Tuesday, 29 December 2009

A Niggle

I used the Pentax a lot over the Christmas period, indoors and out. Outdoors it was round my neck, dangling against a thick coat when not in use. I found it is very easy when the camera is carried in this way for the rear thumbwheel to brush against one's clothing and alter settings, in my case exposure compensation. The wheel appears to be "live" all the time and not just activated via the shutter button, as on the Canon. Lesson: always check the setting in the viewfinder when taking a shot - but it's too easy to forget!

Saturday, 26 December 2009

First Publication


One of the shots taken from the kayak, of the Exe SC winter series final race, was published by the Exmouth Journal on Christmas Eve.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Sunday, 13 December 2009

First Fotoboat Mission


I took some photos of the Exe SC winter series racing this afternoon, from my Kayak, so it was a double first. I have done wildlife shoots from the kayak, but not yet dinghy racing. Weather was sunny but cold, with about 12 knots of breeze from the North over an incoming tide, kicking up quite a chop. The only option for photography was to spot a convenient mooring, paddle over to it and clip on. The advantage is the nice low viewpoint, about as close to the water as you can get without swimming. A disadvantage is the relatively narrow angle of view - I daren't swing round too far too quickly, for fear of ending up in the water. Getting the camera in and out of the bag (Watershed Ocoee) isn't too bad. I keep a small towel in the front pocket of my buoyancy aid to dry the hands before grabbing the camera and drying off any splashes.

And the results - not too bad. The lighting was tricky at times; very low sun, and wind opposite sun so in all the upwind shots the sailors are in shadow. I eventually positioned myself on a buoy they were passing close downwind and got some better lit shots. The autofocus seemed to have problems at times with moving boats but this did not result in too many out-of-focus shots. General sharpness and image quality is adequate but essentially limited by the quality of the lens. No problem at all with the camera controls, even with (wet) gloves on.

Will post a link to the rest of the shots soon.

Monday, 7 December 2009

More Practice





I took the camera, with 50-200, for a walk yesterday. It had been raining heavily but it held off while I was out, so haven't got it wet yet. The light was fading fast so it was an opportunity to see how the shake reduction helped with hand-held shots at slowish shutter speeds. The view over the Otter estuary was shot at 1/30 f10 ISO 200, 50mm so not a very hard test, but a pass nonetheless.

The close-up of a cow's eye is a 100% crop and shows the lens can perform pretty well when stopped down a bit (1/50 f9 ISO 200, 80mm). The weather forecast is looking a bit more promising for the end of this week so I might get out on the water...

Friday, 4 December 2009

Using Legacy Lenses


I have found that the camera works perfectly with the 50mm f1.7 lens from my K1000. Because it's an 'A' lens (=Auto), you just have to set the aperture ring to 'A' and the camera can control the aperture in the normal way. No AF, of course, but that's no great hardship. I have taken a few shots with this lens and have been mightily impressed with its quality. It is way sharper than the 50 - 200 DA WR, but that should not be surprising as (a) it's a prime (b) it's an f1.7 lens and (c) dare I say it, build quality was higher in those days.

The apple is a 100% crop - sorry, no pun intended. We actually had a lot more apples than this one, which I left for the birds.

First Impressions - In Use

The first pressure on the shutter button is incredibly light – almost a touch, with no sensation of movement at all. Shutter actuation makes a strange, squidgy sound. Is that the in-camera anti-shake operating? Very different from the Canon’s crisp “flap”, but very quiet.

AF seems reasonably fast, but noisy. Viewfinder field of view is good, but not as bright as I was expecting.

Out-of-the box, the rear control wheel sets aperture in Av or speed in Tv, but it's easy to change it to what I am used to, ie using the front wheel for the main settings and the rear one for EV compensation. But the front wheel is the other side of the shutter release!

The mode dial – main setting dial top left of camera – has to be released by pressing the central button, before making adjustments. This is worthwhile; as I have found to my cost with the Canons, the mode dial can be nudged accidentally when moving the camera in and out of the bag.

Some pictures coming soon.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Unexpected Features

A few things I have encountered which were surprising - one way or the other:

Adjust AF – you can adjust the AF forwards or backwards and have the settings linked to a designated lens, if required.

RAW button – press this to switch to RAW + jpeg recording for just one shot or until the button is pressed again.

You can put copyright etc details into the metadata in the camera via a menu option. - but it doesn't seem to correspond to IPTC fields, so not much use.

The zoom ring twists in the opposite way to my Canons!

There is a "spirit level" feature which can be turned on via the menu. It shows in the viewfinder if the camera is level. Great idea, you may think, for getting the horizon straight shooting from a rocking boat, but not really: (a) You don't have time for that sort of refinement, (b) wonky horizons are a doddle to fix post-shoot and (c) the spirit level replaces the exposure compensation indicator in the viewfinder and I know which I would rather see!

I will add others as they crop up...

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

First (physical) Impressions


It’s very compact, much smaller than my Canon 40D. It feels good to handle, though, just like my old K1000. Actually, it is about the same height and width as the K1000, though a lot deeper to accommodate all the electronics and the battery. A similarity I wasn’t expecting is the filter size of the 50-200 lens: at 49mm it’s the same as the 50mm f1.7 standard lens on the K1000. More about the use of that lens later...

You can read a good, in-depth review here http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/Pentaxk7 so I won’t spell everything out – just comment on features that stand out as I start to use the camera.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

It's arrived

The K-7 has arrived, complete with the DA 50-200mm f4-5.6 ED WR lens. The battery is now charging and I am hunting for an SD card (all my other cameras use CFs). Will post first impressions soon.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Why Pentax?


After two previous careers doing other things (and being a keen amateur photographer since the age of 8) two things made it possible for me to set up Fotoboat in 2003: the introduction of "proper" digital cameras (ie DSLRs) and the Internet. I had a Pentax K1000 at the time and if I could just have converted it to digital, I'd have been delighted! But the only serious contenders at the time were Canon and Nikon, and I set out down the Canon route with an EOS 10D, followed shortly by a second hand D60 as a back-up, and a range of zoom lenses, including a 35-350 f3.5/5.6L. This wasn't the sharpest lens around, but boy what a versatile piece of kit! Stuck on a small boat in a howling gale with lens changing not a sensible option, this mega-zoom lens did great service.

The 10D became a paperweight after coming into violent contact with the side of a boat and was replaced with a 40D. When the mega-zoom also expired, this time through internal corrosion caused by saltwater spray, I started looking for something with better weather sealing. It's available on the top end Canon products, but at a price. At about this time Pentax brought out the K20, and then the K7, offering weather sealing at a more affordable price. Worth a try, I thought, and it would be nice to hold a Pentax again... Pentax UK have given me that opportunity, so thanks to them, and looking forward to getting to grips with it. The kit is expected to arrive next week.