Limit of DR in the K3

Started May 27, 2014 | Discussions thread
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Limit of DR in the K3
May 27, 2014

I use both K3 and K5 bodies for wildlife photography in New Zealand - which means birds are the main target as they make up the bulk of the indigenous fauna. Main lens is an elderly Sigma 170-500 usually at full zoom. Sometimes a Sigma 70-200 2.8 if the quarry is within its reach.

I had an experience recently that demonstrated the limit of the K3s dynamic range when photographing our highly endangered Hihi (Stitchbird) at Zealandia wildlife sanctuary, Wellington. The sanctuary is protected from introduced mammalian predators by a predator-free fence.

A Hihi - a nectar feeder that supplements its diet with fruit of the bush was feeding in the canopy on Five-finger tree berries and though not close enough for a decent sized image in the viewfinder, I managed this image:

Full frame view   Sigma 170-500 1/500  f6.3  1250 ISO

You'll some of the problems straight away  - the skylight coming through the canopy has not illuminated the side facing the camera, the image lacks detail and the foliage has imparted a greenish overall hue.

Cropping and manipulating in Photoshop gave this image:

Same data as first image

The cropping and manipulation has emphasised noise in the feathers just above the dark plumage area. What was more noticeable though was that I failed to reveal any useful detail around the head. The eye, which is forward and slightly below the white stripe is not visible at all. Any further lightening of this area resulted in a semi-bleached black.

My experience with the K5 in such situations is that detail can usually be recovered from such canopy-shot images. That's not surprising as the DR of the K5 is 14 compared to the (little over) 12 of the K3.

The positive aspect is that because of the K3's far better AF ability in poor light,, the Sigma did focus quickly and well, allowing me to get a useful image for showing the Hihi's foraging behaviour. The K5 would have struggled to achieve focus before the quick-moving Hihi moved on.

 donla's gear list:donla's gear list
Pentax K-5 Pentax K-3 Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG Macro HSM II Pentax smc DA 17-70mm F4.0 AL (IF) SDM +5 more
Pentax K-5
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