The K5 for Video

Figure 1:  The K5 has the (35mm film type) Tokina mounted.

I’ve been doing video with the K5 for a few months.   I think I’m beginning to grasp some concepts, relating to how this camera can/must be used in order to shoot frustration free video.

For starters, the auto-focus sets only the initial focus when the camera is in video mode.  Since targets are moving around inside (and outside) of the DOF, this is a little sub-optimal for videographers.  My solution is to focus manually.   The K5 is nice for this, using the LV (live view) LCD, because a single press of the info button provides a x2 zoom for focusing purposes, and a double press provides a 4x magnification.

The second issue is automatic exposure.  I prefer over-exposure to under-exposure, since over-exposure usually has a pretty clean gradient around the area in question.  Under exposed areas are simply missing information altogether, and look ugly in comparison.  It’s a matter of black (missing info) versus a too bright or washed out color (but at least it’s usually smooth) -without jaggies.

As the camera moves around during motion video, I always seem to pick up frames that are under-exposed, and this drives me nuts, as they are hard to fix later.  To partially remedy this situation,  I lock the exposure with the exposure lock button.  Before I start taking the video, I point the camera at various parts of the scene,  moving it back and forth until I get a feel for what a good compromise might be.  Then I point the camera at a spot where the compromise is located, and lock it.   This has worked a lot better for me than full auto.

I love shooting video with my Tokina 70-250mm lens, but it is from an old 35mm film camera, and only good for manual and Av modes.  In Av mode, the auto-exposure feature of the K5 works fine with the Tokina in spite of the age of the lens, and I “tune it”  in the manner of the previous paragraph.

The old lens does seem to have some issues with flare.  I have a flare hood, but sometimes it doesn’t completely prevent the problem.  It’s worth fighting the issue thru to a solution though, because the warm color rendition of the Tokina is so marvelous.  One really weird thing I’ve found during shooting video, is that lens flare seems to be diminished when I shoot into the sun!  Well, not directly into the sun, and instead an amount below the sun, but aligned to it otherwise.  I use a hand over my eye, and focus and monitor with the LCD screen rather than the thru-lens viewfinder, so that I don’t accidentally look directly at the sun with my eyes.

Why this works is kind of intuitive, I guess.  The flare is normally from light that does not follow a parallel path into the lens, as it typically comes from the side.  Then it bounces around in the lens in all sorts of bad ways, ricocheting off of elements and sides and edges, producing the infamous haze of flare.  With most light being closer to parallel, there is less ricochet.  For some reason, my absolute best skin tones were achieved with the use of the Tokina, shooting about thirty degrees below the sun.   One should use caution when doing this of course, as those hot solar photons shouldn’t be looked at directly.

What else?  The Tokina is very light and compact, and so there is less trouble holding it, and less shake.   Also – it’s a zoom.  When shooting a static still scene, you can take all factors into consideration, and your angle of view doesn’t change.  But for video, the angle of view changes all the time, which means that subject matter not apropos to the shoot will creep into the “reel”.   The zoom lets you continuously crop that out.  So, for video, zoom is a must.

ISO over Aperture!  Yeah, I learned that one the hard way.  Again, this is different between a still shoot situation, and a video shoot.  In the still shot, you’ll favor a wider aperture over really large ISO, to keep the grain out, assuming your DOF won’t bonk your pics.  In the video, the movement means you never are sure of what DOF you can get away with, so you want to favor ISO for exposure adjustment.  The lucky thing is that the K5 is the master of ISO.  I shoot 28k in stills that I don’t throw away, and it’ll do 6400 in video.

Yet, video with the K5 is challenging.  It’s not that it’s a super-duper video machine, so much as the real truism which is that it can do the video if you’re willing to walk the learning curve.   Even with a good grasp of the latter, there are situations where the A6500 is going to be a better bet.  But, gratifyingly, it *can* be done.

Its full HD 1920x1080p MJPEG is a plus too.  At first I was shooting 720p (which it will do also) – in order to have smaller file sizes for uploading situations.  But, (this is another oddity) – Blender seems to process the 1080p output faster than the 720p output.  I guess the scaling factor weighs more than the extra pixels.

To be continued …

Ricoh Imaging Co owns the Pentax K5 and other tradenames.  This author and site has no affiliation with them.  The Tokina lenses shown were produced by Tokina Co., Ltd of Japan, and they still make lenses today.  This site has no affiliation with any of  the camera and lens companies mentioned on this page.

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