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10-01-2010, 02:15 AM   #1
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ISO and size of prints from K-7 and K-5

Using the K-7 (and/or K20D or any guesses with the K5), at what ISO do you need to stay below in order to produce a fine art print of 16x20 inches? I'm new to the forum and beginning my entry into the DSLR world with a K20D and K7 dedicated to IR shooting and possibly one or two K5's in the near future (one K5 for the old M42 lenses and another for the modern Kmount lenses--don't want to mess with taking the M42 adapter on and off while street shooting). For years I have shot medium and large format and sold some fine art prints. I don't make prints smaller than 16x20. I'm assuming at low ISO I can make some 16x20 prints (landscapes but also street and candid portraits). New to the forum and have thoroughly enjoyed the generous wealth of information that you all share. Decided to purchase a DSLR because I wanted to shoot wildlife again and needed something for street shooting in bad weather--didn't trusts an expensive rangefinder in the rain. Assuming good technique or even tripod use, any experiences on size of prints made with higher ISO would be helpful.

10-01-2010, 03:57 AM   #2
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Obviously it depends on the situation, but I try not to go over iso 400. The biggest thing is that dynamic range begins to suffer and the prints don't look as nice. Printing size is dependent on viewing distance as well. I made similar size prints from K10 (a 10 megapixel camera) and they looked quite nice. The K20/7 will hold up better due to higher resolution.

Last edited by Rondec; 10-01-2010 at 04:46 PM.
10-01-2010, 04:55 AM   #3
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I have one 20" print from my k20d at iso 800 and it looks great
10-01-2010, 04:56 AM   #4
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imaging-resource.com has print test results for the cameras they review; after selecting a camera's review, go to the "exposure" tab and then the "image quality" sub-tab. They evaluate prints in subjective terms, but I have no reason to believe that they aren't somewhat consistent between contemporary reviews. The K-7 does "good" 16x20" and "great" 13x19" prints at ISO 100. The K-x is rated better, although one of the printers used is different; "usable" at 20x30" and "sharper" at 16x20, from ISO 100 to 800. And most of us expect the K-5 to improve upon the K-x.

Of course, the only way to tell for sure is to print yourself and see whether the print quality you want is achieved at the sizes you want. There are lots of images around the web. I strongly suggest finding a full-resolution file, preferably with the same lens, file format, and subject matter that you expect to use, and make a test print--with the photographer's permission, of course. It wouldn't surprise me if someone one the forum would be willing to provide you with an image sample to use.

I have shot relatively little film in my life, and most of that was relatively casual. But from reading about film prints versus digital, you'll see more fine detail in film prints, but digital will have smoother tones and higher contrast. Which is to say, digital prints usually leave better arm's-length impressions than prints from 135, but film still holds its own when looking at minutiae. And larger film sizes will produce even more impressive results. Of course, digital allows for more mistakes to be more easily corrected than film, which is a bigger deal for me (who is not good at wet processing) than you.

10-01-2010, 05:22 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by HWD Quote
Using the K-7 (and/or K20D or any guesses with the K5), at what ISO do you need to stay below in order to produce a fine art print of 16x20 inches?
Coming from film(medium format), you'd best not go holding your breath on a 35mm DSLR equivalent, because you're most likely going to end-up disappointed. TBH. At this particular time(excluding the K-5), the best 35mm equivalent DSLR I've seen for large prints is the Canon EOS 7D.

Which can keep up with a FF sensor such as the D700.

Having said that, if you are stuck with a K20D(and nothing else), then you might want to try tricks like "super resolution" in order to raise your pixel definition and DR levels. Granted it will(for the most part) give you 40MP images on average and another 3-4 stops of DR. But that won't happen without its share of limitations either.

Speaking from my own behalf exclusively(my own opinion), if landscape photography and large prints were my thing. I would most likely look into the new Sigma SD1 foveon sensor system. Which is a 46MP equivalent camera with a unique RGB sensor system that allows for unprecedented colors and definition. And though I haven't seen the camera myself, I have seen large prints taken straight from the camera. And from what I saw, I'd say it will no doubt be the one to beat(leader) in that type of environment.

Having said all that... I also think the K-5 has great potential for deseating the 7D in resolution this year. Especially if we couple that with it's 7FPS continuous shutter. It may very well be the ideal camera to use with solutions such as super resolution shooting at/or around 48MP.

PS. Click here if you want to see see Super resolution examples. Keep in mind that these are 200% crops

Normal resolution:


Super resolution:


Another:


Original image, bicubic zoom 200%

PhotoAcute Studio processing result



Original image, bicubic zoom 200%

PhotoAcute Studio processing result



Original image, bicubic zoom 200%

PhotoAcute Studio processing result
10-01-2010, 08:03 AM   #6
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There is no formulaic answer. It depends on many other variables, as does most of photography.

Subject, texture, lighting, colors, and most importantly - do you like the results.

Last edited by SpecialK; 10-01-2010 at 05:32 PM.
10-01-2010, 08:20 AM   #7
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check these posts

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/115998-sigma-7...ml#post1199598

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-camera-field-accessories/116333-lo...ml#post1204442

I have printed all at 11 x 17 and even cropped in some. What is important is the whooping crane is shot at ISO1600 on a K10D and it is only the central 10% of the frame.

the night heron is most of a K7 frame at 1600ISO.

the small hawk is on a K10D at 400 ISO,

Print shows less noise than your monitor.

but my subjects have enough pattern that noise is not as apparent to begin with .

what do you mean by fine art?
10-01-2010, 12:58 PM   #8
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Hi Lowell: By "fine art" I guess I mean images matted and framed and sold in galleries with the eventual destination to be hanged in a nice home. I've only sold a couple of large pieces but lots of friends have asked me to enlarge, mat and frame images for them. It's what I like to do with my photography in contrast to sending images over the internet or magazine publication type of work. For me it started with a lab I was using and they had a gallery and it was fun to see my images in a nice frame and people buying them. I'm hoping the K-15 can print out some 16x20 portraits or street scenes but I also wondered, as I learned of the high ISO capabilities, at what point or at what iso would the K-5 noise limit the size of a print. I could see myself using the high ISO capability on the street at night and dusk. I think I'm learning I should stay around iso 400 or 800 at most if I want to make a 16x20 saleable print for a gallery. Thanks for your info, very helpful and I loved your images of the raptor. I wish Sigma made the 120-300mm f2.8 in a Pentax mount.

10-01-2010, 01:00 PM   #9
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thanks

Thanks to all for the replies. Once again this forum has proven to be so helpful and educational. I'm grateful.
10-01-2010, 02:29 PM   #10
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I have 44x66 inch print on canvas made with K-7 at iso-800 and it looks great. Size also differs with your viewdistance.
10-01-2010, 05:29 PM   #11
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It's not just noise, but everything is better at lower ISO, and if you are talking about fine art prints, you want the original images to be as fine as possible to begin. I shoot 100 almost all the time and never go over 400 with my K20D. I've printed quite a few of my images at 20X30 and they look great, close up or at arm's length. Of course, focus and DOF are very critical factors as well.
I once gave an outfitter some image files for letting me access his property on a regular basis, and he surprised me with a 4X8-foot banner of one of my images. It, of course, didn't look good close up, but was surprisingly good from six feet and further away.
Instead of looking for higher ISO capabilities, I look for good light and have developed ways to shoot at lower shutter speeds when it's not there.
No matter the "effective ISO range," evenything is better at lower ISOs. I keep holding my breath for a true 50 ISO.
10-01-2010, 06:59 PM   #12
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Hi Ron: That info is very helpful. When I ask this question, I probably should have clarified--shooting in Raw, correct exposure and absolute sharpness either by correct technique or stability from a tripod. Given these assumptions it looks like you are able to produce a nice 16x20 and possible 24x30 when shooting at iso 100. This is good to know. I will just have to test it out for low light situations as I always shoot as the lowest iso but there have been times at dusk etc where I have needed to up the ISO to get a fast enough shutter speed when shooting handheld. Thanks for your comments.
10-01-2010, 08:26 PM   #13
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HWD: In low light situations, which I face often, I use either a monopod (for movable objects or quick shots) or a tripod (for static scenes); SR on with monopod, off with tripod. Actually, if I have enough time to set up a tripod, I always use a 2 sec. delay or the remote, which automatically disables SR and gives me a mirror-up function. Even though I'm fairly steady, I avoid hand-held shots if at all possible, even in strong light. We're talking fine art here, not sports, right?
ISO 400 is acceptable for prints up to 16X20, but the truth is, all of the images I've chosen for large reproductions were shot at 100 ISO. That's not so much about noise or sharpness, but richness of color and textures. They simply look better. Just as with film, there is a richness with low ISO that you lose gradually as you go higher. To show you where I'm coming from, I still miss Kodachrome 24.
I do occasionally miss an image because of motion blurr or camera shake, mostly with my 200mm at f-2.8, but almost never with wider angle lenses. Whenever possible, I also fill with flash. I've used flashlights, lanterns, floodlights and even car headlights (with plastic wrap over them as a diffuser) to avoid bumping ISO in low light situations.

Last edited by Ron Kruger; 10-01-2010 at 08:26 PM. Reason: correction
10-01-2010, 09:29 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by HWD Quote

.....and possibly one or two K5's in the near future (one K5 for the old M42 lenses and another for the modern Kmount lenses--don't want to mess with taking the M42 adapter on and off while street shooting). ....
Take the spring clip off the adapter and leave it on the lens. Dismounts like a K mount then without the pin engaging of course. A few adapters much cheaper than second K-5
Pete
10-02-2010, 07:14 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by HWD Quote
Using the K-7 (and/or K20D or any guesses with the K5), at what ISO do you need to stay below in order to produce a fine art print of 16x20 inches? For years I have shot medium and large format and sold some fine art prints. I don't make prints smaller than 16x20. I'm assuming at low ISO I can make some 16x20 prints (landscapes but also street and candid portraits) Decided to purchase a DSLR because I wanted to shoot wildlife again and needed something for street shooting in bad weather--didn't trusts an expensive rangefinder in the rain. Assuming good technique or even tripod use, any experiences on size of prints made with higher ISO would be helpful.
Just came from 6x7 & 35mm to a k-7, myself. You'll need to use the lowest ISO you can manage, certainly not over 200 for such big prints, or you can play with 400 or sometimes 800 if you use add-on de-noise software like from Nik and try real hard not to underexpose. Shut off noise correction in the camera if you will be using such software later. I my view, digital "fine art" prints look good on their own, but will pale next to a similar medium format print if placed next to it. But street shooting and wildlife should be fine, generically. Max print size depends too much in the shot, and aperture used, and etc... You may not be able to exceed 16x20 by much if anything at all was "non-optimal" in setting up the shot. It's a little like shooting medium and large format a lot, and then trying to get slightly bad 35mm to give the same results. It's good that you have different tasks in mind. DSLR has it's own learning curve, so hesitate on the money shots until you can reliably predict what you're going to get...on the computer monitor and in print. Everything looks great on the camera's display.
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