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01-16-2019, 02:11 PM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
Pet peeve of mine. There is no way that +25 is correct for every camera on earth. I think it is overkill for most Pentax models.
I agree... though it does relatively little damage in most circumstances (unlike luminance noise reduction), whilst covering most of the bases as a default setting. By comparison, darktable adds no noise reduction of any sort by default, and it scares the heck out of folks when they use it for the first time (it did when I first tried it! ), as photos look terrible. It's a culture shock to begin with


Last edited by BigMackCam; 01-16-2019 at 02:17 PM.
01-16-2019, 02:12 PM   #17
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1/3000th of a second tells me you could stop down a lot and still have acceptable exposure which would help get the image into focus through increased depth of field as well as improve contrast and sharpness. f8 or f11 (or in-between if that's available) would probably help.

Your Sigma is probably a better performer and is almost assuredly easier to worth with.
01-16-2019, 02:17 PM   #18
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I of course took three photos going down from f/2 to see at home what happens to the DOF and overall sharpness. :-) This is the f/2.8.

If I summarize, the quorum here agrees that:

- K-m can still take decent photos in 2019
- The limit is the hands not the camera (which I was hoping for, having no more money to spend :-) )

Anyway I am still haunted by the noise question. Do you please have any example photo with comparable composition, which you would say has acceptable/very-low amount of noise? Preferably from a mid-range camera. I would like to zoom to 1:1 and examine/compare the noise. I would like to understand what is considered good, not to chase something beyond the limit of an average DSLR.

Thanks!!!

---------- Post added 01-16-19 at 02:25 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
In terms of focus accuracy and sharpness, these look very good to me. Well done! I can see a little corner softness, but this is par for the course with the 44M. Still, I'm guessing you were shooting with the lens stopped down a bit to get these results (i.e. not at f/2)?
I took three going down from f/2 to see what happens to the DOF and the sharpness. This is actually at f2.8.

So the quorum agreed that it is hands, not the camera being the limit, which is good.

Anyway, I am still haunted by the noise question. Would you please know of an example image with similar composition taken with a low/mid range camera, where you would say that that is the noise minimum where it can go? I just want to set my expectations right, not to chase unicorns.

---------- Post added 01-16-19 at 02:31 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
And again, all with the 10 year old K7 which is not renowned for its noise performance! ..... Not trying to be some smarty pants here, but just want to indicate that its unlikely to be the age, or performance of your DSLR which is the issue for you.!
I really like the colors of the photos you posted, how much PP did you do to them? I mean looking at my Nikon photos I mentioned, these were "quite fine" straight from the camera and they only needed little improvements to get to "really nice". So for with the K-m I feel what comes out of the camera is "bad" and I need to PP it to "quite fine" or "nice".
01-16-2019, 02:49 PM - 1 Like   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by billdotjr Quote
- K-m can still take decent photos in 2019
- The limit is the hands not the camera (which I was hoping for, having no more money to spend :-) )
Absolutely. That's not to say you can't get better results with a more modern camera... you can, but you can get poor results with it too. It is indeed down to the photographer (and the lens).

QuoteOriginally posted by billdotjr Quote
Anyway I am still haunted by the noise question. Do you please have any example photo with comparable composition, which you would say has acceptable/very-low amount of noise? Preferably from a mid-range camera. I would like to zoom to 1:1 and examine/compare the noise. I would like to understand what is considered good, not to chase something beyond the limit of an average DSLR.
I don't have a K-m, nor any CMOS-sensor DSLR from the same era. I do have even older CCD sensor DSLRs, but they perform differently.

As an alternative to your request, if you'd like to send me one of your raw files in PEF or DNG format, or place it in Dropbox or some other storage and give me access, I'll more than happily take a look at it and see if I think the noise levels are about right. I can also process it using my typical workflow and send you the JPEG result if you wish. I'll leave it up to you, but the offer is there if you feel it might be helpful

I will say, trying to eradicate all noise visible at 100% reproduction is detrimental to the detail of a photograph, and wholly unnecessary, since low level noise becomes mostly irrelevant when the photo is exported for viewing at different sizes and normal viewing distances.

One of the many tricks even the best phone cameras perform is to apply aggressive noise reduction and sharpening. This isn't always apparent at casual viewing. It results in very smooth and sharp photos, but typically lacking in fine detail, especially for subjects at anything other than close distances. It's possible to achieve the same result in post-processing with something like Lightroom, but definitely not recommended

01-16-2019, 03:22 PM - 2 Likes   #20
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I have a K10 (which I still occasionally use), and similar lenses - My copy for the helios is sharpest at about f8, in fact the reason people like the helios is is generally for it's faults, not in spite of them. Using the sigma will give far better results than the other lenses. Very few lenses are sharp wide open, the general rule of thumb is that stopping down 2-3 stops will get you a sharper image, with my sigma it's happy at f8-11 or so.

You will get some noise above about iso400, especially in shadows, and especially if you look at the photographs at 100% magnification, that doesn't mean they won't make good prints or sensible sized photographs. If you are getting noise at iso100 then I'm guessing that something is wrong in the photoshop side of things, try turning off all of the enhancements, getting rid of sharpening, noise reduction, and everything else, if the noise goes away then it's the software at fault.

I might be wrong about this, but it seems like you are saying that you have used DSLR's several times, and usually set up by other people who have been taught to use them, and now are disappointed that this doesn't work the way you want the first time out. You want to keep in mind that some of this stuff isn't super simple, and at least some of the photographs you have seen are taken by people who have taken tens, or hundreds of thousands of images, practice does (usually/hopefully) make for improvements.

On the plus side, if you are serious about photography as a hobby and don't get too caught up in the gear side of things, you'll find that there's always more to learn, and it will keep you occupied for years.

You may not have the very best camera out there, but you should be able to wring good photo's out of it - main trick I've found is to point the camera at something interesting.

ps. Avoid looking at files at 100% magnification or above, most cameras produce photos that look sub wonderful at that magnification, If I get super critical with my Kp and a good lens I can see noise, abberations, and all manner of other faults in the files, in reality these issues mean nothing and nobody else really notices them if the photo is even half way interesting subject wise.
01-16-2019, 03:33 PM - 1 Like   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by sqrrl Quote
ps. Avoid looking at files at 100% magnification or above, most cameras produce photos that look sub wonderful at that magnification, If I get super critical with my Kp and a good lens I can see noise, abberations, and all manner of other faults in the files, in reality these issues mean nothing and nobody else really notices them if the photo is even half way interesting subject wise.
That's a nugget of pure wisdom, right there

Processing and / or editing at 100% reproduction is useful for many things - such as repairing dust spots, removing unwanted elements of a photo, correcting chromatic aberrations and ensuring only the gentlest raw sharpening prior to export (amongst others). But it's terrible for assessing the general quality of an image as it relates to the final export.

I shoot a lot of photos at high ISO settings and they look absolutely awful at 100% reproduction, even after processing. But by the time they're resized for output, they look great.
01-16-2019, 04:29 PM - 2 Likes   #22
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I never shot with the K-m. However, I did so for some years with the more upscale K200D, also with a 10mp sensor, perhaps the same one as in the K-m. My K200D as well as its big brother, the K20D, tends to underexpose quite noticeably. I regularly employed +1/2 to 2/3 stop exposure compensation with these models. Much less so with the K-5, maybe + 1/3 stop, and then none at all with the K-r, K-S2 or the KP. Underexposure will emphasize noise.

Your shots do not look well-focused. I would say in evaluating your camera's performance, stick with your 18-55mm kit lens until you get some better ones, especially those having decent AF performance. As to the other lenses you have, the Pentax "A" 70-200mm f/4 (must be the "A" 70-210mm f/4 I see listed) should also provide very decent results, especially if stopped down a bit to f/5.6 or more, and maybe better if not zoomed all the way to 200mm.

Also, as you probably know, RAW images depend hugely on post-processing by the user for the resulting image quality. Try just going with the camera's JPEGs set at highest quality for a while to see how they turn out, and be sure to adjust the camera's sharpening up by 2 notches with this camera, and then implement "Fine Sharpening" as well. Have the camera set to the "Bright" category in the Custom Image menus where the sharpening adjustments are also made. This category is best for all-around shooting with good contrast. Pentax cameras tend to have sharpening set conservatively low by default, as well as noise-suppression also. This should be set on auto for self-adjustment depending on ISO setting. Some things to keep in mind with RAW too- because then you have to establish degree of sharpening and noise suppression yourself! As I don't know how good the K-m's JPEG engine is, these steps would give the best chance for a good outcome. The JPEGs from my K200D, K20D, and my 12mp K-r from back when these were my regular bodies, came out very well, once those steps were taken. You can download the manual for the K-m, which should provide a guide for adjustments with this model.

When making any adjustments, and if shooting with fully automated exposure for the camera to set both aperture and shutter speed, do not use the mode dial set to the "auto green" mark. Use the "P" setting instead. The "auto green" will likely cancel any adjustments you've made, and will make many controls unavailable.

Last edited by mikesbike; 01-16-2019 at 05:00 PM.
01-16-2019, 04:54 PM   #23
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I have a Km bought new in 2009. My pictures from this camera are excellent... and it's not me...it's the quality of the Km camera.

It has a very good sensor for it's time...same as the K10D I believe.

I just use Pentax make lenses and my one Sigma...a 150-500. You're right, your pix aren't good...at first glance they look out of focus.

01-16-2019, 05:09 PM   #24
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I have the K-2000 (I think K-M is a European K-2000), K-200D, K-5, K-3, and K-1. I took very good quality images with the K-2000 and K-200D (10Mp sensor) with the DAL 18-55 lens and even used the lens with the K-5 and K-3 and got very nice images. I got very nice images on the K-2000 and K-200D with a myriad of Pentax M-42 and K mount lenses as well as Sigma, Tamron, Soligar, and Makron lenses. I have never used a Helios lens. I have even taken some of the K-2000 and K-200D images through image expansion algorithms to produce nice sharp images at 16x24 inches at 300dpi and 500dpi. Maybe I got real good camera copies, but I suspect something may be amiss with the infinity or near infinity focus of the Helios lens when on your K-M. The folks on this site are great and many are very, very knowledgeable. Work with them and you will likely find the answer. Good luck.

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01-16-2019, 06:21 PM   #25
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Those shots look very soft. Even the zoomed out, non-cropped shot. That is either the lens isn't manually focused completely or the lens is of poor quality.


Was there any kind of atmospheric condition also?
01-17-2019, 04:04 AM   #26
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I do think getting a lens that has a bit better sharpness would help considerably. Stopping this one down might improve things some.

As I said before, I never owned a Km/K2000, but I did own the K10 which had the same CCD sensor in it and it was quite capable at lower iso settings.





(these were shot with the DA 70 limited).

Last edited by Rondec; 01-17-2019 at 09:24 AM.
01-17-2019, 04:22 AM - 2 Likes   #27
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Although I have zero experience of the lenses you mention or indeed the particular camera I do agree with others that those images are of poor quality and generally I would expect to see better even from old lenses (assuming they had no issues with cleanliness or coatings)

FWIW my impression from what you have posted:

1. Images too soft Are the lens elements front and back totally clean?

2. Did you move the camera from a warm to a cold environment prior to shooting (or vice versa)? The possibility of condensation forming on the back element in particular is there if you do not give the camera time to stabilise when moving from temperature extremes?

3. Possible focus point issue (front focusing ??)

4. Atmospheric issues on the day of shooting?

5. As far as noise is concerned it is possible that it is more noticeable due to the fact of having flat and less than sharp images. Grain and noise can actually make a sharp image appear even sharper. The real problem with noise evaluation, however, is looking at images at 100% zoom in your editing application. Assuming that you have a 'standard' resolution monitor (close to 100 PPI) then you are looking at a much-magnified version of your image compared to what you are likely to be seeing in the real world viewing conditions. As an example if you were sending to print, let's say to a Fuji or Canon printer then you are probably seeing your image data magnified by a factor of 300%. FWIW a higher resolution monitor will likely display less noise and your images should appear somewhat better resolved than on a standard display

Before condemning lenses I would suggest making a series of tests under controlled and repeatable conditions to ascertain how well these lenses can resolve detail under ideal circumstances.
  • On a clear day set up a test subject that you can always go back to and repeat
  • Set your camera on a tripod
  • Focus on a specific area (and make a note where!)
  • Use a cable release
  • Mirror up (if available)
  • Make a series of exposures at different apertures (expect wide open to be the poorest example)
How do these images appear in your editing application now? Remember you will still need to apply some sharpening to raw images while JPEGS should be good to go depending on your camera settings for this mode

Last edited by TonyW; 01-17-2019 at 04:31 AM.
01-17-2019, 06:31 AM   #28
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The sharpest most cheaper lenses will be is ƒ5.6. On a full frame camera ƒ8 is almost as good with more depth of field. Also, shooting from a distance you are really dependant on having a clean atmosphere. You can get a lot of atmospheric distortion.

Others have said lots, so that's my contribution.

Last edited by normhead; 01-17-2019 at 09:29 AM.
01-17-2019, 06:47 AM   #29
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Check your lenses also... flashlight test for haze and other optical issues. How to Buy Used Lenses

I agree that many of these don't look focused adequately. I've had to give up on manual focus on dslrs as I've gotten older. It can be done but the effort is pretty high.

I'd suggest downloading dxo if it supports your camera. I find the prime noise reduction a strong tool with very little knowledge required.
01-17-2019, 08:48 AM - 1 Like   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by billdotjr Quote
I really like the colors of the photos you posted, how much PP did you do to them?

These are processed from the camera RAW file, an approach I always take when I am aiming to optimise my camera's output and take the full advantage of what the DSLR system offers me. I will only use camera JPEGs when I am taking a lot of the same sort of shots in very consistent conditions (eg lighting and dynamic range), and where I am not needing to obtain the optimum output quality (eg taking a load of shots of the kids birthday cake and the table, where the photos will only ever end up on Facebook or WhatsApp).


The processing of those coastal shots (which are in Dorset, UK) took me about 10 mins for each one. I carried out basic RAW conversion (levels type adjustments, contrast, basic sharpening) plus I like my skies and seas blue, so I would have boosted the vibrancy of the blues, then straightening and cropping. In Photoshop I used layers to apply a selective noise reduction on the sky and sea (I like smooth textures in these areas), final sharpening and then export to JPEG. About 10 mins for each.


This RAW processing approach I see as integral to the whole point of choosing a DSLR system, over for example a bridge-type camera. The way to release the full potential of what the system offers (camera plus lenses & accessories) is to optimise the output with RAW processing.

---------- Post added 17-01-19 at 15:53 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by billdotjr Quote
I mean looking at my Nikon photos I mentioned, these were "quite fine" straight from the camera and they only needed little improvements to get to "really nice".

But, you didn't say what the lenses were being used on the Nikon camera, and also you haven't said what sort of subjects were being photographed and in what conditions. As has been pointed out here you are making considerable challenges for your Pentax camera by using sub-par glass, shooting technically in a fairly inexperienced way, shooting in challenging mountainous conditions with atmospheric haze to contend with, and not making any particular optimisations to the recorded output, neither through camera JPEG custom image controls nor RAW processing.


We don't know how that Nikon camera was set up, but it may have had the custom controls for JPEGs tweaked favourably ...., however the lenses used and the lighting / subject conditions are going to have had the most impact, and frankly created an uneven playing field for your comparisons.

---------- Post added 17-01-19 at 16:02 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by billdotjr Quote
I just want to set my expectations right, not to chase unicorns.

Your expectations are unrealistic if you are unwilling to invest yourself fully into a DSLR system .... that means learning and experience, acquiring the right lenses and accessories that match your expectations, and taking the time to optimise the image at both the capture stage (using the camera and lens) and the processing stage (using a computer, or alternatively optimising the JPEG custom settings on the camera). If you are unwilling to invest in these ways, then a simpler camera type, such as a bridge style, may be better for you. You will certainly be able to take great looking photos with it (given certain conditions), but ultimately your potential, both in image quality and versatility, will be far more restricted.

Last edited by mcgregni; 01-17-2019 at 12:58 PM.
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