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11-06-2013, 12:26 PM   #1
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Question about 6MP bodies and low light performance

Ok well I recently sold my 18MP Canon and bought a K200D, and have been building up a nice collection of old lenses for stupidly little money. Now I'm thinking 10MP is still too many pixels for shooting in low light and am looking to add an earlier model with the 6MP sensor.

My question is therefore two-fold: do people agree that fewer pixels gives better low-light performance, and if so which is the best of the 6MP bodies to go for? I'm also looking at Samsung (dunno if I'm allowed to use that word here!) seeing as they were basically the same.

So far I'm looking at cheapish bodies on feebay and have spotted a K110D, and *ist DS and a SS GX 1L. Any one of these better than another or is there something else I should be looking to get? Or am I deluded about the low-light performance of older cameras?

Thanks in anticipation

11-06-2013, 12:34 PM   #2
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From everything I've read the K5 was a big jump in low-light imagery. Focus of course is always going to be tricky because of the AF technology. Still, shooting the older bodies in RAW will show more detail - though you will likely find some limits there as well.
11-06-2013, 12:36 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Darley Quote
Ok well I recently sold my 18MP Canon and bought a K200D, and have been building up a nice collection of old lenses for stupidly little money. Now I'm thinking 10MP is still too many pixels for shooting in low light and am looking to add an earlier model with the 6MP sensor.

My question is therefore two-fold: do people agree that fewer pixels gives better low-light performance, and if so which is the best of the 6MP bodies to go for? I'm also looking at Samsung (dunno if I'm allowed to use that word here!) seeing as they were basically the same.

So far I'm looking at cheapish bodies on feebay and have spotted a K110D, and *ist DS and a SS GX 1L. Any one of these better than another or is there something else I should be looking to get? Or am I deluded about the low-light performance of older cameras?

Thanks in anticipation
I'm not sure if there is any correlation between low-light performance and fewer pixel sensor but one thing it's very clear in my mind is the K100D / K100DS is the best bet for low-light with regard to older Pentax DSLR 6MP bodies. There are a lot of threads that second my opinion.

Besides, the K100D can be found for little as $75-$100 these days so you can't really go wrong with it.
11-06-2013, 12:37 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by TER-OR Quote
From everything I've read the K5 was a big jump in low-light imagery. Focus of course is always going to be tricky because of the AF technology. Still, shooting the older bodies in RAW will show more detail - though you will likely find some limits there as well.
Most of my lenses are manual so AF is not really an issue! And I'm on a budget

11-06-2013, 12:38 PM   #5
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Unless you are willing to use very long exposures, no, a lower MP body will not give you better low light performance.

The only way to get better low light performance is to use faster lenses, and/or newer sensors. The 12 MP sensor in the K-x is good up to about ISO 2000, and I've gotten usable images from the K-5 at ISO 20,000.
11-06-2013, 12:38 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Darley Quote
Ok well I recently sold my 18MP Canon and bought a K200D, and have been building up a nice collection of old lenses for stupidly little money. Now I'm thinking 10MP is still too many pixels for shooting in low light and am looking to add an earlier model with the 6MP sensor.

My question is therefore two-fold: do people agree that fewer pixels gives better low-light performance, and if so which is the best of the 6MP bodies to go for? I'm also looking at Samsung (dunno if I'm allowed to use that word here!) seeing as they were basically the same.

So far I'm looking at cheapish bodies on feebay and have spotted a K110D, and *ist DS and a SS GX 1L. Any one of these better than another or is there something else I should be looking to get? Or am I deluded about the low-light performance of older cameras?

Thanks in anticipation
The newer Pentax bodies (K-3, K-5, K-50, K-30) will all outperform the 6Mp ones any day. The new tech has come quite far!

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11-06-2013, 12:39 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by ducdao Quote
I'm not sure if there is any correlation between low-light performance and fewer pixel sensor but one thing it's very clear in my mind is the K100D / K100DS is the best bet for low-light with regard to older Pentax DSLR 6MP bodies. There are a lot of threads that second my opinion.

Besides, the K100D can be found for little as $75-$100 these days so you can't really go wrong with it.
Thanks ducdao I will look into that.

The more I read and understand about sensors the more I think fewer is better in some situations. Some people rave about the Nikon D40 as being one of the best cameras you can buy even though it's old and only has 6MP. I think modern technology may address the issue but I'm on a budget and just looking to experiment.
11-06-2013, 12:41 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
Unless you are willing to use very long exposures, no, a lower MP body will not give you better low light performance.

The only way to get better low light performance is to use faster lenses, and/or newer sensors. The 12 MP sensor in the K-x is good up to about ISO 2000, and I've gotten usable images from the K-5 at ISO 20,000.
Thanks Boris but is it not a fact that larger pixels can gather more light than smaller ones? Assuming the same physical dimensions, the pixels on a 6MP sensor will be twice the size of those on a 12MP sensor and therefore better able to capture light. That's my understanding anyway!

11-06-2013, 12:42 PM   #9
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While much later bodies like the K5 especially and the K30 have far superior high ISO they are not cheap. The K10 and K200 share the same sensor and I was disappointed at the high ISO performance of Hegel K10 compared to my *istD. But other things like SR and higher resolution outweigh the high ISO disadvantage.

My night camera is actually an *istD and it has a lot of flash advantages over every other Pentax body so it is worth considering even if hype image buffer is SLLOOOOWWWWWW compared to current cameras
11-06-2013, 12:46 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
While much later bodies like the K5 especially and the K30 have far superior high ISO they are not cheap. The K10 and K200 share the same sensor and I was disappointed at the high ISO performance of Hegel K10 compared to my *istD. But other things like SR and higher resolution outweigh the high ISO disadvantage.

My night camera is actually an *istD and it has a lot of flash advantages over every other Pentax body so it is worth considering even if hype image buffer is SLLOOOOWWWWWW compared to current cameras
Well I have 2 DSLRs already and am only looking to add something that might have better light-gathering capabilities. It's a bit of an experiment too! I figure a $100 camera is no great loss if it doesn't do what I want it to - I just sell t for $99
11-06-2013, 12:56 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Darley Quote
Well I have 2 DSLRs already and am only looking to add something that might have better light-gathering capabilities. It's a bit of an experiment too! I figure a $100 camera is no great loss if it doesn't do what I want it to - I just sell t for $99
The *istD is a great little camera, I still have mine, along with a K10, a K7 and a K 5. It is just not worth selling old bodies compared to what you pay new
11-06-2013, 12:56 PM   #12
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Another example - compare low light performance of a compact with a DSLR. No comparison. My brand new Canon SX160IS 16MP takes great pics in good light (brilliant for macro) but is a total waste of time when the light fades. Look also at Olympus 4/3 sensors which were too small and led to poor dynamic range when they tried upping the number of pixels. Where are Olympus DSLRs now?

Old full-frame cameras like the Canon 5D with only 12MP easily out-perform modern 20MP APS cameras because they gather more light. No matter how good the image processing or ISO performance, surely size matters?

Let us assume I'm right for now (!) and get back to the question of which is the better of the 6MP cameras. I've seen a vote for the 100D. Any more? I'll get one and if I'm wrong I'll come back and say so
11-06-2013, 12:58 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by ducdao Quote
one thing it's very clear in my mind is the K100D / K100DS is the best bet for low-light with regard to older Pentax DSLR 6MP bodies
That is probably true, though I don't know that the high ISO (3200) performance is that great. What you mostly get over the K200D is the additional stop sensitivity.


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11-06-2013, 12:59 PM   #14
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I've had both the K100D & the *istD (same sensor). They both produce pretty clean images up to 800 iso, but no higher than that. As Lowell mentioned, the *istD is TTL-flash capable, so that might be a consideration. I should mention that the *istD has a far superior (larger and brighter) viewfinder.
11-06-2013, 01:00 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Darley Quote
Or am I deluded about the low-light performance of older cameras?
Perhaps. Things were pretty grim all around back when those cameras were new. I would check out the reviews at DPReview.com.


Steve
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