Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Chinese Dragon Boat Race

Last Sunday, I went to a local Chinese dragon boat race event, brought along just with my Pentax K100D DSLR and a F* 300/4.5 and shot some photos, here is the album:-

http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v313/RiceHigh/Dragon%20Boat%20Competition/?start=all

(Or playing the Slideshow here)

Whilst the K100D is surely not the fastest DSLR for its AF in the Pentax land, it does let me down each time (and actually made me annoyed) when I got it to do somewhat "action" photography with just a little bit more movements and changes of the subjects. I shot in the early afternoon and at that time it was slightly cloudy and is actually just slightly bright of the ambient environment.

As I have been used to the responsive, fast and accurate Continuous AF (and Single AF as well) of my Canon 5D and the EOS system now, the AF of the Pentax DSLR system is just a pain to great pain to use, including the latest K20D which frankly I have also coincidently used indoor in the evening of the same day in a dinner (and it hunted much).

The most annoying things for that Pentax AF is: 1. First of all: Hunting, for whatever AF mode it is in, and even the environment is somewhat bright. I used the same F* lens with my MZ-S for years - no problem!; 2. Second, the "Continuous" AF is not usable and is just a joke. It is even slower than the Single AF and actually it is just a looping Single AF but not a true continuous focusing action as taken by the camera (yes, it is NOT). The worst thing is that this "Continous AF" (or I would give it a new name - Pentax's unique "Continuous *looping* Single AF") will never give the photographer to release the shutter unless it is to complete one Single AF cycle!(What?) (and UNTIL it thinks that it has achieved a focus and then re-start another cycle again!). So, I was forced to use the Single AF, which is actually faster and with a higher "allowable" shutter release rate but then of course I got quite some out of focus photos then, for "improperly" using the Single AF for moving objects.

People may agrue that higher grade and/or latest Pentax "flagship" DSLRs should have better AF. However, just believe it or not, what I can tell is that it could be better but not much better. My opinion is simply that the old flagship K10D had similar ridiculous AF behaviours and the K20D was somehow debugged. But the problem is that even the K20D is NOT *much* better. Its AF just struggles for achieving focus even for Single AF in just a little bit dimmer environment indoor and the worst is it *still* front focuses for tungsten light source.

Also considering the longer system time lag of the Pentax DSLRs, they are not ideal for any action or sport photography. In fact, I found that I was the *only* Pentaxian in the dragon boat race event and all other shooters I saw were Canonians and Nikonians.

I tried the Canon 1D and 1DS at Canon's showroom last month when I took my Canon flash gun for repair. Indeed, they are really *amazingly* faaast, especially for the nearly non-existent system/shutter time lag, which is surely noticeably faster than my 5D, which is then again noticeably faster than all Pentax DSLRs I have used (including the K20D of course)! In fact, when those differences can be noticed, the time lag and system response timings could actually be quite significant as they are so obvious.

So, just after all these moaning and bashing (for what quite some particular Pentax fanboys which like to call me of being so from time to time), now think about the following two questions: 1. Was I able to take the photos? Yes. 2. But did I miss many photo opportunities? YES! So, I think this would answer many of the questions for those who like to attack me for either showing one or two of their "great" works or to ask me for my photos! (To those: there are nearly a hundred of photos shared and shown in my album above. Are these enough this time? :-))

10 Comments:

Anonymous said...

I really like some of your blog entries, but... what was the point of this article? "Hey guys, look: my pentax gear sux, I can afford having great Canon 5d, but I'll still use k100d and miss all those photo opportunities!" ? :D

RiceHigh said...

The point of this article is I wish Pentax had better AF in a higher grade DSLR body, but there is none so far and will not have one in the foreseeable future. Do note I've mentioned that the AF of the film flagship MZ-S is actually acceptable to me.

Anonymous said...

You're comparing an old K100D with a 5D. What a waste of time.

RiceHigh said...

So, what to compare then? I compare system to system.

Thomas USA said...

I need to disagree a bit with you. I shoot many indoor events such as basketball - volleyball and those events probably have some of the poorest lighting around. I usually use my pentax 50-135 (2.8) and have wonderful results with action shots (c-af). I do notice some hunting when I use my Sigma 24-70 (2.8) so I think the hunting is more a lens design factor. I use a K10D and will not hesitate to purchase the K20 as soon as the cash becomes available.

Anonymous said...

I can't speak for the k10d, but my samsung GX-10 with the latest firmware doesn't have any of the mentioned af problems, except maybe hunting in low light (but less than my old nikon d50) The continuous AF will let my fire the shutter whenever I want, and the constant AF doesn't just focus back and forth.

Anonymous said...

I've seen pictures of RC cars taken with K100D which were just spectacular. Perhaps some focusing technique is required as well?

And all is not well with your 5D either is it? Here are your own words: "The worst thing is I have tried the FF brand C 5D is that I found that the images had rather significant corner blur plus obvious vignetting when compared with film SLRs, especially for wider angle lenses are used, including primes, and/or at wider opened."

RiceHigh said...

Of course, techniques are always required to take any photos and adapt to the equipment (or to get most out of it). But if the AF can do the job (much) better, there were surely (far) more photo opportunities grabbed. In fact, anyone can still use any full manual MF film SLR to shoot nowadays, and then used the "techniques" to *supplement*. But is it still needed now and why bother, when modern and mature technologies are already there?

As for your 5D comment, it is irrelevant to this post, please go back there.

Anonymous said...

This blog is turning into satire.

Here http://ricehigh.blogspot.com/2008/11/my-initial-impressions-on-k-m.html#comments someone quotes a magazine test in which the Pentax K-m AF beats the Nikon D60 and Canon EOS 1000. Comment from Rice High: none. Does he change his blog entry? No.

Does any of this stuff matter for taking good photographs? No.

At Flickr someone wrote: "As a longtime Nikon user I was a little leary of moving over to Pentax this year, but I'm glad I did!". How come since Rice High has proven that Pentax is the Radio Shack of camera manufactures?

All the photographers at www.pentaxphotogallery.com must be superheros.

Anonymous said...

As a newcomer to photography, i am trying to really get to grips with all aspects of this subject, incidentally i purchased a K10D and am delighted with it, but obviously to this guy ricehigh, i must be a complete idiot. What i can't understand is why he just doesn't throw all his useless Pentax gear away, preferably in my direction, and he must be a bit simple if he bought more Pentax gear after discovering all the shortcomings of the first piece he bought. I think he just tries to bamboozle people with a bit of technical knowledge.

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