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11-30-2007, 03:23 PM   #1
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Better high ISO performance on "K20D"?

I'm really compelled by the D300. I keep looking at samples of ISO 3200 and I'm amazed. My 3 biggest complaints about my K10D, in ascending order of importance, are: 1) poor high ISO performance relative to competition, 2) poor low-light AF performance, 3) low sync speed 1/180.

The D300 would address all three of these complaints quite handily. ISO 6400 seems about equivalent to ISO 1600 on the K10D, so that gets me two extra stops of light. It has a 51-point AF system, and from the reviews and my cursory in-store test of one today it focuses as fast as any digital camera except for perhaps the $7000 Canon 1D. It has a sync speed of 1/250.

I've often been of the school of thought that suggests one should buy what one needs when one needs it and not look back. The D300 has everything I need, but there are a few things it doesn't have that the rumored new Pentax offerings probably will. Shake-reduction and the wonderful selection of primes are the obvious standouts, but there is also that beautiful "film-like" quality of the K10D that I don't see in any other DSLR except for perhaps the E-1 and the Canon 5D.

In all of the rumors I've seen about the "K20D", I've never seen any mention of improved high ISO performance. Since that has been so heavily promoted with the D300, and the K10D is inferior to the competition in this regard, it seems almost impossible that Pentax/Hoya wouldn't address this. But then why hasn't any mention of it turned up in the rumors? And what about improved AF? (I think I recall reading something about this, but can't remember.)

I'd like to stick with Pentax, and I hope they do address my concerns - which are shared by many.

11-30-2007, 03:55 PM   #2
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I don't want to rain on your parade, or to spoil the joy of a good rumour thread but...

I think nobody knows!

Some think that they know but... they just don't!

They just repeat what they were told by Pentax reps about the spec sheet and that's hardly knowing something.

AFAIK nobody have seen any picture from this new cam (but feel free to tell otherwise if I am wrong, I'd be delighted), let alone high ISO pictures so, even if the famous people "in the know" were told that high ISO performances are going to blow everything else out of the water, it's just a matter of believing what sale people are telling them.

And remember, even the sale people at Pentax who are "informing" the "people in the know" about the new cam have never seen an actual picture out of it.

We'll know all these answers in 4-6 months, until that... the D300 will take excellent pictures if you can afford it's ... Nikon class price.

I don't know if Pentax can cram 14M pixels in a CMOS chip and get better IQ than Canon or Nikon do with fewer and I sincerely hope they can but until I see real pictures taken by real photographers... I'll certainly hold my horses.
11-30-2007, 04:08 PM   #3
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Why dont you just buy yourself the D300. They also have some excellent primes and if I am not wrong you can also use the inexpensive non-AI lenses. You must add that they have a way better flash system. If you accept me an advice... "when somebody have the temptation of jumping off the ship, he/she shouldnt be waiting for other people permit to do it"
11-30-2007, 04:57 PM   #4
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Which would you buy

QuoteOriginally posted by switters Quote
I'm really compelled by the D300. I keep looking at samples of ISO 3200 and I'm amazed. My 3 biggest complaints about my K10D, in ascending order of importance, are: 1) poor high ISO performance relative to competition, 2) poor low-light AF performance, 3) low sync speed 1/180.

The D300 would address all three of these complaints quite handily. ISO 6400 seems about equivalent to ISO 1600 on the K10D, so that gets me two extra stops of light. It has a 51-point AF system, and from the reviews and my cursory in-store test of one today it focuses as fast as any digital camera except for perhaps the $7000 Canon 1D. It has a sync speed of 1/250.

I've often been of the school of thought that suggests one should buy what one needs when one needs it and not look back. The D300 has everything I need, but there are a few things it doesn't have that the rumored new Pentax offerings probably will. Shake-reduction and the wonderful selection of primes are the obvious standouts, but there is also that beautiful "film-like" quality of the K10D that I don't see in any other DSLR except for perhaps the E-1 and the Canon 5D.

In all of the rumors I've seen about the "K20D", I've never seen any mention of improved high ISO performance. Since that has been so heavily promoted with the D300, and the K10D is inferior to the competition in this regard, it seems almost impossible that Pentax/Hoya wouldn't address this. But then why hasn't any mention of it turned up in the rumors? And what about improved AF? (I think I recall reading something about this, but can't remember.)

I'd like to stick with Pentax, and I hope they do address my concerns - which are shared by many.
Let me throw a hypothetical question your way. let's say Pentax comes out with 2 new models. The K20D is 2fps slower than the D300 and the ISO is a full stop worse. The Af is better than the K10D but still no match for the D300. This one sells for $1,100.

The K25D matches the D300 in every category and sells for $1,700. Both the Pentax models have better DR when shooting ISO 100-400 than the D300. Which model will you buy, the K20D or the K25D?

11-30-2007, 05:44 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by regken Quote
Let me throw a hypothetical question your way. let's say Pentax comes out with 2 new models. The K20D is 2fps slower than the D300 and the ISO is a full stop worse. The Af is better than the K10D but still no match for the D300. This one sells for $1,100.

The K25D matches the D300 in every category and sells for $1,700. Both the Pentax models have better DR when shooting ISO 100-400 than the D300. Which model will you buy, the K20D or the K25D?
Kinda avoids the question of high ISO performance though I know better DR at ISO 100-400 is nice, but it's not the same thing as clean images at ISOs higher than ISO 400. That's what switters is looking for, and actually it's what I'm looking for too... I shoot a lot at high ISOs, and enjoy doing so with the K100d at ISO 1600 or even 3200. 3200 is gone on the K10d, and the quality at 1600 is debatable. That was a problem enough for me to not 'upgrade' to the K10d despite all the other ways in which it's clearly the better camera. If the new model/s is/are as fantastically ground-breakingly fantabulous as some people would have us believe, then I'm prepared to accept that ISO performance isn't the priority... but given what the competition are offering I would at least expect a very useable ISO 3200.
11-30-2007, 06:04 PM   #6
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But at what price?

QuoteOriginally posted by ZaphodB Quote
Kinda avoids the question of high ISO performance though I know better DR at ISO 100-400 is nice, but it's not the same thing as clean images at ISOs higher than ISO 400. That's what switters is looking for, and actually it's what I'm looking for too... I shoot a lot at high ISOs, and enjoy doing so with the K100d at ISO 1600 or even 3200. 3200 is gone on the K10d, and the quality at 1600 is debatable. That was a problem enough for me to not 'upgrade' to the K10d despite all the other ways in which it's clearly the better camera. If the new model/s is/are as fantastically ground-breakingly fantabulous as some people would have us believe, then I'm prepared to accept that ISO performance isn't the priority... but given what the competition are offering I would at least expect a very useable ISO 3200.
No it doesn't avoid the High ISO question. It puts a price on it. So what is your answer? Are you willing to pay for the k25D which gives you the High ISO or will you sacrifice some High ISO performance for the lower priced K20D?
11-30-2007, 06:27 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by regken Quote
Let me throw a hypothetical question your way. let's say Pentax comes out with 2 new models. The K20D is 2fps slower than the D300 and the ISO is a full stop worse. The Af is better than the K10D but still no match for the D300. This one sells for $1,100.

The K25D matches the D300 in every category and sells for $1,700. Both the Pentax models have better DR when shooting ISO 100-400 than the D300. Which model will you buy, the K20D or the K25D?
You pose a good hypothetical question, and it helps me to think it through more clearly. A couple of things first: 1) I don't care too much about speed; 3fps is absolutely fine for me. I don't shoot fast action. 2) DR is a bonus, but I've lived without it for a long time and I think the D300 system would be more than adequate. 3) Shake reduction is far more appealing to me than DR, as it results in a gain of a few stops of light in conditions where my subject isn't moving. Granted, it's not that useful for portraits of kids flying around (mostly what I shoot), but it would come in handy at times.

So, to answer your question: I think I would be disappointed in your hypothetical K20D, especially knowing that there's a D300 out there that does AF & ISO significantly better for a few hundred bucks more. Your K25D I would buy, because then I could continue to use my beloved Pentax primes (DA21, FA43, FA77) and I would also have SR on top of faster AF, good high ISO performance and hopefully a sync speed of 1/250.

Of course no one has any idea what Pentax will come out with in January (or the ones that do, aren't telling!) In my gut I tend to think it will be more like the 20D you mention than the 25D, but that's pure speculation.

I've even considered a 5D, since they can be found for very close to what a D300 goes for now ($1950 is the best price I've seen). Their fantastic for portraits because of the shallower depth-of-field, the high ISO performance is even better than the D300, and of course there is no crop factor so a 24-70 is, well, a 24-70. But the D300 actually beats the 5D in several areas since the technology is so much newer, and I'm not sure the full-frame sensor is worth giving those up.

And, FWIW, I don't need anyone's permission to "jump ship", and I don't look at it so dramatically. I'm just trying to find a camera that works well for my needs, and one that will satisfy me for a long time because I don't want to keep buying a new one every year or two.
11-30-2007, 07:58 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by switters Quote
You pose a good hypothetical question, and it helps me to think it through more clearly. A couple of things first: 1) I don't care too much about speed; 3fps is absolutely fine for me. I don't shoot fast action. 2) DR is a bonus, but I've lived without it for a long time and I think the D300 system would be more than adequate. 3) Shake reduction is far more appealing to me than DR, as it results in a gain of a few stops of light in conditions where my subject isn't moving. Granted, it's not that useful for portraits of kids flying around (mostly what I shoot), but it would come in handy at times.

So, to answer your question: I think I would be disappointed in your hypothetical K20D, especially knowing that there's a D300 out there that does AF & ISO significantly better for a few hundred bucks more. Your K25D I would buy, because then I could continue to use my beloved Pentax primes (DA21, FA43, FA77) and I would also have SR on top of faster AF, good high ISO performance and hopefully a sync speed of 1/250.

Of course no one has any idea what Pentax will come out with in January (or the ones that do, aren't telling!) In my gut I tend to think it will be more like the 20D you mention than the 25D, but that's pure speculation.

I've even considered a 5D, since they can be found for very close to what a D300 goes for now ($1950 is the best price I've seen). Their fantastic for portraits because of the shallower depth-of-field, the high ISO performance is even better than the D300, and of course there is no crop factor so a 24-70 is, well, a 24-70. But the D300 actually beats the 5D in several areas since the technology is so much newer, and I'm not sure the full-frame sensor is worth giving those up.

And, FWIW, I don't need anyone's permission to "jump ship", and I don't look at it so dramatically. I'm just trying to find a camera that works well for my needs, and one that will satisfy me for a long time because I don't want to keep buying a new one every year or two.
Always trust your gut. My guess is you won't be seeing the K25D for at least a year and a half. We might both be fooled by what Pentax offers in January but I doubt it. I must say I think your desire in not wanting to buy a new body every couple of years is not realistic in light of how fast the technology is advancing. A while back Ben made the comment bodies will become close to throwaways.

11-30-2007, 08:07 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by regken Quote
Always trust your gut. My guess is you won't be seeing the K25D for at least a year and a half. We might both be fooled by what Pentax offers in January but I doubt it. I must say I think your desire in not wanting to buy a new body every couple of years is not realistic in light of how fast the technology is advancing. A while back Ben made the comment bodies will become close to throwaways.
I see your point about technology evolving, but that doesn't mean that old technology becomes obsolete. There are plenty of people still using 1970s era film cameras and having a blast doing it.

I will likely return to graduate school soon and will be working far less. My disposable income will suffer as a result, and I don't predict having a few thousand to throw at new bodies every time they come out. I'm actually one of those people who can be satisfied once I have what I need.

I've been saying on this forum, and elsewhere, that if someone made a camera with usable ISO 3200 (and passable ISO 6400) with good AF in low light, I'd buy it. That statement came out of observing the type of light I shoot in, the lenses I like to shoot with, and the subjects I shoot. Since I don't see those factors changing much in the next few years, the D300 (or equivalent Pentax model) should be just fine.

FWIW, I think you're probably right about not seeing the K25D for 18 months or so. Nikon has really, really nailed it with the D300 and everyone else has some catching up to do. The 5D Mark II should be interesting, but I don't have $3k to spend on a camera body.
11-30-2007, 08:40 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by switters Quote
Of course no one has any idea what Pentax will come out with in January (or the ones that do, aren't telling!) In my gut I tend to think it will be more like the 20D you mention than the 25D, but that's pure speculation.

I've even considered a 5D, since they can be found for very close to what a D300 goes for now ($1950 is the best price I've seen). Their fantastic for portraits because of the shallower depth-of-field, the high ISO performance is even better than the D300, and of course there is no crop factor so a 24-70 is, well, a 24-70. But the D300 actually beats the 5D in several areas since the technology is so much newer, and I'm not sure the full-frame sensor is worth giving those up.

And, FWIW, I don't need anyone's permission to "jump ship", and I don't look at it so dramatically. I'm just trying to find a camera that works well for my needs, and one that will satisfy me for a long time because I don't want to keep buying a new one every year or two.
Well, if you're considering waiting, then maybe the January PMA might answer a lot of questions for you.

Pentax would have to be announcing their new bodies.

Canon would most likely be updating the 5D.

Sony might muscle in with announcements of their own FF body and a replacement to the A100.

Then again, if you really need the D300's performance *now*, you wouldn't go wrong with buying one today. It's a nice camera, and only the lack of in-body stabilization and the price of VR lenses scares me. I would think we're already at the point in the DSLR era that any cameras available today would suit most people for the next x number of years. Most of the gripes we're hearing today are from people with more specialized needs.
11-30-2007, 10:42 PM   #11
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Here's a better high ISO performance rumor:

"The new model will have a newly developed sensor with new technology that gives it better image quality, most notably on high ISO images, than the Sony 12Mp sensor." ->Re: Sony 12mp sensor in Pentax: Pentax SLR Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review

Seem unlikely that a Pentax 14MP CMOS could outperform a Sony 12MP CMOS at high ISO, but I can still hope. There are also rumors the Pentax sensor isn't using the bayer pattern which would be interesting, as long as it's supported in Lightroom. Seems worth waiting for PMA since both the K20D and Canon 5D MkII will probably be worth considering as a next camera.

I don't recall any rumors about the auto focus, but I hope it's more accurate and less twitchy than the K10D.

here's a few more fun rumors:
"The K10D and K100D will not get replacements, just like the *ist DS never getting a true replacement. Pentax offers upgrades more than actual replacements, aiming at a higher level (and a higher price than the K10D and K100D currently sells for)."

"The indications so far is that the new model will have - among other things - faster shutter, faster flash sync and faster fps. One of the strengths of the 14Mp CMOS is said to be it's speed. The shutter is said to be re-designed to allow for faster movement."

What rumors are worth [Page 1]: Pentax SLR Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review

Last edited by walter; 11-30-2007 at 11:05 PM.
11-30-2007, 10:43 PM   #12
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I just don't understand when people keep comparing the k10 with cameras costing twice as much, you don't compare a $20,000 Camry with a $40,000 Lexus ES350? Thank you.
12-01-2007, 02:47 AM   #13
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Rent some gear to try it out

[QUOTE=switters;126662]Granted, it's not that useful for portraits of kids flying around (mostly what I shoot), but it would come in handy at times.

/QUOTE]

If your main subject is kids "flying around" in low light, I strongly suggest you rent a D200 or similar camera from Canon with a very good USM/SWF lens and try it for a week or so before forking the 3000+ that will cost the D300 and good lenses.

My experience is that in these conditions (low light + quasi random fast movements), it is just impossible to rely on AF, even with the best ones (granted I didn't try the D2x or 1DMkII, just D200 + 17-55f2.8 AF-S and 30D+17-55f2.8 IS USM).

Clean high ISO would be good though but a good use of flash can help quite a bit.
12-01-2007, 04:55 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by lol101 Quote
Some think that they know but... they just don't!
They just repeat what they were told by Pentax reps about the spec sheet and that's hardly knowing something.
AFAIK nobody have seen any picture from this new cam (but feel free to tell otherwise if I am wrong, I'd be delighted), let alone high ISO pictures so, even if the famous people "in the know" were told that high ISO performances are going to blow everything else out of the water, it's just a matter of believing what sale people are telling them.
And remember, even the sale people at Pentax who are "informing" the "people in the know" about the new cam have never seen an actual picture out of it.
The cameras are in beta-testing. This means that the cameras is used in real-life situations by trusted people that has signed a NDA. Even if the firmware is not in the final version and even if some specifications still can change (a beta is a beta), those samples gives an idea of the final production units. Those prototypes also gives an idea about the image quality and performance.

Pentax is aiming high with those models and it would be no point in releasing them if they do not offer performance that is better or at least on pair with the best of the competition.

About the K10D having worse high ISO than the competition - tests that I have seen in swedish magazine shows that Pentax has the best high ISO performance of all cameras with the Sony 10Mp sensor. Sony A100 being the worst. Nikon D80 has the lowest noise, but also the poorest resolution and detail thank's to it's heavy noise reduction. The K10D has the perfect balance between noise and details.

The only camera that has en edge over Pentax, is Canon. They uses their own CMOS with on-chip noise reduction, which gives a better result than software based noise reduction. Sony is now offering a similar technique with their 12Mp CMOS, and it is said in the rumour mill that the new Pentax 14Mp CMOS will have on-chip noise reduction too.
12-01-2007, 04:58 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by walter Quote
There are also rumors the Pentax sensor isn't using the bayer pattern which would be interesting, as long as it's supported in Lightroom.
Lightroom and the colour pattern used is not related.
Lightroom is unlikely to support the new cameras from the start, since they will have new PEF formats (like all new models from Pentax has). It took Adobe several months to offer compatibility with the Pentax K100D Super for example.

It will take Adobe some weeks to some months to upgrade their software to work with the new models, but I feel confident that they will add support for them since they have added support for new Pentax cameras in the past.

I believe they will support DNG so one can use DNG until Adobe adds support for the new PEF's.
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