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06-30-2016, 08:27 AM   #1
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low light advices

hello everyone.

I have an ugly/beautiful k-01 and what I think is the best lens lineup for my needs (da12-24, da15, da21, da35, k 50 f1.2, da70). A complete and compact system that I can take with me everywhere (I hate zooms except the 12-24)

I'm an artist, so I need nice pictures to document my work.

the fact is that I'm a light artist, that means the 90% of my shots are on poor light/difficult light/no light situation.

the k-01 raw are good enough but I can never go over 1600 iso or the result won't be good: I work with color light, so the color noise kind of ruin the detail.
same for video, sometimes I need a short video to show movements and reflections. video it's not something crucial, the k-01 does the job

as the business is good, I'm thinking of changing equipment to enhance the low light images. what are the options in 2016?

as I love my lens setup, It would be nice to stay in pentax...but not necessarily much better is the k-3II over my k-01 in terms on noise? or ks-2? k-1 is too heavy I think to be carried on daily routine.

or should I sell everything and go for a sony A7 and a decent prime?


06-30-2016, 08:51 AM   #2
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K3II is 1-2 stop better then KS-2..K-1 is 2-3 stop better then K-3II again.
06-30-2016, 08:56 AM   #3
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I don't find the K-1 all that heavy and it does very well in low light but you might want to switch to some FF lenses (like the 77 instead of the 70).
Or the K-3ii is very capable and would work with all your existing lenses.
06-30-2016, 09:51 AM   #4
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The K-1 is the best low light pentax available. However, almost all the lenses you have won't take advantage of the large sensor. Maybe it makes more sense to invest in some good noise reduction software?

06-30-2016, 10:09 AM   #5
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Your 50mm f1.2 is as pretty good tool for taking pictures in low light if you use it well, though I have no idea what your photography skill level is.

Your K-01 is so good with a fast lens you may not need to change the camera, or if you do you many have to spend a lot of money to get a very small improvement. How many lenses besides the 50mm f1.2 do you have that are faster than f2.8? There is that incredible Sigma f1.8 zoom, it ought to provide you with some extra options and it is available now in Pentax mount. If as you say your K-01 raw files are good enough then I would just look at the Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 zoom for when you need something with a wider field of view. It's a very sharp and fast zoom, the fastest zoom lens for a DSLR ever, and better solutions are much more expensive. If you have a strong preference for primes there are also several Sigma prime lenses that are very fast, like their 30mm f1.4 which may be of use to you, the Sigma 35mm f1.4 and the 85mm f1.4. The old Pentax SMC-A lenses might make life easier too.

A K-1 will perform better, yes, but it's up to you whether it's worth that extra. It can use all the existing lenses too and that will save you money over switching to a whole new system.

You may get a better low light performance out of that Sony but will it be worth the extra money? That's up to you in the end, but unless your results are just pain bad with your current kit and learning to use it better won't help I would just look at one or two lens options.
06-30-2016, 10:16 AM   #6
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I also believe the K-01 (same sensor as K5) is likely the best Pentax DSLR, excepting the new FF K1. This based on DXO sensor tests, that I had previously looked at comparing K5 and K-3.
If you don't mind seeing a dark image in preview, you may want to underexpose at the base iso, rather than using higher iso. This approach is very sensor dependent, but works well for the K-5 (and thus likely for the K-01).
06-30-2016, 10:49 AM - 1 Like   #7
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It could be the post processing software that you are using. I use RawTherapee & I get pretty great results up to ISO 6400. It all depends on how much noise reduction versus detail retention you are willing to tolerate.

^ I have a thread on this software. Its free. Doesn't hurt to try.

Another software that has impressed me is DXO. I have version 9 right now. The PRIME noise reduction engine can do wonders for ISO 6400 to ISO 25600 images. I can shoot up to ISO 25600 on my K-50 & get very decent results. It does however take about +-4 minutes to process a RAW file, so I only process the ones that I like.


^ It's also free. Just type in you email & they will send you a serial number & a download link. You can uncheck the box so that you don't get additional email from them.
06-30-2016, 11:04 AM   #8
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The Sigma 28mm f1.8 is very usable wide open. I have been quite surprised how well it works.

06-30-2016, 12:04 PM - 1 Like   #9
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I find using a tripod is a very good way to deal with low light situations.
06-30-2016, 12:35 PM   #10
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No one who has picked ups K-1, as far as I know, has though it was too heavy, or left the store without it. You should really give it a try. If you want APS_c, Ithe bert noise reduction high ISO performance for APS-c will be in the soon to be released K-70, which boasts a higher ISO setting than the K-3, but still has a tilt screen, pixel shift and will use all your lenses.

The K-1 ISO 204800
The K-1 features a newly designed PRIME IV imaging engine. Compared with the previous PRIME III version, it is fine-tuned to process higher-resolution images, while boosting the operating frequency by nearly 50 percent. Its noise-processing algorithm has also been upgraded to capture beautiful, fine-gradation images at higher sensitivities. A combination of an advanced scene analysis system and new image-processing functions helps improve the accuracy and reliability of image reproduction.

The K-70 uses the Prime MII - ISO 102400
The PENTAX K-70 features a new accelerator unit, which has been designed to optimize the newly developed, high-performance noise-processing technology. In combination with the PRIME MII imaging engine, this unit effectively reduces noise to a minimum, even during super-high sensitivity shooting at ISO 102400 (standard output sensitivity). This combination not only improves image quality at more commonly used sensitivities, but also delivers beautifully depicted images at higher sensitivities by minimizing graininess. As the result, it expands the boundaries of low-illumination photography.

K-3- ISO 51200
High-performance imaging engine delivers significantly-improved imaging performance
To take full advantage of PENTAX’s experience and expertise in digital-imaging and data-processing technologies, the K-3 II has adopted an imaging engine used in PENTAX 645Z. This high-performance engine assures high-efficiency, high-speed processing of captured image data.

K-S2 - 51200
The latest original PRIME M II imaging engine is used on this camera. Together with the high-performance sensor, beautiful depiction with minimal roughness, transparent colors and a natural sense of details is possible even at high ISO sensitivity.

K-3 52100 ISO
Prime III

It looks like if you wish to stay APS-c the upcoming K-70 is your best bet for low light, until the next flagship APS-c comes out. , It is a stop faster than the K-3 , a stop less than the K-1 Of course, it's really hard to recommend a camera no-one has seen, but you might want to wait for it, I am. With low light being my new priority, the K-3 adresses everything else, I like the shutter speed, I like the AF performance, but I'd like a little better noise reduction 1600-3200 ISO. If it can be as clean at 3200 ISO as the K-1 is at 6400 ISO, in my mind it's a winner. I can hardly wait to see the Imaging Resources images at 1600 and 3200 ISO.

Last edited by normhead; 06-30-2016 at 12:43 PM.
06-30-2016, 12:53 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by drugoz Quote
90% of my shots are on poor light/difficult light/no light situation.
your case is very particular. ISO capability won't solve it alone and is not the main issue.

what is the type of light you use ? tungsten? leds? incandescent? ..?

the source of light is by far the most important thing for pictures in general, and for your pictures too. especially considering the poor amount of light you want.

then, you can think camera and lenses
06-30-2016, 01:18 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by phat_bog Quote
your case is very particular. ISO capability won't solve it alone and is not the main issue.
it's not like high ISO sensitivity wouldn't help

To the OP
Do you have any images taken with your K-01, it's much easier to see what might help if we can see exactly what your issues are.
06-30-2016, 01:39 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
it's not like high ISO sensitivity wouldn't help
Well in a matter of fact no, not that much, as it depends of what he is shooting and how.

his main issue is light. "poor" light.

I need to know what his lights are in order to give a good reply . And also, i don't know is he using that poor lights to shoot something and/or is he shooting other lights.

Different lightsources have diffent CRI (= color rendring index). And CRI has as impact on color rendition, independent of white balance you choose, creating color shifts and having impact on accurate rendering.

ISO is secondary
06-30-2016, 02:58 PM   #14

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QuoteOriginally posted by The Squirrel Mafia Quote
It could be the post processing software that you are using.
Always useful to consider this. It's not just the hardware nowadays. Can make a huge difference to noise reduction, plus of course vastly expand your output options. Lightroom, DxO Optics Pro, Capture One - all really do help you push the limits of your camera, particularly at high ISO.
07-01-2016, 08:41 AM   #15
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phat_bog is right, my problem maybe isn't iso but also dynamic range.

I'll try to give you more information. I'll post picture later, as now I'm far away from them. there are lot of examples anyway on my webpage massimilianomoro
I use lightroom since it appeared, tried during the years various softwares and my first pentax was an istd* so the problem of development and learning digital technique should be covered. (for what it is worth I studied photography for 2 years)

My sculptures are all built with colored high power LED with terrible CRI and most of the time touching UV or IR light. I'm very used to have huge color shift issues when I use blues for example. the pictures I need are normally of the shadows that objects and people cast over walls or ceiling.

what I need is a wide angle picture that cover all the room and details of the shadows.

mostly they are in motion, so a tripod can't help because I have anyway to freeze the movement, so I can never shoot under 1/30th

in the room usually there is enough light for the sensor, but as it is coloured it gives often a false reading, what's more problematic is that it's not evenly illuminated. so maybe in the same shot I have a very bright side and a subtle shadow. for example half of the pic need 1/500th and other half 1/10th.with the k01 if I go for the fast I can't recover the dark side, and if I go for the dark the bright part are burned.

same goes for reducing noise software: some shadows intersections are very small and subtle, so if I go for aggresive NR, I loose all details.

a faster wide angle lens would certainly help as mine are all f4, the f1.2 of the k50 helps a lot, but I really like the portability of the pentax primes, so my thought was instead of changing lenses changing the body to recover those stops I loose withe the slow f4 or 2.8 of the 35mm...

the k01's sensor is old, so I thought that maybe a newer one can react better on adverse scenes as are mines.

sigma 30 1.4 is appealing...I tried it on a canon body and it was very good...but it isn't wide enough...

thanks for all the help.

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