Summertime Lessons

In this year of work-at-home, I was able to complete a long-in-progress patio project. I also started watching different forums for some lenses for my Pentax K-S2. One of my favorites was a gift to me, as part of a Spotmatic kit a now deceased friend had bought while stationed in Vietnam in the late 1960’s / early 1970’s. The Takumar 50mm lens is approximately 49 years old based on its serial number, which puts it at exactly my age. However, as I kept watching hummingbirds come to our patio to check us out, I got the itch for a longer zoom, but didn’t have funds to buy a “good” lens, so kept my eyes open. When I found a fellow Pentax user selling is dozen-year-old 55-300 lens, I bought it for $40, shipping included. It is not weather-sealed like the newer versions but was like new. And as I adjusted to the idea of patience in photography, I was able to get some shots I was happy with. Unfortunately just as I was getting to the point where I was pushing limits on shutter speed, ISO, etc., they started migrating south for the winter. There’s always next year, I guess. Here’s one photo, processed through Denoise AI “Clear AI” mode, Sharpen AI “Stablize” mode, and tweaked for saturation to bring it closer back to the camera-produced JPG since Topaz using RAW file seems to desaturate a bit from what the camera produces.

Camera: Pentax K-S2
Lens: SMC DA 55-300 f4-5.8 ED
ISO: 4000
Aperture: f/8
Speed: 1/1600s
Focal Length: 300mm (35mm equivalent 450mm)
11:47am Aug. 26, 2020

Hand-held, manual focus.


Good grief! Has somebody spotted some horrible fault here? No comments?

Amazing catch and the wings are almost frozen. Most uncommon.You have “that flower” in focus and little else except the bird. That little guy is going for it. Is the focal depth as shot or in PP? Whatever, it works. I love the way the flowers are all leaning at the hummingbird…pick me pick me! :slight_smile:

You probably have a really nice lens. I know that Canon 70-200 IS lenses are not what they were, having, I reckon, aimed for the price point.

Yeah there’s always next year… for the lucky ones :).I just don’t have hummingbirds hanging around at all.



1 Like

Thanks Nick,

I appreciate the feedback. This took quite a lot (days if not weeks) of patience, waiting for their rare visits, testing different settings, learning how to focus patiently without worrying about them flying away. I like shallow depth photos, but finding balance here and a fast enough shutter speed without an ISO through the roof is a lot of trial and error. I feel like if I had started a few weeks earlier in my efforts, this shot might have been significantly better but hey, a $40 lens on a $400 camera, who’s complaining?

The only think pp here was using denoise and tweaking contrast/hues. I try to get the in-camera jpg as close as possible to how I want the final to be. Then if it’s still not good enough due to technical limitations I do minimal post. Using just Denoise ai on this as RAW and exporting, I found the colors to be off, so I used PhotoLab to process the RAW (autocorrects for lens distortions and the like without going overboard) and a final pass through DN. This image and one or two others are what led me to Topaz and DeNoise in the first place.

Well I reckon your patience paid off, mate. A question. Why do you shoot jpg?


Partly, habit. When I started with digital some years back it was with a gifted camera. Did jpg and no more. When I upgraded to a slightly better model it did jpg or tiff and back then I didn’t get the reason i needed more.

Eventually, maybe 14 years ago, I got a pair if canon SLRs that did an awesome job, but I tend to try to shoot to use, so I’d process RAW reluctantly when I needed to. Life got busy and taking photos became work, so I was intermittent for a few years.

In 2019, I was looking to do a trip out west, as far, at least, as Big Bend National Park. I would only be there for one or two days, and had read somewhere that the milky way is so bright that you can see your shadow at night.

Reading through some various forums, looking at newer camera bodies capable of 20mp+ but also low light, etc, I stumbled across writeups of Pentax AstroTracer, which uses GPS and sensor stabilization motor to track the stars for a while. At the time Ricoh was closing out the K-S2, so a new (albeit 3yr old model) camera with a $400 lens packaged together for $450.

One of the most useful and worst implemented features of this camera is wifi, so i can snap a series of photos, copy them to my android phone and post online within minutes. JPG works best for that, and I use it relatively often especially when i am away from home, so I tend to always have the camera for RAW+JPG, and have the hope that half or more of my photos are perfect. (I did say hope).

The more I push the limits of cameras and lenses, the more I realize how useful RAW is. I don’t want to shoot crappy photos and then “fix” them in photoshop. But to choose a higher ISO than I’d prefer to get a faster shutter speed, then use AI tools to denoise, I am learning to be okay with that.

I won’t do fireworks shots over the city skyline, and stack 8 different sprays of sparks till it looks like a most phenomenal shot (of an image that never existed) but if I use low light mode of denoise, that’s cool. Still, I find that I enjoy the challenge of getting the camera jpg output to be as close to real and usable as possible. It also serves as a return point if i post process the raw and something looks off. I can go back to the original (jpg) and compare.

(Sorry for long response, but I’ve put a lot of time into the choice).

Nurries about the long response. It gives respect to the topic.

Your reasons are about the same as mine, except I am more than happy shot a crappy image then try to fix it :). RAW was just “too much trouble” to be worth it.

I love the comment about the badly implemented WIFI option. So common! Great feature, badly done.

I get the impression that you now shoot JPG+RAW ? That’s where I have ended up.

I am a bit of a snap-happy, so I reckon maybe 10% of my shots are going to be salvageable or worth displaying , but yeah if I went away and was not going to get a second chance I would be a lot more careful. I would probably really PO my travel companion(s) :slight_smile:

To their credit,the wifi on that camera was Pentax first in body implementation, and it is useful. I very much like almost all the other features. The milky way on our one cloudless night was great even at 60 seconds. I was later given an old Pentax Spotmatic camera with lenses from someone I know whose late husband was in Vietnam in the early 70s. The camera bag had film canisters embossed with vietnam on them. I have a 50mm Takumar lens that came with it, an m42 screw mount, all manual, and dated it by serial number to about 1971. I was born in February 1971, so the lens is as old as I am. Yet with adapter works great on this newer camera. I’ve gotten some great early spring flowers with that combo - the bokeh was unique.

Yes JPG + RAW. And I’ve learned to slow down and look before snapping a million photos so I do have a better success rate (those in flight hummingbirds were a lesson in humility - you can’t rush or you’ll just get a lot of blur), BUT I get exactly what you’re saying. I still think only 10% are worth keeping. :slight_smile: