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11-25-2014, 11:28 AM   #1
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K-3 Noise

I was impressed with the specs and reviews of the K-3. Based on what I had read, I began to doubt the wisdom of waiting for FF to upgrade from my K-5. Then when the recent price reductions showed up, I couldn't resist. I took the plunge, ordered the K-3, battery grip (it was free, why not) and treated myself to a second flash unit at a greatly reduced price. I am mostly thrilled. The difference in the sharpness of my images without the low pass filter is astounding, especially with premium glass. I was, however taken aback by the presence of (to me) objectionable noise at relatively low ISO values, 200 and 400 ISO even. With the K-5 I didn't usually notice noise until ISO 800 or greater. OK, I thought, AA filters blur the image, noise reduction filters blur the image, maybe what I am seeing is noise that would have been invisible with the K-5 because of the AA filter. I also admit that I am pixel-peeping more with the K-3, I am still astounded by the crispness of my images even at 100%. Sharp edges that previously would have been blurry lines. But there is a nagging doubt. How do I know if what I am seeing is normal, or if I have a defective camera/sensor? I am bothered a little because I have seen no mention of this problem in any forum discussions. If this is normal, surely someone else would have noticed and commented.
Don't get me wrong, I still love the camera, and if adding noise reduction has to become part of my standard post production workflow, I am fine with that. Just want to get rid of that nagging doubt, if you know what I mean. Comments, please.

11-25-2014, 11:39 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by bladams Quote
I am bothered a little because I have seen no mention of this problem in any forum discussions. If this is normal, surely someone else would have noticed and commented.
Many, many threads about this. There is no question that a k-3 image shows more noise. However, take that same image and downsize it to the 16mb of the k-5 and there is very little difference.

I shoot with k-5IIs and k-3. The PP for the k-3 has to be different the sensors are quite different. I could shoot k-5 at 400 ISO or even 800 with no problems. But on k-3 I shoot no higher than 200 and sometimes 400 ISO if I have to. But the noise cleans up very nicely, I assume because of the smaller pixels.

Anyway it is a bit of a shock at first, but once you get used to how to develop the images the k-3 clearly produces a better final result, for me anyway.
11-25-2014, 12:24 PM - 2 Likes   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by bladams Quote
I was impressed with the specs and reviews of the K-3. Based on what I had read, I began to doubt the wisdom of waiting for FF to upgrade from my K-5. Then when the recent price reductions showed up, I couldn't resist. I took the plunge, ordered the K-3, battery grip (it was free, why not) and treated myself to a second flash unit at a greatly reduced price. I am mostly thrilled. The difference in the sharpness of my images without the low pass filter is astounding, especially with premium glass. I was, however taken aback by the presence of (to me) objectionable noise at relatively low ISO values, 200 and 400 ISO even. With the K-5 I didn't usually notice noise until ISO 800 or greater. OK, I thought, AA filters blur the image, noise reduction filters blur the image, maybe what I am seeing is noise that would have been invisible with the K-5 because of the AA filter. I also admit that I am pixel-peeping more with the K-3, I am still astounded by the crispness of my images even at 100%. Sharp edges that previously would have been blurry lines. But there is a nagging doubt. How do I know if what I am seeing is normal, or if I have a defective camera/sensor? I am bothered a little because I have seen no mention of this problem in any forum discussions. If this is normal, surely someone else would have noticed and commented.
Don't get me wrong, I still love the camera, and if adding noise reduction has to become part of my standard post production workflow, I am fine with that. Just want to get rid of that nagging doubt, if you know what I mean. Comments, please.
I upgraded from a K-5 to a K-3 and if you pixel peep at iso 800 and higher, there does seem to be a bit more noise, but it's luminance, not chroma. In practice, this cleans up very well and you would not notice it in print, nor when posting photos online. I found the noise difference between the two cameras are exacerbated if you shoot JPG. If you shoot RAW, then there is really not much difference and I prefer the K-3's noise as it is more film like as well. The higher dot pitch of the K-3's 24 MP sensor means that one should expect more noise than a 16 MP sensor of the same size. Pixel peeping is not the proof, your final print or online posting is.

In my experience, the K-5 has worst chroma noise and that's the stuff which is ugly. With the K-3, I am confident shooting RAW to ISO 6400 before noise is a real issue. Also, bear in mind that compared to the K-5, the K-3's RAW files require far less sharpening (if any) and that helps mitigate noise. I do all my development in Lightroom 5 and a good combination of conservative sharpening and masking with noise reduction makes noise practically a non-issue at ISO 3200 and below. I would have no problem blowing up any K-3 image shot below 1600 ISO to poster size. Even 3200 ISO should be fine printed to 16x20 provided you got good exposure.

IMHO there is no question that the K-3 is superior in every way to the K-5 series. Just shoot RAW and learn the optimal way to process your images according to your sensor. I've always found the JPG engines on all my Pentax cameras, except for the Q10, shortchange the sensor's true capabilities. Each camera has its own "best recipes" to get the most out of your RAW files. Over time, I have customized a set of presets that are automatically applied according to different ISO's when I import my RAW files. This gets me about 90% into the "zone" for good sharpening and noise reduction balance.

Each time I use my K-3, it blows me away
11-25-2014, 12:25 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Yes the k-3 shows more noise. It is the price to pay for a 24MP crop sensor. I went from k-5 to k-3 too and if you are a LR user, the cure is to push your noise reduction tool to :

amount 50, detail 90 for ISO 800 to 1600 and
amount 30, detail 90 for ISO 200 to 400 .

Voilaaa

11-25-2014, 12:58 PM   #5
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@nicoprod - You don't find that pushing amount to 50 in LR softens the image too much?
11-25-2014, 01:06 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Spodeworld Quote
@nicoprod - You don't find that pushing amount to 50 in LR softens the image too much?
Not if you adjust the amount of detail to 90, and I only push it to 50 for hi-ISO images.
11-25-2014, 02:12 PM   #7
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Wow, it is really something to hear that you feel compelled to shoot at such a low ISO. With the price having dipped so much, I was thinking of jumping in. But, this makes me think just a bit more about it. I know that there are so many advantages that the disadvantages seem to be overridden compared to prior models. And, even with this one, from what everyone is saying, it does clean up nicely in PP.

QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
Many, many threads about this. There is no question that a k-3 image shows more noise. However, take that same image and downsize it to the 16mb of the k-5 and there is very little difference.

I shoot with k-5IIs and k-3. The PP for the k-3 has to be different the sensors are quite different. I could shoot k-5 at 400 ISO or even 800 with no problems. But on k-3 I shoot no higher than 200 and sometimes 400 ISO if I have to. But the noise cleans up very nicely, I assume because of the smaller pixels.

Anyway it is a bit of a shock at first, but once you get used to how to develop the images the k-3 clearly produces a better final result, for me anyway.
11-25-2014, 02:33 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Spodeworld Quote
Wow, it is really something to hear that you feel compelled to shoot at such a low ISO. With the price having dipped so much, I was thinking of jumping in.
He must have some out-of-this-world standards to not go over ISO 400 - I wonder how he'd shoot indoor sports or nighttime street photography Most people would have no problems going much higher. The K3 is a capable, modern DSLR and I usually shoot it up to ISO 3,200. Hell, I sometimes set my Kr to ISO 3,200, even though I preferred to not go over ISO 1,600.

11-25-2014, 02:49 PM   #9
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I rarely shoot over ISO 2500 with my K-3. That being said, I wouldn't be afraid to push it. Here is a link to a page with a full-res photo shot at ISO 8000 and processed in DxO Optics Pro with PRIME processing. No other noise reduction added.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mjsfoto1956/12420549643/in/photolist-

In short, with proper RAW processing, the K-3 offers outstanding IQ at high ISO.

YMMV

M
11-25-2014, 03:18 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by MJSfoto1956 Quote
Here is a link to a page with a full-res photo shot at ISO 8000 and processed in DxO Optics Pro with PRIME processing. No other noise reduction added.
What the ... where is the noise?! I downloaded the full res image and expected something reasonably usable, but zooming in I just can't find any noise at all. How the hell did he do that? What kind of noise reduction miracle software is this?!
11-25-2014, 03:35 PM   #11
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seriously. No body does it better!

M
11-25-2014, 03:36 PM   #12
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Wow...that's amazing.

I was starting to wonder if my K30 would do better at high ISO, but given the extra detail, it looks like the high ISO K3 image would do better after PP.

QuoteOriginally posted by MJSfoto1956 Quote
I rarely shoot over ISO 2500 with my K-3. That being said, I wouldn't be afraid to push it. Here is a link to a page with a full-res photo shot at ISO 8000 and processed in DxO Optics Pro with PRIME processing. No other noise reduction added.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mjsfoto1956/12420549643/in/photolist-

In short, with proper RAW processing, the K-3 offers outstanding IQ at high ISO.

YMMV

M
11-25-2014, 03:49 PM   #13
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I was a little worried at first too but after having my K-3 for about a year now I don't find the noise is a problem. Properly exposing the shot is important to keep noise manageable, but that noise you see at 100% just isn't very noticeable at web sizes or in print especially after a little Lightroom NR.
11-25-2014, 03:57 PM - 2 Likes   #14
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The noise gets bigger the more you zoom but when printing it pretty much dissapears.

Here is a ISO2500 cropped to 15MP...

11-25-2014, 03:58 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by FantasticMrFox Quote
He must have some out-of-this-world standards to not go over ISO 400 - I wonder how he'd shoot indoor sports or nighttime street photography Most people would have no problems going much higher. The K3 is a capable, modern DSLR and I usually shoot it up to ISO 3,200. Hell, I sometimes set my Kr to ISO 3,200, even though I preferred to not go over ISO 1,600.
Yes what I shoot has strict agency requirements. I did not intend to malign the k-3. In fact I was only trying to point out that it is about 1 stop noiser than k-5 and that noise cleans up very nicely.
No question in my mind the k-3 images are better. Just adjust my statement to whatever your noise tolerance is.
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