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07-24-2015, 03:35 PM   #1
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K-3ii for low light?

Hello everyone, I am new to these forums. I currently shoot a Canon T3i with a kit lens for about 3 years now, I'm ready to upgrade. Almost all my shots are landscape but now I want to get into night landscape, incorporating stars, star trails, and the milky way into my landscapes. My current camera doesn't cut it because it is pretty noisy at 800 ISO. I amloove many features of the K-3ii such as the pixel shift for the day landscapes, no AA filter, and the GPS. There's also a great selection of lenses that aren't as much as full frame lenses. The only thing keeping me from getting one is that I'm unsure of how it handles high ISO for really dark places. I'm not sure if I should go with a full frame camera such as a Canon 6D instead. Any input would help, thanks everyone.

07-24-2015, 03:40 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by aguerra.1993 Quote
Hello everyone, I am new to these forums. I currently shoot a Canon T3i with a kit lens for about 3 years now, I'm ready to upgrade. Almost all my shots are landscape but now I want to get into night landscape, incorporating stars, star trails, and the milky way into my landscapes. My current camera doesn't cut it because it is pretty noisy at 800 ISO. I amloove many features of the K-3ii such as the pixel shift for the day landscapes, no AA filter, and the GPS. There's also a great selection of lenses that aren't as much as full frame lenses. The only thing keeping me from getting one is that I'm unsure of how it handles high ISO for really dark places. I'm not sure if I should go with a full frame camera such as a Canon 6D instead. Any input would help, thanks everyone.
The 6D would have better high ISO performance overall, but if you want to use the pixel shifting at night, it'll also significantly reduce the amount of noise compared to what you'd normally see. The only caveat is that you have to be on a tripod and that nothing in your scene can move (not even due to wind).

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07-24-2015, 03:47 PM   #3
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I have a sturdy tripod already. Would pixel shift not be affected by Earth's rotation? Do you think I'd be able to produce large prints like 16x20 or even larger with night shots or would noise be an issue at those sizes?
07-24-2015, 05:00 PM   #4
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In addition to the body, the lens that you use will make a difference - in particular the focus length and the aperture. Take a look at LonelySpec's article on the topic. He has a scoring criteria for comparing various lenses, based on their focus length, aperture and the sensor size along with the shutter speed...Ian has reduced it to a spreadsheet...You are going to be limited to the amount of shutter time, before the stars begin to start to trail. With Pentax using the GPS you can get up to 5 minutes on an image, but that will blur the landscape elements (since the sensor is tracking the stars, it blurs the items that are stationary). So, to keep everything in the frame in good focus, not blurred - you are going to be limited in terms of the shutter speed.

Pixel shift is affected by the Earth's rotation. Since the pixel shift takes 4 images in quick succession, if say 20 seconds is your maximum shutter time, then you would want to take 20 seconds/4 images equaling 5 seconds as the maximum shutter time for each individual pixel shifted shot.



07-25-2015, 04:07 PM   #5
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He has a great review of theFuji X-T1, which was a camera I was originally thinking about. The thing that really makes me lean towards that is the weight and space savings, as I travel with just a 38L backpack for extended periods of time, sometimes including my camp equipment. The night photos he gets with it seem great. I'll make sure to get really fast glass.
07-25-2015, 04:44 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by aguerra.1993 Quote
He has a great review of the Fuji X-T1, which was a camera I was originally thinking about. The thing that really makes me lean towards that is the weight and space savings, as I travel with just a 38L backpack for extended periods of time, sometimes including my camp equipment. The night photos he gets with it seem great. I'll make sure to get really fast glass.
I believe that there are several folks here who shoot or have shot with Fuji. I might suggest a post asking for a comparison between the two. The folks here, even with a bias towards Pentax are unbelievably pretty fair. Also Ian Norman has moved to the Sony A7 body for the most part as I understand it.

07-25-2015, 05:50 PM   #7
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I was actually just thinking I don't know why I decided theXT1 over the Pentax. Apart from size and weight, there aren't any things the XT1 will do better than the K3ii, I might as well get the Pentax and spend what I saved in good glass. It's also more megapixels, which should be nice for bigger prints
07-25-2015, 07:00 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by aguerra.1993 Quote
I was actually just thinking I don't know why I decided theXT1 over the Pentax. Apart from size and weight, there aren't any things the XT1 will do better than the K3ii, I might as well get the Pentax and spend what I saved in good glass. It's also more megapixels, which should be nice for bigger prints
For what its worth I have done landscape prints over 30" with my K30......that's a far cry a much lesser camera than the K3 or K3II. I think you will see a significant improvement with a K30 (Not to mention a K3) over the Canon T3i.....I know because I had one !


Last edited by Dlanor Sekao; 07-25-2015 at 08:25 PM.
07-25-2015, 07:11 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by aguerra.1993 Quote
I was actually just thinking I don't know why I decided theXT1 over the Pentax. Apart from size and weight, there aren't any things the XT1 will do better than the K3ii, I might as well get the Pentax and spend what I saved in good glass. It's also more megapixels, which should be nice for bigger prints
Have you done some searching for threads here on the Forum? A couple of these are long running threads going back a few years and are at 800-1000 posts. But still a lot of good information.
07-25-2015, 07:27 PM - 2 Likes   #10
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I had a K3, switched to XT1 a month after it was released and a few months back came running back to Pentax to purchase a k3. Im now waiting on the Australia distributor to get shipment of the fixed k3ii.
I was seduced by the XT1 lenses and the large EVF. I don't really care for the retro look. I spent 12months with the XT1 before things like,slow AF, EVF issues (lag when shooting bursts and difficult to see in bright light), size/ergonomics (small camera doesn't work with bigger zooms, nothing to hold onto)
and processing RAF (to get maximum detail requires extra software and steps - LR does not process the xtrans files well. I would use Iridient to convert the RAF to TIFF and return to LR/PS for final processing) saw me switch back to Pentax. Oh, nearly forgot, battery life is poor. You need 2-4 batteries depending on how you shoot to get through a day..

The k3 ergonomics really work for me. I can pretty much keep the camera to me eye and control the camera with my right hand and concentrate on the photo. With the XT1 due to its small size and dials I would have to be pulling the camera down to check. The most irritating issue was 9/10 when moving the ISO dial I would accidentally move the shooting mode dial below. So i would find myself bracketing , doing pano's, in CH mode ...etc and would only realise after I took the next shot.. The buttons are awfully small don't even try using this camera with gloves. "Back button focusing" is not implement as per dslrs. You can use BBF and it works for single focus, but for continuous focus you still have to use the shutter button half press.

The K3 body is heavier but its built like a tank. The Kmount FA and limited primes are small just like the x-mount lens but not as fast. k3 has better flash implementation (pentax is not great but the XT1 flash functionality is extremely poor).

I did some astro on the XT1. The big issue is most of the x-mount lens have lots of coma when using f1.4 and need to be stopped down to f2.8 + to reduce or remove it. Pentax don't have fast lenses but they have the astro tracer which sort of negates the need for super fast lenses.. Obviously a fast lens with the astro tracer would be awesome.

ISO performance is similar. Looking at XT1 RAF files at ISO 3200 and 6400 they will look cleaner compared to k3 PEF's.. With the XT1 files there is some slight smudging which reduces the details but have a cleaner appearance . The k3 files look grainier but have more detail. If you run the K3 file through a decent NR utility you can reduce/remove the grain and end up with a better result.

So there are some of my experiences with the 2 systems. Im glad i tried mirrorless and the XT1. For me the XT1 didn't work out for others its a great solution.
07-25-2015, 09:53 PM   #11
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Low light is amazing on Pentax cameras. I feel that Pentax squeezes every last bit of performance from the sensors too. The original K5 and the D7000 had pretty much the exact same sensors, and they were released in 2010 within a month of each other. My friend's D7000 gets horrible purple banding grain even at ISO 12,800 even in decent lighting conditions. My K5 goes all the way up to 51,200 and pics are still "usable" for web and small print. I have tried the T3i in store for about 30 minutes and the ISO performance was absolutely horrible - partially because Canon makes their own proprietary sensors, while other camera manufacturers mainly use Sony's sensors.

K5, ISO 51,200 RAW SOOC


K5, ISO 51,200 RAW Processed with Topaz Denoise


Taken from this thread: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/115-pentax-k-5/118728-k-5-dng-raw-iso-cas...0-51200-a.html
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