Pentax ist DS: manual white balance buggy?

Discussion in 'Pentax' started by Ben, Jun 13, 2005.

  1. Ben

    Ben Guest

    I today chanced upon the first misbehaviour of my (otherwise
    immaculate) DS: Trying to get to adjust manual (aka custom)
    white-balance, I followed the instructions (p.115-116 in the

    1. pressed Fn button (On the LCD screen, Fn Menu appeared).
    2. pressed left arrow on the 4 way controller (WB Menu appeared).
    3. Using the down arrow, moved all the way down to select 'Manual'. (an
    'Adjust' option appeared to the right of the word 'Manual').
    4. pressed the right arrow on the 4 way controller to get to the above
    mentioned 'adjust' option.

    Here, according to the manual, a screen was supposed to show saying
    "Point camera at subject; Press the shutter release button".
    Instead, the LCD screen turns off (goes black). According to the
    user-manual the interaction with the user was supposed to continue
    until an 'OK' or 'NG' are displayed on the LCD. However, as I
    mentioned, the LCD goes out.

    The subsequent press on the shutter release does sound and feel
    different than an ordinary shot (e.g. no auto-focus action as far as I
    can tell), suggesting that the adjustment is taking place after all.
    But then the resulting shots are quite poor colour-wise. It looks as
    though the camera made no colour adjustments, or perhaps bad ones.
    (Then again I can't be 100% sure about that).

    Could kind DS owners check whether their camera behaves the same way?
    Do you get LCD messages through to the 'OK' or 'NG' message step?

    I updated the firmware to 1.02, - with no change in behaviour.
    My RAM is a 1 gb Kingston unit.

    Thanks very much in advance for any help.

    Ben, Jun 13, 2005
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  2. Ben

    John Bean Guest

    Sounds like a fault. The LCD does go blank after pressing
    the right arrow, but only for a second or so before the
    screen mentioned in the manual comes up.
    John Bean, Jun 13, 2005
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  3. Ben

    Pete D Guest

    Mine is working fine, did you arrow right once you select the manual setting
    and get the screen that says click the shutter? You should then take a
    focussed shot and come up with the OK in the middle of the screen.
    Pete D, Jun 13, 2005
  4. Ben

    Ben Guest

    John, Pete, thanks for taking the time to check your DS and reply.
    Yes, I did arrow right at the point you mention, and it is exactly at
    that point and in reaction to that arrow right button press that the
    LCD turns off.

    Since my initial posting I also tried the reset to factory settings, to
    no avail.

    :-( :-( :-( !!!

    Sounds like the techies at Pentax can prepare their hammers and
    Ben, Jun 13, 2005
  5. Ben

    Ben Guest

    Correction: The relevant pages in the manual are 113-114 (not 115-116
    as in my initial posting).

    Ben, Jun 13, 2005
  6. Ben

    Cheesehead Guest

    Checked the batteries?
    All these DSLRs do flakey things on low batts.

    Cheesehead, Jun 13, 2005
  7. Ben

    Cheesehead Guest

    At least it's not dropping images, per the recent Canon situation.
    Yet in that light we must realize first and foremost that these are
    computer with lenses.
    They should be treated as computers -- bugs and all.

    My fear is when M$ starts writing the OS for these things.
    We'll be rebooting daily, necessary or not.

    Cheesehead, Jun 13, 2005
  8. Cheesehead wrote:
    My Windows NT4 system here has been up for 240 days so far - since our
    last power outage. One Windows 2000 system has been up for 104 days (the
    others have been down for hardware upgrades and dust removal!).

    David J Taylor, Jun 13, 2005
  9. Could kind DS owners check whether their camera behaves the same way?

    I hadn't had this problem, but I had a hunch, checked it, and it turned
    out to be right:

    My camera can be induced to misbehave in this fashion if I try to set
    manual white balance while in a "picture" mode. It seems to work only
    in the "exposure" modes - the ones identified with letters on the mode
    dial. So I'd suggest using P mode if you want automatic exposuure,
    which is what I do most of the time. In the cases where I want to
    control something, I find Av mode is virtually always sufficient. It is
    especially useful for the most common such scenario - light is low, and
    you want to force the fastest shutter speed you can get while still
    having enough light to take the picture without resorting to flash.
    With Av mode, you don't have to guess - just open the aperture as wide
    as you can, and the camera chooses the appropriate shutter speed. I'm
    not sure why P mode doesn't default to doing this in low light
    situations, but I assume it is optimizing something else.

    BTW, I'm not sure what would happen if you tried *setting* the manual
    white balance in P mode then switching to a picture mode before actually
    shooting. Maybe it would work, maybe not?

    Marc Sabatella

    The Outside Shore
    Music, art, & educational materials:
    Marc Sabatella, Jun 13, 2005
  10. Ben

    Cheesehead Guest

    240 days for NT. Must be a record.
    I'd like to see a memory and load analysis of those systems.
    Too many shops HAVE to reboot them monthly, on schedule.
    Memory leaks are a major concern.
    You're not running Domino, are you?

    Cheesehead, Jun 13, 2005
  11. I don't think of it as a record at all. That particular system runs a
    real-time satellite data acquisition facility - no Domino. 64MB physical
    typically 48MB used, little CPU load. The Windows 2000 system which had
    been up for 104 days is stable, and runs a 2Mb/s satellite-based data
    acquisition system. 512MB physical about 200MB used, little CPU load. I
    can't recall why that was last rebooted, possibly after a failing hard
    disk was replaced. I now expect my Windows systems to run 24 x 7 without
    fail, and they usually achieve that. Security updates are the most
    frequent reasons for a reboot.

    David J Taylor, Jun 13, 2005
  12. Ben

    John Bean Guest

    Picture modes force AWB - they don't use *any* manual WB
    mode, not just custom.

    I never use picture modes so I assumed nobody else did ;-)
    John Bean, Jun 13, 2005
  13. I think you've hit the nail on the head, Marc!

    p112 of my manual says: "The above adjustment is not reflected in
    Picture mode" when referring to manually setting the white balance, and
    on p113 it specifically directs you to set the mode button to P, Tv, Av,
    M or B when setting a manual white balance.

    The only other point I have to add to this discussion is that when I've
    set a manual white balance using a white card, I've had to switch to
    manual focus or the AF just hunts and the white balance sampling
    exposure doesn't happen.


    Helen Edith Stephenson <helen at baronmoss dot demon dot co dot uk>
    Helen Edith Stephenson, Jun 13, 2005
  14. Ben

    Cheesehead Guest

    "Little CPU load" is the key.

    Cheesehead, Jun 13, 2005
  15. Ben

    Ben Guest

    Right on!!!! Thanks a lot!
    Works for me in P mode as meant to. I suppose this is a weak spot in
    the DS's human interface (it's not polite to just turn LCDs off on
    users even if they're in the wrong mode) and in the documentation -
    can't see where this is mentioned in the user manual.

    What's great is that having now tried out a couple of shots with the
    manual WB, I see the DS doing it extremely well.

    Great!! Thanks again.
    Hope this thread saves other DS users an unwarranted worry.

    Ben, Jun 13, 2005
  16. :)

    I don't use them either. I'd have to read the manual to work out what to
    do with them. Idiot-proof functions generally trip me up.


    Helen Edith Stephenson <helen at baronmoss dot demon dot co dot uk>
    Helen Edith Stephenson, Jun 13, 2005
  17. Ben

    Ben Guest

    Hmmm... things are taking an interesting twist here...
    Following Helen's account of her manual explicitly directing the user
    to set the mode dial to P/Tv/Av...etc, I turned again to my manual and
    read p. 113-114 throughout, then inside out, upside down, back to front
    and ...(well you get the idea...). No mention of modes!!
    Now since I bought my DS in Germany, I got a manual in German. Since my
    German is pretty basic, I downloaded from Pentax's U.S. site the
    English manual in pdf, and had it printed off.
    A quick comparison between p.113's in the German and English manuals
    had the beans gushing out spilling...

    In the German manual step 1 reads "set the mode button to P/Tv/Av/M/B".
    step 2 is "Press the Fn button".
    In the English manual, step 1 reads "Press the Fn button"...
    The rest of the steps are identical!!
    Bingo!!! My English manual leaves out that important first step.

    (If interested to check it out by yourself: -

    I'm wondering whether the pdf version of the manual on Pentax's U.S.
    site is different from the printed manuals packed with the cameras sold
    in English speaking countries (in which case one would actually expect
    the pdf files to be better proofread and more up-to date!!!).
    Or perhaps Helen's manual is a Pentax UK/Australia/NZ version?

    As to "The above adjustment is not reflected in Picture mode" in P.112
    (that text does appear in my English manual too), - This has to be one
    of the most ambiguous phrases in the manual. I NOW understand that it
    means "the above settings" where it said "the above adjustment", and
    "have no effect" where it said "is not reflected".

    What's more, if you run a search throug the manual pdf file for
    "Picture Mode", you'll see that the term is not defined anywhere, and
    is actually used incoherently throughout the manual. Only in p.132 a
    distinction is made between 'exposure modes' (P/Tv/Av/M/B) and 'picture
    modes' (those with icons). (But then in the appendix in p. 189 that
    distinction is confounded by 'picture mode' being listed as one of the
    'exposure modes' ..etc. etc.)

    Fortunately, the DS's interface is otherwise so intuitive and well
    designed, that one does not depend very heavily on the manual...

    Ben, Jun 14, 2005
  18. The only other point I have to add to this discussion is that when
    Yes, I was going to mention this too forgot in the excitement of
    figuring out the mode issue :).

    Marc Sabatella

    The Outside Shore
    Music, art, & educational materials:
    Marc Sabatella, Jun 14, 2005
  19. Despite taking photographs for half a century while working as an expert
    translator in various languages, I found the DS's English manual was mind-
    numbing in its obscurity. No downright GRAMMATICAL errors, but as you
    discovered the SENSE was often very confused.

    To anyone in the language business, the DS manual clearly smells like a
    poor translation. I'd bet the nameless "native English speaker" (probably
    some bored housewife or migrant backpacker) hired to finalize the Japanese-
    translated English version knew very little about cameras or the common
    terminology we photographers use.
    Charles Gillen, Jun 14, 2005
  20. Ben

    Pete D Guest

    So if you want continuous focusing what do you do? The sports mode is not
    bad for the intended purpose.
    Pete D, Jun 14, 2005
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