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04-27-2014, 09:51 AM   #1
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k3 or K5 2s for HDR?

Hello. I used to use Pentax film cameras but never owned a Pentax digital. I wanted to get a dslr with "in camera" HDR and have read that Pentax has several good cameras for that use. My question is which Pentax Dslr is generally thought to be the best for HDR? K3 or K52s or some other model? Thanks for your insights and opinions.

04-27-2014, 10:15 AM   #2
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K-3 definitely. Better resolution, similar noise and much faster processing.
04-27-2014, 10:15 AM   #3
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I would think those would be the two best ones, and with little difference between them. That said, shooting with the "classic" K-5 I prefer to do the HDR on my computer. More power, more flexibility.

Well, since I almost always shot handheld, even when bracketing, I would say the K-3 is the best one since it has a higher burst rate.
04-27-2014, 10:26 AM   #4
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The problem with taking in-camera HDR photos is that you must shoot jpeg and you have relatively little control over it. I think even the K-50 would give you pretty good in-camera HDR (though, not as fast as the K-3). I'm not even sure if the HDR algorithms are different or if these cameras all do the same HDR thing. If the algorithms are the same, the main difference is MP. Oh, and the K-3 has a "raw HDR" function, but search for threads about it. Its not as useful as it might sound, since no software reads it quite correctly.
Anyway, I would suggest you use a tripod and do "exposure bracketing" (where the camera takes 3 or 5 photos of different brightness), and then stitch them to HDR on your computer with software like Photomatrix or some other HDR software. It takes a bit more work, though.
Oh, and one more thing. If you use a camera like the K-5IIs or the K-3 and take photos in raw, the file contains so much information you can practically make HDR-like photos with a single exposure. (again, you would need to use software like Lightroom or FastStone to process the raw data into a photo)

04-27-2014, 10:47 AM   #5
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Personally, I perfer using post processing for HDR or tone mapping, having the camera save each of the individual RAW images. However, since you are asking specifically about the in-camera HDR processing, in comparing and contrasting the K3 against the K5/II/IIs, I am going to suggest the K3 simply for the reason of having the resultant "HDR" available in RAW, since the K5/II/IIs only saves the resulting HDR in JPG only. The K3 provides support so that you can have your cake and eat it too...I have extracted the following from the Imageing-Resource link above - but did not copy the example images across. This goes into the differences between the K5/II/IIs and the K3 in terms of in-camera HDR.

HDR -- served raw! Lastly for this section of the Shooter's Report, I wanted to take a look at the K-3's HDR capabilities. There are two upgrades in the raw department, and between them it strikes me that I'd be much more likely to use in-camera HDR.

As things stand, although my K-5 supports HDR -- even handheld -- I simply never use the feature. That's largely because it can only output processed images in JPEG format. Once I head home, if I decide I'm not satisfied with the result once I look at the HDR in Lightroom -- well, it's probably too late to do anything about it. So I shoot my HDRs as separate images in raw, and process them once I get home -- if I remember. More likely, I get too busy and the HDR never happens at all.

With the K-3, you can save HDR images in either .PEF or .DNG raw format -- and it's not just a processed image, either. You can also control the step size between exposures, something that couldn't be done with the K-5, and which gives you quite a bit more control. The raws actually include all three source images in a single file. There's a positive and a negative to that approach, as I quickly discovered.

On the plus side, if you shoot raw+JPEG as I did in this review, you have matching filenames for both types. And if you shoot raw only, you have a single file that makes it clear to you this is an HDR. On the minus side, though, the file sizes are huge. I'm talking close to 100MB per image huge.

And also, every third-party app I tried -- be it Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Adobe Camera Raw, or DxO Optics Pro -- didn't recognize that there were three separate images, and cleverly layer them for me or even open them as separate files. As far as every program was concerned, this was a raw file containing a single, non-HDR raw image, and they wouldn't be told otherwise. (Want to try your own program? You can download both .PEF and .DNG HDR raws in the gallery.)

The answer, it turned out, was in Pentax's own, bundled software package, the Silkypix-based Digital Camera Utility 5. (And I'm guessing if you own a current, retail copy of Silkypix, it'll likely exhibit the same behavior.)

For one thing, Digital Camera Utility 5 does recognize the K-3's HDR raw files, both in .PEF and .DNG formats. That in itself felt like a breakthrough, after battling the third-party software without success. It wasn't entirely satisfying, though, because I'm a man of habit. I didn't want to learn another software package -- I wanted to use the apps I'm comfortable with.

And then I found nirvana. A little option in Digital Camera Utility's Tools menu by the name of "Separation of HDR RAW file" made life great once more. With that one little option, suddenly the one unwieldy raw file could become three, sharing the same prefix and then _1, _2, or _3. The original file type is respected -- if you shot DNG, you get three separate DNG raws. It even provides an option to rename the new files, should you choose.

For the first time in my many years of owning Pentax DSLRs, I think Digital Camera Utility 5 will be staying on my PC, solely to give me access to this tool. And I think I'll be shooting more HDRs, as well, safe in the knowledge I'll have easy access to the fuss-free, camera-processed version, but with the originals on hand should I want to dig deeper.
04-27-2014, 06:43 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
The problem with taking in-camera HDR photos is that you must shoot jpeg

The K-3 can shoot RAW or JPEG HDR pictures.
04-28-2014, 03:19 AM   #7
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For shooting in camera RAW, you will find the K3 to be a little better/faster. The RAW HDR files are tough, because as interested_observer says, the only software that actually can edit them is Pentax's software. If you are going that direction, it would be easier to take three multi exposure photos and then edit them post hoc.
05-19-2014, 08:07 PM   #8
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one of the strenght of K3 is the ability to shoot RAW HDR pic.
Its processing time for HDR is faster than K5IIs.


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