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09-16-2011, 11:37 PM   #1
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Pop!

Sadly, I recently sold my pentax K-5. As some of you may have seen, I've ranted endlessly about my poor microcontrast experiences with the K-5. I've got about 50,000 shutter actuations between the k-x and k-5 and have come to the conclusion, without any doubt, that the k-x's microcontrast is substantially better than the k-5. I've just had so much trouble getting certain portraits to "Pop" with the k-5 algorythms and feel that microcontrast is something that is very difficult to get to look natural in PP. I have done quite a bit of research into the Nikon D6000, which I believe has the same sensor as the k-5 and I've read and noticed that it also just doesn't have the lustre of previous cameras with lower megapixels, despite the 14 bit processing. I almost think that the "megapixel war" is comprimising crop sensor output. Many people have disagreed with my statement that the K-5 images lack microcontrast, but to the critical eye, small differences become obvious. I slapped on the Tamron 70-200 2.8 macro the other day on the k-x after shooting strictly with the sigma 85mm 1.4 and fell in love again. This lens renders amazing microcontrast despite "sluggish" autofocus. It's plenty fast for me on the k-x. Skin shines with brilliance in the sun, hair shines and the eyes glimmer in the sunlight, with the right composition. I always had trouble getting portraits to pop with the k-5 like the k-x no matter what lens or lighting I used. The first picture is the tamron on the k-x and the second is the tamron on the k-5. They're both raw converted with photoshop, with exposure adjustment. I really feel that the k-x would be the perfect camera if only it had 14 bit processing and autofocus points displayed in the viewfinder, to confirm placement when working with wide apertures. I also noticed that many times, bright areas on the face would have very fine blue and red "dots" or pixels on the face with the k-5/Tamron 70-200 combo when blown up to 100%. I'm not sure what that is, but it never happend with the k-x. Well, it's just nice being able to have equipment you love and can depend on and not worry about having to upgrade each time something new is released.








Last edited by outsider; 09-17-2011 at 12:03 AM.
09-17-2011, 05:19 AM   #2
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Yeah, I'm very fond of my K-x. It just gets it right, IMO. Love the high ISO performance, too. That was the big reason I bought it.


Cheers,
Bobbo :-)
09-17-2011, 07:30 AM   #3
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My understanding is that micro-contrast is lens related and nothing to do with camera sensors. Enlighten me please?
09-17-2011, 08:09 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by JohnX Quote
My understanding is that micro-contrast is lens related and nothing to do with camera sensors. Enlighten me please?
That's what I thought, too. Micro-contrast seems to be affected at the sensor level by 1) the Bayer filter (or lack thereof) and 2) sensor size as a factor of the diffraction limit. Since these sensors use the same Bayer filter (don't they?) then diffraction may be the culprit.

09-17-2011, 09:03 AM   #5
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I don't get it. The second picture is absolutely fine and technically better than the soft OOF first image.
09-17-2011, 10:27 AM   #6
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Maybe you're right. I wasn't aware of that. I just use microcontrast because it's a subtle thing that has a big effect on the picture. I think you guys know where i'm getting at though
09-17-2011, 10:29 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote
I don't get it. The second picture is absolutely fine and technically better than the soft OOF first image.
That statement almost makes me wish there was an option for banning you from making a sensless comment like that again in this thread. Oh, Wait pictures are highly subjective. My apologies.
09-17-2011, 10:59 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote
I don't get it. The second picture is absolutely fine and technically better than the soft OOF first image.
The subjectmatter in this thread is not about pictures being "soft" because of inaccurate focus. It's about "microcontrast" or "Pop" as I like to call it. Remember that you can still have a portrait with great contrast and "Pop" regardless of whether it is accurate focus or not. I think this is something people fail to acknowledge sometimes. "Soft" is not necessarily related to "OOF", as you call it. Sometimes it's just the way the algorythms render the file. All cameras and models render jpeg and raw files differently, with different strengths of everything.

09-17-2011, 11:22 AM   #9
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I seem to recall that field curvature plays a part in 'pop' also. Images from flatfield lenses don't seem to pop. One of these days I may torture and vivisect an M50/2 to change the element spacing slightly, to increase said field curvature, to see if it 'pops'. Igor, pass the spanner...
09-17-2011, 11:42 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote
I don't get it. The second picture is absolutely fine and technically better than the soft OOF first image.
I agree. Any problem with either of those pics that might keep it from being marketable has nothing to do with the camera.
09-17-2011, 06:15 PM   #11
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'Pop' and 'micro-contrast' seem rather suss technically to me, just like the '3D look' I hear about some lenses producing.

I can certainly see what people are talking about when they use these terms, but I suspect there is not much sound technical justification in optics behind any of them.
09-18-2011, 04:17 AM   #12
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I guess I don't see much difference, at least at web sizes, but the important thing is to use equipment that makes you happy.
09-18-2011, 12:35 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by outsider Quote
That statement almost makes me wish there was an option for banning you from making a sensless comment like that again in this thread. Oh, Wait pictures are highly subjective. My apologies.
You expect to compare two completely different shots for microcontrast, when one is clearly OOF. That is an impossibility. And yet you say that I am being nonsensical for pointing out the obvious!

Just wondering: Is your belligerent attitude improving your photography?
09-18-2011, 12:46 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by rawr Quote
'Pop' and 'micro-contrast' seem rather suss technically to me, just like the '3D look' I hear about some lenses producing.

I can certainly see what people are talking about when they use these terms, but I suspect there is not much sound technical justification in optics behind any of them.
Micro-contrast is not subjective but instead a measurable technical quality. Many would consider the 30 line pairs per millimeter (lp/mm) curve on an MTF graph to be a good measure of a lens's micro-contrast performance.

"Pop" and "3D" are far more subjective, but have to do with how the lens renders the transition from in-focus to OOF regions. I am sure someone has come up with a way of interpreting MTF curves that might shed some light on this quality.
09-18-2011, 01:06 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote
Many would consider the 30 line pairs per millimeter (lp/mm) curve on an MTF graph to be a good measure of a lens's micro-contrast
Then the lens is simply acceptably 'sharp' at certain apertures and focal length combinations, where the threshold of acceptable sharpness is defined (eg as lenstip do) at 30 lpm. 'Micro-contrast' seems just sales mumbo-jumbo.
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