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12-16-2010, 10:27 AM   #1
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High ISO prints from the K-5

I don't know if anyone has posted much about this from personal experience, but I just got my first test result. Here is a down-sampled file at ISO 12800. I just exported from Lightroom and down-sized in PS. No cropping, no processing, no noise reduction except the default Lightroom slider setting of 25 Chroma. In camera NR turned off:



And here is a 100% crop of the same file, before down-sizing:



From the full-res file, I sized to 24" on the long side, with the Resample box UN-checked. I then made an 8x10 crop out of that, again with no resampling, and sent it off to my lab.

Just got the print, and it is freakin' beautiful. I have to get within about 3 feet to detect the noise. Even then, it's not objectionable, and a 24" print will not generally be viewed from that close.

Obviously, this is just a headshot, and for large groups, etc. where important detail is smaller, things will be different. But this type of shot is maybe 75% of what I do/sell professionally. And I sell mostly 5x7 and wallets, occasionally 8x10s, and sometimes 20" prints, but this is rare. It's VERY rare I print over 20" for a client, so this test was something of a worst-case scenario for me. What this means to me is that for much of my important work, I can print from ISO 12800 without even trying....without going to any great effort to reduce noise or otherwise massage the files. More importantly, I can shoot at 3200 without even giving it a second thought, for this kind of work. This, my new Pentax friends, is beyond awesome.

I reeally need to put this camera head to head with my D3 in some "real world" high ISO tests. Hate to say it, but I have a feeling the K-5 will win.

12-16-2010, 10:29 AM   #2
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pretty phenomenal results, makes my k10 look even worse, i have a k7 i picked up on the way while i wait for the budget for the 5. this just makes me want to sell it all off and get the 5
12-16-2010, 10:36 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by eddie1960 Quote
pretty phenomenal results, makes my k10 look even worse, i have a k7 i picked up on the way while i wait for the budget for the 5. this just makes me want to sell it all off and get the 5
I am just more impressed with the K-5 each day. I know, it's difficult or impossible to relate something like print quality over the interwebs, but basically, I would say if you viewed this 24" print from 4' away, it would look every bit as good as the down-sampled version looks on your monitor with your face as close as you'd comfortably want to get it for viewing.
12-16-2010, 10:37 AM   #4
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Very impressive real world example of what the K-5 can produce in terms of printing, which is, for me, the ultimate goal of photography. An important point to remember is that noise tends to be less evident in prints than on a monitor. Thanks for posting this.

Rob

12-16-2010, 11:25 AM   #5
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hi Todd, how does it compare to your D3?
12-16-2010, 11:35 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by luke0622 Quote
hi Todd, how does it compare to your D3?
Well, like I said in the OP, I haven't compared them straight up (my D3 is in for repairs at the moment), but purely with regard to high ISO image quality....well, let's just say that normally I am out of sorts when my D3 is away, calling the repair center every day...and right now? I ain't worried about it.

My D3 is the most amazing camera I have ever owned. Rock solid focus tracking, gorgeous files, tough as nails, and the dual card slots are awesome. There are things I can do with the D3 that the K-5 doesn't come close to. But high ISO IQ isn't one of them.
12-16-2010, 11:48 AM   #7
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Todd,
Thanks for the very convincing demo. I already print 20 x 30" with my K20, but the thought of being able to do that at 12,800 is a "game changer". wow
12-16-2010, 12:26 PM   #8
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Yeah, I've made 4x6 test prints at varying iso, and, frankly, up to 12800 I'd be hard pressed to tell them apart...

12800 iso seen at 100% feels about the same than a good old 400 iso consumer film neg scanned at 10MP... And I've scanned my share of rolls (around 200 rolls scanned so far...), so I'm pretty used to them.

One counterintuitive trick to "massage" your high iso shots : add noise to them!!! A recent study have shown that adding some pixel-based noise actually increases the perceived sharpness of a photo, and in the case of a high-ISO shot, I've found that it can lessen the blotchy effect...

12-16-2010, 12:34 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by dlacouture Quote
Yeah, I've made 4x6 test prints at varying iso, and, frankly, up to 12800 I'd be hard pressed to tell them apart...

12800 iso seen at 100% feels about the same than a good old 400 iso consumer film neg scanned at 10MP... And I've scanned my share of rolls (around 200 rolls scanned so far...), so I'm pretty used to them.

One counterintuitive trick to "massage" your high iso shots : add noise to them!!! A recent study have shown that adding some pixel-based noise actually increases the perceived sharpness of a photo, and in the case of a high-ISO shot, I've found that it can lessen the blotchy effect...
given the poor high iso performance of my k10 and the fact that i shoot a lot of low light in clubs (not to forget the propensity for red lights) i frequently just convert to b/w apply a little NR then add a film grain, it works out quite well for prints i've made, and b/w really suits a lot of my subjects at that level (stick with colour for big venue lots of light artists because I can, and their light shows usually look great
12-16-2010, 04:42 PM   #10
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Amazing, Todd! Definitely looks like iso 1600 on my K7. The fact that that much detail is preserved in the image is great. The big thing to me is the amount of dynamic range this preserved at this level. So often, at high iso, even if noise is minimal, the dynamic range is so contracted that all you can do is convert photos to black and white.
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