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01-17-2012, 07:13 AM   #1
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Is it my imagination that Pentax K-x captures less detail than a K100d?

Hi all!

Before continuing let me apologise if this issue has already being discussed before and if yes kindly point me to that discussion.

I have been using Pentax cameras for a long time since its film days. A few years back I went in for the K100d and clicked some great pics. The Pentax k-x came out sometime in 2009 but I didnt jump to it then and it was only quite recently when I came across a used k-x in ebay did I go for it. I heard a lot about its low light and noise capabilities and must admit it really produces images which have low noise even at high isos. Anyway onto what i really wanna talk about:-

I have done lots of landscape and wide angle photography with the K100d and a thing I loved about it is the amount of detail it managed to capture for an aps-c sensor. Most objects large or small appeared clear. But in the K-x I have noticed that most large, medium sized objects appeared quite detailed and sharp but as the objects got smaller it showed them lacking in detail or appear without good definition. In the K100d the smaller objects showed some detail. The lack of detail is even more pronounced in low light photography. I once clicked an event with lots of ppl at night time under tungsten lighting. Under the k100d I could see the faces of lots of ppl very clearly while under the k-x most faces showed very less detail and some appeared formless.I was wondering does the k-x cmos sensor have anything to with it? Or does the k100d's 6mp sensor have a lower pixel density than the k-x due to which it manages to show detail?

*By the way incase some of u wondered if there was a problem with my focusing, I checked it and its fine tuned under pentax k-x debug mode. Also I shot pics with the 18-55 kit lens and a pentax prime lens and its the same issue.


Last edited by aruk5; 01-17-2012 at 07:18 AM.
01-17-2012, 07:23 AM   #2
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This might be an illusion caused by the K-x's higher resolution sensor. Try scaling your images to 6Mp and chances are you'll see the same level of "detail".

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01-17-2012, 07:39 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
This might be an illusion caused by the K-x's higher resolution sensor. Try scaling your images to 6Mp and chances are you'll see the same level of "detail".
hi Adam

Thanks for a quick reply.

I also felt the same and did scale back sometime ago. When I did that I did notice a little bit more detail but it still lacked the punch and sharpness of k100d.

In regard to your point about the ilusion caused by k-x's higher resolution sensor Could it be assumed the that pentax k-x sensor is really 6 mp and they are using some sophisticated interpolation technique to make it a 12 mp image?

By the way Here is another interesting thing I noticed the under k100d. I once increased the size of an image to 9mp and funnily it still managed to show some detail [in the small objects] though not as clear as it was under 6mp. I find it strange that k100d when upscaled to a higher resolution still managed to show some detail but not with the k-x when its downscaled.
01-17-2012, 07:51 AM   #4
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The lenses might be the limiting factor here not the camera. The extra resolution of the KX could be to much for the lenses you use. You need quality glass to keep up with the modern sensors. Which prime lens did you use? This doesn't mean you have to buy modern glass though; lots of good 'old' lenses still produce wonderful sharp pictures. Another option is de post production involved. Files of some modern sensors just need more sharpening applied.

01-17-2012, 08:03 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Fries Quote
The lenses might be the limiting factor here not the camera. The extra resolution of the KX could be to much for the lenses you use. You need quality glass to keep up with the modern sensors. Which prime lens did you use? This doesn't mean you have to buy modern glass though; lots of good 'old' lenses still produce wonderful sharp pictures. Another option is de post production involved. Files of some modern sensors just need more sharpening applied.
I clicked pics using following prime lenses:-

sigma 28mm mini wide 2.8
pentax 50mm 1.7

I already mentioned that the large and medium sized objects remain sharp and its the smaller sized objects which dont appear detailed I also tried sharpening the raw files in lightroom and pentax dcu but no luck

My point or observation is that as the size of the object in the image goes down so does its detail. The level reduction in detail is more in k-x than the k100d.
01-17-2012, 08:22 AM - 1 Like   #6
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IME, out-of-camera K100D images have a nicer look than K-x images.

1. K100D colours are more saturated and contrasty. When you push the K-x files to match, the reds and yellows bloom.

2. The K100D has a warm (yellow) white balance which looks fantastic in daylight, but is way too warm in tungsten light. The K-x has a much cooler WB, which is neutral in tungsten light but too blue in daylight. The warm palette of the K100D is particularly flattering to greens, great for verdant landscapes.

3. The K-x exposes more to the right. It will readily blow the highlights if you allow it. Pentax cameras previous to the K-x did not meter like this, blown highlights were a rare occurrence. I believe this was done because of newbies and reviewers who claimed that Pentax cameras underexposed. A side effect of the K-x metering is that colours look a little more washed out on the K-x compared to older Pentax DSLR's. This is easily addressed by pulling the exposure back a little.

Most the above can be solved by shooting raw and post-processing. For better out of camera performance on the K-x, I use Portrait image tone with +1 sharpness and CW metering, which isn't as likely to blow the highlights. For landscapes I use the same settings with +2 contrast. I shoot raw, but I use DCU4 for processing, which maintains my camera settings for image tone, contrast, sharpness, etc.

Regarding pure resolution, the K-x has lots more than the 6mp cameras.

Last edited by audiobomber; 01-17-2012 at 10:26 AM.
01-17-2012, 08:25 AM - 1 Like   #7
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One major difference between the K100 and the Kx other than sensor size is the type of sensor used. The K100 uses a CCD sensor, while the Kx uses a CMOS.

I have extracted (and reordered) the following list from:
  • CCD sensors, as mentioned above, create high-quality, low-noise images. CMOS sensors, traditionally, are more susceptible to noise.
  • Because each pixel on a CMOS sensor has several transistors located next to it, the light sensitivity of a CMOS chip tends to be lower. Many of the photons hitting the chip hit the transistors instead of the photodiode.
  • CCDs use a process that consumes lots of power. CCDs consume as much as 100 times more power than an equivalent CMOS sensor.
  • CCD sensors have been mass produced for a longer period of time, so they are more mature. They tend to have higher quality and more pixels.
  • CMOS traditionally consumes little power. Implementing a sensor in CMOS yields a low-power sensor.
  • CMOS chips can be fabricated on just about any standard silicon production line, so they tend to be extremely inexpensive compared to CCD sensors.

The K10/K200 was the last CCD sensor based models. The 645D is also a CCD based sensor. Since then K20/K7/K5/Km/Kx/Kr have been CMOS.

01-17-2012, 08:27 AM   #8
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Print two photos and then compare.

01-17-2012, 08:30 AM   #9
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Plus 1 ^^^^^ interested_observer

If you are comparing at low iso (ie iso 100 or 200) the CCD will shine. My K10 at iso 100 outperforms my K7 quite handily. But at iso 320-400 and up the K7 has the edge
I can ":fix" the K7 to be close but the K10 is still an excellent low iso camera
01-17-2012, 08:51 AM   #10
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I also experience a similar feeling when I went from my K100d to my K-x. The k-x images just seem more grainy, but I think it has to do with the K100d having better lower ISO performance and cleaner images, while the k-x has better higher ISO images

I compared the sample images at Imaging Resource "Comparometer"

I tried both ways by reducing the 12mp to 6mp to match, and also by enlarging the 6mp to 12mp. Both ways the K-x has sharper and higher resolution images, but the K100d images are cleaner and have less noise.(Below iso 800 atleast)
01-17-2012, 09:07 AM   #11
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So I wasnt imagining after all when I felt the k-x images lacked detail compared to the K100d. For a while I was thinking it was a fault with my camera's sensors but after reading some of your replies I can understand its not! its really bad manufacturing of the sensor! Wonder how they got away with such a thing! In their ads Pentax make tall claims about how great the pics look when clicked with the K-x when a serious issue such as a lack of detail [especially in smaller objects] is there with this camera!

By the way I wonder if this problem of pentax's cmos sensor based camera showing less detail is only restricted to pentax cameras and not to cmos sensor based cameras made by the biggies such as Canon or Nikon. Any of u having such cameras might wanna share your experience in regard to the issue of detail.

QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
3. The K-x exposes more to the right. It will readily blow the highlights if you allow it. Pentax cameras previous to the K-x did not meter like this, blown highlights were a rare occurrence. I believe this was done because of newbies and reviewers who claimed that Pentax cameras underexposed. A side effect of the K-x metering is that colours look a little more washed out on the K-x compared to older Pentax DSLR's.
Thats another major major gripe I have this camera, its tendency to blow out the highlights! Inspite of lots of trial and error I kept getting shots with lots of blown highlights! its worse when I shoot street scenes with lots of lights and darks at the same time. In order for the dark areas to appear clearly I would expose more but the highlights would get blown way too much and there was no way to recover it in raw either! By the way this is regard to handheld shots in the night! When I click with a tripod and stop down the aperture then I get a better image but the purpose gets defeated as my aim is really to shoot handheld shots at night!
By the way I will try the settings mentioned in ur reply and see if it works!
01-17-2012, 09:31 AM   #12
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all cmos cameras suffer from this to some degree in comparison to CCD. There are many other benefits to cmos that CCD doesn't have (aside from lower cost live view and video and much higher iso capabilities are some of the advantages

for the finest detail though CCD is the standard (all Medium format cameras and even all NASA equipment are CCD)
01-17-2012, 09:46 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by eddie1960 Quote
all cmos cameras suffer from this to some degree in comparison to CCD. There are many other benefits to cmos that CCD doesn't have (aside from lower cost live view and video and much higher iso capabilities are some of the advantages

for the finest detail though CCD is the standard (all Medium format cameras and even all NASA equipment are CCD)
Those looking forward to shoot pics which look nice without it being fully magnified wont mind pictures with less detail but lots of us like to shoot pics with lots of fine detail and this is a serious issue with cmos sensors! I am surprised almost all major camera manufacturers have just dumped ccd and jumped to the cmos bandwagon and offer things like live view and high iso! I still havent got the hang of using live view in the sense as its useless for handheld shots and cannot be used in bright conditions [such as in the sunlight] or extreme dark conditions! Its useful under shade or indoors but outdoors in the sun its not much use! Atleast thats what i feel about the k-x which has a lcd with reflective glass on it. if it was those higher end versions with non reflective glass and articulated lcd it might be useful to a certain extent! Regarding high isos above 1600 most cameras stop showing less detail [even with noise reduction turned off] as it goes higher and produces a pic which is really not that usable! I dont understand why some dslrs come with isos 50,000 and higher when most of the time it might not be usable!
01-17-2012, 09:46 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by aruk5 Quote
In their ads Pentax make tall claims about how great the pics look when clicked with the K-x when a serious issue such as a lack of detail [especially in smaller objects] is there with this camera!
I don't know if you took my post to agree with you. I completely disagree that a K100D shows more detail than a K-x. You may prefer the look of K100D files, but the K-x has higher resolution and will show more fine detail. If this is not what you're seeing, then something else is off.
01-17-2012, 09:51 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by aruk5 Quote
So I wasnt imagining after all when I felt the k-x images lacked detail compared to the K100d. For a while I was thinking it was a fault with my camera's sensors but after reading some of your replies I can understand its not! its really bad manufacturing of the sensor! Wonder how they got away with such a thing! In their ads Pentax make tall claims about how great the pics look when clicked with the K-x when a serious issue such as a lack of detail [especially in smaller objects] is there with this camera!

Whoa, whoa, slow down. No one said anything about Pentax's CMOS chips being defective. They're not. They're not even made by Pentax, actually (Samsung before, and Sony, now... the same sensors that appear in Sony and Nikon cameras, actually).


QuoteQuote:
By the way I wonder if this problem of pentax's cmos sensor based camera showing less detail is only restricted to pentax cameras and not to cmos sensor based cameras made by the biggies such as Canon or Nikon. Any of u having such cameras might wanna share your experience in regard to the issue of detail.
CMOS sensors are the standard for consumer dslrs now. They have their advantages and disadvantages, per interested_observer's list. You're not the first to notice the difference in rendering between a CCD and CMOS chips. Part of this is due to the sensor itself, and part of it will be due to the algorithms that build the image from the raw data, which change from camera to camera. In particular as relates to Pentax, people have complained that the recent generations of cameras take images that are too cold, making it difficult to reproduce the warmer colors Pentax was known for. I'm confident that most of this can be fixed by tweaking things in raw, or adjusting the onboard settings for your camera. Though, it's probably not worth chasing down the EXACT same look your old camera produced.

QuoteQuote:
Thats another major major gripe I have this camera, its tendency to blow out the highlights! Inspite of lots of trial and error I kept getting shots with lots of blown highlights! its worse when I shoot street scenes with lots of lights and darks at the same time. In order for the dark areas to appear clearly I would expose more but the highlights would get blown way too much and there was no way to recover it in raw either! By the way this is regard to handheld shots in the night! When I click with a tripod and stop down the aperture then I get a better image but the purpose gets defeated as my aim is really to shoot handheld shots at night!
By the way I will try the settings mentioned in ur reply and see if it works!
I think you're conflating unrelated things here. The tendency to expose to the right at the expense of highlights by the camera's defaults is different from your need for a wide dynamic range to capture light and dark areas simultaneously without clipping on either end of the histogram. Exposing for dark areas in high contrast scenes will blow out the highlights on any camera. Choosing what to preserve is a decision every photography needs to make at the eyepiece.

Shooting in high contrast scenes in the dark handheld is probably one of the most difficult scenarios you can place your camera in, so expectations for its performance should not be unrealistic. When you're handheld you're going to be using higher ISO sensitivity in order to keep shutter speed high, but you should know that dynamic range narrows as ISO increases. This is probably why your tripod-mounted shots turn out better -- I assume you are turning down the ISO because shutter speed is no longer a concern. Your dynamic range at ISO100 will be far wider than at ISO1600, allowing you to retain more detail on either end of the exposure histogram without clipping.
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