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Noise and Noise Reduction (JPEG)

This is our standard studio scene comparison shot taken from exactly the same tripod position. Lighting: daylight simulation, >98% CRI. Crops are 100%. Ambient temperature was approximately 22°C (~72°F).

Note: this page features our new interactive noise comparison widget. By default, we show you the default noise reduction settings of the camera tested, and three other models of the same class. You can select from all available NR options, and from other cameras. The 'tricolor' patches beneath the familiar gray/black/portrait images are taken from the same test chart, and show how noise impacts upon blue, green and red areas of a scene.

ISO range noise comparison

The Pentax K-01 offers four noise reduction settings - Off, Low, Medium, High, plus Auto and Custom modes. Auto is the default setting, whice calculates and applies an 'optimized' amount of noise reduction at each ISO step. The Low, Medium and High settings apply a constant level of noise reduction across the ISO range, and in Custom mode the noise reduction setting can be defined by the user for each sensitivity setting (so you could choose 'Off' at low ISOs, 'Medium' for moderate ISOs and 'High' for ISO 12,800, for example).

The Pentax K-01's noise reduction does a remarkably good job and is pretty much on par with the best of its APS-C competition. At default settings the Pentax keeps a good balance between noise reduction and retention of fine detail up to very high ISO levels. At ISO 1600, which only a few years ago was the maximum ISO setting on many DSLRs, you can view the K-01's output at very large magnifications without noticing any noise or detail blurring, and even at 6400 noise doesn't get too intrusive in even letter-sized prints.

Raw noise (ACR 6.7, noise reduction set to zero)

Here we look at the RAW files processed through Adobe Camera Raw (in this case version 6.7). Images are brightness matched and processed with all noise reduction options set to zero. Adobe does a degree of noise reduction even when the user-controlled NR is turned off.

The amount of NR applied 'under the hood' is not high, but it does vary by camera (Adobe is attempting to normalize output across different sensors), so inevitably we are still looking at a balance of noise and noise reduction, rather than pure noise levels. However, the use of the most popular third-party RAW converter is intended to give a photographically relevant result, rather than simply comparing sensor performance in an abstract manner.

There are minor signs of noise even at the lowest sensitivity settings (remember these samples have noise reduction turned down to zero in ACR) but from ISO 400 upwards it becomes evident that the Pentax K-01 output is cleaner than some of the competition in this class, and essentially a match for its (excellent) DSLR stablemate the K-5. Some noise reduction is applied to Raw files at the K-01's top ISO sensitivities, regardless of how you have high ISO noise reduction set in the menu system, but the effect is subtle, and does not appear to have a significant impact on detail reproduction.

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Comments

Total comments: 6
dagobah

Too bad this camera was considered a flop. I feel it was very misunderstood. Personally, I have been happy with mine for thousands of images. It makes me shoot in a way that's quite different than looking through a viewfiender, and for landscapes I've found it's been incredible for composition. Good for street photography, too. Looking at the LCD is much less conspicuous than looking through a viewfinder. It is not good for anything fast (e.g. sports). Anyway, mine has been great for travel. It fits into a tiny bag with the 40mm XS, so that allows me to fit an extra lens in my carryon compared to a DSLR.

Comment edited 22 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
intruder61

It was a success in Asia, where it mattered.

0 upvotes
dagobah

I didn't realize that. Unfortunately, the K-01 was discontinued rather quickly so the Asian market seems to have not been enough.

Comment edited 11 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
RichRMA

The K-01 like every other camera pretty much has/had to make in the American market and the European market to succeed. You don't brush-off the biggest markets on Earth. Having said that, I've owned and used one for some time, because I just like the style and the simplicity and the relatively noiseless sensor.

0 upvotes
Ken Kemble

Sharing the same (long-life) lithium battery as the K3 and K5 makes the K-01 a perfect backup camera; especially with the Pentax DA 70mm f2,4

The appeal of Pentax centred on their HD DA lens range like the Pentax 20~40mm f2,8 zoom which is in a class of its own and reasonable value.

RICOH Pentax...a company that continues to surprise!

0 upvotes
OnTheWeb

Forgot to mention DXOMark rates this camera/sensor and sports performance nearly top of its class of hybrid cameras.

5 upvotes
Total comments: 6