Pentax Custom Image Guide: From Satobi to Harubeni

Picking the right color profile for the right scene

By bdery in Articles and Tips on May 19, 2023

Custom JPEG image presets, or color profiles, have been around for almost as long as digital cameras themselves.  Pentax calls their presets "Custom Image" modes: these allow you to apply extensive customization to the appearance of your photos (ranging from colors to contrast and everything in between). Such customization is not unique to Pentax, but rather offered in one way or another by all manufacturers.  You may have heard of "Film Simulation" from Fuji, "Picture Styles" from Canon (which offer fewer options than most), "Picture Controls" from Nikon, (also with fewer modes, normally 7), and "Creative Styles" from Sony.

Originally, these modes served mainly as a means to access some features such as turning images into black and white. In recent years, there has been a renewal of interest for presets, arguably spearheaded by Fuji’s Film Simulation modes. Cleverly, Fuji named their modes after legacy types of film, such as Velvia for Vivid or Astia for soft.

Custom Image modes are essentially presets for parameters such as contrast, saturation, sharpness, and color balance. Pentax’s modes have been rather generic and unchanging for many years. Recently, though, the company started adding new “Special Edition” Custom Image modes, and the latest Pentax models now support 5 different special modes. 

In the example above, you can see a comparison between the Satobi (designed for a muted look) and Harubeni (design to pop springtime colors) modes.  Do you see how different the two photos appear?

Why Use Custom Image?

Some users prefer to shoot RAW and to develop their images via post-processing. These will sometimes fine-tune each image individually, or apply presets via Lightroom or other programs. For those, Custom Image is of little interest, although Custom Image can be applied retroactively to a RAW file by using Pentax's Digital Camera Utility (or comparable software for other brands).

Others prefer to shoot directly with JPEGs. These users can greatly benefit from Custom Image modes, as they can be used creatively to achieve a specific effect. In other words, with a perfectly tuned Custom Image setting, the camera's internal JPEG output can turn out as good as a well-developed RAW file exported as a JPEG. There is no replacement for the granular control of a RAW file, nor the ability to retroactively tune individual files. On the other hand, for photographers interested in simplifying their workflow, using the right Custom Image can streamline the image development process and still produce pleasing results. The key is to use the Custom Image mode best suited for the scene and conditions.

It needs to be emphasized that, when shooting JPEGs, a Custom Image is always active. A JPEG is a processed file, the applied Custom Image determines how it is processed. In a way, the different manufacturers' Custom Image profiles put a unique spin on how their cameras render images.

Pentax HD D FA 100mm F2.8 ED AW Macro Review Posted

Modernized macro lens from Pentax

By bdery in Review Announcements on Mar 5, 2023

We are happy to present our review of the newly released Pentax HD D FA 100mm F2.8 ED AW Macro!

An updated version of the original SMC Macro lens released in 2009, this new HD version uses a mostly similar body, improved weather resistance, new coatings, and an updated optical formula which is supposed to improve chromatic aberration and purple fringing control, one of the main weaknesses of its predecessor.

This new lens still uses screw-drive AF but is supposed to be faster to lock focus. It can also make use of a virtual focus limiter, but only when used with the Pentax K-3 III camera body.

Is this new lens only an incremental improvement, or a revolution over its predecessor? In this review, we pit the two lenses side-by-side, taking the opportunity to completely update our SMC D FA 100mm Macro WR data, which only included APS-C information.

Read our review to find out what we thought of the new HD D FA 100mm AW Macro!

Review: LA-KE1 Monster Adapter to use Pentax lenses on Sony E-mount

By bdery in Review Announcements on Jan 23, 2023

Today we are happy to present our review of the LA-KE1 from Monster Adapter!

This adapter allows the use of Pentax K-mount lenses on mirrorless Sony E-mount cameras, while preserving autofocus, auto exposure, and proper EXIF recording. It uses the AF motor of the lens, and is currently the only product in the world to do so.

This adapter unlocks new possibilities for Pentax and Sony users alike, but is it any good?

Read our review to find out!

Nomatic / McKinnon Camera Bag Line review posted

By bdery in Review Announcements on Dec 28, 2022

Today we are happy to present our review of two camera bags!

Originating from a collaboration between bag maker Nomatic and photographer / youtuber Peter McKinnon, the Nomatic line of camera bags and accessories includes two full backpacks, a sling, a collapsible backpack, and several accessories.

In this review, we take a look at the Camera Pack 25L, an everyday backpack, and the Sling 8L, a smaller option for light carry.

Read on to find out what we think of these two bags!

Venus Laowa 20mm F4 Zero-D Shift Lens Review Posted

By bdery in Review Announcements on Nov 21, 2022

Today we are happy to present our in-depth review of the full-frame Laowa 20mm F4 Zero-D Shift lens from Venus Optics.

In addition to being a welcome new wide angle option for the K-mount, this lens is one of the few offering Shift capabilities. This rare feature moves the lens mechanically with regards to the camera sensor, helping to correct for perspective distortion and making it easier to stitch large panoramas.

Read on to find out what we thought of the Laowa 20mm F4 Zero-D Shift!

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