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Archive for April, 2012

First bird shots with K-01 and Pentax-67 M*400mm/4.

I finally had a chance to try out how the K-01 would perform on my Pentax-67 M*400mm/4 for photographing birds. I already took some shots of Rabbits, but they were not moving so it was easy for the K-01.

Yesterday morning i found 4 Greater Yellowlegs on the shore of a big river near my home, so i decided to use my K-01 instead  of my K20D. The positive part is that you now have a 3 inches viewfinder to focus and compose your shot with focus peaking to help manually focus your shots. The focus peaking is very accurate and if you need more precision you can always magnify the view to 2X, 4X or 6X.

The biggest drawbacks of the K-01 is the 1 fps in RAW and the image freezes between each shot so when your subject moves you can loose it on the LCD. That camera was not designed for fast action obviously but maybe the next K-02?

IQ is great and the performance of high ISO is better than my K20D is a plus for the K-01…sure i could have buy a K-5 but the K-01 is a great Macro camera and i think it’s where it is the best camera i have ever use for that purpose.

My Pentax-67 M*400mm/4 is an 8.3 pounds beast and i think it requires a camera that is bigger than the K-01 for the best handling, my K20D is a perfect match, sure i will use my K-01 again with that lens mostly for photographing frogs when they will come out for good. The K-01 might be easier to use for bird photography with the DA*300mm/4 or the FA* 400mm/5.6, on a tripod of course, i always prefer a good tripod.

Here is my shots i took with the K-01 all at ISO 1000, 1/200 sec at f/5.6, tripod.

Greater Yellowlegs

Canada Goose


Snails are not only beautiful at the restaurant!

Snails are popular at the restaurant but they are overlooked as a photo subject. Close to my home i have a Park where there is a lot of them and easy to find and photograph . I prefer misty morning or rainy days because on hot sunny days the snails just stay in their shells, they like humid days or habitat.

You will need a tripod but also something that you can use to stabilize your camera at ground level (beanbag, or a ziploc filled with sand), my camera have Shake Reduction (SR) and it’s very helpful for this kind of photography. Now with my K-01 it’s easier to shoot at ground level since i don’t need to look in the viewfinder like my K20D, the live view and focus peaking work very well to compose and focus the shot. A camera with a tilting or swivel LCD would be even easier to use, but the K-01 is still quite easy to use at ground level.

You will need a relatively fast shutter speed….. yes i’m serious …. those snails are always on the move and the antenna (eyes) are nearly always moving. Having the eyes, head and shell in relatively the same plane of focus is not evident since they move their eyes in many directions very often. Flash can help to obtain better light and/or faster shutter speed, i prefer to use natural light.

Most of my photos are done at/or near ground level but don’t forget to look in the trees because they are often hanging on the branches or leaves. Vary your point of view and habitat if possible,  so not all your shots will look the same.

Snail at sunrise in autumn light.

Surrounded by Stone crop flowers.

Young Snail on a weed.

All 3 shots above taken with Pentax K20D, Pentax DFA100mm Macro WR, tripod.

The most useful lens is a Macro lens, the majority of my snails photos are taken with my 100mm Macro because snails are quite small and to better control the background. If i can i will use my 35mm Macro and 14mm to show more of the habitat. My Pentax DA14mm can focus quite close so i’m able to get the snails large enough in the frame and still have place to show it’s environment. You have to be careful with that 14mm since you will be shooting at it’s minimum focusing distance (17 cm) you can cast a shadow with the camera or your head on the subject.

Snail on an Aspen tree after the rain.

Pentax K20D, Pentax DA14mm, handheld with SR, ISO 800, 1/15 sec. at f/11.

Pentax K-01, DFA 100mm Macro WR, ISO 1000, 1/80 sec. at f/6.3, handheld with SR.

K-01… the Pentax’s Black sheep ?

Pentax took a big risk with the design of the K-01, nobody is indifferent to that new camera, you either like it or hate it. It will certainly not be a camera that will appeal to the majority of photographer because it’s not like other MLC (mirrorless camera). But under that design there is a real camera that can certainly take great photos when you get to know it.

I wanted a second camera body with very good image quality, with good live view and not too big, Shake Reduction (SR) is a very welcome addition and didn’t necessarily needed an EVF/OVF. Sure it’s bigger than any other APS-C  MLC but it’s still smaller than a DSLR and because of it’s shape it’s easier to find a place for it in a camera bag than a DSLR. I have my Pentax DA35mm Macro Limited attached to the K-01 and it fit nicely in a section of my bag.

Here are my first impressions so far.

Ground level photography.

I tried some handheld shots at ground level, with the help of SR it performed very well and getting sharp photos was easier than i thought it would be. Since you can’t hold it as steady as a DSLR because you’re not looking in a viewfinder and can’t brace the camera on your forehead, you learn to hold it differently. When i’m taking photos at ground level i can view the image and focus on the LCD from an angle of 45° from above the camera and press the shutter button with my thumb instead of my finger, seems to work fine for me. An advantage of a MLC is that it’s not as hard on your body (back and neck) since you don’t have to contort yourself as much to compose your shot, like trying to see something in the VF of my K20D while photographing frogs at eye level on the shore of the pond.

Here is 2 photos taken handheld with the DA14mm:

DA14mm, ISO 400, 1/25 sec at f/8.0

DA14mm, ISO 500, 1/20 sec. at f/7.1

Powerful Macro tool.

One of the reason i bought the K-01 was that i wanted a camera that would help me with manual focus, the live view and focus peaking were a big selling point for me. I shoot a lot of close-up and Macro and always use manual focus. When you combine a great sensor with very good focus peaking,  you get a camera that is great for Macro photography. Taking Macro shots at ground level will be easier, as discussed in the previous paragraph. Can’t wait to try out some frogs photos with my Macro and DA14 lenses.

DFA100mm Macro WR, ISO 160, 1/100 sec. at f/6.3, tripod.

DFA100mm Macro WR, ISO 200, 1/80 sec. at f/4.5, tripod.

With long lenses, i think i’m crazy !

One thing i wanted to try was how it handles with long lenses, because of it’s better high ISO performance than my K20D i want to use it for photographing frogs using my Pentax-67 M*400mm/4 with extension tubes. The K-01 is bigger and have a better grip than other MLC so it’s not that bad on my 400mm, i can use it with good results, my hands don’t suffer from trying too hold and maneuver the gear on my tripod. If needed i will not hesitate to use my K-01 with long lenses.

That shot was taken around sunrise in a forest of Pine, this Cottontail Rabbit was relaxing under a big Pine. The good performance at high ISO and the focus peaking made that photo easy to get.

Pentax-67 M*400mm/4, ISO 1250, 1/80 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.

Focus peaking:

This is one of the reason i bought the K-01, combine with the magnification (up to 6X), it makes obtaining exact focus easier especially with manual focus lenses. I selected the red button (customization menu) for turning On and Off the focus peaking, it’s useful to be able to turn it off quickly because sometimes the peaking makes it hard to compose your shots. Even without the magnification the peaking is accurate and i like using it that way when i’m taking photos handheld at ground level. If you want to see how it works you can take a look at my other post here:


What i like about the K-01:

– The buttons and wheels are well made with firm clicks and feel.

– The shutter is very quiet, the first time i tried the K-01 in the field it was windy and i couldn’t hear the shutter.

– Focus peaking is great and accurate.

– Battery life is also very good, i made over 450 photos and some videos as well as playing around with the camera on the first charge.

– Built quality is also very good and i like the feeling of the camera in my hand, i don’t have problem with the layout of the controls.

– Shake Reduction is very good.

What i don’t like about the K-01:

– 1 Fps in RAW is my biggest negative point on the K-01, hope Pentax will address that in a future firmware update.

– Rubber door flap of the SD card compartment. I learned to close it with relative ease but my concern is more if it will survive in the long term ?

– AF is not the fastest but i don’t use it often anyway.


If i had to own only 1 camera the K-01 wouldn’t be my choice because i need a DSLR with a faster motor drive and a VF for wildlife photography. But as a second camera body i think it’s a great value for any photographer who want a MLC or a smaller camera than a DSLR with great built quality and with focus peaking,  you can’t go wrong…. and the IQ is superb!

About high ISO i can say that i like the results up to 1250 ISO, i did try it enough above that to make a conclusion how high the quality is good enough for my taste. Will make another post here when i will have more shots under my belt with the K-01.

Time will tell if Pentax made a mistake or not by coming out with the K-01, it is certainly a camera that is already controversial, it’s not for everyone, but i like that Pentax made that move since the market is already full of tiny MLC that or not always easy to use other than with small lenses.

Focus peaking, K-01 vs NEX-3.

Those 2 cameras have the focus peaking feature that helps achieve exact focus especially with manual lenses. They work about the same,  i want to share with you how they work respectively and what is their pros and cons of each.

Pentax K-01:

– Grey peaking without any settings for level of peaking and no color choices.

– Peaking can be turn on and off easily by pushing red button (i selected the red button in the customization menu).

– You can magnify by  zooming up to 6X (2X, 4X and 6X) to focus more accurately.

Sony NEX-3:

– Choice of 3 colors (red, yellow and white) with strengths level.

– Peaking can be turn off and on but you have to go in the Menu which is not very fast.

– You can magnify the view to 7X or 14X, i use 7X only.

On my NEX-3 most of the time i use the yellow peaking but sometimes depending on the color of my subject i use the red. Up to now both work pretty well, Pentax took a different approach in the color and effect but it seems to do the job, i tried it with some of my lenses and i’m satisfied.

The best way to do it is by showing you, so i made a video of how the K-01 and NEX-3 peaking feature work in the field.





I am in the best kept secret column of OPC magazine !

Outdoor Photography Canada magazine (OPC) is a popular magazine here in Canada and in 2011 they started a column (Are you the best or the best kept secret) where they help a photographer that is not well-known by doing it’s bio and publish a photo(s) and what plans he have for the future.

In early february i received an e-mail from the editor that they wanted to feature me in the next publication in that column. I was surprised and honored that they had chosen me ! If you want to read the article you can get a copy of the magazine or go to their web site.