking most of my kit with me on day shoots but sometimes it would be handy to have a pick up and go bag so that's useful. The extra 32GB card they were throwing in was useful too as the number of cameras in the household rises! I managed to get them to match the best available prices I could find on each item so a big thanks to Chris there.

I asked him about the full/frame and K3 successor issue and he indicated that sometimes they know something is coming and are sworn to secrecy, other times they know nothing and this time they know nothing. His take on it is that if a full frame was going to arrive (and it might) Pentax would really need to boost the number of full frame compatible lenses and his feeling is that at present they aren't there so it's unlikely to happen in the next few months. In terms of life-cycle his feeling is that the K3 is about halfway through it's life. It remains to be seen if he's right but I think there is a logic to it.

For my part I came to the conclusion that as bwlchhmawr said earlier in the thread if I'm doing paid work I need to give the best I can both in terms of using my own skills but also trying to use the best equipment I can. It's one of the reasons that I asked Chris at SRS to get a feel for the new 645 because one day if I'm able to I would love to be able to shoot (at least in studio) with one of those. I'm not so sure I would want to lug one around a forest and chase children with it!

It's been a hell of a ride for me this year as a 46 year old pilot who has developed arthiritis I've suffered physically and emotionally having to face the possibility of losing the career I love. I'm really hoping to get back to flying part time in the New Year CAA willing but I think that developing my photography has been an enormous positive from having had most of the year off (and getting closer to the 9 year old daughter I missed seeing far too much when flying). I'm really hoping I can get the photography business off the ground as a sideline and back up plan to the flying so if I lose my medical at some point in the future I will have a viable business ongoing. I'm also profoundly grateful to have been able to have shared my love of photography with the like minded souls on here, we might never have met but rest assured I value the camaraderie I have found on here greatly and there's certainly a bond. It's the people in your life that count - to quote Monty Python 'It's easy to love someone, even if you don't know them'

My wife who has been a rock for 17 years said to me today - 'love, just go and get it - you need to use the best tools you can' she's quite a lady and there'll never be another one quite like her for me.
Right, I'd better go and unpack a K3! Big thanks to Chris at SRS too

Thanks guys,

Jonathan aka saxon.
Last Edited by saxon on 13/12/2014 - 20:16


Link Posted 13/12/2014 - 20:27
FF doesn't mean any difference in focussing ability. Without mentioning any names, there simply are companies who have achieved tracking focus of fast moving objects. That's the part that needs addressing.

I also agree about the tricky areas with APS-C / not so good ISO performance, and how this specifically relates to fast moving children/animals in lower light conditions. Flash can help if you are able to use it, but it won't help if the camera has locked focus onto something else. As mentioned above, the usual response is to use faster glass, but the accompanied narrow depth of field makes focussing accurately even more tricky.

Much was made of the K-3's predictive focussing ability, but I'm not hearing owners saying it's much better than previous models, such as the K-30 etc.

For example

I'm excited to see what's coming next from Ricoh.
Last Edited by richandfleur on 13/12/2014 - 20:28


Link Posted 13/12/2014 - 20:42
I've made use of the "Hold AF" setting with the K3. Tracking a bird in flight which flew past a bush. The AF didn't immediately re-focus on the bush, but maintained its plane of focus.

Another thing to consider. Do, you use shutter button, or back button for AF. Maybe won't help if you don't see the twigs. But I find back button much more adaptable.



Link Posted 13/12/2014 - 21:31
richandfleur wrote:

Much was made of the K-3's predictive focussing ability..

The K-3 doesn't have predictive focussing.



Link Posted 13/12/2014 - 21:43
Jonathan, What a really nice post mate, quite emotional and heartfelt. Hope you can keep flying for a bit longer allowing you more time to make the transition if necessary. Good luck with both your health and possible new career in photography. Keep us informed via the odd image postings and progress reports...as you say its people that ultimately make the difference and set the tone on a site.

Interesting to hear your comments from Chris at SrS...things will probably be a lot clearer once Christmas is but a fond memory. I find the most reliable indicator as to future model releases to watch what is happening to the various models price wise...particularly outside the usual discount months. Ultimately dealers don't want to get stuck with stock that will be hard to shift at a profit once new models arrive.

In the meantime enjoy your new camera...and it is always nice to have one's partner onboard!




Link Posted 13/12/2014 - 21:49
Unlocker wrote:
richandfleur wrote:

Much was made of the K-3's predictive focussing ability..

The K-3 doesn't have predictive focussing.

Sorry continuous /lock on and maintain tracking.


Link Posted 13/12/2014 - 22:11
Hi Saxon,

one thought that occurs to me is that you could hire a K3 for a few days or even do a shoot or two witih it to make your own mind up on its capabilities. Then, if Pentax do come out with something new next year you would already have more info. on the K3 and only need to see how much better the new camera is than that.

I know that SRS hire items (see their web-site); Park Cameras which is nearer you might do so too.



Link Posted 14/12/2014 - 09:45
Some seem to think Pentax is ok.
Can't comment on the K3 yet as it's been pitch black since I got it...
Too busy with Landscapes to do any testing...
Cheers Jules...

My viewfinder is 576,000,000 pixels.

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