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I have in the past been quite a shutterbug, but I kinda let that slide some when I realized my pix weren't as good as I would like them to be, and I didn't have the time or patience to make myself better.

But I've been getting back into it a bit lately. That was driven to a big extent by my son playing middle school football and my desire to get some action shots.

I have an older Pentax *ist dslr, about six years old, which I know is old for something like that. If I had plenty of bux I would upgrade, but don't think that's realistic just now.

It seems to work just as well as always with one exception. It sometimes has trouble focusing. I will sometimes push the shutter button repeatedly and it just can't seem to focus. I will then adjust my zoom and try again and that seems to help.

Can't say for sure if it does it with all my lenses, just the one I use most frequently.

Would the trouble most likely be in the camera or the lens?
 

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Hi Wheely. What are you having trouble focusing on? Something close up? Indoors or outdoors?

The two most likely auto focus issues are 1. the object is too close for the lens to focus, and 2. low light.

Your *ist camera and lenses should still work just fine. The camera companies are just like the cell phone companies. They want you to think your gadgets become obsolete every 6 months to a year. Obviously that's not true, and your camera will take pictures that are every bit as good as they were when it was brand new.
 

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I have a Pentax K7 and I can adjust the parameters for the AF points.Maybe yours might need adjustment if you can and when you move the lens it helps to get it within the parameters that are set.Are you doing a lot of close stuff or just general picture taking?I use a lot of my old Pentax M34 lens mount stuff with an adaptor on this K7 just no auto focus,but then again sometimes I prefer not to have the AF...
 

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I would go back through the camera menus and make sure you have the focus functions set to the style you use most. On the Canon series of entry level DSLRs, it is not unheard of to have to send the camera AND lens back to Canon and have them "matched".

Good luck.:rolleyes:
 

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I bought a Canon 20D new 10 years ago, after using Canon 35mm A series cameras for 30 years. It has done a fine job for me over the years. I do keep a Canon SD890IS point and shoot in my pocket often rather than carry around the big Canon DSLR.

I have given away to family the extra lens's that I had, as the normal lens is all that I really need now. The Canon will allow me to choose manual settings, or give me the option of shutter speed preferred or f-stop preferred choices as well as fully automatic (let the camera make the decisions).

Good photos can be obtained by almost any camera...as the skills are like shooting , a lot of the results are due to the shooter not the equipment.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I bought a Canon 20D new 10 years ago, after using Canon 35mm A series cameras for 30 years. It has done a fine job for me over the years. I do keep a Canon SD890IS point and shoot in my pocket often rather than carry around the big Canon DSLR.

I have given away to family the extra lens's that I had, as the normal lens is all that I really need now. The Canon will allow me to choose manual settings, or give me the option of shutter speed preferred or f-stop preferred choices as well as fully automatic (let the camera make the decisions).

Good photos can be obtained by almost any camera...as the skills are like shooting , a lot of the results are due to the shooter not the equipment.
Well I'm not blaming the equipment. Though it does have pretty poor photo quality with the ISO above 800. And it sure would be nice to have a faster burst mode than the 3 fps max that I currently have. 6 megapixils is not too bad, though the newer dslr's seem to all have 10 or better. All these things together make me kinda want to maybe think about a new one. As soon as I find a bag of money laying around. :rolleyes:

I have never messed with the focus settings, and haven't always had this problem with the focus. It doesn't seem to be confined to low light, and I don't think the range is the problem. It seems to just happen periodically, and I have never stopped to notice the conditions at the time it happens since I'm too busy trying to get it to focus so I can take the shot. I guess I need to play around with it more.
 

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I'll chime in... I'm a photographer and graphic designer and have been shooting lifestyle and architectural photography for several years now. In college, I worked at a camera store and would get these same stories from customers. Without knowing specifically what you're photographing, it's hard to say. However, if I had to guess, I would say that you may not have enough contrast in your scene.

Most cameras, especially those from the mid-2000's use contrast-detection auto-focus systems. Meaning that it looks for contrast in the scene to lock focus on. If you were to take your camera outside and point it straight up at a blue, cloudless sky or even inside, point it at a blank white wall, it will hunt for focus back and forth. It may or may not ever lock focus, especially if there's nothing to lock on to. Now put a piece of black tape on the wall and try the AF and it will snap to the black tape almost immediately. Low light is especially tough for contrast-detection AF systems because everything is sort of muddy. Add on top of that any motion (football or kids playing) and you've got an exceptionally tricky situation for even the best cameras. Remember, what looks like plenty of light to you, may not be very much light for your camera at all. There are plenty of times when I shoot a wedding and I'll be shooting at ISO3200 and f/2 and I'm barely getting hand-holdable shutter speeds. I can see fine, but the camera struggles.

Whenever I shoot, I use the focus and recompose method. This comes from my early days in photo school when I was using a manual focus SLR. The only "focus point" was the micro prism in the center of the viewfinder. So, if I wanted to put my subject in the left third of the frame, I would have to focus on them in the center using the micro prism and then recompose before hitting the shutter button. Every camera I own has all but the center AF point turned off. I run my Canon 5D's and 5D2's with the center point. The same goes for my pocket camera, the Ricoh GRD III. I also have a camera that I use for setting up a photo booth at weddings and I run that one center point only as well.

I'm sure your Pentax has this option. Turn off all the other focus points. Then, just hold the shutter button halfway down until it locks focus and recompose your shot before pressing the button the rest of the way. It really is a great method and once you get used to it, you'll see that your camera isn't hunting as much and you won't miss focus as much. I shoot with pretty high speed lenses for the most part and I tend to shoot at f/2 for 90% of my shooting. For architecture, I shoot at f/11 for the most part, but otherwise, I'm as close to wide open as I can get and still have acceptable sharpness. I rarely miss focus even at these wide apertures.

I hope this helps you out. Give me a shout if you need additional help. I've got a website up that's under construction while I get the rest of my portfolio in order. But you can check out what is up there at HeyMatthew.com.
 

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I have a nikon d80 and find most of my pictures taken of my son playing baseball are in manual mode and manual focus. Not sure if that will apply to your Pentax. But use the largest f-stop for the light to get the greatest dof. Good luck digital makes it super cheap to play with the settings.
 

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Wheely-- did not mean to imply that your skills were to blame. My wording was clumsy, sorry.

My sports photos these days are of my son (number 5 of 6) who is a Middle-school teacher and Basketball Coach. I do the game photos for him. Working in a confined space (compared to a football field) I can use the flash unit frequently, and if the gym lights are ALL on I can adjust the color temp and shoot at 'ASA' of 200 which allows a lot more definition and detail.

I love my Canon DSLR, but it has grown heavier over the years !!
 

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Oh, one other thing to try. Take a Qtip with some rubbing alcohol and clean the contacts on the body and your lenses. When you mount a lens, be sure to twist it on firmly enough to make sure your contacts are all engaged properly.

Also, +1 on the focus points advice. Try turning them all off but the center one.
 

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Learned..... no, amateurish dabbler..... yes.
Enjoy it though.
Have a nice Canon camera, lenses, filters, speedlight ect.
 

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HEYMATTHEW: Very good advise, I keep my Nikon D90 on Center Point focus along with my little point and shoot Coolpix, works for me and focus is very fast, my use of it comes from the way I was taught back with 35mm cameras first one was a Pentex Spotmatic F, Love Photography, you have a very nice web site, lot of outstanding images too.
 

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I have a Canon AE1 from 1983 and a Canon A-1 professional from about 1986! Both get alot of use! I'm not completely sold on digital yet!
 

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HEYMATTHEW: Very good advise, I keep my Nikon D90 on Center Point focus along with my little point and shoot Coolpix, works for me and focus is very fast, my use of it comes from the way I was taught back with 35mm cameras first one was a Pentex Spotmatic F, Love Photography, you have a very nice web site, lot of outstanding images too.
Thanks!

Focus and recompose has worked for 100 years. I guess it can work for 100 more. :)
 

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I have a Canon AE1 from 1983 and a Canon A-1 professional from about 1986! Both get alot of use! I'm not completely sold on digital yet!
The Canon AE-1 Program was the first camera I ever bought with my own money when I was in photo school about 10 years ago. I got it at a little pawn shop in town and it served me very well. That camera has since been sold and many others have come and gone.

I know rely on my dad's old Minolta X700 as my 35mm SLR. My wife shoots medium format and 4x5 large format (we have a really nice view camera sitting in the living room that always gets a lot of "oohs" and "aaahhhs" when people come over).

Give the center point focus trick a try.

And do the experiment with a plain white wall and then a piece of tape and see if it makes a difference. It's a great lesson in how AF systems work.
 

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Here's my 2 cents. I shot a lot of action shots of my kids playing sports when they were still in sports. I did it both indoors and outdoors. I have a Canon digital DSLR (in case that matters). I found after reading the manual that I had 3 types of focus settings for the camera. I can't remember what they were called, but 1 of them worked best picking up moving targets. I would then change the settings for the focal point to choose the very center choice and not any of them outside of center. There are about 8-12 "dots" in the view finder that are in a type of cross position. I did this because my subject was always in the middle of my frame for action shots, so I didn't care if the area around the subject was a little blurry. I almost always shot bursts to get the one I was hoping to get and I dumped more than 50% of my pics because they didn't turn out. I have the Rebel XT which is very outdated at this point and was entry level (still expensive) when I bought it. My lenses were not the professional lenses Canon sells, so my set-up was not high end. I was able to get some great shots, but not as good as the the guys on the sideline of professional sports because my skills and my camera pale in comparison. I'm not sure this helps, but I thought I'd share in case it does. Good luck and have fun doing it.
 

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There are about 8-12 "dots" in the view finder that are in a type of cross position.
I have a Canon 450D with 17-85 & 70-300 USM lenses.
I always focus with the middle dot and the USM lenses do the rest.
I find I usually dump 90% of action shots as I am only looking for one, even on the highest resolution, I can still shoot over 1,300 pics.
I have been thinking of doing a couple of classes (work permitting) to improve my skills.
 
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