So this month I’m back on the One Month, One Camera project, with my new to me Pentax K30 DSLR.
First impressions were very good, and I anticipated a month of happy photography with my new comrade.
But things soon started to get too complex.
The main issue I was having was getting consistent exposures out of the K30.
What wasn’t helping at all was my experimenting across four different lenses, switching between the viewfinder (VF) and Live View (LV) on the rear screen, and using exposure compensation almost shot by shot to try to get some regularity.
Then, something reminded me of Year 7 science lessons, and our teacher’s rigid philosophy for any kinds of scientific experiments.
Essentially he had two golden rules.
- Have a control experiment as a base point to then compare all future experiments with.
- As you start to adjust variables, only ever adjust one at a time. This way, it’s very easy to track exactly what impact the simple changes you make each time have on the end result.
If you don’t have a control experiment to start with, you have no barometer, nothing to compare with to see if your adjustments make the outcome better, or worse.
If you alter more than one variable at once – whether the result is better or worse – you don’t know which variable made the difference.
So I decided to take a leaf out of his science book with the K30.
First of all, I took a tip from Anton and reset the camera to the default settings.
Then I went through the settings, checked the defaults, and adjusted anything I wanted to.
For example, I set the ISO to the sensor’s native 100, the resolution to 8MP, and the “Custom Image” (ie colour settings) to black and white, with contrast notched up. I also turned off extraneous (for me) features like “slow shutter speed noise reduction” and GPS.
I decided to start with a lens designed for exactly this era of Pentax DLSR, my Pentax-DA 35/2.4 AF, and let the camera decide the optimum aperture and shutter speed using Program (P) mode.
And I wanted to use the VF only for now, and not LV, and switched off the rear screen completely.
In other words I simplified everything.
Then I headed out in the garden to take a few test shots.
Whilst not groundbreaking in any way, the photographs were promising enough to encourage more shooting with these simple settings.
It’s given me that control experiment, so I can see what the camera can do with this basic set up.
Also, the exposures were consistent, which is a relief as I was almost starting to wonder if the camera had an intermittent fault.
So now I have a fairly reliable base camp to build upon.
And only once I’ve become comfortable with the K30 set up in this basic way will I think about experimenting.
And, even then, I plan to only change one factor at a time, test again against the control settings I have already, and see if the changes are for better or worse.
Hopefully in time I can grow to enjoy the K30 and learn how to get the most from it. These teething issues aside, it is a very likeable camera and feels good to handle and use.
How about you? Can you recall times when you’ve simplified your approach to photography to make progress?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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