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12-15-2012, 08:29 AM   #1
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Pentax Color

Hi, so I was wanting some clarification. I've always heard about Pentax having nice colors. Can someone explain this? Is this a property of the in camera settings or is it a property of the lens/lens coatings?

Also, while we are at it, is there a difference between color and colour? And as always feel free to illustrate your point with pictures

12-15-2012, 08:31 AM   #2
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Dunno the first.

Second - first is the American spelling, second is the British spelling.
12-15-2012, 08:33 AM   #3
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I think it is a combination of Pentax's decisions on RAW file processing and lenses themselves (and their coatings). There is no doubt that the FA limiteds, for instance, tend to render a little warmer, compared to the DA limiteds. I assume the difference has to do with the lens coatings and differences therein.

For whatever reason, Pentax has always processed greens better. Reds not so well.
12-15-2012, 10:08 AM   #4
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They have been saying that about Olympus for decades as well. I think the core of those perceptions date back to film days-- especially when there was limited latitude when developing transparency material. Nowadays color is much more malleable both intentionally with software and problematically with uncalibrated monitors, zero color management on the web, and misuse of color spaces.

As Rondec said, the combination of RAW file processing and "hard wired" lens rendering characteristics further compound color presentation. I've always noticed a slightly unpleasant greenish shift when using the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 zoom (a fine lens if you get a good version) on my K20D. I don't see those issues when using the same lens on my Canon 7D. To me the Pentax DA Ltd. 15mm produces luscious colors.

Fortunately it is very easy to fix slightly off color in Lightroom and other software.

M

12-15-2012, 11:10 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Miguel Quote
I think the core of those perceptions date back to film days-- especially when there was limited latitude when developing transparency material.
I think that is mostly the case, as well as inertia and reputation. I'm not sure there is all that much difference anymore. But back in film days Pentax had a reputation for excellent color. And since the only thing affecting the color (besides the film) was the lens and the coatings on it that points back to Pentax's lead in coating design. So IMHO most of the 'good color' reputation comes from Pentax's SMC coatings that were state of the art for a long time. They are still very good but other manufacturers have caught up in that area.

Today many more things affect the colors: coating, lens design, image sensor, software to tweak the sensor inputs, RAW file handling, WB handling, jpeg processing and probably more. Everything from start to finish has be right to get the 'good color' award. But it all starts with the lens coatings and lens design.
12-15-2012, 11:59 AM   #6
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"Pentax having nice colors" was alive way before any RAW existed and was attributed to SMC coating. Pentax coating was "NEUTRAL", Canon "WARM", Nikon "COLD" when processed in pre-press commercial printing world (my walk of life since 1969). The Pentax color was easier to work with. As many addressed, it doesn't matter much any more in today's digi world.
12-15-2012, 01:39 PM   #7
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The type of optical glass used can contribute to the color rendition of a lens since few optical glasses are totally colorless. As an example, a slight green-blue cast can block red and orange from reaching the sensor to a small degree and give a lens a certain color signature.
12-15-2012, 07:11 PM   #8
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Lens Difference: The first is the Kiron 28/2, the second is the Pentax-A 28/2.8, both shot in raw, no PP, just conversion in LR3.:


The Pentax colors are much truer, and I have a spot to clean.

12-18-2012, 07:12 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by ramseybuckeye Quote
Lens Difference: The first is the Kiron 28/2, the second is the Pentax-A 28/2.8, both shot in raw, no PP,
Were these taken with fixed or automatic WB? Just curious if the lens caused the camera to change the WB.
12-18-2012, 08:41 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
Were these taken with fixed or automatic WB? Just curious if the lens caused the camera to change the WB.
Both were auto white balance.
12-19-2012, 12:13 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by ramseybuckeye Quote
Both were auto white balance.
And now I wonder what would happen if the camera was set on a fixed WB? I seem to have a tough time wrapping my head around what affects the WB.
12-19-2012, 01:47 PM   #12
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FYI - I have a K-5 and had set it up with the recommended settings Adam listed (IIRC). I found the settings too saturated, particularly with reds. In my experience, reds tend to become oversaturated pretty quickly with this camera. I prefer to keep the settings neutral and adjust in post-processing if desired.

I have found some of the old manual glass gives great colors, though I'm not sure whether that's due to manual metering etc. or the glass....
12-19-2012, 04:22 PM   #13
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In color properties, there is definitely a lens effect as we can often see in reviews and samples, although I am not really bothered by them much due to the ability to correct color casts easily in PP thanks to WB settings and so forth. I had heard that there is also a camera effect that I've seen brought up. I think this was brought up a bit specifically with the K5 and its cousins using the same Sony sensor (Nikon D7000 comes to mind).

The differences there must be attributed to the internal processing of the camera since in that particular case the sensors are the same.

Now, I'm unsure that leads to Pentax having nice colors as that is an opinion I'm not qualified to make.
12-19-2012, 07:45 PM   #14
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these days, all the sensors are too close to really choose based on that. but canon's sensors had some problems with reds. some think nikon/pentax/sony sensors are basically the same, and all better than canon. K5 has a best in class sensor.

The most unique thing about pentax dslrs
-has in body shake reduction. This helps when buying old glass and getting SR. nikon/canon usually charge more for the shake reduction lens than standard lens
-they have a shrinking market share, some worry like me, that the format will die. Makes me hesitance to buy glass for pentax.
12-20-2012, 12:56 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by trevorgrout Quote
I've always heard about Pentax having nice colors. Can someone explain this?
Which colours are you talking about?

Many users swear by the Pentax colours in JPGs. You can check out the respective diagrams at ImageResource to see how all manufacturers produce wrong blues to make skies look prettier, wrong greens to make foliage look prettier, etc. I agree that Pentax JPG colours look appealing, although I believe that I like Sony's choices even better (but I haven't looked much into that).

If you shoot RAW, you'd have to use the software that comes with the camera to reproduce these (wrong) colours. Adobe, for example, only attempts to emulate respective camera profiles for Canikon (and maybe others, but definitely not Pentax).

As others have mentioned, lens coatings can make a difference, but usually the differences are rather subtle and very easily overpowered by colour adjustments in post-processing.

Another source that hasn't been mentioned so far are the colour filters in front of the sensels on the sensor. Canon, for instance, use rather non-discriminative filters.

BTW, IMHO, Pentax isn't great at reds at all. In respective comparisons, (e.g., on ImageResource) the reds are pretty smeared and better resolved by other brands.
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