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06-29-2010, 06:58 PM   #1
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K-7 high ISO Performance RAW

hi, all,

a quick question: from what I've heard, the noise of k-7's high ISO RAW pictures seems to be as good as the Canon 50D or Nikon D300. Is this true?

And if so, does that mean I can safely shoot high ISO images with k-7 and convert RAWs to JPEGs by computer and get very good results? I cannot think out why this has anything to do with the sensor if the RAW high ISO performance is good...

on the other hand, K-x has impressive high ISO performance, does that mean it's the in-camera RAW to JPEG converter is better or the sensor is better?

thanks a lot for inputs!

06-29-2010, 08:14 PM   #2
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The K-7's RAW output is as good as the Canon 50D up to ISO 1600.
The 50D's High ISO jpegs are cleaner, obviously Canon has done better on the JPEG engine.

I use Silkypix PRO for RAW conversion, and anything up to ISO1600 on the K-7 can be developed with low noise and very good detail rendering.

At ISO 3200, the K-7 is visibly noisier than the Canon, but keeps slightly better details. You'd have to crank up the Noise Reduction to get a smooth output, with some loss of details.

At ISO 6400, the Canon is clearly much better than the K-7, though it also suffers from noise by then. The 50D has ISO 12800 extended ISO, which the K-7 doesn't, for obvious reasons.

The K-X simply has a better performing sensor at High ISOs.
06-29-2010, 08:48 PM   #3
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I really believe that the Canon 50D is slightly less capable if shooting in raw and reducing noise. It does have a smoother jpeg engine. The K7 holds more detail., but raw processing is essential if you're going to get the best quality at high ISO. The Nikon D300 has somewhere between a half and whole stop advantage in ISO over both. Forget 6400 with any of the cameras for larger prints.
06-30-2010, 01:11 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by kittykat46 Quote
The K-7's RAW output is as good as the Canon 50D up to ISO 1600.
The 50D's High ISO jpegs are cleaner, obviously Canon has done better on the JPEG engine.

I use Silkypix PRO for RAW conversion, and anything up to ISO1600 on the K-7 can be developed with low noise and very good detail rendering.

At ISO 3200, the K-7 is visibly noisier than the Canon, but keeps slightly better details. You'd have to crank up the Noise Reduction to get a smooth output, with some loss of details.

At ISO 6400, the Canon is clearly much better than the K-7, though it also suffers from noise by then. The 50D has ISO 12800 extended ISO, which the K-7 doesn't, for obvious reasons.

The K-X simply has a better performing sensor at High ISOs.
I will agree here for jpegs... but for RAW my experience with my 50D is far different from yours.

At any and all ISO RAW my K-7 out details my 50D by huge margins. Its not at all "slightly" better, its much better.

As far as visible ISO noise... at 3200 I gotta say there is about zero difference, but my eye can see the K-7 is pretty damn clean.... at 6400 I will say they are close with Canon slightly taking the lead with less noise but taking a hit to detail. If you are shooting at 12800 on the Canon, you are in dire straights, because jpeg or RAW those images are pretty much garbage. I opened up my extended ISO once.. and never used it again. Huge detail loss, big red/blue noise all over the picture, which made only highly aggressive noise reduction software effective... which made you lose HUGE amounts of detail.

Another thing to take into account here is that if you are comparing in camera noise reduction I suggest you try turning the K-7's off and the 50D's off. The K-7 has very poor in camera noise reduction... I mean its "okay" set at low... but you're better off just turning it off and adjusting it in post, which if you use even a moderate noise reduction cleans up so very well. This actually works in favor of both cameras because Canon did some aggressive in camera stuff too... which usually made the images lose detail.

Now, I am not trying to get into an argument here... but being a former Canon fanboy I used to stick up for the 50D with all my might... it got a bad wrap and unjustly so. Its still a great camera. I just don't think its clearly a better high ISO camera than you do.

06-30-2010, 09:46 AM   #5
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The dpreview reviews show sample images developed from RAW, and you can also get RAW samples to develop yourself from the Imaging resource reviews. Differences in quality are subjective - some prefer less "grain" even if it means sacrificng detail, others prefer more detail even if it means more "grain", and there is a subjective comoponent to how good or bad the grain itself looks. Also, as noted, one camera might appear to beat another at one ISO level but lose at another, due in part to differences in the in-camera NR applied even to RAW images, but also due to differences in the nature of the noise.
06-30-2010, 10:36 AM   #6
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I have no qualms shooting up to ISO 2000 with my K-7. The newest Lightroom 3 helps too with the awesome NR.
06-30-2010, 01:03 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
The dpreview reviews show sample images developed from RAW, and you can also get RAW samples to develop yourself from the Imaging resource reviews. Differences in quality are subjective - some prefer less "grain" even if it means sacrificng detail, others prefer more detail even if it means more "grain", and there is a subjective comoponent to how good or bad the grain itself looks. Also, as noted, one camera might appear to beat another at one ISO level but lose at another, due in part to differences in the in-camera NR applied even to RAW images, but also due to differences in the nature of the noise.
This is true as well. Things like this can be subjective.
06-30-2010, 02:21 PM   #8
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if you go by the dpreview RAW-samples, the K-7 is actually better than the 50D in some areas.

06-30-2010, 05:31 PM   #9
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Have a look at the bottom graphs at this page- Pentax K-7 Review: 16. Photographic tests (Noise): Digital Photography Review
It shows they're all similar. It also shows that Canon and Nikon soften the crap out of their jpegs.
06-30-2010, 06:40 PM   #10
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I don't compare iso RAW performance with other brands, it is subjective anyway. However, in general, I am happy with K-7 compare to my K10D which I use it often below iso800. However, with the K-7, iso1600 is completely useable for me and with the AF improvement, I have no problems getting shots in low light situations.
06-30-2010, 09:33 PM   #11
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Original Poster
thanks a lot! very helpful!

then, an one sentence question, what makes the K-7 high ISO relatively bad, the sensor or the JPEG conversion algorithm?

One thing I don't understand is that if d300 and k-7 get equally well high ISO RAW images, then why K-7 gets worse JPEGs? I believe k-7 has a decent sensor, and the relatively bad high ISO performance is caused by the JPEG conversion algorithm instead of the sensor, am i right?
07-01-2010, 01:06 AM   #12
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You're right, it's not the sensor, but the in-camera software. As others have said, review usually show the K-7 sensor is pretty much par with high ISO on the 7D and D300S. K-7 jpegs retain more detail, but also retain more noise.

The in-camera noise reduction heavily 'smears' images, so you get less noise, but less detail. All noise reduction does this to some extent, but high-grade computer software is a lot better than in-camera software at retaining detail. Many programs are available which are dedicated to noise reduction only.

If you want the best IQ available, shooting RAW and post-processing is the best option, but not necessarily the most convenient.
07-01-2010, 02:00 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by shang Quote
thanks a lot! very helpful!

then, an one sentence question, what makes the K-7 high ISO relatively bad, the sensor or the JPEG conversion algorithm?

One thing I don't understand is that if d300 and k-7 get equally well high ISO RAW images, then why K-7 gets worse JPEGs? I believe k-7 has a decent sensor, and the relatively bad high ISO performance is caused by the JPEG conversion algorithm instead of the sensor, am i right?
Honestly, I love the JPEGs out of the camera after I tweaked some settings.
07-01-2010, 04:47 AM   #14
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On this picture which photo is from which camera? (one of them is the K-7, of course)
Same one-click NR done on the 3 original photos, resized to same size.
07-01-2010, 06:52 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by soccerjoe5 Quote
Honestly, I love the JPEGs out of the camera after I tweaked some settings.
Hi Diego, nice to see you back on the board. What JPEG settings do you usually use?
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