K-3 high-ISO test shots — FANTASTIC!

Started 5 months ago | Discussions thread
ragmanjin
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Re: K-3 high-ISO test shots — FANTASTIC!
In reply to candgpics, 5 months ago

candgpics wrote:

Hi.

These high ISOs are excellent, even when viewed on a decent size monitor at 100% (or 100% of the uploaded DPREVIEW image).

I briefly had the K3. I purchased it new and it arrived clearly having been used. The white lens/camera cap was missing and the camera’s settings had been adjusted and the plastic appeared to have been handled a bit. I was a bit taken aback that the white cap was missing, but I tried the camera and thought about keeping t. I took a bit less than 100 pictures and still have them. All shot RAW. Ultimately, I returned the K3.

I have a K5 and two K5II bodies, plus several good lenses (all FA Lmtds and a few DA*).

I found the K3 to be superior (or at least sharper) at ISO 100 and 200, but at 400 noise started to creep in, though, image quality was still arguably bit better than my other Pentax bodies. By ISO 800 the image quality was about even given real world viewing/printing.

Above ISO 800 the K5/K5ii image quality was better and cleaner, had more depth to the shadows, and I preferred the rendering (the K3 I found to be a bit on the cool/blue side—but that was correctable in post).

I use Photoshop CS6 and have a copy of DXO 9.1. I used the Prime NR on a K3 image and compared it to the same image run through ACR and I preferred the ACR. Admittedly, my sampling of DXO with the K3 was limited, though, I still have the K3 images and may experiment a bit more with DXO.

In any event, though I was concerned that the K3 I received might have been returned due to poor image quality, I found overall image quality and the mid and upper level ISOs to be consistent with most of the reports I have seen online. I also found there to be more color noise in the K3 images than with the K5/K5ii. And, the better shadow detail in the K5/K5ii was noticeable, especially as the ISO went up.

Mid and upper level ISOs are important to me since I regularly shoot in these ranges (500-3200) shooting indoor sporting events and of musicians playing locally and print up to 16x20 on a regular basis (occasionally larger). I tend to post process a lot so a bit of noise does not bother me and often adds to the look I use for my images, but the K3 seemed noisier than I had hoped.

I have seen, however, a few notable individuals post very impressive high ISO images that have retained significant detail despite the high ISO and noise reduction.

Of course, the high ISO images might have been the best of the bunch, perfectly exposed, under low but even lighting, and the subject of the picture may have been just perfect. Nonetheless, I have seen several high ISO images that appear to exceed what the general consensus had seemed to be (overall improvements in handling, speed, ergonomics, and improved sharpness at lower ISOs, but inferior high ISO images and some noticeable loss of shadow detail).

Am I missing something?

Thank you in advance for your comments.

At times I'm finding the images look best if you shoot a stop higher ISO than you think you need, so that you can expose as close to the right of the histogram as possible without clipping any necessary highlights. When you have to pull up shadows, that's really when things start to look pretty splotchy, but even Lightroom allows certain types of selective noise reduction via brush layers and selective colour saturation sliders and all that.

An example from my Canon days, sometimes I would have greenish or magenta clouds of noise in high-ISO photos but no green or magenta subject or content, so desaturating those two colours a little would make a huge improvement to the look of the photos without doing any real harm to anything.

Processing and NR is always a bit of a balancing act, but it's been so much quicker and simpler with the K-3 than with pretty much any other camera I've owned or worked with. The photos I've posted here basically used only the Luminance and Colour noise sliders for NR, I didn't even have to get into the brushes or tricks I would have needed with my other bodies. A large part of that is just knowing the camera, doing your own testing and finding how to expose each shot for how your camera best handles its ISO ranges.

I hope that helps, or at least partially answers your question.

-Raj

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