Web Analytics RiceHigh's Pentax Blog: The Weakest Live View in the Market

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Weakest Live View in the Market

Here is the latest Olympus E-420 which has just been announced:-


With its latest Live View design by Olympus, it can do almost all a P&S or Prosumer DC can do in real-time, e.g. Contrast Detection AF (but yet there is the option of using the Phase Detection AF system - but mirror down-and-up is required, or both), Face Detection/Recognition up to 8 faces, Live Histogram and exposure checking etc. and so on..

Whilst the Canon's 450D/Rebel XSi has the Live Histogram and have the Contrast Detection AF and Sony's A300/350 do have a swivel monitor which can be tilted up and down at right angles plus a separate Live View sensor (thus also have the ability to do AF *full-time* in Live View mode), the rather primitive Live View design of the K20D, which is just crude and has even no indication for the AF, just look really rather outdated (on day one when it was just born) and is actually rather impractical to use which cause much inconvenience, which in turn makes the Live View function almost useless. Besides, as for the K200D, there is even no Live View function.

So, again, this time Pentax is yet again clearly lagging behind. Pentax, could you have the minimal foresight each time before you made a new product? They simply failed to look ahead almost everytime! Nonetheless, Pentax, please update the firmware of the K20D soonest so as to catch up and not lagging behind too far away and for too long!

The *hope* is the hardware of the K20D is capable of a better Live View function, it's just that the software, i.e., the firmware, is way too immature. Enough said. (But even Pentax is willing to and will be able to update the K20D's firmware and provide a "kind* offer for a firmware update to introduce those essential missing Live View features some days later, how long shall those new K20D users or just potential buyers will be required or will have the patience to wait? Or, it is just yet another endless waiting in the end until the next replacement model comes??)


  1. Anonymous6/3/08 05:53

    Why use or buy a "LiveView" at all? A DSLR does not need that "feature". In some DSLRs it is only implemented because of marketing reasons. Why buy a 4/3rds sensor? Low resolution, bad magnification and quality? Why is a LiveView implemented in the Olympus cams? Because they have the worst mirror reflex finders of all DSLRs. Canon? Plastic. Nikon - the only possible alternative to Pentax. Have you ever tried a FA lim.?

  2. So, why Pentax *also* needed to implement such an "useless" feature in their K20D?

    Now, look at the operating manual of the K20D again and see about the instructions of its Live View on the page no. 114:

    "..if the internal temperature of the camera is high, Live View may not be possible."

    "Aperture, shutter speed, sensitivity, EV compensation and exposure bracket(ing) cannot be changed during Live View."

    Now, I have to agree that Live View is actually useless if it has such serious limitations as above! Not even to mention that doing AF is just a pain under the Live View mode of the K20D..

  3. Anonymous7/3/08 03:28

    I agree that the K20D Live view is pure crap because I've had a chance to play with it.
    But Live view isn't something I'd buy a camera for. In fact it's the last thing I'd be concerned about when choosing a camera.

    And I don't think it takes a genius to figure out why Pentax included live view in this camera.

  4. Anonymous7/3/08 09:46

    RH says: "how long shall those new K20D users or just potential buyers will be required or will have the patience to wait? Or, it is just yet another endless waiting in the end until the next replacement model comes??)"
    I say: anyone buying something that is not what they want now in the hope that it will "get better" is just not thinking clearly (nicest way for me to say this). Plain and simple. Buy a different camera...please.....

  5. Anonymous8/3/08 18:59

    It is obvious that you do not like Pentax. why you lose your time to criticize the products Pentax?
    Forget Pentax, buy what you like and take pictures with. It will be better for everybody

  6. I usually don't agree with anything you say RiceHigh, but here I must say you have hit the nail on the head. The K20d live view is horrible!

    I've read that even in fully manual mode the process the camera goes through when taking a picture from within live view is:

    Press shutter button
    (Live view turns off)
    Mirror down
    Mirror up
    Expose sensor
    Mirror down
    (long pause which image is processed)
    Mirror up
    (short pause while live view and shake reduction activate)
    Live view returns

    It goes through a completely unnecessary articulation of the mirror. Pentax could have easily implemented a completely silent quick manual focusing picture taking in live view, but instead have this clumsy double-mirror flipping going on. What were they thinking?!

  7. I've a feeling that Pentax Live View was meant for street shooters, shooting from the hip, with manual focus pancakes.

    The Sony A350 has a Live Histogram too, which is cool. No stabilization in LV though, which makes motion blur in tele and one-handed operation very obvious.

  8. Anonymous10/3/08 14:03

    julian, the mirror up and down action is necessary for the camera to meter light and focus, that's why it's there. It could be done another way but Pentax didn't implement it - too bad. Pentax's Live View is just crappy. It's just there so they can say they have it.

  9. i think the ONLY live view system that is usable is the Soy's one (a separate LiveView sensor).

    I guess Pentax need a better system for strategic reason but i definitly wouldn't choose a camera on this basis…

  10. Jaka, I release that ONE mirror up down movement is necessary for focusing and metering. But my point is even after you have focused the image (by pressing the AF button, or manually) and have metered the image (with AE-lock or by setting the camera to manual), the K20s STILL lowers the mirror and raises it again before taking the picture. That is a totally unnecessary step.

    It makes live view far less useful on a tripod for long exposures because the mirror movement shakes the camera, it creates unnecessary noise when trying to shoot silently and it costs precious time when trying to capture quick action. So, a triple loss for no apparent reason.

  11. The LiveView design of Sony A300/350 with an additional imager in the viewfinder is actually identical to the original Olympus design in their world's first LiveView DSLR, E-300, in the "Mode A" (but not in "Mode B", which uses the actual image sensor for taking picture to do the LV and thus requires no mirror fliping).

    Whilst the "Mode A" has the advantage for providing LiveView without mirror-up and thus keep the DSLR's AF and AE systems working, it has/creates three other problems:-

    1. The LiveView image is not a true one and not 100% accurate as it is from another imager, i.e., not the one which actually takes the picture;

    2. The LV imager installed inside the finder occupies space and uses light (as splitted onto it) so that the optical viewfinder becomes smaller and dimmer;

    3. Owing to the relatively small amount of light reaching the LV sensor in the finder, such LV works badly at dimmer environments (with noisy and unclear LV image).

    As for the "Mode B", my opinion is that it is the right way to go. It requires enhanced CMOS/CCD imagers which could capture images at real time and have faster refresh rate for that purpose, which Sony CCD with older designs are not capable of. So, it's indeed a good thing that Samsung have included the new realtime LV feature for their new CMOS sensor used in the K20D.

    All in all, the problem of the LV of the K20D is simply just about the poorly written software of its firmware which is just a waste of the capable LV hardware made by Samsung.

    Besides, as for the second mirror flip, it is a must for the current technology as the CMOS imager need to discharge all its stored charge with the shutter closed (thus no light received) right before the imager takes the actual picture. In fact, every P&S DC does the same but since there is no mirror, it is not so noticeable for the resetting discharge. Theoretically, a LV DSLR can also close the shutter alone to make the reset without flipping the mirror, but this would complicate much the mirror mechanical (moving parts) design which is yet non-practical in the end.

  12. Anonymous26/3/08 05:42

    Hey, always those empty talks about minor things, such as a live view. Personally, I hate live view. I use the excellent Pentax Ref-converter A for waist level shooting, which works perfectly in any lighting conditions.

  13. Anonymous23/5/09 01:00

    You reviewed the K20D after holding one for 10 minutes in a shop. Just wow.

  14. Anonymous23/5/09 01:01

    How much pay or complimentary gear are you getting from CaNikon?

  15. Anonymous23/5/09 02:05

    The LCD is mainly for chimping anyway and LiveView should be renamed LiveChimping.