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Affordable Full Frame Photography

One of the best advantages of full frame photography is the ability to create shallow depth of field. This isn't a feature that I need all of the time, but there certainly are situations where I crave it.

contax-g1.jpg "Train Stop Bench" - Contax G1, Zeiss 45mm f/2 lens at f/2.8, Kodak ColorPlus 200 film. Photo by Derrick Story.

Full frame digital cameras come with a hefty price tag. But you can enjoy the creative benefits of shallow depth of field for about a tenth of the price... with a high quality, inexpensive 35mm film camera.

The average cost of a 35mm SLR with wide aperture prime in my TheFilmCameraShop is less than $100. I typically pay around $5 for a 36 exposure roll of film, and the lab charge for processing and scanning is $15. So even though the cost is low, the creative possibilities are very high.

This can be particularly appealing if you a smartphone photographer working with a tiny sensor. You can augment your digital work with some creative film images, then post those scans on your social sites.

You're viewers will be delighted (and curious) about the unique images.

Do You Like Film?

Take a look at theAnalogstory - Film Photography in the Digital Age. We cover great 35mm cameras, personal stories from film photographers, quick tips, and even a camera shop. Stop by, won't you?

Want to Comment on this Post?

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

This is The Digital Story Podcast #576, March 21, 2017. Today's theme is "If Only One Lens." I'm Derrick Story.

Opening Monologue

Many of us have toyed with the hypothetical question: "If you could take only one lens to a desert island, what would it be?" My view on this has changed over the years, and now there's finally a clear answer... at least for today. And I will reveal my choice in the top story of today's TDS podcast.

mefoto-timelapse.jpg

Spontaneous Timelapse with the MeFOTO Roadtrip Air

This week's three-legged adventure with the MeFOTO Roadtrip Air focuses on perching the tripod atop my Audi at Oracle Arena for a spontaneous time lapse recording.

Just to give you a bit of background about this super nimble tripod, it's distinguishing features include:

  • Super Fast Setup with the new HyperLock Leg System. Setup is as easy as 1,2,3: 1 - Hold tripod leg and twist counterclockwise until it stops (4 clicks), 2 - Pull the leg to the desired length, 3 -Twist leg clockwise until it stops. (How easy is that?)
  • Perfect for Selfies - removable telescoping center column converts to a Selfie Stick with included smartphone holder and Bluetooth remote!
  • Ultra lightweight - 30 percent lighter than classic MeFOTO models
  • Available in Backpacker, RoadTrip, GlobeTrotter models and 7 colors.

If you want to learn more about the MeFOTO line of tripods, look for the colorful tile on all the pages of the thedigitalstory.com. And if you decide that you want one for yourself, use coupon code THEDIGITALSTORY to save 10 percent and receive free shipping.

My 5 Favorite New Features in Capture One Pro 10

Now that I've had a chance to really get to know the latest version of Capture One Pro, here's my list of favorite new features in version 10.

  • Three Step Sharpening
  • Output Proofing
  • Filter by Orientation
  • New Default Workspace
  • Folder Management in the Folders Area

I just finished recording a new Capture One Pro Essential Training for version 10, and we should see the release in April from lynda.com. And remember, I have the in-depth Capture One Pro 9 Essential Training available now on lynda.com. More than 5 hours of tips, tricks, and techniques. Plus many free movies using advanced techniques.

Updates and Such

Big thanks to all of our Patreon members! I was able to pay for the podcast server and the backup system from last month's pledges. Your contributions are making a positive impact.

We still have one seat open for our Road Trip workshop. (The SF workshop and Rail Adventure have sold out.) If you'd like an invitation to either event, visit the TDS Workshops Page and use the Send Me Info form.

B&H and Amazon tiles on www.thedigitalstory. If you click on them first, you're helping to support this podcast. And speaking of supporting this show, and big thanks to our Patreon Inner Circle members.

And finally, be sure to visit our friends at Red River Paper for all of your inkjet supply needs.

See you next week!

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.

Podcast Sponsors

MeFOTO Air Tripods - MeFOTO Air Tripods are a nimble photographer's dream.

Red River Paper - Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

The Nimbleosity Report

Do you want to keep up with the best content from The Digital Story and The Nimble Photographer? Sign up for The Nimbleosity Report, and receive highlights twice-a-month in a single page newsletter. Be a part of our community!

Want to Comment on this Post?

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

Lens Correction in Photos for macOS

We didn't even have lens correction in Aperture. But thanks to the DxO Optics Pro editing extension, we can apply these adjustments to our images in Photos.

dxo-lens-correction.jpg

If you want to see how easy this is to use, take a look at this free movie on how to use the DxO Optics Pro extension.

This isn't round tripping. You get to work with the original RAW file, and you can revert to original right there in the Photos interface. Plus you get other goodies too, such as Smart Lighting, Noise Removal, and ClearView. These are terrific tools worth a look.

Photos for macOS as Your Digital Darkroom

You can learn more about using DxO Optics Pro as an editing extension in my lynda.com training, Photos for macOS: Advanced Editing Extensions.

And if you'd prefer to cozy up with a book, check out The Apple Photos Book for Photographers that features chapters on basic editing, advanced post processing, and editing extensions.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

My phobia of color wheels began back in the original Final Cut days. I would look at them, then devise any other method to make the correction. And it wasn't until Capture One Pro that I overcame my prejudice and learned that they are truly helpful... and easy.

color-adjust-with-cb.jpg Fine tuning a portrait shoot with Color Balance in Capture One Pro. Photo by Derrick Story.

Currently, I'm in the middle of recording a Capture One 10 title for lynda.com. (My existing Capture One Pro 9 Essential Training is very popular, and we wanted to integrate the new features.

When I finished the movie on Color Balance, I had to laugh at myself. It's so fun. What was my problem before? So I thought that if you shared my previous phobia, this should help. Here are the basic controls for each of the color wheels.

Color-Balance-CP1-web.jpg The midtone adjustment in the Color Balance panel of Capture One Pro.

  • Drag the point in the middle of the circle to change the color. This could cover the entire image with the Master color balance, or the basic tonal areas with Shadow, Midtone, and Highlight wheels.
  • The tiny handle on the edge of the color wheel is to fine-tune the hue.
  • Once you set the color you want, use the left side slider to adjust saturation.
  • The right side slider is for brightness.

Start by choosing the Color you want to shift to in the shadows, midtones, or highlights, then fine tune it with the Hue handle. Next, work the Saturation slider until the effect is exactly to your taste, then finish off with Brightness. It's easy! And the effects are amazing.

To see the Before and After, hold down the Option/Alt key and click on the Reset arrow in the Color Balance panel. That will show you the image without your adjustments. Let go of the mouse, and your adjustments will appear again.

Start with a simple image to practice. Once you get the hang of it, you'll be visiting the Color Balance adjustment on a regular basis... and dramatically improving your images along the way.

More Capture One Pro Tips and Techniques

Improve your skills by watching Capture One Pro Essential Training now available on lynda.com. More than 5 hours of tips, tricks, and techniques. Plus many free movies using advanced techniques.

I've also created a dedicated Capture One Pro Training page on The Digital Story. You can follow all of the tips and techniques that I publish in one convenient spot.

Thinking About Making the Transition from Aperture or Lightroom? - Download my free eBook titled, Rocky Nook's Guide to Moving to Capture One Pro. I show you the steps to create a test library, then build the foundation for a smooth transition to Capture One Pro.

Want to Comment on this Post?

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

This is The Digital Story Podcast #575, March 14, 2017. Today's theme is "Existing Light is Alright." I'm Derrick Story.

Opening Monologue

Having departed to Southern California on a minute's notice last week, I grabbed my daily shoulder bag and headed out the door. It contained the gear I carry on a daily basis to the office, nothing more, nothing less. The only flash I had was the popup on the Pentax KP. And as it turned out, I never used it. So capturing life by existing light is the top story for today's show.

Existing Light is Alright

sharron-charlie-bw-web.jpeg

What are the components and techniques required for effective existing light photography? Here's a look at my list.

  • Prime lenses (or Pro zooms) - Even with great high ISO performance, we still need wide apertures.
  • Effective Auto ISO - For me, existing light photography isn't just setting the ISO to 1600 and shooting everything. I depend a lot on smart Auto ISO that increases sensor sensitivity only as needed, and has a limit at the top end that I can live with.
  • Smart Metering - One of the things that I noticed when testing the Pentax KP was that its evaluative metering was very smart. If there was a window in the frame, it didn't underexpose the rest of the scene as a result. Learning how you camera meters, and adjusting accordingly, is very important.
  • RAW+Jpeg - If I do the first three things right, my Jpegs should be pretty good. But I do want that RAW safety net for situations where I need to recover detail in the shadows or highlights.
  • The Blessed Tripod - Long exposures, HDR, and extended depth of field work better with camera support. Instead of jacking the ISO up to 128,000, You can keep it below a thousand and get tack sharp results with a tripod.

Hitting the Road with the MeFOTO Roadtrip Air

This week's three-legged adventure with the MeFOTO Roadtrip Air focuses on a giant family group shot, that was unplanned.

As I mentioned at the top of the podcast, I didn't carry a lot of gear on my journey down south. I had my everyday bag and the MeFOTO Roadtrip Air. At my sister's I learned that we were pulling together a family gathering. There were people there that I hadn't seen in years. And after about an hour, I knew we needed a group shot for the history books. And that's when my MeFOTO became invaluable.

Just to give you a bit of background about this super nimble tripod, it's distinguishing features include:

  • Super Fast Setup with the new HyperLock Leg System. Setup is as easy as 1,2,3: 1 - Hold tripod leg and twist counterclockwise until it stops (4 clicks), 2 - Pull the leg to the desired length, 3 -Twist leg clockwise until it stops. (How easy is that?)
  • Perfect for Selfies - removable telescoping center column converts to a Selfie Stick with included smartphone holder and Bluetooth remote!
  • Ultra lightweight - 30 percent lighter than classic MeFOTO models
  • Available in Backpacker, RoadTrip, GlobeTrotter models and 7 colors.

If you want to learn more about the MeFOTO line of tripods, look for the colorful tile on all the pages of the thedigitalstory.com. And if you decide that you want one for yourself, use coupon code THEDIGITALSTORY to save 10 percent and receive free shipping.

First Impressions of the Pentax KP DSLR

I brought three cameras on the road trip down south: Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II, Pentax ZX-5n SLR, and Pentax KP DSLR. I used all three for various situations, but I'm going to focus on the KP for this segment.

Here are the features and qualities that really stand out for me:

  • Compact for a 24MP DSLR. With the 21mm Pentax prime lens mounted, the KP fits in my workbag along side my mirrorless cameras.
  • Sensor-based image stabilization.
  • Cool lenses.
  • Super intelligent features, including choice of DNG or PEF for RAW files.
  • Customizable grips (standard) and buttons.
  • Up and down articulated LCD.
  • Friendly menu system.
  • Distinctive look that you will either love or hate.
  • Beautiful color rendition.
  • Solid WiFi.
  • Excellent high ISO performance.

As far as nits, I do have a couple. I do think the battery should be a bit bigger and/or last longer. Pentax still uses an old fashioned battery charger that requires a cord.

Overall, I really dig this camera and its cool limited edition lenses.

Updates and Such

Big thanks to all of our Patreon members! I was able to pay for the podcast server and the backup system from last month's pledges. Your contributions are making a positive impact.

We still have one seat open for our Road Trip and Rail adventure workshops. (The SF workshop has sold out.) If you'd like an invitation to either event, visit the TDS Workshops Page and use the Send Me Info form.

B&H and Amazon tiles on www.thedigitalstory. If you click on them first, you're helping to support this podcast. And speaking of supporting this show, and big thanks to our Patreon Inner Circle members.

And finally, be sure to visit our friends at Red River Paper for all of your inkjet supply needs.

See you next week!

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.

Podcast Sponsors

MeFOTO Air Tripods - MeFOTO Air Tripods are a nimble photographer's dream.

Red River Paper - Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

The Nimbleosity Report

Do you want to keep up with the best content from The Digital Story and The Nimble Photographer? Sign up for The Nimbleosity Report, and receive highlights twice-a-month in a single page newsletter. Be a part of our community!

Want to Comment on this Post?

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

Image quality is determined by the tandem of camera and optics. The primary lenses I'm using with the Pentax KP DSLR are the Pentax DA 21mm f/3.2 AL Limited Lens ($496), the Pentax DA 20-40mm f/2.8-4 ED Limited DC WR Lens ($646), and the Pentax DA 70mm f/2.4 Limited Lens ($469). I also have a good collection of full frame lenses that I can use on this body.

IMGP0618-kp-brittney 471-portrait.jpg "Brittany" - ISO 800, 20-40mm lens at 27mm, f/3.5, original format Jpeg, no editing. Photo by Derrick Story.

When I set up the camera for testing, I configured Auto ISO for 100-6400 and let the KP use what it wanted. For image format, I'm capturing DNG+Jpeg. The KP provides options for .PEF and .DNG. I'm going with .DNG until there are RAW profiles for the native Pentax format (it's nice to have the option, isn't it?). I set the Program Line to MTF. What that means is, that in Program Mode, the camera opts first for the best aperture for that particular lens. White balance was typically Auto.

IMGP0090-bike-ride-pub.jpg "Irish Pub" - ISO 200, 20-40mm lens at 27mm, f/4.5, original format DNG, tonal adjustments. Photo by Derrick Story.

These DNGs were decoded in Capture One Pro 10. I also looked at them in Photos for macOS. They looked good in both applications. The Jpegs were often tonally different than the RAW files. Like other camera manufacturers, Pentax has its own secret sauce for Jpeg files. In the case of the KP, they were brighter with a dash of color correction, quite pleasing overall. In many instances, I would post an unedited Jpeg and call it a day.

IMGP0701-rons-celebration-chat.jpg "Conversation" - ISO 6400, 20-40mm lens at 40mm, f/5.6, original format DNG, no editing. (Bright window on the left did not throw off exposure in patterned metering.) Photo by Derrick Story.

Another aspect that impressed me was how the camera was able to meter in mixed lighting. The KP does a great job of not being fooled by a strong light source from the back or the side. Bright windows were rendered that way without compromising the tones of the primary subject. As a result, I left the camera in patterned metering most of the time, and I rarely had to use exposure compensation. This allowed me to focus more on composition.

IMGP0651-kp-upland-walk-walk.jpg "Morning Walk" - ISO 100, 20-40mm lens at 40mm, f/5.6, original format DNG, light tonal editing. Photo by Derrick Story.

Lens sharpness was good across the board. I did fine tune the 20-40mm zoom using AF Fine Adjustment (Custom Menu Setting 23) to ensure the best focusing accuracy. But I have to say that the combination of Pentax HD optics with the KP DSLR is a beautiful tandem. Overall image quality is outstanding.

IMGP0141-kp-sunday-walk-farm.jpg "Sonoma County Farm" - ISO 100, 20-40mm lens at 40mm, f/5.6, original format DNG, graduated screen to add more detail to sky. Photo by Derrick Story.

Then, there is the color. We've come to expect excellent color from Pentax cameras, and the combination of the KP DSLR and HD optics extends that tradition. Sorting the images in Capture One Pro was a delight, to say the least. The greens have a tremendous amount of vigor, the reds were well-controlled, and the blues were pleasing and natural.

IMGP0050-Pentax-KP-Dibs-dibs.jpg "Dibs" - ISO 200, 21mm lens, f/3.2 at 1/6th of a second handheld, original format DNG, no editing. Photo by Derrick Story.

And finally, don't underestimate the contribution of the 5-axis Shake Reduction system toward image sharpness. When shooting the above portrait of Dibs the Cat, I didn't realize that my shutter speed had slowed to 1/6th of a second. I had forgotten that I had locked the ISO at 200 instead of using the Auto ISO setting that provided a range of 100-6400. But the Shake Reduction system saved me, and the image is remarkably sharp.

Final Thoughts on Image Quality

I have no idea how the Pentax KP will rate in the forthcoming lab tests from various photography publications. But the thing that impressed me was that I didn't have to worry about image quality.

What I did was mount good optics on the body, configured Auto ISO and Program Line to let the camera do the heavy lifting, and I just focused on composing interesting pictures. And the results were terrific.

The Pentax KP DSLR is shipping now for $1,099.

More Articles About the Pentax KP

Pentax KP Review - Part One - Top Deck - An overview of the Mode dial, Function dial, and other controls on the top panel of the camera.

Pentax KP Review - Part Two - The Back Panel - An overview of back panel controls and the menu system for the Pentax KP.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

White balance is one of those adjustment tools that we sometimes forget that we need. Then when we use it, we go, "Oh wow, that does look better."

I think in large part this is because digital cameras tend to record portraits a bit on the cool side. In other words, skin tones can be slightly bluish. We typically don't think about this much, that is, until we adjust those tones with the White Balance tool and compare the difference.

white-balance-in-photos.png

In the following 5-minute video, I walk you through the White Balance tool in Photos for macOS. It's not included in the default adjustments panel, so it's often overlooked. I begin by showing how to enable the adjustment by going to Add > White Balance in the Adjustments panel. Once you enable it, I recommend that you keep it in your default set of adjustments by going back to Add, then choosing Save as Default from the popup menu.

Now that White Balance is available, here are some tips on how to use it.

Indeed, a White Balance adjustment can be a subtle improvement for an image. But it's often those subtleties that distinguish a good photographer from just an average one.

Book or Videos: Photos for macOS

Explore the world of modern photography with my The Apple Photos Book for Photographers that features insightful text and beautiful illustrations.

And if you'd like to cozy up to a video at the same time, watch my latest lynda title, Photos for macOS Essential Training

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

Don't Forget About Noise Removal

For many of us, noise removal is one of those forgotten adjustments in our everyday workflow. In part, that's because camera manufacturers have improved the high ISO pictures that appear on our screen. But that doesn't mean we still don't need it at times.

dxo-noise.png Noise Reduction in the DxO OpticsPro for Photos editing extension.

But what I've noticed is, that if "I just play around with noise reduction" on an image, especially one with continuous tones at a higher ISO, I usually like the results. Looking at the screen, I'll say to myself, "Hmm, that looks better." So I try to remember to at least take a look at noise reduction every now and then with these types of shots.

There's a NR slider in most of our image editing apps. Lightroom, Capture One Pro, and Photos for macOS all have this functionality. But I've noticed that their algorithms vary widely.

luminar-noise.png The noise reduction tool in Luminar.

Even though Lightroom and Capture One have good built-in tools, I find myself working with plugins more often for my NR work. For example, I really like the noise reduction tool in Luminar. Typically, I use it as an editing extension for Photos for macOS or as a plugin for Lightroom because it's so convenient and doesn't disrupt the workflow. For one-click convenience that are also effective, I like the DxO OpticsPro for Photos editing extension.

There's a good article on Amateur Photographer titled, What's the best noise reduction software out there?. They survey a number of apps that work on both Mac and Windows machines, and rate them.

Chances are that you have one or more of these on your computer right now. You might want to pay it a visit every now and then. I think you'll be happy with the results.

Photos for macOS as Your Digital Darkroom

You can learn more about using Luminar as an editing extension in my lynda.com training, Photos for macOS: Advanced Editing Extensions.

And if you'd prefer to cozy up with a book, check out The Apple Photos Book for Photographers that features chapters on basic editing, advanced post processing, and editing extensions.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

This is The Digital Story Podcast #574, March 7, 2017. Today's theme is "Capturing RAW HDR with Your Smartphone." I'm Derrick Story.

Opening Monologue

Adobe just announced a Lightroom Mobile update that includes an HDR feature that makes use of the Raw capture capability of the latest mobile devices. The app instructs your cameraphone to scan the scene to determine the exposure range, then it captures 3 DNG files that it uses to build the HDR image. We wanted to learn more about this, so we invited Adobe's Josh Haftel to the show to explain how this all works. And that's our lead story for today.

Capturing RAW HDR with Your Smartphone

After capture the files are automatically aligned, merged, de-ghosted, and tone-mapped. The end result is a 16-bit DNG that combines the benefits of the Raw file format and HDR, and can be processed in the same way as the HDR technology in Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom.

lr-mobile-hdr.jpg

Compared to existing smartphone HDR modes, this method offers better dynamic range, according to Adobe. Members of Adobe's Creative Cloud service get the additional benefit of automatically syncing files and edits with their desktop.

The algorithms of new HDR mode do require powerful hardware and are therefore limited to a relatively small number of devices, though. On iOS it works with all devices that are capable of capturing DNG files, such as iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, iPhone SE, or the iPad Pro 9.7. On Android at this point only the Samsung Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge and the Google Pixel models are supported. However, Adobe says it is working on getting the software to run on a wider range of devices.

This description is from the DP Review article, Lightroom Mobile update brings Raw HDR capture mode.

Hitting the Road with the MeFOTO Roadtrip Air

As you're listening to this podcast, I've already left Santa Rosa for a road trip to Southern California. Packed among my gear is a brand new MeFOTO Roadtrip Air that will be my three-legged companion for the next several days.

Just to give you a bit of background about this super nimble tripod, it's distinguishing features include:

  • Super Fast Setup with the new HyperLock Leg System. Setup is as easy as 1,2,3: 1 - Hold tripod leg and twist counterclockwise until it stops (4 clicks), 2 - Pull the leg to the desired length, 3 -Twist leg clockwise until it stops. (How easy is that?)
  • Perfect for Selfies - removable telescoping center column converts to a Selfie Stick with included smartphone holder and Bluetooth remote!
  • Ultra lightweight - 30 percent lighter than classic MeFOTO models
  • Available in Backpacker, RoadTrip, GlobeTrotter models and 7 colors.

I'll share my initial shooting experiences with it next week. If you want to learn more about the MeFOTO line of tripods, look for the colorful tile on all the pages of the thedigitalstory.com. And if you decide that you want one for yourself, use coupon code THEDIGITALSTORY to save 10 percent and receive free shipping.

My First Experience with Olympus PRO Advantage Camera Service

On Feb. 27, I shipped my Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II via USPS Priority Mail to Hackensack NJ for my first service using their PRO Advantage plan.

The $99 annual plan includes two Clean and Check services that include the following checkpoints:

  • Exterior cleaning
  • Firmware upgrade
  • Auto Focus accuracy check
  • Image stabilizer check
  • Function check
  • Sensor and optical check

The procedure goes like this. First you call Olympus at 1-800-260-1625, Option 4 to log in the repair order, get a service number, and the address to ship the camera to.

Then you send off the camera with that information, plus your PRO Advantage service coupon in the box. Once they receive the camera, they acknowledge the possession via email.

The service took one day, then I received it back on Monday, March 6. The camera was packed nicely, and everything looked great. The only gotcha was that my settings had been wiped out via the firmware update. So I had to spend a few minutes getting everything programmed back to my personal preferences.

This service seems like a good option for the growing numbers of pro photographers using Olympus gear.

Updates and Such

Big thanks to all of our Patreon members! I was able to pay for the podcast server and the backup system from last month's pledges. Your contributions are making a positive impact.

We still have one seat open for our TDS SF and Road Trip workshops. If you'd like an invitation to either event, visit the TDS Workshops Page and use the Send Me Info form.

B&H and Amazon tiles on www.thedigitalstory. If you click on them first, you're helping to support this podcast. And speaking of supporting this show, and big thanks to our Patreon Inner Circle members.

And finally, be sure to visit our friends at Red River Paper for all of your inkjet supply needs.

See you next week!

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.

Podcast Sponsors

MeFOTO Air Tripods - MeFOTO Air Tripods are a nimble photographer's dream.

Red River Paper - Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

The Nimbleosity Report

Do you want to keep up with the best content from The Digital Story and The Nimble Photographer? Sign up for The Nimbleosity Report, and receive highlights twice-a-month in a single page newsletter. Be a part of our community!

Want to Comment on this Post?

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

The Pentax KP DSLR back panel is well designed. It isn't intimidating - just a few buttons on the right side of the 3" articulated LCD - but it provides an impressive amount of control.

The 4-Way Controller

P3033878-gear-kp-back-LCD-general.jpg Illustration 1 - 4-Way Controller in AF Point Selection Mode.

When you turn on the camera, the LCD lights up with a bold, easy to read display. Shutter speed, aperture, ISO and the other usual suspects are shown. But you'll also notice a graphic illustration of the 4-Way Controller and OK button that's directly to the right of the LCD.

P3033851-gear-kp-back-LCD-4way.jpg Illustration 2 - 4-Way Controller in ISO-Drive-WB-Flash mode.

Why would you need that illustration? The physical version is right next to it. But there's more than meets the eye. The 4-Way has two modes. And the LCD shows you which one is active. In Illustration 2, you see that you can control the ISO, drive option, white balance, and flash with the four buttons of the controller. Press and hold down the OK button, and you can change modes to the AF selection point by using the four buttons to navigate (Illustration 1). As you do so, the AF point is also highlighted in the viewfinder. This gives you complete and flexible control over the autofocus.

To set this up, go to Menu > Tab 1 >AF with Viewfinder > AF Active Area and choose SEL. (You can alternatively let the camera choose the AF point for you by choosing Auto 27 or Auto 9. But I prefer to control the AF point myself.)

You can toggle back and forth between modes for the 4-Way controller by pressing and holding the OK button. They're all straightforward, however, I do want to mention my favorite White Balance setting: Multi Auto White Balance. It is to the right of AWB in the WB menu, and it measures mixed lighting and gives you an intelligent setting. I love it, and it works.

The Info and Menu Buttons

Press the Info button, and s grid of options appears on the screen (Illustration 3). Navigate to the one you want via the 4-Way controller and press the OK to reveal its details. The Pentax KP does not have a touch screen, so you use buttons to navigate.

P3033870-gear-kp-back-info-button.jpg Illustration 3 - Information screen when you press the Info button.

Press the Menu button, and you have a variety of settings to choose from. They are organized via a tabbed interface displayed on the top of the screen (Illustration 4).

P3033872-gear-kp-back-menu-screen.jpg Illustration 4 - Menu Screen

Here are some of my favorite menu settings:

  • Camera Tab 1: Custom Image - a wonderful variety of profiles here that are customizable. My default is Natural with just a slight Sharpness boost.
  • Camera Tab 1: Program Line - I absolutely love this option. I like shooting in Program mode as my default. And this control let's me customize the program. How smart is that? Currently, I'm using MFT, which leans towards the sharpest aperture setting on each lens based on its MFT data.
  • Camera Tab 3: Clarity - I've never seen this before as a capture setting, but I like it.
  • Camera Tab 5: Button Customization - Being an Olympus mirrorless shooter for all of these years, I need to have control over the programming of my buttons.
  • Camera Tab 5: Memory - What settings do you want the camera to remember (and not remember) when you turn it off? Here's where you select those. BTW: Clarity isn't selected by default, so you may want to turn that on here if you're using it.
  • Camera Tab 5: Save User Mode - I have U1-U5 programmed on the Mode dial. This is where I set that up.
  • Wrench Tab 4: Copyright Information - You have to do this!
  • Custom Tab 2: AWB in Tungsten Light - This is a fantastic way to automatically correct for those hideous orangish tones.
  • Custom Tab 4: AF Fine Adjustment - I used this to specifically calibrate my 20-40mm Pentax zoom, and I improved its performance.

Other Buttons and Dials

In the upper left corner is Fx2, which is programmed for the electronic level by default. You toggle it on and off here. The level is visible in both the viewfinder and on the LCD.

The rear e-Dail is to the right of the viewfinder. In Program mode, it is used to shift the aperture setting. But it changes functionality based on the other settings.

The AF/AE-L button is programmable via the Button Customization menu (Camera Tab 5), and can be used in a variety of ways, including exposure lock.

The green button is a reset button. Depending on what you're doing, such as Composition Adjustment (Camera Tab 4), it can be used to zero out your settings in that particular function. It's very handy.

And finally, the standard playback button with its familiar sideways triangle icon works exactly as you would expect.

Final Thoughts

I have really enjoyed getting to know the back panel of this camera. The graphics on the LCD are easy to read and attractive, the menu is nicely organized, and many of the settings are quite clever.

The Pentax KP DSLR is shipping now for $1,099.

More Articles About the Pentax KP

Pentax KP Review - Part One - Top Deck - An overview of the Mode dial, Function dial, and other controls on the top panel of the camera.

Pentax KP Review - Part Three - Image Quality - I programmed the KP to do the heavy lifting so I could focus on composition. Here's how the photos look.

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