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05-24-2013, 05:45 AM   #1
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K5iis High ISO/Low Light questions


I have a k5 and k5ii and shoot with Limiteds and DA* lenses.

I am contemplating getting a k5iis if the high iso is meaningfully better than the k5ii/k5.

I know everyone’s opinion about what “meaningfully better” means may vary, but if I can be a be a bit more specific:
I take pictures of musicians often in very low light nightclubs/bars and also do some indoor sporting event work. For these I tend to be between ISO 3200 and 6400, often around ISO 4000 to 5000.

I find with the k5ii/k5 I can make a reasonably high quality image for web use at up to ISO 2500, and perhaps 3200, if I nail the exposure. Above ISO 3200 things go downhill fast for skin texture, hair, eyelashes, and small details, especially in my music images. For the sporting images, the skin and texture details are a bit less important, but I like to be able to freeze the action as cleanly as possible.

Can any k5ii users, who also have experience with the k5ii/k5, comment on whether the k5iis provides a meaningful low light improvement in the areas I mentioned? Or perhaps it is best to wait to see what comes down the pike later this year or early next year?

Thanks so much in advance!!!

05-24-2013, 06:19 AM   #2
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Hi candgpics,

I think the only difference between the K5/K5 II and the K5 IIs is that the K5 IIs has no AA filter, which apparently will produce sharper pictures. The K5 II/IIs have an improved auto focus over the K5 which will result in a faster auto focus in low light. But since all 3 cameras share the same CMOS sensor and have the same PRIME II processor, you would still end up having the same amount of noise at higher ISO as on the K5 or K5 II.

I also shoot a lot of concerts and have the same problem. I was also thinking the K5 II/IIs would be an interesting upgrade, but since there's not a big enough difference with the K5, I've decided to old on to the K5 and wait until next year and see what Pentax will come up with. In the meantime, I shoot a little under exposed (1.5-2 EV - in RAW of course) and will favor a faster shutter speed to get sharper images (I always use SR and try not to go under 1/60sec). I then boost the exposure in Lightroom to compensate. I've come up with better results in low light since I've started shooting like this. Check out my blog to see examples of my concert low light shootings (the latest Straight Pipes Trio and KISSED sets). A lot of the pictures were shot between ISO 3200 and 6400. There's some (of my used) gear info there too.

Benoit Robillard Photography: The Straight Pipes Trio
Benoit Robillard Photography: KISSed : A tribute to KISS

Side by Side Comparison: Digital Photography Review

Hope this will help you.

Regards ―

Last edited by Into The Lens; 05-24-2013 at 10:37 AM.
05-24-2013, 06:26 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Into The Lens Quote
you would still end up having the same amount of noise at higher ISO as on the K5 or K5 II.
Are you sure about that? I seem to remember some posts about how the K-5 was great to begin with, but the K-5II has even better noise performance?
05-24-2013, 09:30 AM   #4
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Hi Na Houk,

Could be, but I don't remember having read this. From what I can make out of it, with the sensor and processor specs being the same, there shouldn't really be an improvement in noise reduction. But the auto focus was improved, so better low light performance is achieved. I would imagine this only translates in sharper images and faster auto focus.

By the way, candgpics, here's a review comparing the K5 II and K5 IIs I just read today. Since you already own a K5 II, maybe this will help you decide if a switch for the "S" is necessary.

05-24-2013, 09:38 AM   #5
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Hi Candgpics,
FWIW I have not noticed a difference in ISO performance between my K5 and K5iis.

For the benefit of others - Problems I had with images from the K5, which I attributed to high ISO degradation, were vastly improved by the K5iis superior low light focus. (But the focus system on the K5ii is the same as the K5iis so I don't think your answer is there)

@ Ben - Impressive work - thanks for sharing pics and shooting/post processing methods.

05-24-2013, 10:43 AM   #6
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Ak_kiwi is right. The only thing you would gain by switching from a K5 II to a K5 IIs is the loss of the AA filter. You might get sharper picture but since you seem to want to use this camera mainly to shoot people, you would increase the chance of ending up with some moiré on a higher percentage of your shots. Even with a K-5 I get some moiré with certain types of fabrics, especially with these types of patterns...

05-24-2013, 08:32 PM   #7
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Thank you all for the comments. A lot to think about and consider. Thank you ak_kiwi for your feedback, as well.


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