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07-07-2013, 08:02 PM - 1 Like   #16
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I have the K7 and I'll keep it as long as it lasts. It's sturdy, reliable, it's feels great.
For higher ISO, I'm using it as a film camera, which means, mostly for B&W for above ISO 1000. Even at ISO 6400 the result in B&W is a delicious grain. I've found thinking like that expands on creativity, so I don't always pursue boring, clean pictures, which is a stereotyped concept in today's photography and among amateurs. Emotive images are seldom clean or silky, in fact, they almost never are.
Because I detest stereotypes, I find sometimes having an 'older' camera like the K7 to be delight.

07-08-2013, 08:49 AM   #17
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Wonderful feedback by all- I love Uluru's ideas, seeing the limitations of the K-7 as a creative tool. I totally agree- I've always felt that to have the best tool for the job is important, but it can also lead to endless speculation and desire for "better" instead of getting on with the process of doing what you do with that tool. In creative pursuits the impact is greater, and I realize the balance between being technically speculative versus being creative can become unbalanced.

I've been able to lift shadows in ISO 1000-1600 shots, use sane amounts of noise reduction in LR4. Yes, there's still some noise, and it's not very "organic". If I find the noise to be too "busy" and obtrusive (depending on the amount of shadow lift, lighting inherent in the scene, etc) I take the image into photoshop and apply some careful further NR with Noiseware to get the grain a bit more organic feeling. So far so good and very pleased.

As another member chimed in, though, it's best to expose the shot well to begin with. Massive amounts of manipulation of the image is a bit limited by the dynamic range weakness of the sensor. But it can be overcome with a bit of tweaking, and for any shot I truly feel is worth anything I'm always applying some PP.
07-08-2013, 09:23 AM - 1 Like   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by virgilr Quote
I love Uluru's ideas, seeing the limitations of the K-7 as a creative tool
...yes, and that would be similar to the reason, why many artistry photographers still go for analog film cameras, using their limitations as a creative tool, as well.

I would have liked to experiment more with graininess, but unfortunately, in my experience, digital noise can be somewhat ugly, even after color is removed. This depends highly on how the RAW processor renders digital noise. That in turn depends on how it turns the sensor color mosaic into a fully RGB colored bitmap. Most methods assume (and try to work out) the existence of edges, but because noise doesn't have any edges, these methods come to mis-conclusions and assume more or less arbitrarily phantom edges, and that's why we end up with these ugly kind-of-wormy structures in digital noise.

Uluru, which RAW converter are you using, to get pretty digital noise in your B&Ws?



Another hardware thing I always mistrusted is any in-camera noise reduction. I believe this starts from ISO=3200 for the K-7 (according to the DXO labs test?); for the identically-sensored K20D I even saw a competent user's claim of NR kicking in already from ISO=1600.
I believe that any simple noise reduction methods (such as those quick ones implemented in bodys) rather just smear noise, instead of really reducing it in a more pretty way. Which would contribute to noise ugliness. If noise connosseurs want to avoid this, it is probably better to stay below ISO=3200, and rather underexpose on really low light if needed (and brighten up later in post-processing of course). But one shouldn't overdo this strategy (in particular not with our Samsung sensor), because this may then promote banding noise in dark areas. And I'm not sure about any well-known noise reduction software, which would tackle banding noise explicitly? (that would require to be done at the RAW converter level, to evaluate these always-dark pixels outside the light-exposed sensor area, provided for the very purpose of banding noise identification. But I wonder, which software actually would know about these, and make use of them, and whether the DNG file Format would provide metadata to tell RAW converters about such non-exposed sensor areas)

Last edited by Frater; 07-09-2013 at 01:41 AM.
07-08-2013, 05:11 PM   #19
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I'm intrigued as well with Uluru's BW conversion (or processing) methods. One thing I found odd, when working with noise in LR4, when removing the color noise after a shadow lift, there are many large white "chunks" left over when using the color noise removal slider that LR ignores when performing the luminance noise correction. I dl'd a trial of capture one studio 7- it handled noise MUCH better in that respect, seeming to better recognize the process. It's as if LR4 treats the two types of noise reduction individually instead of as a combined process.

07-08-2013, 05:45 PM - 2 Likes   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by Frater Quote
Uluru, which RAW converter are you using, to get pretty digital noise in your B&Ws?.
I'm using Aperture with Nik Effects plugins (Nik now owned by Google). Part of it is the excellent Silver Effex.

I think their implementation of different film emulations is very good, and some images — even at lower ISO — get some extra spunk with a, say, Fuji Astia or Velvia look on them. Then all different Kodak emulsions, etc. The key is experimentation.

I find such treatments especially good in combination with legacy lenses. Some old K-mount lenses cannot meet all the demands of digital capture, and the images by default look either 'soft' or a bit uncontrolled or the coating is just too old. However, with a film emulation, the image totally transforms itself and I have a feeling like shooting with film again, albeit at ISOs never imaginable before.

Say, ISO 800 would yield in a very grainy look in film, because few colour emulsions can go that high and keep grain fine. But, you take a digital image at ISO 800, which is almost flawless, then apply ISO 100 film grain on it; or ISO 400. The results can be spectacular — something in between digital and film.

Thus I agree with above mentioned statements; direct from camera, very hi ISO images with K7 or even K5, have an artificial looking grain. Sometimes even slight banding is visible. However, if we re-arrange the noise pattern, we can have something quite pleasing and worth experimenting with. Different film filters help enormously — as whole new luminance 'mask' is then applied onto the image, nullifying artificial noise pattern and creating more spontaneous, chaotic, truer silver halide look.



This above is an example taken with K7 and DA15 lens. The original colour image was just an average snap, with big colourful flag hanging from above. Two people's heads also introduced colour next to black car. However, I loved the look of the ca. To emphasize the beautiful car design, I have converted the image to B&W, added just slight toning and 100 ASA Kodachrome emulsion treatment — the chrome and silver details now just pop out, car design is a hero. It's elemental, basic, and I love this treatment much better than original colour.

Here two images below are taken at ISO3200 and with old manual 28mm/2.8 lens. It equals to some 43mm in APS-C. Noise levels on K7 are sky high, images can be beyond repair. But a treatment with just a slight de-noising and applying a film look to destroy digital grain and introduce more organic grain makes it all totally different images. They print beautifully, and the band loved them. Once I found a good formula, with a right feeling, I've applied it across a hundred images.


.



If the image is made into B&W, then something else comes to play too — picture design. And that is the magic of B&W images; not only they create less stress on our colour receptors, but our gut instinct and shape recognition impulses thrive. It's mystery.

What other see as digital noise, to me it is not noise, but I see it as creative grain. You can control it by re-arranging it, and then it becomes really powerful expressive tool. And is truly addictive.

Not to mention that one can do the same using the Pentax Q camera. I use both Q and K7, and find film and B&W treatment of the Q images — even at very high ISO — to yield very pleasing results. It's all about thinking outside the box.

Main reason I bought the Q was not its clean low ISO, or my birthday , or Q's small factor alone; I wanted a smaller, very capable sketching tool. For emotional photographs. To do that, I need to take as many images as possible and be creative, experimental, so the Q was a perfect camera — much better than any fixed lens compact.



This above is taken with Q and 02 zoom lens at 28mm. I was fascinated by glitter of sand and ocean spray and hazed distance — all things I feel, but which colour photograph could not capture — it was too perfectly digitally smooth. Thus B&W and film grain treatment restored my emotional response — the whole scene glitters so much more, and without boundary colours, shapes are dissolving into each other like melted silver, which is exactly how I felt that morning. (Feeling and seeing aren't same)

This picture is also all about design: the land ploughs into the ocean, the ocean equally ploughs into the land. The sky above and beach below reflect each other. We have calm above, then a zig-zag movement in the middle, an outburst of energy, and calm again. Such motifs are popular in landscape painting through times, and here's an example by Hiroshige:



In B&W work, I think I don't need to mention that I'm hugely inspired by works of photography legends such as Robert Frank.



Hope this helps.

Last edited by Uluru; 07-08-2013 at 07:36 PM.
07-09-2013, 02:52 AM - 1 Like   #21
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Thank you very much for your very comprehensive post. Good to learn new things from someone like you, who's already experienced in practial aspects of natural versus digital noise.

I would have sworn, that the car picture would be an scanned analogue negative. So the film simulators do a good job in the right hands.

I'm not sure yet what to think about the noise in the lighthouse picture. It looks a bit coarse to me, but I don't figure out why. Maybe, it's because of the stronger dosis, which most are just not used to see from other B&W pictures. But my actual suspicion is, that image resizing doesn't help noise, and JPEG compression doesn't neither. Both tend to reduce the fine-ness in noise, and leave us behind with a slightly coarser version? If so, then noising needs to be treated similar to sharpening: dependent on the final size and display medium.

Still, your noise simulation manages to look more film-like, than these usual, mathematically simple "add noise" methods in post processing software, which I compared side-by-side with your noise, just out of curiosity.

Last edited by Frater; 07-09-2013 at 03:25 AM.
07-09-2013, 05:02 AM - 2 Likes   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by Frater Quote
Thank you very much for your very comprehensive post. Good to learn new things from someone like you, who's already experienced in practial aspects of natural versus digital noise.

I would have sworn, that the car picture would be an scanned analogue negative. So the film simulators do a good job in the right hands.

I'm not sure yet what to think about the noise in the lighthouse picture. It looks a bit coarse to me, but I don't figure out why. Maybe, it's because of the stronger dosis, which most are just not used to see from other B&W pictures. But my actual suspicion is, that image resizing doesn't help noise, and JPEG compression doesn't neither. Both tend to reduce the fine-ness in noise, and leave us behind with a slightly coarser version? If so, then noising needs to be treated similar to sharpening: dependent on the final size and display medium.

Still, your noise simulation manages to look more film-like, than these usual, mathematically simple "add noise" methods in post processing software, which I compared side-by-side with your noise, just out of curiosity.
Thank you for the comments.

When it comes to grain (I rather call noise 'a visual grain') there is no universal recipe. Say, a 100ASA Velvia film has a totally different grain than 3200 ASA Ilford Delta.

To appreciate grain, print is actually best medium; on screen image looks ok if the grain is fine, but for a stronger grain today's computer screens don't work; there is so much grain info per square cm that screen only approximates it very roughly when scaling down for digital preview. That's the case with the lighthouse photograph; it looks just fabulous when printed.

I have printed it on a metallic photo paper and the image is surreal, like melted silver — and I wanted it like that. Thus what you see as 'white noise' on screen in this photo, is silver of the paper in real life. So it's not white, and not coarse. I simply cannot show that — I had to imagine myself before printing it.

I think grain favours print as the ultimate expression of itself, and the image on paper then becomes a real photograph, a real object with real dimensions — a standalone work of visual expression. It has personality then, it can show all its subtlety. One reason I dab into all this is because I like to think that the life of a photograph that emotionally speaks to me doesn't end in some 'cloud', or on Facebook, overcompressed, and then disappears in the digital oblivion in several years.

When thinking about print which gives the photograph a real life, it then changes the understanding of what constitutes photography, where some things end and where new adventures start, also puts photography gear (desires, fantasies, realities) in a more relevant context, and our expectations too.

Last edited by Uluru; 07-09-2013 at 05:14 AM.
07-09-2013, 05:07 AM - 1 Like   #23
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The K-7 is my first and only DSLR. Most of the time I love it, although like others, high ISO shots require a bit more work. Typically, my high ISO shots are indoors at say a friend's place. I have a feeling that once I upgrade from the 18-55 WR lens to something faster that I will find myself using 800-1600 more often.

In addition to the 18-55, I also purchased a DA*50-135 which is on my camera quite a lot- even though I actually enjoy wide angle work more. You truly get what you pay for in terms of IQ. While the images with the 18-55 almost always need some work (from my perspective), I almost always leave the images from the 50-135 alone (except perhaps a bit of exposure changes, say 1/3 of a stop or so).

This year I purchased the battery grip and that has made an incredible difference when shooting portrait orientation shots... even with the lighter 18-55. My is hope that Pentax continues with the same body style through to at least one more after the K-5ii so that I can leapfrog the K-5 family and land into whatever comes next- with a grip

If I can make another camera related purchase next year, I think I will go for the 100mm WR macro lens. As much as I would like to upgrade the wider end, I can live with the results from the kit lens for at least another year. Who knows, perhaps a new wider lens will make an appearance by then.

Sure, the K-5 (and probably K-30), is a better camera. But at the time I purchased the K-7, it was significantly cheaper than the recently launched K-5. The feature set: excellent weather sealing, SR, backwards compatibility, rugged body (camera survived a 3 foot crash to the pavement), cold weather resistance, timers, exposure bracketing... unbeatable back in 2010 at the price point.

Oh- and after almost 3 years of shooting, I have yet to have one speck of dust on the sensor. Pentax's weather sealing + common sense= no worries for me.

07-09-2013, 05:17 AM - 1 Like   #24
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Yeah, I too upgraded from a K100D Super to the K7. Love it.

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07-09-2013, 05:20 AM   #25
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Forgot to mention I call my one KZ7, Kiwis will get the name
07-10-2013, 09:07 PM   #26
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The post regarding noise just made me realize how much character and mood can be created from the least optimal circumstances. I so admire Uluru's approach to image making.

We went to a flea market that was an hour away that opened at 5:00am on Tuesday morning. I picked up a super tak 200 f/4 in fantastic condition with lens hood, case and original caps for 15.00. As well a complete POS Miida 28mm f/2.8 that's super-soft until f/8. But I thought "let's see" and took some shots of a vintage Big Ben alarm clock we purchased as well. Shot the following with available light at ISO 640 at f/2.8 Went for the inspiration in the shot in PP instead of what would be "right"- added some grain to blend in with the noise from my rather extreme exposure adjustments, converted to B&W in LR.

This was fun- a real low performing lens, a body that isn't intended for this kind of shooting. Yet I think this image has character!
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07-13-2013, 11:40 AM   #27
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Still using my K-7. Do not feel the need to upgrade just yet...is doing everything I want it to do.
07-13-2013, 10:51 PM   #28
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My K-7 is still going strong

My K-7 gets used all the time but my k-01 trumps it for image quality.

I've used high ISO before with black and white to create a grainy look I did that with this video

Like someone else mentioned though I am ready to upgrade when the next DSLR after the K-5ii comes out.
07-14-2013, 12:46 AM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by Painter Quote
ready to upgrade when the next DSLR after the K-5ii comes out
Even though I have the K-7 predecessor, I'm not going to upgrade necessarily. Of course everyone is very curious, of what the Ricoh era will have yielded, when the traditional autumn announcements are due.

But hey, if they come up with only some disappointing stuff, such as just "more megapixels" and 100 body color options, then of course I'm going to skip the K-5ii successor, as well, no doubt.
07-14-2013, 02:52 AM   #30
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Upgrade .. I'm not sure why people write that when talking about photography. What is to 'upgrade'?

I think only thing one can really upgrade is one's own comprehension; cameras are just substituted.

For that— for real upgrade — a new camera is not necessary. Spend several hundred $ instead on good and inspiring photography books, enrol some art class, and see things with different eyes and new levels of imagination.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, "You can't depend on your sensors when your imagination is out of focus."
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