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09-19-2016, 08:42 AM   #1
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"Pixel Shift" Makes Cheaper Lenses As Good As Expensive Lenses (almost)

Over this last weekend I shot dozens and dozens of Pixel Shift (PS) images on my K1.

My sharpest lens is my Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art lens. When I shoot it on my K1 in non-PS mode, it's sharpness is heads above my other wide and normal lenses.

However, after comparing PS images of the Sigma 35mm Art to my many other wide and normal lenses (Pentax, Zeiss, Russian, etc.) I'm finding that I can hardly detect any sharpness difference between the Sigma Art and the other lenses. All PS images are insanely sharp, now the main visible differences are micro-contrast and color.

PS is sort of the great equalizer when it comes to sharpness. While it makes all lenses sharper, the improvement in sharpness is most noticeable and the greatest with lenses that are only "average to good".
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Another related topic... In non-PS mode, my Sigma 35mm Art is much sharper than my Zeiss ZK 35mm f/2 lens. But in the PS mode, their sharpness is just about equal. In the PS mode, the colors and micro-contrast produced by the Zeiss are improved much more than the Sigma's colors and micro-contrast are improved. I've now come to believe that the Sigma 35mm Art is the better lens in the non-PS mode, but in the PS mode the 35mm Zeiss is the winner because the sharpness is now about equal to the sharpness of the Sigma's and PS has enhanced the Zeiss' colors and micro-contrast far more than PS enhanced the Sigma's colors and micro-contrast.

Overall, PS seems to elevate all average/good/excellent/premium lens' sharpness to an almost uniform level. However, PS is more discriminatory when it comes to improving a lens' micro-contrast and colors.


Last edited by Fenwoodian; 09-19-2016 at 11:07 AM.
09-19-2016, 10:03 AM   #2
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Interesting! Well now I really want a PS camera..! I have plenty of old glass, Industar, Helios, Flektogon, Pentax M, that would like to be at the Sigma Art sharpness level

Last edited by Na Horuk; 09-19-2016 at 10:21 AM.
09-19-2016, 10:11 AM   #3
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My findings with 24-70 D-FA zoom were that towards the edges PS did not make poor performance any better. In the center there was big difference though. Maybe my copy was a dud lens. But still, poor IQ is not going to magically get better with PS.

The lens must have some kind of resolution available across the field to get better results with PS. Many primes do at f/8 or smaller aperture. PS also lessens the impact of diffraction.
09-19-2016, 10:33 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by MJKoski Quote
My findings with 24-70 D-FA zoom were that towards the edges PS did not make poor performance any better. In the center there was big difference though. Maybe my copy was a dud lens. But still, poor IQ is not going to magically get better with PS.

The lens must have some kind of resolution available across the field to get better results with PS. Many primes do at f/8 or smaller aperture. PS also lessens the impact of diffraction.
I totally agree. I didn't test any really "bad" lenses because I don't have any - only "average to good" lenses.

09-19-2016, 10:40 AM   #5
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Your sig says you have 300/4 M. How is that doing with K-1? Looking for a tele and found that 300* f/4 to be available from one shop here.
09-19-2016, 10:41 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
Interesting! Well now I really want a PS camera..! I have plenty of old glass, Industar, Helios, Flektogon, Pentax M, that would like to be at the Sigma Art sharpness level
Pixel Shift is an amazing feature. It's why I came over to Pentax about a year ago.

I use my Fuji X and Nikon camera systems for lots of other stuff. But for my serious photography I only am using my K1 in the Pixel Shift mode.

To facilitate my PS images. I have the "RAW" function button programmed to turn PS on and off. That way I can shoot even moving images in PS mode. One shot is taken in PS mode, push the function button and take a quick second shot in the non-PS mode. Then using layers in post blend the two images together as needed.

Like many of you I used to shoot medium format film. I've never shot a medium format digital camera. But my K1 in Pixel Shift mode is so outstanding, that I have no need (or even desire) to ever shoot medium format digital!

Last edited by Fenwoodian; 09-19-2016 at 10:56 AM.
09-19-2016, 10:44 AM   #7
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I have similar kind of experience. PS with K-1 produces 645Z level of details.
09-19-2016, 10:45 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by MJKoski Quote
Your sig says you have 300/4 M. How is that doing with K-1? Looking for a tele and found that 300* f/4 to be available from one shop here.
Good question.

To be honest, I have not yet shot my Pentax 300* f/4 on my K1.

Whenever I shoot long telephotos I'm generally shooting fast action sports or birds in flight, so I use my Nikon equipment which has outstanding auto focusing for super fast action.

I'm sure that I will eventually use my Pentax 300* f/4 on the K1. When I do I'll be sure to post some photos here and let all know what I think of it.

I can say that I liked this lens on the K3II I used to own, and I fully expect that it will perform well on the K1, but have yet to prove that.

---------- Post added 09-19-16 at 12:52 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by MJKoski Quote
My findings with 24-70 D-FA zoom were that towards the edges PS did not make poor performance any better. In the center there was big difference though. Maybe my copy was a dud lens. But still, poor IQ is not going to magically get better with PS.

The lens must have some kind of resolution available across the field to get better results with PS. Many primes do at f/8 or smaller aperture. PS also lessens the impact of diffraction.
Last Saturday I spent some time comparing my Zeiss ZK 35mm f/2 lens to my Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art lens on my Pentax K1 camera.

All images taken were Pixel Shift images. The test shots were of a landscape with buildings//trees/bushes/parked-cars. There was a slight wind. I used PS with Motion Correction.

Here's my observations on my 35mm shootout:

1. The Sigma is sharper in the center 2/3rds of the image at all apertures. Although at F/8 and F/11 the Zeiss closes the gap and there is hardly any difference between the two lenses.
2. The Zeiss has sharper edges and corners up to F/5.6. The Sigma edges and corners are soft up to F/5.6. Although at f/8 and f/11 the Sigma edges and corners are just about as sharp as the center.
3. The Sigma tends to overexpose the highlights.
4. Up to F/5.6 the Zeiss has purple fringing at high contrast edges
5. I personally prefer the colors rendered by the Zeiss
6. The Zeiss to my eye has better micro-contrast than the Sigma

Overall, on the K1 in PS mode, the Zeiss is a very good 35mm lens, being uniform from center to edges/corners throughout all apertures. While the Sigma is a very good 35mm lens at f/8 and f/11, and a very good 40mm lens at f/1.4 - f/5.6 (due to needed cropping of the soft corners and edges).

These two 35mm lenses don't show up in my "signature" because I'm going be selling both of them in the near future, and will be focusing on using my Zeiss 28/2 lens (Leitaxed) instead as I'm finding that I prefer that focal length on a full frame sensor. Anyone interested in either 35mm lens can message me.


Last edited by Fenwoodian; 09-19-2016 at 12:11 PM.
09-19-2016, 11:19 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Fenwoodian Quote
However, after comparing PS images of the Sigma 35mm Art to my many other wide and normal lenses (Pentax, Zeiss, Russian, etc.) I'm finding that I can hardly detect any sharpness difference between the Sigma Art and the other lenses.
There is an old saying that a "rising tide lifts all boats" and I am finding that many lenses show their true worth when given a little breathing room. I have been pleasantly surprised by the performance of many vintage lenses on my K-3 and am confident that pixel-shift would provide an incremental increase by simply "filling in the gaps" with real, rather than interpolated data.

That should not diminish the high value of modern products like the Sigma 35/1.4 Art. It is a tour de force and a lens I would be pleased to own. It is good to live in a time where there is a happy convergence of materials science and manufacturing expertise that allows for routine production of lenses that would have been virtually impossible to make in volume in the past.

There is a misconception and common assertion that lenses originally paired with film cameras were designed to a low standard to fit an undemanding medium.* In truth, quality lenses from the 1920s on were made to satisfy the standards of the optical bench and performance evolved as the science progressed. As a result, many true antiques do quite well when paired with modern films and/or digital sensors. Who would have known.


Steve

* While there is some truth to the "undemanding" claim, physical examination of negatives and prints from the 1930s made by Weston, White, Strand, Adams and others run counter to that notion as does fine art work from that time forward to now.
09-19-2016, 11:24 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by MJKoski Quote
My findings with 24-70 D-FA zoom were that towards the edges PS did not make poor performance any better.
That make sense. As we say in the computer world, "garbage in...garbage out". Pixel shift will not mitigate poor optical performance. All it does is correct errors introduced by interpolation.


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09-19-2016, 11:29 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by MJKoski Quote
Your sig says you have 300/4 M. How is that doing with K-1? Looking for a tele and found that 300* f/4 to be available from one shop here.
If the price is right and condition is good, buy it! Take your K-1 to the shop to try it out if you must, but seriously consider purchasing.


Steve
09-19-2016, 12:22 PM   #12
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Interestingly I get sharper pictures with pixel shift handheld + motion correction, versus single shot, both in camera jpeg.
09-19-2016, 01:38 PM - 1 Like   #13
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I can report that the combination of pixel shift + post processing in piccure+ will give you images that will simply blow you (and your clients) away. You can try piccure+ for free for 30 days. Warning: it is slow as all get out. But I find the processing worth doing for all my "keepers".

YMMV

Michael

Last edited by MJSfoto1956; 09-19-2016 at 02:04 PM.
09-19-2016, 04:01 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by MJSfoto1956 Quote
I can report that the combination of pixel shift + post processing in piccure+ will give you images that will simply blow you (and your clients) away. You can try piccure+ for free for 30 days. Warning: it is slow as all get out. But I find the processing worth doing for all my "keepers".

YMMV

Michael
Michael, do you mean that Piccure supports pixelshift images from Pentax or do you mean, that you further process the images rendered in PDCU / some other software ?
09-19-2016, 04:53 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Stagnant Quote
Michael, do you mean that Piccure supports pixelshift images from Pentax or do you mean, that you further process the images rendered in PDCU / some other software ?
piccure+ only processes TIFFs or JPEGs. So post, post processing. Fortunately, it has batch operations which can run in the background.

M
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