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07-09-2013, 12:11 PM   #1
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Highlight/Shadow DR on K-30/K-01

As I anticipate the arrival of my K-30 tomorrow, I've been familiarizing myself with the differences in the two cameras' functions. First, I noticed that there are different approaches to the handling of the highlight and shadow expansion. Then I was looking at the differences in DR indicated in the two reviews at the "other" forum. For whatever reason, it appears that the K-30 offers slightly less headroom - at least based on the review (which very well might be a difference within the margin of error). I might need to be a little more cautious in high DR situations.

What really surprised me is the indication that the two cameras (which share the same processing engine and sensor) do not apply similarly to RAW files. Specifically, the DPR reviews indicate that the K-01 applies only highlight expansion to RAW images (shadow expansion is not activated); the K-30 is capable of applying both highlight and shadow compensation in RAW files. Personally, I'm a much bigger fan of using highlight compensation, so this isn't a real important issue for me.

I'd be curious to know, though, if indeed those reviews are accurate in their indication that 1) the K-30 has less highlight headroom than the K-01; and 2) indications of whether or not both highlight and shadow expansion is applied to the K-30 RAW files.

07-09-2013, 01:20 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by ScooterMaxi Jim Quote
As I anticipate the arrival of my K-30 tomorrow, I've been familiarizing myself with the differences in the two cameras' functions. First, I noticed that there are different approaches to the handling of the highlight and shadow expansion. Then I was looking at the differences in DR indicated in the two reviews at the "other" forum. For whatever reason, it appears that the K-30 offers slightly less headroom - at least based on the review (which very well might be a difference within the margin of error). I might need to be a little more cautious in high DR situations.

What really surprised me is the indication that the two cameras (which share the same processing engine and sensor) do not apply similarly to RAW files. Specifically, the DPR reviews indicate that the K-01 applies only highlight expansion to RAW images (shadow expansion is not activated); the K-30 is capable of applying both highlight and shadow compensation in RAW files. Personally, I'm a much bigger fan of using highlight compensation, so this isn't a real important issue for me.

I'd be curious to know, though, if indeed those reviews are accurate in their indication that 1) the K-30 has less highlight headroom than the K-01; and 2) indications of whether or not both highlight and shadow expansion is applied to the K-30 RAW files.
I think that a properly-developed raw file from each camera will yield the same results. I say leave the in-camera expansion off and work the exposure compensation yourself

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07-09-2013, 01:42 PM   #3
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On the shadow side I agree with you totally. On the highlight side with the K-01 and K20D, I am absolutely convinced that the very nice roll off applied by the setting is at least as good anything I could do. In high contrast situations, I am convinced that the sensors provide greater DR at ISO 200 (perhaps slightly more true with the Samsung sensor in the K20D).

Essentially, I buy the argument that these sensors have a native resolution of ISO 200. Having come from an *istD originally (which had ISO 200 as the floor), I suspect that all but the 10 mp Sony sensors supplied to Pentax were native ISO 200. Of course, those 10 mp sensors were lovely at ISO 100, but worse than even the earlier 6 mp sensors from 400 upwards.
07-09-2013, 04:11 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by ScooterMaxi Jim Quote
As I anticipate the arrival of my K-30 tomorrow, I've been familiarizing myself with the differences in the two cameras' functions. First, I noticed that there are different approaches to the handling of the highlight and shadow expansion. Then I was looking at the differences in DR indicated in the two reviews at the "other" forum. For whatever reason, it appears that the K-30 offers slightly less headroom - at least based on the review (which very well might be a difference within the margin of error). I might need to be a little more cautious in high DR situations.

What really surprised me is the indication that the two cameras (which share the same processing engine and sensor) do not apply similarly to RAW files. Specifically, the DPR reviews indicate that the K-01 applies only highlight expansion to RAW images (shadow expansion is not activated); the K-30 is capable of applying both highlight and shadow compensation in RAW files. Personally, I'm a much bigger fan of using highlight compensation, so this isn't a real important issue for me.

I'd be curious to know, though, if indeed those reviews are accurate in their indication that 1) the K-30 has less highlight headroom than the K-01; and 2) indications of whether or not both highlight and shadow expansion is applied to the K-30 RAW files.
I'm under the impression that these are JPEG functions. Can you share where you've learned these are RAW functions as well (particularly the highlight protection)?

All highlight protection is is the camera simply cutting the selected ISO in half and then boosting the non-highlights during JPEG in-camera conversion. This is why the lowest ISO you can select is 200 instead of the expected 100. You can see this in many RAW image apps as the images are all underexposed by exactly one stop. JPEGs, of course, are exposed as expected because the camera "fixed" them.

07-10-2013, 11:21 AM   #5
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Well, having shot with the K20D and K-01 extensively and almost exclusively in RAW I can tell you with certainty that the highlight correction is applied in RAW (and jpeg as well). What Adam is saying is that how the sensor receives the data is not really altered, it is just a matter of how the information is provided to the RAW converter. In order to provide one stop of added headroom, the ISO is shifted to ISO 200 and a natural roll off is applied in brightest areas. I like the way Pentax has implemented the correction, so I find it a worthwhile feature.

Could I do this myself? Well, yes I could do that by shooting at ISO 100, intentionally underexposing, and (re)applying the curve when I process the photo. However, that would turn my attention away from composing the photo, and add processing time when I do the conversion. Most likely, I wouldn't be any more proficient than letting the camera handle it. Those who have compared Pentax highlight compensation with the other brands have uniformly indicated that Pentax has done a better job of implementation. Sadly and ironically, few Pentax shooters take advantage of the feature because a few rather insistent posters claim that there's a gimmick to it. Well, yes and no.

Most likely shadow compensation is not applied to a RAW file in either the K-01 or K30 (despite DPreview indicating that the latter does apply it); the need to alter shadow detail is so variable that it is best left to the conversion process. The image information is there in any event (well at least anything more than total darkness). On the highlight side of it, the information goes away - so implementing a roll off curve is not only easier, but can be essential in high contrast situations.
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