The Pentax K100D Super is the latest digital SLR from Pentax, offering Shake and Dust Reduction, beginner and advanced shooting modes, solid build quality and great ease of use. Our challenge for the K100D Super, was to head to the woods to record the sights and colours of autumn. Could the K100D Super prove up to the challenge of shooting in changing weather conditions, ranging from close-up macro work to isolating subjects with a telephoto lens and recording all the detail? Being compatibile with the wide range of Pentax lenses, we packed our kit bag and tried it out.
CHALLENGE I - GO WIDE IN THE WOODS
Armed with a Pentax 10-17mm fish-eye lens, we sought out signs of logging or naturally falling trees. This one had toppled over and slowly been eroded away by the weather and insects. The camera was positioned close to the fragmented end which filled the lower third of the scene. It was recorded in super detail with plenty of depth-of-field thanks to the f/8 aperture and the lens design.
The conditions were gloomy, so a quick press of the Function button called up the quick menu where options for drive, white balance, flash and ISO ratings can be set. ISO400 was selected on the ISO menu to keep the shutter speed up to 1/60sec. The built-in Anti-Shake mechanism, which benefits every lens you attach, did the rest and ensured a sharp picture full of detail.
CHALLENGE II - TRICKY METERING
Here's an avenue of trees with orange-brown leaves cascading to the ground. Trouble was, the light outside of the trees and on the edges of the picture, namely the ground to the right, was quite bright in comparison to the light by the trees. Cue Exposure Compensation. There's a range from -2.0EV to +2.0EV in 1/3rd or 1/2 stop steps accessed from a dedicated button, so we set -1.5EV to prevent overexposure.
We were using a 105mm telephoto lens with an aperture of f/22 for maximum depth-of-field. This resulted in the shutter speed dropping very low. The camera was tripod-mounted to prevent camera shake and the ISO was bumped up to ISO400 again to get an exposure that was still three seconds long.
CHALLENGE III - UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
The Pentax 100mm Macro is a cracking lens that lets you get right in close to the action for superb macro photos. It's a 1:1 magnification lens, which means that what you focus on will be reproduced at life-size in the image, but combine that with the effective focal length extension that you get from digital and it makes the subject look even closer. Fantastic for macro work.
Here in the woods was a puffball fungi. The K100D Super was mounted on a tripod, and the two second self-timer used to avoid knocking the camera at the moment of release and also to make it easier to compose the image using the clear viewfinder.
CHALLENGE IV - LONG EXPOSURES
Time to get a little creative here, with a standard wide-angle shot of trees overhanging a gentle woodland stream. The wind was blowing and the light was subdued so the K100D Super was tripod-mounted and the ISO kept at 200 - the lowest setting. The camera was placed in aperture-priority mode and f/22 was set to give a resulting shutter speed of four seconds.
The tripod kept the camera still so that the tree and ground were recorded in sharp detail, while the blowing wind moved the branches around, blurring them through the long exposure. There's also in-camera settings for contrast and sharpness along with colour saturation, which was increased here to bring out the autumnal colours.
CHALLENGE V - TELEPHOTO DETAIL
There's room in woodland photography for telephoto work as well. Either to isolate specific items or detail or, like here, to limit the depth-of-field and also narrow the field-of-view, pulling the attention in to the crop of silver birches. By now though, it was teeming with rain - the good old British autumn!
The white balance was set manually to the highest temperature to make the picture as warm as possible, along with a little post-processing in Photoshop so it looks like a warm autumn afternoon rather than late in a rain-soaked day.
CHALLENGE VI - STILL-LIFE
While roaming the woods we also made a point of picking up leaves, twigs, conker shells and conkers - though we did have to fight off small boys to do so. The aim was to take home a bag load of woodland debris and create a still-life on the kitchen table.
The items were arranged on a black bin-liner so nothing showed through, a table lamp was placed at the back behind a table cloth and another was placed at the front, to the left to create directional light. A polariser was then fitted and rotated to eliminate one of the sets of highlights that was apparent on the pictures.
The 100mm Macro lens was used again and an aperture of f/2.8 was employed. We focused on one of the foreground conkers so it was sharp while the rest of the scene fades into a pleasing blur.
So, despite the day turning wet and windy, or to be more precise, windy then wet, the K100D Super coped admirably with a range of shots, using different Pentax lenses, in challenging conditions and variable and often low light. The Anti-Shake mechanism proved its worth and the good quality build stood up to the weather admirably. The photographic feature set of the camera showed that while the new photographer can ease themselves into the world of digital photography with the automatic functions, there's plenty of creative control there for the enthusiast as well.
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