Tag Archives: Pentax KP

Pentax KP vs. Nikon D500: white balance

16 Mar

Continuing my series on the Pentax KP, and possibly starting a sub-series comparing the Nikon D500 against it, today my attention was drawn to ephotozine’s Pentax KP sample photos, particularly the colour section:

high_ISO_wb_KP_vs_D500_aligned2

Pentax KP (top) vs. Nikon D500 – ISO 200 (left) to ISO 819,200.

Particularly the ISO 819,200 sample from Nikon seems to be soaked in yellow, although the ISO 409,600 sample also seems affected. Here’s the 819,200 comparison, with two attempts to fix the Nikon’s white balance in post:

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 00.21.40

Pentax KP (left) vs. Nikon D500 OOC, Nikon D500 with my own special WB procedure, and finally Nikon D500 after “color->auto->white balance” from Gimp

If “fluorescent” white balance is used in the Pentax, it gets even further ahead of the Nikon – an unfair comparison perhaps, but it’s only a single step of configuration and straight out of camera:

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 00.05.09.png

With even more prodding, I eventually got the Nikon image to behave. I managed to keep noise levels on par, but keep in mind that it’s a fair amount of work, and you really have to know what you’re doing in Photoshop or Gimp to get this kind of result – remember the one button fix is the image on the far right, and it improves things, but doesn’t really “fix” the problem. Cutting to the chase, here’s that final result:

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 00.48.24

Even using the Pentax’ default white balance, it does impressively well, keeping in mind we had to massage the Nikon image for several minutes to get it into decent shape:

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 00.52.50

The bottom line is that in terms of colour, the Pentax produces reasonable JPEG output even at very high ISO, while the Nikon D500 takes considerable time in post-processing to achieve a competitive result. The Nikon is not usable as a JPEG camera at this high ISO and I would instead recommend, if using the D500 at all, to shoot raw and use a raw converter, in which case it’s the raw converter’s job to give you a reasonable-looking image (this will be the next part in this series, if time allows).

Pentax KP better at high ISO than K-70, especially after DxO PRIME treatment

11 Feb

Imaging Resource have published RAW samples from the Pentax KP. Since I was able to cheat DxO 11 into processing an ISO 102,400 file, I thought I would post the results of performing PRIME noise reduction on a pair of these at ISO 102,400 – one from the KP and one from a K-70 – click on the image for a 1:1 view of the striking difference (KP on left, K-70 on right):

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Compare with the out-of-camera JPEG result (KP on left, default in-camera noise reduction on both):

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The out-of-camera JPEGs retain a little more detail, along with some more noise – probably a matter of personal taste, but I would go with processed raws here.

The Pentax KP features saturation compensation, to stop colours looking washed out at higher sensitivities. The in-camera processing deals with this gracefully, so that no luminance detail is lost (KP on left, K-70 on right, both with default in-camera noise reduction):

screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-06-54-49

The current version of DxO OpticsPro does not include a Pentax KP profile, and some loss of luminance detail could be seen in the PRIME processed image. As explained by a commenter over on Imaging Resource, this may be due to the KP using a different white point in its raw output compared to previous Pentax cameras. That being the case, it would be true to say that this will not be an issue once the DxO software is updated to support the Pentax KP.

Pentax cameras offer a lot of configurability of the output, and it’s therefore likely that the saturation compensation can be turned off or on as needed.

Overall, one can’t help but conclude that the KP is a huge advance over the K-70, a remarkable camera in its own right. And after initial reserve over the design of the camera, many now seem to be swayed by its rich features, performance and customisability.

Feel free to head over to Imaging Resource for more samples, or take a look at a comparison of the K-70 and Nikon D500 at ISO 102,400, or the post-processed ISO 800k result from a night-time Pentax KP out-of-camera JPEG. Alternatively, read my overall thoughts on the Pentax KP.

Pentax K-70 vs. Nikon D500: high ISO raw IQ

7 Feb

In trying to get a glimpse of how the Pentax KP might compete with the D500, I looked at test scene samples on DPReview. Keep in mind that the D500 retails at about three times the cost of the K-70, or a difference of 1300 to 1350 Eurodollars. That is, choosing the K-70, for the same budget, you could get at least four nice lenses, two great lenses, or one truly stellar lens in addition to the camera – or three bodies instead of one. Or two bodies and two nice lenses.

So is that price difference reflected in the raw output? Are images from the D500 three times as good? Let’s take a look:

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The K-70 has slightly higher resolution – 24 megapixels rather than 20. Differences in pixel dimensions are difficult to compensate for in image quality comparisons. However, I think we can see that at sensitivities of ISO 51200 and 102400, chroma noise is very similar. It seems finer grained and less luminous in the Pentax, but the D500 looks like it has had more sharpening and contrast applied to it – hard to say if this was in-camera and, if not, owed to the default settings of Adobe Camera Raw, which DPR use to generate the above “raw” views.

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Time and again, I found the image quality to be very similar, and I could not decide which camera I would prefer on that basis. Having said that, a camera is more than its image quality, and the D500’s buffer depth, to name just one aspect, far exceeds that of the K-70, but this is useful in a narrow range of shooting situations, primarily in wildlife and sports. Both cameras may be outdated in two years, and there’s no obvious reason to expect the depreciation on the D500 to be less than three times that experienced in choosing the K-70. So to continue our budget thinking, you could pick up a K-70 and two nice lenses now, and save the rest for an upgrade to the next mid-level camera from Pentax in 2019, all for the price of one D500 and a kit lens. If you’re anything but a pro who absolutely needs the capabilities of the D500 for sports or wildlife, or a wealthy amateur, that reasoning is hard to argue with.

By the way, if you’re worried about the disk space raw images will take, the 24 megapixel image from the K-70 was the same size at ISO 104200 as the D500 (20 megapixels), and slightly smaller at ISO 51,200, in spite of having the same bit depth (14 bits). At lower ISOs, the K-70 files are consistently about 20-25% smaller. So if you prefer resolution over other considerations, the K-70 has a slight edge without obvious disadvantages.

For an additional test, I passed both images through DxO’s PRIME noise reduction engine (click through for 1:1 view):

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As before, the Nikon image has more contrast and looks more graded; in terms of noise and detail, after DxO PRIME treatment, both images have edge artefacts at this ISO. It is no surprise that the Pentax retains more detail in black and white areas. In textured areas, the winner is less obvious, and the Pentax image has grainier noise and shows the DxO artefacts more strongly.

Finally, comparing a pixel shift Pentax image with a normal Nikon capture, controlled for total exposure, shows no clear advantage, either:

screen-shot-2017-02-07-at-09-24-50

The pixel shift image shows more detail as expected, but having, in the interest of a fair comparison, controlled for total exposure and thus compared Pentax at ISO 102400 to Nikon at 25600, the Nikon shows less noise.

In conclusion, at a technical level we can say that the Nikon D500’s slightly greater resistance to noise justifies its slightly lower resolving power, at 20 megapixels rather than the now ubiquitous 24 megapixels. However, justifying the price differential is an entirely different exercise, and the Pentax K-70 looks an extremely strong challenger. The Pentax KP is expected to build on the low light capabilities of the K-70 and exceed it, and at little over half the price of the Nikon, adds another strong option for the budget-conscious.

Strikingly, having compared the K-70 to Nikon’s other recent APS-C releases, it is obvious that the D500 is currently the only Nikon APS-C camera that’s still competitive with Pentax on image quality, other Nikons having been left in the dust.

And the successor of the Pentax K-3 II is only months away, with an announcement date around September, and will challenge the D500 on a broader set of features, including buffer depth.

Update: I added a comparison of the Pentax KP and K-70 at high ISO.

Did DigitalRev TV foreshadow the KP?

6 Feb

I may have more to say on what’s recently happened to DigitalRev TV on another occasion, but here’s a soundbite from Kai in May 2011, a good five and a half years prior to the announcement of the Pentax KP:

I think if they made something which looked kind of retro and cool, that would be really good. I think I’m jizzing my pants if they made this kind of a silver and black, made it look a bit like your OM-1, that would be great.

That’s a reference to Lok’s father’s OM-1, which Lok showed off in the preceding segment of the video. In a mock charity donation video for Pentax, Kai’s presumably scripted voice-over continues:

help Pentax be a pioneer again … help them think different and create a create a retro cool DSLR that will make the world a better photographic place

They added this photoshopped image:

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And this is what Pentax came out with:

05_kp_black_2040

And here is an actual OM-1:

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Released under CC-BY-2.0 license by Flickr user E Magnuson

Design similarities:

  • Pyramid prism housing, rather than various other shapes used by Pentax over the years
  • Protruding strap attachment points (rather than recessed as used on Pentax’ mid-range models); Ricoh left off the triangular piece for the photo, but it is usually included in the box
  • Control elements on the front and top plate in almost exactly the same places

Oh, and it comes in silver, with all the same parts in silver that would be so on a traditional SLR like the OM-1:

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Well, what do you make of it? Coincidence? Inevitability? Inspiration?

And would this have been a better design to release in February 2012, less than a year after DRtv’s video, instead of the K-01?

Image

ISO 800,000 sample from Pentax KP

30 Jan

Above is an ISO 819,200 shot from Ricoh’s promotional materials for the Pentax KP, with light post processing from JPEG applied by the breakfastographer. Click on the image to enlarge to full size. The original file can be found here.

Update 11/02/2017:

Also check out this comparison of high ISO noise in the Pentax KP and K-70.

Pentax KP, affordable DSLR for low light

28 Jan

Ricoh just took the wraps off the Pentax KP, a rather compact magnesium alloy body DSLR with a 5-stop, 5 axis stabilisation system and ISO 819,200. The body is not particularly beautiful, but inside it waits a noise reduction co-processor that, by first appearances, rivals DxO’s PRIME software, but acts instantaneously. (If you’ve used DxO’s engine, you’ll know what I’m talking about.)

05_kp_black_2040

The Pentax KP
(Source: Ricoh promotional materials)

Technical expose:High ISO images are noisier on average than low ISO ones. The noise cannot be neatly compressed, increases file size and slows down the process of writing files to storage (SD card in most cases). This can affect frame rates. In order to keep the frame rate up, Pentax used to apply noise reduction in RAW from ISO 3200 (several models including at least the K-5, K-5 II, K-5 IIs, K-30 and K-50). This was not configurable and led to mushy images that did not respond well to further noise reduction using other methods. So the way to work with these cameras was to underexpose ISO 1600 by up to three stops, depending on your need – not the best idea if you want to maximise colour tonality, but it got the job done.

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Where the magic happens:
the accelerator unit.
(Source: Ricoh promotional materials)

But from samples I’ve seen, the new co-processor, dubbed in the latest press release a “state-of-the-art accelerator unit”, renders such concerns obsolete. In the samples, ISO 6400 looks rather clean, and I’m curious to take a closer look at ISO 12,800. Several in the Pentax community have commented that they might delay their entry into full frame based on this camera’s performance, so the pressure is on for Pentax to bring the accelerator unit and high ISO performance to an updated K-1 full frame camera.

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Pure edge detection
in Live View
(Source: Ricoh promotional materials)

Launch price for the Pentax KP is going to be 1100 Euros/Dollars; the Pentax K-70 with similar performance up to ISO 102,400 (also has accelerator unit) is about 400 Euros/Dollars cheaper.

08_kp_silver_2040

Display articulation
(Source: Ricoh promotional materials)

Conclusion: The Pentax KP’s combination of five stops of stabilisation with state-of-the-art in-camera noise reduction will save you money on bodies, lenses, and software, as Pentax leapfrogs the competition. Bring on the night!

PS: Check out the separately posted ISO 819,200 sample image to see what it can do!

PPS: Also check out this comparison of ISO 102,400 after noise reduction in the KP and K-70.

Low light photography? Affordable? Look no further!

27 Jan

Ricoh just took the wraps off the Pentax KP, a rather compact magnesium alloy body DSLR with a 5-stop, 5 axis stabilisation system and ISO 819,200. The body is not particularly beautiful, but inside it waits a noise reduction co-processor that, by first appearances, rivals DxO’s PRIME software, but acts instantaneously. (If you’ve used DxO’s engine, you’ll know what I’m talking about.)

05_kp_black_2040

The Pentax KP
(Source: Ricoh promotional materials)

Technical expose:High ISO images are noisier on average than low ISO ones. The noise cannot be neatly compressed, increases file size and slows down the process of writing files to storage (SD card in most cases). This can affect frame rates. In order to keep the frame rate up, Pentax used to apply noise reduction in RAW from ISO 3200 (several models including at least the K-5, K-5 II, K-5 IIs, K-30 and K-50). This was not configurable and led to mushy images that did not respond well to further noise reduction using other methods. So the way to work with these cameras was to underexpose ISO 1600 by up to three stops, depending on your need – not the best idea if you want to maximise colour tonality, but it got the job done.

screen-shot-2017-01-27-at-12-32-51

Where the magic happens:
the accelerator unit.
(Source: Ricoh promotional materials)

But from samples I’ve seen, the new co-processor, dubbed in the latest press release a “state-of-the-art accelerator unit”, renders such concerns obsolete. In the samples, ISO 6400 looks rather clean, and I’m curious to take a closer look at ISO 12,800. Several in the Pentax community have commented that they might delay their entry into full frame based on this camera’s performance, so the pressure is on for Pentax to bring the accelerator unit and high ISO performance to an updated K-1 full frame camera.

screen-shot-2017-01-27-at-12-37-31

Pure edge detection
in Live View
(Source: Ricoh promotional materials)

Launch price for the Pentax KP is going to be 1100 Euros/Dollars; the Pentax K-70 with similar performance up to ISO 102,400 (also has accelerator unit) is about 400 Euros/Dollars cheaper.

08_kp_silver_2040

Display articulation
(Source: Ricoh promotional materials)

Conclusion: The Pentax KP’s combination of five stops of stabilisation with state-of-the-art in-camera noise reduction will save you money on bodies, lenses, and software, as Pentax leapfrogs the competition. Bring on the night!

PS: Check out the separately posted ISO 819,200 sample image to see what it can do!