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01-01-2014, 11:15 AM - 5 Likes   #1
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K-3 compares well to D800

Dear Forum Members,

I am a professional photographer who has been shooting Nikon gear since the 1980s. Currently my primary camera is a D800 -- probably the finest camera I have ever owned. On a lark over Christmas vacation I rented the new Pentax K-3 + 60-250mm f/4 from Lens Rentals to see if it could compare to my (rather heavy and bulky) D800 + AF-S 80-400mm VR setup. Well, the short answer is that I am VERY impressed with this new Pentax camera + lens combination. Neither Nikon nor Canon offer anything like it.

I will be writing up a more in-depth review during January, but attached are two test comparison images that demonstrate just how good this camera is in the real world. The "big boys" should be very concerned -- Ricoh/Pentax have a real winner here.

Links to the 9000x5400 pixel images (6Mb each)
More later.

J Michael Sullivan

01-01-2014, 12:26 PM   #2
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I will be interested to see your further conclusions. From the two pictures you posted here, it seems the Nikon setup is slightly sharper at frame centre, and that the Pentax produces some CA off-centre (see the statue on top of the temple and the leftmost two pickets on the white fence). The CA may be more a lens issue though rather than saying anything about the K3.

However, as a general rule, comparing jpegs may say more about default in-camera sharpening and other parameters than what the camera is capable of. Will you be showing some RAWs in your review? Did you use the same amount of sharpening in Photoshop? I would prefer to see results that are not further sharpened out of camera.

Thanks for the comparison.
01-01-2014, 12:39 PM   #3
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Which version of the 80-400mm Nikon lens are you using for the comparison? The older, first version is generally recognized as being lousy to say the least. My experience with it matches. The newer second version, however, is another story.

M
01-01-2014, 12:48 PM   #4
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Yes I did shoot some RAWs. With DxO Optics Pro processing the two systems are even closer than the JPEG comparison posted here. Unfortunately, on the last day of the rental test I set everything back to factory default on the Pentax and didn't check to see if RAWs were being recorded -- needless to say they were not and the result is that I am stuck with the JPEG comparison I posted here (at least for the last day's testing which took place on the Gettysburg battlefield).

As an aside, I am really only interested in what final PRINTS look like. I'm not a big fan of pixel peeping. It is for this reason that I decided to scale both images to actual print resolutions. While technically an "apples to oranges" comparison, if a system can product great 20"x30 prints, then I could care less if it is FX, DX, or whatever. As such, the focus with my quick test was to determine if I could carry a lighter load and still produce high-quality tele photos. The short answer seems to be yes. I can imagine adding the Pentax to my travel kit: Nikon D800 + 24-70mm and Pentax K-3 + 60-250mm would pretty much cover all bases and eliminate lens changing. For me the key thing would be that the images shot with the Pentax had to "look" like the Nikon D800. With DxO Optics Pro conversion I am seeing that the two systems are quite "compatible".

Michael

01-01-2014, 12:49 PM   #5
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as documented in the image itself, this is the AF-S version (i.e. the newer version)
01-01-2014, 12:55 PM   #6
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One quick observation: the Nikkor had trouble keeping the image always "sharp" via the VR set to defaults. The Pentax had no such trouble. In general I always shot at least three images of each scene with both cameras. I would say that 67% of the Nikkor shots are keepers while the Pentax delivered more like 90% keepers. Some of this I attribute to the much greater "mirror slap" of the Nikon D800. Switching between the two systems emphasized just how much recoil the Nikon D800 has and how smooth this new K-3 is. Again, overall I am very impressed with this Pentax.

More later

J Michael Sullivan
01-01-2014, 12:57 PM   #7
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from what Iam seeing the k3 is more sharper and has more moire!
01-01-2014, 12:59 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by MJSfoto1956 Quote
One quick observation: the Nikkor had trouble keeping the image always "sharp" via the VR set to defaults. The Pentax had no such trouble. In general I always shot at least three images of each scene with both cameras. I would say that 67% of the Nikkor shots are keepers while the Pentax delivered more like 90% keepers. Some of this I attribute to the much greater "mirror slap" of the Nikon D800. Switching between the two systems emphasized just how much recoil the Nikon D800 has and how smooth this new K-3 is. Again, overall I am very impressed with this Pentax.

More later

J Michael Sullivan
It could also be thanks to the shorter focal length perhaps?


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01-01-2014, 01:32 PM   #9
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here are two more links demonstrating how well the Pentax RAW files processed via DxO Optics Pro compare to a similar Nikon RAW image also processed in DxO:

Cheers
J Michael Sullivan
01-01-2014, 01:38 PM   #10
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Two observation:

The focus point of Pentax is a little closer.

As expected, using the same F number for both camera, the DOF is smaller for Nikon. This things that must be considered when analyzing images.

Thanks you for posting that photos. For me, are very important, to make a decision.
01-01-2014, 01:40 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by MJSfoto1956 Quote
here are two more links demonstrating how well the Pentax RAW files processed via DxO Optics Pro compare to a similar Nikon RAW image also processed in DxO:

Cheers
J Michael Sullivan
I'm not a big fan of monitor-based analysis and prefer prints as well. . . that said, the Nikon shot looks sharper with more visual depth.

M
01-01-2014, 01:47 PM   #12
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Looking at this maybe I should get a K3 as an upgrade to my K5.
01-01-2014, 01:51 PM   #13
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you must have the two images mixed up! -- I'd rate the Pentax as having a slight edge on overall "sharpness" and even though it is shot at f/4 vs f/5.6 it has touch more depth of field as well. I think we can all agree that both images are acceptably good and neither "blows the other away". In particular, I'm impressed how well controlled the Pentax is wide open (some of which can be attributed to the excellent DxO raw processing)
01-01-2014, 01:54 PM   #14
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I agree - the K-3 results are excellent and in the last set much sharper using that lens with wider dof. I also find the lean-to-green tinge of the D800 colour less pleasing than the warmer tones of the K-3.
01-01-2014, 01:59 PM - 1 Like   #15
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I'm not too concerned about intrinsic differences in color balance -- once I have created a custom profile for a particular camera, then it will tend to look like all my other camera + lens combinations. This is a key thing of course when carrying two brands of camera for the same shoot: it is critical that the two end up having the same "look" in post processing.
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