Struggling with Fishy Eyes.

All of the Pentax Q photos posted so far have been with the very very nice 01 Standard Prime. It's a 47mm equivalent lens with a fast F1.9 aperture. The speed is very nice to have. You can actually create some out of focus areas with careful placement of subject/background. The image quality is quite nice too. With the 01 Standard Prime, the Pentax Q is approaching the image quality I was getting with a Nikon D70 back in 2004. Now that may sound like damning with faint praise, but it's not intended. That's pretty good performance for such a small package. Here's another shot with that combo that made me go, "hmmm..."

Pentax Q 01 Standard Prime example
The trouble with Q starts with the 03 Fish-Eye. Simply put, I haven't been able to take a good shot with it. Firstly, it's soft. Photozone is pointing to diffraction - the Fish-Eye is a constant F5.6. That may be it but I'm not so sure. I think that the culprit is focusing and camera to subject distance. The 03 Fish-Eye is a manual focus lens. Normally that's not such a bad thing - I grew up on manual focus lenses. And the Q provides a convenient 4x zoom when focusing manually. This works great...when you are nose to nose with the subject. The resulting images aren't razor sharp, but are what I'd call "sharp enough" that a little bit of post sharpening will tidy them up enough for the web or a small photo in a magazine. For example:

Pentax Q 03 Fish-Eye Sample
Things get dicier the farther away the subject is. The following shot required a bunch 'o sharpening to make it ok:

Pentax Q 03 Fish-Eye Sample

And the farther you get from your subject, the harder it is to make sure that things are sharp at 4x zoom. Remember, this ultra-wide fisheye pushes subjects away, so a subject 10 feet away looks a speck in the frame. At longer distances, things just get blurrier and blurrier:

Pentax Q 03 Fish-Eye Sample

Pentax Q 03 Fish-Eye Sample

The fact that the focus throw of the lens is about 10 degrees doesn't help the situation. You can lock focus on a distance subject and then have it thrown off when a nearby gnat sneezes.

Lastly but not leastly, the lens cap on the 03 Fish-Eye looks like a piece of shipping material you throw away when you buy the Svendrk shelves at Ikea. Come on Pentax, I know this a budget lens, but really?

So I'm torn because the 03 Fish-Eye was going to be my go-to lens for rigged motorcycle shots. Now I'm not so sure. I've got a week before leaving, so I've got to test some more and decide soon...

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:05 PM

    Nice Blog! At first I was really disappointed with IQ. It looked very soft & low contrast a lot like the cheap c mount wide angles..
    so I played with some settings and this is what I programmed the #1 dial for:

    saturation +1, key -2, contrast +4, sharp +2

    I've also taped the focus to the first bold mark, left of center!

    I've had really good results since then, many of these panoramas are with the Q/03 combo:


    -Flex Maslan "kayakfari"