Another high ISO myth broken!

Started Dec 26, 2009 | Discussions
tigrebleu Senior Member • Posts: 2,060
Another high ISO myth broken!

The review of the Pentax K-x shows that the high ISO race is no longer an affair between the big two DSLR manufacturers. It's now a race between three APS-C DSLRs brands!

(IMHO Sony still needs to tame its chroma noise and reduce its noise reduction before it can compete with Canon and Nikon, and both Sigma, Panasonic and Olympus have smaller sensors that put them at a disavantage in the noise departement).

Of course, all this is when comparing the JPEG files. RAW noise is another issue altogether, since it depends on the RAW converter's noise reduction performance.

I think Pentax can be proud of its latest DSLRs. Not only are they now on the same level with similary priced products from competitors in terms of IQ, but in the case of the K-x, it's even a bit in advance!

Sure, this high ISO race is not over.

The next APS-C DSLR that will be released next will probably surpass the K-x in terms high ISO performance (it will be on par at the very least, I guess), whichever brand it is from.

But to see a Pentax DSLR actually do better than a Nikon and Canon DSLR at high ISO is good news for Pentax. Now nobody will be able to claim that Pentax is inferior to other manufacturers, and this will certainly help a bit establish Pentax as a leading brand in terms of image quality.

It's also good news for Canon and Nikon users: more competition from Pentax means more improvements from Canon and Nikon, and all of us will benefit from these innovations in the end.

The DSLR market needs fair and healthy competition, not a two players monopoly. Olympus and Panasonic also have excellent offering with their MicroFourThird systems, and this makes the market even more interesting and active. With Sony lowering prices on their FF sensors, the situation is almost perfect, although it is often financially difficult for all players involved.

I think Pentax is on the right path with its latest DSLRs, the K-m, K-7 and K-x.

Kudos!

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ilya80 Regular Member • Posts: 409
Re: Another high ISO myth broken!

tigrebleu wrote:

The DSLR market needs fair and healthy competition, not a two players monopoly.

Thats for sure. Competition is good for everyone.

(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 9,509
more to it than that

tigrebleu wrote:

The review of the Pentax K-x shows that the high ISO race is no longer an affair between the big two DSLR manufacturers. It's now a race between three APS-C DSLRs brands!

(IMHO Sony still needs to tame its chroma noise and reduce its noise reduction before it can compete with Canon and Nikon, and both Sigma, Panasonic and Olympus have smaller sensors that put them at a disavantage in the noise departement).

Of course, all this is when comparing the JPEG files. RAW noise is another issue altogether, since it depends on the RAW converter's noise reduction performance.

I think Pentax can be proud of its latest DSLRs. Not only are they now on the same level with similary priced products from competitors in terms of IQ, but in the case of the K-x, it's even a bit in advance!

Sure, this high ISO race is not over.

The next APS-C DSLR that will be released next will probably surpass the K-x in terms high ISO performance (it will be on par at the very least, I guess), whichever brand it is from.

But to see a Pentax DSLR actually do better than a Nikon and Canon DSLR at high ISO is good news for Pentax. Now nobody will be able to claim that Pentax is inferior to other manufacturers, and this will certainly help a bit establish Pentax as a leading brand in terms of image quality.

It's also good news for Canon and Nikon users: more competition from Pentax means more improvements from Canon and Nikon, and all of us will benefit from these innovations in the end.

The DSLR market needs fair and healthy competition, not a two players monopoly. Olympus and Panasonic also have excellent offering with their MicroFourThird systems, and this makes the market even more interesting and active. With Sony lowering prices on their FF sensors, the situation is almost perfect, although it is often financially difficult for all players involved.

I think Pentax is on the right path with its latest DSLRs, the K-m, K-7 and K-x.

Kudos!

Hi

Some Pentaxes have always done well at high iso...and as well as the nikon (better in my opinion...eg K100d vs d40) and that is because they have pretty much used the same or similar Sony sensors as Nikon....even the crappy at high iso 10mp ccd ones. EDIT and while Pentax had the award winning K10d alongside the D80, Nikon had camera that did high iso better that were higher end....that still applies but the K-x is so good that people who would otherwise not get an entry level camera are happy to get one....as are users of other brands who are getting one just for fun.

The thing is (in my opinion) that this is the first Pentax camera that ticks ALL the boxes for a lot of non Pentax users. I think the K-7 does too but it could be better for ME with the K-x sensor.

Auto focus, frames per second AND high iso....all the previous Pentaxes that used the same sensors have been missing one at least frames per second and in the eyes of others, the NON Sony sensor cameras have not been as good at high iso.

When they put the K-x sensor or better in a K-7 and alongside the existing one maybe (dreaming about BOTH interchangeable...but I could not afford THAT), that will be when Pentax has a real win ...and if it is at the same time as the medium format comes out.....it will probably be time to sell up as there will not be enough legacy lenses to go around.

neil
http://www.flickr.com/photos/26884588@N00/

jamesm007 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,663
Re: Another high ISO myth broken!

Well written. Just a IMHO to add.

When the K20D came out it had one of the finest APS sensors available. Now long after we know the truth; and for a double blow although highly capable Samsung did not follow through with the K-7 sensor in the areas most consumers want. We need Samsung in the mix, its not good to have only Sony providing sensors for Nikon, Pentax and itself. I personally believe we will see a much more refined and competitive sensor for the successor to the K-7 and it will be made by Samsung (call me optimist) again. I don't think I need to write how we would benefit from a 3rd sensor player. And that would also be perfect the dSLR and camera market will be complete with just enough (I hope) profits for all. I don't want any manufacturer to drop out...
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KingDon Senior Member • Posts: 1,132
Re: Another high ISO myth broken!

jamesm007 wrote:

Well written. Just a IMHO to add.

We need Samsung in the mix, its not good to have only Sony providing sensors for Nikon, Pentax and itself. I personally believe we will see a much more refined and competitive sensor for the successor to the K-7 and it will be made by Samsung (call me optimist)

There was patent by Sony for a new kind of sensor two weeks ago

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2009/0303371.html

When will see this sensor? A700 replacement? 12 MP sensor was first used in A700 two years ago.

Tuputam Contributing Member • Posts: 795
Re: Another high ISO myth broken!

tigrebleu wrote:

(IMHO Sony still needs to tame its chroma noise and reduce its noise reduction before it can compete with Canon and Nikon, and both Sigma, Panasonic and Olympus have smaller sensors that put them at a disavantage in the noise departement).

Can you point out how D300s defualt jpeg at ISO 6400 is better than Sony at ISO 6400? The first one is D300s

D300s

A550

beakydave Senior Member • Posts: 2,140
Re: Another high ISO myth broken!

Tuputam wrote:

Can you point out how D300s defualt jpeg at ISO 6400 is better than Sony at ISO 6400? The first one is D300s

Depends on your definition of 'better'. In some respects the Nikon looks better to me, in other respects the Sony looks better.

Tuputam Contributing Member • Posts: 795
Re: Another high ISO myth broken!

Tuputam wrote:

tigrebleu wrote:

(IMHO Sony still needs to tame its chroma noise and reduce its noise reduction before it can compete with Canon and Nikon, and both Sigma, Panasonic and Olympus have smaller sensors that put them at a disavantage in the noise departement).

Can you point out how D300s defualt jpeg at ISO 6400 is better than Sony at ISO 6400? The first one is D300s

I see OP didn't respond. It’s not just only "a three-way" race. Good High ISO jpegs on Sony's new models isn't that behind Nikon and Canon, if at all.

beakydave Senior Member • Posts: 2,140
Re: Another high ISO myth broken!

Tuputam wrote:

I see OP didn't respond.

No, but I did. Shame you didn't see it

OP tigrebleu Senior Member • Posts: 2,060
Re: Another high ISO myth broken!

jamesm007 wrote:

Well written. Just a IMHO to add.

When the K20D came out it had one of the finest APS sensors available. Now long after we know the truth; and for a double blow although highly capable Samsung did not follow through with the K-7 sensor in the areas most consumers want.

Agreed. The only problem with the K20D was the banding that was found on a few samples. But the 14.6 Mpix CMOS Samsung sensor did pretty much as good as the Sony 12 Mpix CMOS, despite a higher photosite count. When the Nikon D300 came in, it took back the lead, thanks to a very fine approach to noise reduction (remove more chroma noise, keep more luminance noise), which was a bit better to the Pentax approach, at least regarding my own taste (too much chroma noise on the K20D IMHO).

The K20D had it all to be a successful DSLR and it was a very decent seller.

But the D300 became such a success that it made similar models (specs-wise), such as the K20D and EOS 50D, look like they were lagging behind (!). Of course, the difference was slim on IQ, but with its weather-proofing, high fps burst and 51-area AF, the D300 was just a pro-spec DSLR in a world of semi-pro products. Since then, Canon responded with the EOS 7D — it was about time Canon had a sub 5000$ body with rugged weather seals (the EOS 5DMkII has pretty good seals, but they're nowhere near the 7D in terms of dust and rain protection).

So while the K20D was an excellent and top-of-the-line DSLR in its price category, it was just released on the market at a bad time (price drop on Canon 40D and 50D products, D300 release, etc.), so it didn't became the success story it should have been. On the other hand, the K-7 and the K-x look like they're doing very good so far, despite the fact that the K-7 has a slightly inferior sensor to the K20D, in terms of high ISO performance.

I shoot RAW and while ISO 1600 is excellent on my K-7 (better than on my K10D!), ISO 3200 is doing very good but just, and ISO 6400 is just awful (like most APS-C DSLRs, for that matter). The K-x seems to be very good at ISO 6400.

I'd trade the higher fps and (not excellent) video of my K-7 for the high ISO performance of the K-x sensor anytime. But I couldn't live without the weather seals and the battery grip, so the K-7 suits my needs best.

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OP tigrebleu Senior Member • Posts: 2,060
Re: Another high ISO myth broken!

Tuputam wrote:

tigrebleu wrote:

(IMHO Sony still needs to tame its chroma noise and reduce its noise reduction before it can compete with Canon and Nikon, and both Sigma, Panasonic and Olympus have smaller sensors that put them at a disavantage in the noise departement).

Can you point out how D300s defualt jpeg at ISO 6400 is better than Sony at ISO 6400? The first one is D300s

You got a point! I was talking about the Sony products in general, but the A550 is doing excellent indeed.

But look a the A380 vs. the D5000, and you'll see what I mean.

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sonydslra380/page14.asp

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Tuputam Contributing Member • Posts: 795
Re: Another high ISO myth broken!

tigrebleu

Agreed. The only problem with the K20D was the banding that was found on a few samples. But the 14.6 Mpix CMOS Samsung sensor did pretty much as good as the Sony 12 Mpix CMOS, despite a higher photosite count. When the Nikon D300 came in, it took back the lead, thanks to a very fine approach to noise reduction (remove more chroma noise, keep more luminance noise), which was a bit better to the Pentax approh, at least regarding my own taste (too much chroma noise on the K20D IMHO).

How could have Nikon D300 taken back the lead? D300 is at least 6 months older than K20D. D300 was announced in August 2007, and A700 with the same sensor, in Sept 2007. K20 was anounced in January 2008. If D300 was the leader, it could not have taken back that lead from K20, given D300 is older.

The fact is that Sony's 12 Mpix CMOS was always better but Pentax users, like you, probably never admitted it till now when a Pentax DSLR has it too in Kx.

Tuputam Contributing Member • Posts: 795
Re: Another high ISO myth broken!

tigrebleu wrote:

You got a point! I was talking about the Sony products in general, but the A550 is doing excellent indeed.

But look a the A380 vs. the D5000, and you'll see what I mean.

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sonydslra380/page14.asp

A380 has a 14 MP CCD sensor that can't compete with CMOS at high ISO, but it's fine (probably better) at the base ISO. Having said that, yes Sony's jpegs were always behind Nikon (A700 vs D300, A900, A850), and A5xx probably still are (too much smearing especially in red color and not enough sharpening), but the difference now is minor.

Uluru Contributing Member • Posts: 749
High sensitivity behind the camera

Only thing Pentax needs now is to hope it has attracted people with a developed, high sensitivity for taking great images, and that they'll spend more time with their cameras.

95+% of images in film era were taken below ISO 1600 range and if my memory still serves me well, almost all Pentax cameras perform there exceptionally well.

In a way, who the heck cares if the sensor is this or that, go out, spend time with your friends and nature, and make some images worth remembering.

When it comes to nature, this may be our last look at Eden, so it's worth preserving at least a good memory of it.

Tom Reynolds Contributing Member • Posts: 584
Re: Another high ISO myth broken!

tigrebleu wrote:

Of course, all this is when comparing the JPEG files. RAW noise is another issue altogether, since it depends on the RAW converter's noise reduction performance.

I do not think this is quite correct. The job of a raw processing program is to demosaic raw data into full RGBG data pattern. Noise reduction is a separate step which may be done by this same program OR after in PS or other noise reduction programs. I do not think that some raw processing software is inherently better at noise reduction so that a comparison cannot be made such that we can only talk about JPEG files. All noise reduction makes a compromise to resolution. Most give you the choice as to how much compromise you want.

The relative performance of a sensor with respect to noise should also be determined for raw file output and this result is even more important than for JPEG. It is just more difficult and time consuming to make an unbiased comparison. It does not mean that it cannot be done.

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