Tag Archives: technology

Long-awaited Pentax lens a Tokina clone?

28 Feb

There is currently an ongoing discussion among Pentaxians as to whether these upcoming 50mm f/1.4 prime lenses are really one and the same on the inside – the Tokina:

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And the Pentax:

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The Tokina will ship in summer 2018, while the Pentax, originally announced for September 2017, was pushed back to September 2018, so their release dates will also be close.

For context and comparison, here are the recent Sigma and Zeiss lenses with the same specs:

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What do you think? Let the rest of us know in the comments!

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Pentax’ new full frame DSLR is $550 – if you bought the previous one

22 Feb

So Ricoh* have let their secret plan out of the bag – build a DSLR that can massively undercut the competition’s upgrade cost by being upgradeable. The deal they offer, anticipated to be announced for all regions where Pentax has retailers, is to send your Pentax K-1 (Mk. I) camera in to their workshops, and get the latest hardware added and your camera sent back. No statement has been made on whether the same upgrade policy can or will be applied to future camera releases from Pentax/Ricoh.

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In what some people are calling a US $50 upgrade due to the price difference currently seen in some markets between the Pentax K-1 and Pentax K-1 II, the cameras will be fitted with a new main board that has an additional “Accelerator Unit” chip that improves noise performance by approximately 1 stop. Additionally, upgraded cameras will be capable of producing hand-held pixel shift images rather than requiring a tripod to use this feature.

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Due to the added noise control by way of the Accelerator Unit, the highest available sensitivity has been increased to ISO 819,200 – I previously reviewed this high ISO using samples for the Pentax KP.

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Imaging-Resource has dubbed the K-1 II the “first upgradeable DSLR”. How do you think the competition will respond to this new business model? Leave a comment!

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All images in this article are assumed to be promotional images from Ricoh.

* Ricoh is the Japanese multi-national company that bought and merged with Pentax and now maintains “Pentax” as a brand name for higher end cameras, including all DSLRs. Ricoh was in the recent past mostly known for selling office supplies, but has also sold cameras since the 1950s.

End of life for Denoise Projects, and special offer

18 Jul

The imaging software industry is in motion. While companies like Serif (makers of Affinity-branded software) and Macphun are making a dash from the Mac to the Windows platform, and following Google’s recent abandonment of the Google Nik Collection of plug-in and stand-alone applications for tasks such as black and white conversion, colour adjustment, film simulation, sharpening and denoising, another applicant for this market is now showing signs of slowing down.

Like Google, Macphun and others, German publishing house Franzis also develops a variety of tools in its “Projects” series for the above tasks, each usually sold separately. Among them are tools for HDR and focus stacking, and Franzis also develops and sells other imaging software not branded as “Projects”, and is the German distributor of Silkypix raw processing software.

Franzis has now announced discontinuing Denoise Projects Professional, a specialised program and plug-in for removing digital image noise. It is unclear if other discontinuations will follow.

According to the publisher, Denoise Projects automatically detects and removes “all” seven types of noise. Other Franzis Projects products work with a high floating point bitrate, and the tech specs for Denoise Projects imply that it requires 32 bit GPU acceleration, while the FAQ mentions it can save 32 bit TIFF. It was not explicitly stated whether 32 bit floating point processing is used internally.

Those interested can find a 70% off offer here.

Nikon is launching a full frame mirrorless

14 Jul

Nikon confirmed they are working on a mirrorless camera. While sometimes news have been blown out of proportion in the photo industry in the past, it seems likely in this case that they really mean they’re working on a new camera system. Nikon is not a company to throw up clickbait.

So how do I know the camera they’re working on is full frame? They said the camera would be Nikon-rashii, or Nikonish. Nikon has never made a medium format camera, so we can safely exclude that. Nikon is now best remembered for the F series, which dominated journalism for a decade or two.

But this is not about reliving the past. This is about competing in the current market. How many mirrorless systems are competing for the APS-C space? Mainly three – Fujifilm, Sony, and old rival Canon. How many are competing for full frame? Really only one – Sony. Nikon knows that there are things it can do better than Sony, ways to compete with Sony. When push comes to shove, maybe Sony won’t give them the sensors they want – maybe they’ll have to turn to Toshiba or Renesas. But for a company with Nikon’s heritage and customer relations, it would be way better to start in the full frame category and gain a following among professional photographers before Sony can fully convince them, than to try to mud-sling it out with Canon in the well-scoured APS-C swamp.

$700 less: Nikon D7500 is specced-down D500

12 Apr

For 700 Dollars less than a D500, Nikon has introduced the D7500 without the advanced autofocus module and additional card slot. However, microfocus adjustment using Live View is available. The maximum continuous shooting rate is 8 frames per second, and buffer depth is a reported 50 raw files, with no information on RAW+ buffer depth or buffer clearing times. (A fast-clearing buffer is better than a deep one!)

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The Nikon D7500 (Nikon promotional image)

At 20 megapixels, the D7500’s resolution is down from the D7200’s 24 megapixels, and instead matches the D500. Nikon claims that weather sealing has been improved. The body is also a little less beefy than the D500, and very similar in size to the D7200, although small design changes have been made:

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Size comparison with related models

To get an impression of the image quality to be expected, take a look at my previous articles:

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):

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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.

Sigma brings back the moiré

3 Feb

I believe I’ve written on this subject before. DPReview just exclusively announced the results of DxOMark testing of the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 “Art” lens, announcing it to have achieved a perfect 36 “perceptual megapixels” on the Nikon D810’s 36 megapixel sensor. It therefore sort-of-ties with the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 macro lens, which achieved 42 perceptual megapixels on a 42 megapixel sensor.

Discussion immediately broke out on whether the Zeiss Otus 85/1.4 or Nikon 105/1.4 provided nicer bokeh and whether this was, in fact, more important than sharpness. The Zeiss, in particular, is almost tied with the Sigma for sharpness, and like it excels in many other technically measurable characteristics. The Nikon may be half a step behind, and in fact has a focal length of 94.8mm vs. the Sigma’s 79.9mm, so is more comparable than it sounds at first.

But back to my original point, which is the following:

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Excerpt from DPReview sample image no. 30, of the Sigma 85mm samples.

That’s right, moiré. It is a physical certainty that if the sensor has no anti-aliasing filter on it, and the lens outresolves the sensor, you will see moiré on certain subjects (you can find technical details of moiré and aliasing on the Wikipedia pages, moiré pattern and Nyquist frequency). Many manufacturers have dropped the anti-aliasing filter to squeeze more resolution out of their images and as a small cost-saving, or installed a second filter that cancels the first (slight cost increase). Wisely, Canon added the 5Ds without the R to their line-up, which cuts back on moiré much better than the 5Ds R.

In Nikonland, it seems the highest resolving lenses and highest resolving sensors do not make a good pair. That being so, should we buy high resolution cameras at all, and what other choices do we have? Both the Nikon D600 and D610 have weak AA filters (link in Polish) – a bad idea for a lower-resovling camera as the range of lenses that outresolve it will be greater.

Pentax now releases its cameras with an AA filter that works up to shutter speeds of 1/1000s – presumably adequate for most portrait work, and hopeful that anything you’ll want to shoot above that shutter speed will be moving so fast that aliasing is not likely.

In spite of this, Pentax remains, as of this writing, a stalwart of compact lenses that value bokeh over resolution – partly, perhaps, owing to the fact that some of its lenses have been available for quite some time.

It’s well known that Tamron and Pentax have been sitting in a tree lately, and so it is fitting that Tamron somewhat recently launched a line of f/1.8 primes – more compact than the competition’s f/1.4 standard. DxOMark allows comparing Tamron’s 85mm lens with Zeiss’ Otus and Milvus, for instance, and there’s hardly a hair between them. Most surprising perhaps is the performance of the Milvus at less than half the price of the Otus.

Incidentally, while the three aforementioned lenses max out the D800E’s sensor at 36 perceptual megapixels, Sony’s new Gold Master 85mm lens reaches no more than the same value – 36 P-Mpix on an AA-filterless 42 megapixel sensor.

It’s worth asking therefore whether the trend for the second half of this decade is going to continue with lenses increasing in size, resolving power, and price, as exemplified by the Art and Otus, or a reconsideration of traditional values.* If the former, I hope consumers will be asking for strong anti-aliasing filters, and that camera makers, in spite of mobile phone cameras nipping at their heels, will grant that gift.

*An opportunity, perhaps, for Chinese lens makers trying to push into the market.

Update 7 February 2017: For differences between the Art and Otus, check out Roger Cicala’s blog post.