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Customer Review

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Front focus issue needs to be addressed, April 29, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Pentax K-r 12.4 MP Digital SLR Camera with 3.0-Inch LCD and 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 and 55-300mm f/4-5.8 Lenses (Black) (Electronics)
For those who are unaware, the Pentax K-r has what's called a "front focussing" issue. You won't notice it in most situations, and it has slipped under the radar of virtually all professional reviews. It comes up when you are autofocusing in low light, and is more pronounced when using a faster lens (i.e. a 50mm prime lens). I would without hesitation give this camera a 5 if not for the front focus issue. It needs to be addressed. To give you an idea of how pervasive this problem is, just google "DSLR Front Focus problem" or "DSLR Front Focus issue" (no brand or model) and the first 20-30 hits you get are all about the Pentax K-r. Many K-r owners have addressed these concerns on message boards. Pentax, however, is not acknowledging this to be a "known issue." I called customer service this morning and was told the company is aware of the complaints is looking into it. It's my understanding, and I could be wrong on this, that once Pentax (or any company) acknowledges a "known issue" with a product, they are responsible for remedying it with either a firmware update or a recall (although I'm not sure a recall would apply to this because it's not a safety issue, such as a vehicle). As many have noted in online forums, Japan has much bigger issues than developing firmware updates, and as a human being, I'm more than willing to extend Pentax as much time as they need to address this issue. What myself, and many others are asking is that the company acknowledge this to be a known issue, and promise its customers that they will fix the problem via firmware or physical repair within a reasonable time period. If they need six months to a year to do it, I could live with that. But in the absence of that acknowledgement and commitment to its customers, I cannot recommend this camera.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 4, 2011 2:33:29 PM PDT
This is not the first time they're ignoring issues. When K-x came out it had huge problems with rechargeable battery life until a firmware update fixed it. Meanwhile, if you called them and complained, they would just play dumb.

Posted on Jun 1, 2011 10:33:41 AM PDT
LeGonze says:
Hello! I have a question here... This Focus Issue is present with the Lens that comes with the Kit??... Or that occurs just with external Lenses??...

Thank you!!!...

Posted on Jul 16, 2011 2:19:54 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 16, 2011 2:33:40 PM PDT
Mark Curtis says:
The front focusing issue is confined to not just low light.....but artificial light. And not just any artificial's typically incandescent only. Some say they have problems with florescent as well, but the consensus is that it's primarily incandescent (tungsten) that causes the problem. Furthermore, I have seen polls that suggest most owners (those that are aware of the issue) do not have this problem. And that even if they did, that it only posed a problem for them in a small percentage of situations. So please heed the warning above in that context. Not trying to suggest there isn't a need for one, nor that Pentax doesn't need to address the issue at some point (though at this time they are in the process of being bought out again).....just that it is fairly specific and not applicable to many owners even IF they have a camera with the problem.

Keep in mind as well....if you Google the issue OF COURSE there will be many accounts of it.....that is the nature of searching for a particular problem and finding results that support the search. But a certain number of those accounts does not provide a percentage of how many are actually having a problem......and people who don't have problems won't come up in that search. Imagine searching for "K-r owners who don't have a problem with front focusing" many do you think you'll find? The best you could do is look for "satisfied K-r owners"....of which there are many. And, I might add, seem to include a high percentage of reviewers who purchased their K-r's from Amazon.

Also, there are workarounds that help (to a point) until firmware or some other solution is put forth. Changing the white balance setting from Auto (which is the default) to Tungsten helps at the margin. There is also a fine focus setting that can be adjusted to minimize the effect. And, I have heard that if you use Live View instead of the viewfinder it can make a difference. These are not fixes, just mitigations until one comes forward. The issue is not confined to the kit someone pointed out it is probably more noticeable with a faster, prime lens.

Posted on Aug 29, 2011 2:01:31 PM PDT
I can confirm the front focus issue is a fact - I just returned a K-R that had the same problem, only worse than described here. My K-R would not focus in tungsten light with aperture set any from 3.5 stops to 5.6 stops, especially if shutter speed was under 1/30. But then again, with intense lighting focused right on the subject, or even using a flash, and the shutter speed up to 1/60 or 1/100, you can still forget it! BLUR, BLUR, BLUR.

Posted on Oct 7, 2011 4:02:43 PM PDT
AndrewS says:
Thanks for the warning - I'll bear that in mind and will watch out for it when I get mine.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 15, 2012 3:52:48 PM PST
gman33 says:
Appreciate the thoughtful reply. The 50mm 1.7 AF prime lens is the one that's giving me the most problems. I bought this lens specifically to shoot indoor action sports, which from what I understand is one of the challenging shoots even for seasoned pros with crazy expensive equipment. I'm not looking for SI cover shots, but shots that are just good enough to sell to local online news sites. I'm getting clearer shots even indoor low light with a Panasonic ZS7.

I acknowledge this is a very specific issue, but it is, more pronounced on the K-R. The google search I was referring to was for "DSLR front focus," not "Pentax K-R front focus." The fact that the search comes up disproportionately with "K-R" results speaks volumes, I believe. Still hoping Pentax comes up with a fix. It's an amazing camera in many other ways, and I've gotten some great shots (including sports action shots) in different conditions.
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