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South America preview- K-x OOC jpegs
Lens: 18-55mm Camera: K-x Photo Location: Bolivia, Peru, Colombia 
Posted By: er1kksen, 01-10-2010, 10:49 AM

My trip around south america is drawing to a close, and my memory cards are getting pretty stuffed. The K-x (purchased just before I left) has proven itself to be a fantastic little camera in all the ways I hoped, but also in one other way I hadn't expected. While sitting on long bus rides with nothing to do, I've gotten the hang of messing around with the in-camera RAW development and jpeg filters, and had a lot of fun exploring just how much the K-x can do without a computer.

Most of these images are eventually going to be replaced by versions that have gone through my usual RAW workflow, but since I am for the first time in a hostel where the computer has an SD slot, I figured I'd share a few here. They've been resized in some default microsoft program with a lousy algorithm so they appear a little soft at full size.

Tiwanaku: a very high contrast scene with the sun gate backlit and little reflective lighting. I underexposed to keep the clouds from blowing out and the K-x's shadow function brought the stones back into the light with no visible noise.


La Isla del Sol: A similar situation at sunrise, the K-x's low noise and shadow recovery let me get a shot where previous cameras would have forced a choice between blown highlights or blocked shadows.


Peruvian Andes: I cooked this one quite a bit in the jpeg filters to try to get as dramatic an effect as possible. I did choose overall appearance over pure image quality here, so it's a little noisy. Hopefully in post I can get this sort of drama while maintaining IQ.


Star Trails over La Valle de Cocora: I experimented with long exposures with the K20D but gave it up due to the severe noise even at ISO 100. The K-x pulled off this (approximately) 20 minute exposure with ease. Lacking a remote for easy bulb shooting, I cinched an extra strap around the camera's grip and wedged a rock underneath to hold the shutter button down. A rough solution but it worked!


More images here: South America on flickr

I hope you enjoy viewing.
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01-10-2010, 01:09 PM   #2
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On camera edition is great! I tried it on my K10 and I loved it!

If you come to Argentina let me know
01-10-2010, 02:11 PM   #3
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some fabulous shots here. Why didn't you just go with HDR for the first 2 shots?
01-10-2010, 02:29 PM   #4
Ash
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A stunning series.
Particularly #3 and it's serene 3D look.
Beautiful work with the K-x.
Decent long exposure noise control for a CMOS - Yep, the K20D does struggle, so I resort to using the K10D for the long exposures.

01-10-2010, 03:41 PM   #5
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Gorgeous series!
01-10-2010, 07:36 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by joodiespost Quote
some fabulous shots here. Why didn't you just go with HDR for the first 2 shots?
Glad you like the shots. To be honest, I hate the HDR workflow and never seem to be able to get the results I want out of it, and I'm not really willing to take the time learning how to do it well (and then spend more time actually doing it well, with proper tone mapping and whatnot) when I can take a single exposure and get everything I need out of it thanks to the K-x's sensor. This is the only HDR I've ever done that I really liked, and I only did that one that way because either the oculus was blown out to white or the rest of the histogram was piled up all the way to the left. Of course, that was also before I discovered the magic Pentax put into the K-x's artificial ISO 100...

Andres, I'd love to come to Argentina sometime. Probably not feasible for a while, though. ;-) It was 5 months of work to manage this trip, and I was sticking to the cheaper South American countries. ;-)

Ash, I agree that #3 is one of my favorites from the trip overall. I hope to be able to work with the original RAW file to get the same look but higher quality.
01-10-2010, 07:54 PM   #7
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Striking captures - well done! Good to see your getting the most out of the K-x and its great dynamic range and sensor.

I'm just starting to play with the highlight & shadow correction features, and am curious about the results I'll see. It seems you use shadow correction in the appropriate situations to great effect. Any thoughts on both features? Also, am I hearing correctly that you're finding magic in the ISO 100 of the expanded range? I had assumed ISO 100 would result in poorer image quality as it isn't native???
01-10-2010, 08:24 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by nate_b Quote
I'm just starting to play with the highlight & shadow correction features, and am curious about the results I'll see. It seems you use shadow correction in the appropriate situations to great effect. Any thoughts on both features? Also, am I hearing correctly that you're finding magic in the ISO 100 of the expanded range? I had assumed ISO 100 would result in poorer image quality as it isn't native???
I don't actually use those settings while shooting; I just shoot in RAW and keep an eye on the exposure to make sure the highlights aren't blowing out (the shadows are usually safe). Then I often use the shadow correction feature that's available for the in-camera RAW development. I may experiment with the highlight correction to see how that affects the RAW files but it's only available at ISO 200 and up, which brings me to your next question:

ISO 100 on the K-x is not native, true, and most cameras in the past have produced poorer overall image quality at lower-than-native ISO (in particular lower DR). However, whatever they did with the K-x's ISO 100 gave it a major boost in shadow SNR without really sacrificing highlight range. Falk Lumo got in detail with the K-x's ISO 100 oddity here, which is quite interesting, though I'm not sure I totally understand the implications of all of it. What I do understand is that at ISO 100 I get quality even better than I get at 200, including an incredible amount of usable information in the shadows.

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