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09-27-2010, 03:43 PM   #1
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Best Pentax DSLR for low ISO IQ

This is my question: There has been a lot made recently of the high ISO performance of the Kx, Kr, and K-5. What about low ISO performance? What Pentax DSLRs have excelled in DR, resolution and detail at ISO 100, 200, and 400. What Pentax DSLRs are best for long exposures at low ISO? Please tell me about your favorites. I get the sense (from reading the forums) that the K200 and the K10 are near the top of the heap; why? Can you give examples of the low ISO IQ of your favorite camera vs. others?

Thanks, and I hope this discussion is informative to all!

09-27-2010, 05:17 PM   #2
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I think it is the CCD sensor in the K10d that keeps the noise down. I believe this comes with some drawbacks in the area of dynamic range and megapixels, although I am not so sure I am correct. Newer cameras have CMOS sensors.
09-27-2010, 05:21 PM - 1 Like   #3
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the K200d and K10d have always been known for having incredible IQ at low ISO, and subsequent relatively bad IQ at high ISO

edit: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-dslr-discussion/110725-pentax-k-7-...ison-imgs.html

Last edited by yeatzee; 09-27-2010 at 05:32 PM.
09-27-2010, 05:27 PM   #4
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I have no scientific proof for this but... My K100d with the Sony CCD sensor kicks a$$.
Only thing missing was pixel mapping, other than that, low noise and long exposures no problem.
As far as daytime ISO 200 shots, the color and contrast so good that you could "lick it"
The 200 and 10 might have been better, never used them so can not comment.


Last edited by Ex Finn.; 09-27-2010 at 05:40 PM.
09-27-2010, 05:56 PM   #5
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From my experience, the k10d has delivered the clearest shots overall. I'm eager to see how the K-5 will compare - hopefully its ISO 80 shots are even more clear!

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09-27-2010, 06:01 PM   #6
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Yeah from what ive seen and read, the k10d and k200d (same sensor) are being regarded as having the best low iso's around. But the high iso really suffers, i dont like taking mine higher than 400 and almost always try and use the lowest iso possible.
09-27-2010, 06:16 PM   #7
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Second the motion for the 10.2MP K10D and it's incredible Sony CCD sensor performance for low ISO IQ. Amazing. I also found the 6MP DS and K100D sensors to be quite good up to ISO 800 with minimal noise.

I can easily post several shots at ISO 100 and some even at ISO 400 in good lighting are truly excellent for the K10D.

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09-27-2010, 06:17 PM   #8
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Agreed with the above. The K200d gave me the sharpest per pixel, and cleanest colours (ISO 100-160).
*However*, a correctly exposed (read - all of the Pixels) shot from the K-7 gives me the most resolution (as it should), and good colour. But it has to be on the money, otherwise I feel I am dealing with far too much posterization and shadow noise, even at low ISO - and the colour accuracy then sucks. If you shoot with flash - K20d or K-7, all the way.

In terms of DR/noise, my *IST DS gave me the best highlight range (no blown skies!) and beautifully natural colours. By far. I'd love to try a K100d super for this reason one day. I hope the K-5, being back to sony, might give better highlight range.

09-27-2010, 06:19 PM   #9
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The K100D was very good at low ISOs as well, though it "only" had 6MP.
I was looking at some of the old photos I took with the K100D back in 2007 - at ISO 200 in daylight, and it lost nothing to the newer cameras.

Unfortunately, the performance deteriorated very steeply above ISO 800, so it was not good as an indoor camera.
09-27-2010, 06:54 PM   #10
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I'm also hoping Pentax has not made too many compromises to the K-5 image processing below ISO 800 in order to chase the Best of the Best High ISO performance (Extended 51,200 !).

I'm sure it will be good, but will it be the best possible ?
My best low ISO machine is currently still my old K100D 6MP - a 4 years old camera......and getting long in the tooth...
09-27-2010, 07:06 PM   #11
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Actually, the K200D high ISO cleans up nicely. This was ISO1600, 30 seconds, 28mm.

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09-27-2010, 08:09 PM   #12
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I have both the K10D and the K20D. I usually shoot RAW, at base ISO, and process using Photoshop. I have a definite preference for the "look" of the output from the K20D. Admittedly this is highly subjective.

On a more objective note, I get less purple fringing with the K20D. For example, my DA 21 Ltd (one of my favorite lenses), generates substantially more PF with the K10D. If I had to guess, I suspect that this is due to the weaker anti-aliasing filter on the K10D.

In short, while I certainly wouldn't claim that the K20D yields sharper images than the K10D, it does yield images that are more pleasing. I really like the Samsung sensor.

I suspect that the sensor in the K-5 will be superior to everything currently available, and not just at high ISO. Time will tell!

Dan
09-27-2010, 08:49 PM   #13
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Thank you all for your quick replies. You have confirmed much of what I already suspected.

QuoteOriginally posted by TOUGEFC Quote
Yeah from what ive seen and read, the k10d and k200d (same sensor) are being regarded as having the best low iso's around.
Now, are we certain that they share the same sensor?

QuoteOriginally posted by kittykat46 Quote
The K100D was very good at low ISOs as well, though it "only" had 6MP.
Yes, I agree with this. I have shot my K110D at 1600, and I was very pleased with the results. Though noisy, the pattern of the noise was not unpleasant for concert photography.

QuoteOriginally posted by kittykat46 Quote
I'm also hoping Pentax has not made too many compromises to the K-5 image processing below ISO 800 in order to chase the Best of the Best High ISO performance (Extended 51,200 !).
Yes, I am concerned about this, but I am waiting for the RAW tests to come out on the review websites.

QuoteOriginally posted by Dan Quote
For example, my DA 21 Ltd (one of my favorite lenses), generates substantially more PF with the K10D. If I had to guess, I suspect that this is due to the weaker anti-aliasing filter on the K10D.
I thought that PF had more to do with microlens design or reflection from the sensor.

QuoteOriginally posted by Dan Quote
I suspect that the sensor in the K-5 will be superior to everything currently available, and not just at high ISO. Time will tell!
I hope you are correct about this.


The K-x gets no love at low ISO; why? Doesn't this camera have much wider base ISO DR than the others mentioned? Doesn't this increase image quality?

Are we optimistic about the low ISO performance of the K-5 even though we suspect it contains a Sony CMOS sensor like the K-x?
09-27-2010, 09:49 PM   #14
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There are at least a couple of ways to generate PF. My old K10D PF'ed like crazy with my M*300. But it is just not there with the K20D. Apparently the K20D sensor has better gating which prevents this type of overflow.
09-27-2010, 10:00 PM   #15
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+1 on the K10D it has the best IQ but it suffers from moire from time to time.
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