Along with landscapes and holiday shots, the most common subject for your photographic endeavours is portraits. Whether that’s a picture of your first child emerging into the world, jam-covered children shrieking at a birthday party, professional portraits in a studio or life on the streets, if it involves people, you like to shoot it. Our challenge was to see whether the Pentax K100D Super was flexible and powerful enough to shoot subjects ranging from kids at home, to professional standard studio portraits, to shooting on the streets and in glossy locations as the Christmas party season gets into swing.
CHALLENGE I – STUDIO PORTRAIT
The Pentax K100D Super is a six megapixel digital SLR that's powerful, flexible and well built. The first test was to use an infrared remote trigger connected to the K100D Super's hot-shoe to activate the pro-quality studio lights.
With our 18-55mm standard zoom lens set to around 55mm (80mm in 35mm film terms) to avoid distortion, and a couple of lights on either side of the subject, the camera was mounted on a tripod to shoot a traditional head & shoulders studio portrait.
The model was asked to look directly into the lens and we made sure only one catchlight appeared in the eyes by moving the left light round slightly to the side of her.
We set the camera up to AF-Single focus and used focus lock on her eyes to ensure they were the sharpest point.
You may have noticed the background is not the usual plain studio backdrop. We used some curtain material to make a refreshing alternative.
CHALLENGE II – LIFESTYLE PORTRAIT
You’ve all seen those modern studio shots with white background and laughing, playful people having a good time. Welcome to the world of lifestyle studio photography. Still using the infrared remote, a studio light was positioned on either side of the subject, pointing just at the white background, and a large octagon boxed light in front. This technique ensures you totally overexpose the background which becomes clean white.
Traditionally in studio shoots you would use a light meter to check the values, but with a digital SLR like the K100D Super, it’s easy to shoot, check the exposure histogram, adjust and reshoot.
Here, a wide-angle was used to capture the entire scene for our lifestyle portrait.
The camera was set to continuous frame shooting mode and AF-continuous focus to ensure we didn't miss the action. It was here that the camera's Phase-matching 11-point wide autofocus system (SAFOX VIII) came in really handy.
CHALLENGE III – PARTY TIME
There’s no messing about with tripods and posing at a kids party, and with cake, soft drinks and excited youngsters running around, you’ll be thankful for the K100D Super’s resilient body and anti-shake technology.
For this shot a 28mm wide-angle lens was used to get the kids into the shot, while an elevated position provided a more unusual and dramatic viewpoint.
The K100D Super's 11 Zone Multi-Segment metering has coped well balancing the darker surrounds with the candle-lit cake.
A quick shift of gears up to ISO400, combined with Shake Reduction being turned on, ensured a sharp image.
CHALLENGE IV – CHRISTMAS SHOPPERS
‘Tis the season to be jolly, especially if you have a Pentax K100D Super. With early sunsets, bright Christmas lights and hordes of shoppers, it makes for an ideal long exposure street scene.
For this illuminated street scene the K100D Super was mounted on a tripod and the lens was set at an aperture of f/8.
The shutter speed came out at 0.7secs using aperture-priority mode and at this speed moving people tend to change into pleasing blurs, offset by the bright festive lights.
CHALLENGE V – BIG NIGHT OUT
As well as shopping, it’s also the party season, and that means looking good and hanging out at cool places. Here the pop-up flash with its P-TTL auto and guide number of 15.6 (Standard Output Sensitivity 200/m) was used to help light the subject with red-eye removal available as standard.
Thanks to the confined space, this is more of a close-up shot, but attempting to stay as far back as possible to avoid distortion. The use of flash, rather than simply increasing the ISO rating, makes the colour really stand out.
The built-in flash on the K100D Super covers lenses as wide as 28mm so it was fine for this shot.
If the exposure had been too bright we could have easily used the camera's flash exposure compensation and reduced the exposure by up to 2 stops.
CHALLENGE VI – LAST TRAIN HOME
The final challenge was to successfully capture our party goer heading for home, with the city lights behind them. As well as standard program modes, the K100D Super has a selection of scene modes, one of which is evening portraits, which combine background lighting with the subject. This has worked to perfection here, capturing the portrait and the background.
The Pentax K100D Super showed its versatility during this challenge, coping with kids and cake, studio shoots and out on the streets. The 6Mp resolution is plenty for portraits, and the combination of program modes for the enthusiast and scene modes for the beginner means that everyone can snap a great picture. Whether you are shooting friends and family, or portraits in a studio setting, the K100D Super is the compact DSLR with big ideas.
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