My camera is the Pentax K-50 but I imagine this will be similar for other Pentax DSLRs.

My workflow for shooting usually goes like this: first take a test shot, then view it with the "bright/dark area warning" feature to check if anything's blown out or at zero, then take a bracketed exposure if it is. Since I do this with pretty much every shot, I'm looking for a quick way to take a bracketed exposure, and then just as quickly change back to single-frame mode.

So far I've found the following two options, neither of which is really satisfactory:

  1. I can turn "one-push bracketing" on and set the "meter operating time" to its lowest value of 3 seconds. Then pressing the shutter release once will take a single shot, whereas holding it down will take a bracketed exposure. This would be ideal, expect that if I take a second single shot within six seconds of the first one it will think I'm taking the second shot of the bracketed exposure and underexpose it. This means that if I want to quickly capture some action, I'll end up with a random selection of correctly exposed, underexposed and overexposed shots as the camera cycles through them.

  2. I can turn "one-push bracketing" off and assign the Raw/FX button to exposure bracketing. This has the disadvantage of being rather fiddly, because I still have to navigate through the 'info' menu to turn it off again after I take the shot. If I forget to do this it'll take three exposures the next time I press the shutter release, and then I have to waste time fiddling around in the menu trying to turn it off while I miss the moment I was trying to capture. It also means I can't use the Raw/FX button for other things like DOF preview, which can't be accomplished at all unless Raw/FX is assigned to it.

Is there another way that I've missed? I suppose what I really want is a way to say "I want to bracket the next exposure", as opposed to "I want to bracket all exposures from now on." Failing that, a non-fiddly way to go back to single-shot mode would be really useful. How do other Pentax users deal with these issues?

  • 1
    You might also want to know that blown areas might not actually be blown. Try recording sample photos and load RAW files into RawDigger or something like that, compare the boundaries of blown areas - cameras typically report more blown area. Nov 6 '16 at 17:40
  • Curious what shooting mode you're using because it seems that the workflow is the product of an automatic exposure mode. Manual mode might be less significantly fiddley because adjusting exposure is a matter of turning one dial or the other dial or both dials rather than navigating menus.
    – user50888
    Nov 6 '16 at 22:56
  • @benrudgers I usually shoot in Av, TAv or manual, depending on the situation. The menu fiddling is entirely about turning bracketing on and off, rather than adjusting the exposure per se.
    – N. Virgo
    Nov 7 '16 at 1:11
  • @EuriPinhollow many thanks for that hint, I will do that investigation and try to get a better feel for how much dynamic range the sensor is really capturing.
    – N. Virgo
    Nov 7 '16 at 1:11
  • @nathaniel: this overestimation of blown area happens partly because of green channel becoming clipped after white balance and partly because of other processing happening in camera. If you want to cancel out the white balance effect try setting your camera WB to UniWB (google it, it's a method of setting camera to native WB). If you want to cancel out other camera processing, you do not have options, it's a black box. Nov 7 '16 at 9:58

There's a third option (although a little bit of a hack), most Pentaxes (including the K-50) allow you to specify which options are retained when the camera is turned off (under "Memory" in the capture settings menu).

Set the RAW/Fx button to enable bracketing. Then ensure "drive mode" is disabled in the memory settings. Disabling bracketing can be performed by turning the camera off and on (which is very quick).

There are some older Pentaxes (K20d and others) which have a dedicated bracketing button - if you make a lot of use of bracketing, then looking at some of the older flagship Pentaxes may be worthwhile.

  • Aah, this might be exactly what I'm looking for! I guess my main aim is to make sure that bracketing isn't activated when I turn the camera on, so this is probably perfect for me. Many thanks - I will try it the next time I go out shooting and report back after that.
    – N. Virgo
    Nov 7 '16 at 1:07
  • I've been using this since you posted it, and I'm finding it works well for me.
    – N. Virgo
    Jan 7 '17 at 14:49

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