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02-18-2011, 05:08 AM   #1
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very low light k-5

I'm considering buying the k-5 for wildlife photography, specifically for low light conditions found in dense conifer forest. I would be interested to know if any k-5 owners have tried long exposures in such an environment in very low light, and I mean almost competely dark. The k-5 has a very high ISO capability (although not as high as the Nikon D3s) and this is what attracted me to the camera, that and the weatherproofing. Not having tried long exposures myself, what are the potential pitfalls? Is it likely that marginally lighter areas blow out and spread across the image wiping out the detail in the darker areas? I guess it's a question of finding exactly the right length of exposure using trial and error. I don't expect perfectly balanced shots, my aim being to track animal movements in the dark, which could be OK using a tripod and exposures of several minutes, possibly longer. The astrophotography thread is useful but it's not quite the same as shooting into a dark forest. Maybe I am expecting too much from the sensor but would interested if anyone here has tried something similar. Thanks.
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Last edited by lowlight; 02-18-2011 at 05:55 AM. Reason: trying to format trpe size
02-18-2011, 06:01 AM   #2
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It has to be very slow moving animals if you intend to shoot them using several minutes long exposures.

Last edited by Gimbal; 02-18-2011 at 06:51 AM.
02-18-2011, 06:13 AM   #3
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Miksi niin vaikeita jos ei halitse niitš. Parenpi tyvestš puuhun.
02-18-2011, 06:16 AM   #4
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QuoteQuote:
I has to be very slow moving animals if you intend to shoot them using several minutes long exposures.
Well, the animals themselves don't have to be perfectly shot, it's more the movements so it could be just a blur or a set of indistinct points across the image. I know it sounds an unusual requirement. However, I would also like to do shorter exposures (e.g 30 seconds or a minute) to capture animals staying still in very dark conditions, so interested in how the camera performs for these types of photos.

02-18-2011, 09:01 AM   #5
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I would say that it would work great for you.
02-18-2011, 09:27 AM   #6
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QuoteQuote:
I would say that it would work great for you.
That encouraging, thanks. The anticipated Sony A77 is rumoured to have even higher ISO speeds than the Nikon D3s, but won't know this for sure until they tell us the specs. But the weatherproofing on the k-5 is a real asset if you are out in a humid forest and getting rained on. Also the battery grip would be useful as I will have no opportunity to recharge lithium batteries. There's something to be said for the convenience of AA batteries. I haven't handled a k-5 yet but have been told it's surprisingly compact for a serious and tough DSLR, which is another good point as I need to carry the camera in a rucksack for extended periods. The Nikon D3s is just a touch too big, heavy and unwieldy for my purposes.
02-18-2011, 10:54 AM   #7
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Don't forget the K-5's remarkable ability to push and pull due to its inherent wide dynamic range. This would likely be a huge benefit in very low light photography.

Jack
02-18-2011, 02:01 PM   #8
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I use my K5 for night shots and for use with longer lenses which start at F8. I also basically live in a rain forest so owning a non-sealed camera for what I do would be a hassle.

Here is ISO 12,800 handheld at night straight from the camera (saved from dng to jpg via Adobe). There is a little noise but it is still very usable.



If you don't mind spending an additional $60 (or whatever the cost is), you can pick up a plug-in to clean it up further. Here is the same image through denoise, which makes ISO 12,800 very usable;



I'm afraid I don't have anything exactly like what you are trying to do, but I do have this night shot from before Christmas. Handheld at ISO 6400....



And finally, here is ISO 1600.....pushed quite a bit to make it appear lighter out than it was....




Anyways, I hope that gives you an idea. I couldn't be happier with my K5.


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02-18-2011, 02:58 PM   #9
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Don't forget the K-5's remarkable ability to push and pull due to its inherent wide dynamic range. This would likely be a huge benefit in very low light photography.

jbinpg, glad to hear the wide dynamic range will be of help for me, that's another good point. smc, thanks so much for those images, and for the denoise suggestion. The ISO 12800 is surprisingly clean anyway, but I can certainly see the improvement that the denoise software makes. You both seem pretty confident about the camera which is reassuring.
02-18-2011, 03:24 PM   #10
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smc, just noted you are in BC and that is exactly the forest type I will be shooting in. You know how wet it can be, I just wanted to ask do you use the DA 18-135mm WR lens and if so are you confident it is reasonably weatherproof? Being new to Pentax I don't know how weatherproof the WR designation is supposed to mean - rainproof, or splashes OK but don't let it get too wet? It's 3.5 which I would say is quite bright for a zoom lens going to 135mm.
02-18-2011, 04:18 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by lowlight Quote
smc, just noted you are in BC and that is exactly the forest type I will be shooting in. You know how wet it can be, I just wanted to ask do you use the DA 18-135mm WR lens and if so are you confident it is reasonably weatherproof? Being new to Pentax I don't know how weatherproof the WR designation is supposed to mean - rainproof, or splashes OK but don't let it get too wet? It's 3.5 which I would say is quite bright for a zoom lens going to 135mm.
I don't have the 18-135 but I have had the DA*50-135 for a couple of years now and love it. For the most part I try to keep the gear dry out of habit, but it has started to rain heavy a few times and I didn't have any issues. It isn't "water proof" so I wouldn't submerse it but an occasional downpour should be ok. If it really starts to rain, you'll probably have issues keeping the front element dry anyways.
02-18-2011, 04:26 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by smc Quote
If it really starts to rain, you'll probably have issues keeping the front element dry anyways.
This is my biggest trouble, even with my D FA 100mm WR (the glass is inset quite a ways) I still get water on the front element.
02-19-2011, 01:13 AM   #13
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QuoteQuote:
I don't have the 18-135 but I have had the DA*50-135 for a couple of years now and love it. For the most part I try to keep the gear dry out of habit, but it has started to rain heavy a few times and I didn't have any issues. It isn't "water proof" so I wouldn't submerse it but an occasional downpour should be ok. If it really starts to rain, you'll probably have issues keeping the front element dry anyways.
Thanks, that's reassuring.
02-19-2011, 02:16 PM   #14
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I read somewhere that WR is OK for fog and light mist and not for any rain. Rain and you need a * lens.
02-20-2011, 09:28 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ex Finn. Quote
I read somewhere that WR is OK for fog and light mist and not for any rain. Rain and you need a * lens.
Really?? I've used my 100mm WR in the rain a lot and it's been just fine! I can't possibly image it not being able to handle at least a moderate rain.
I think you are right though in the fact that DA* supposedly have better sealing.
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