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04-30-2017, 07:29 AM   #1
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Any significant improvement in mid ISO quality since K5?

I know when I got my used K5 to replace my K20D the differences in image quality in the 800 to 3200 ISO range were really impressive to the point of 800 on the K20D looking like 1600 or 3200 on the K5.
But I think the K5 was a big jump specifically in that area more than previous newer models.

I know the Pentax cameras go to ISO 100000008 now but all useless gimicky numbers aside whats the quality improvement in the normal range.


I am using the upper middle ISO range on my K5 for astrophotography with an OGPS1 and pixelation and noise are really bad to have in the shots, especially if I want to crop on a specific object. I know there are some software solutions that actually work on these pictures without knocking out stars as noise, but its better to just start with a cleaner image.


I am basically trying to decide if I should replace my K5. Already have a K-1 in the future plans simply for FOV since I am too much a film era shooter, but if its way better ISO wise maybe I should push the upgrade date up. As I understand it just having the larger sensor would improve low light sensitivity for various reasons.

04-30-2017, 07:37 AM   #2
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I think the K-70, KP and K-1 should have noise properties slightly better than the K-5, but not very jaw-droppingly much. The K-5 series was pretty astounding, close to the limits. Things won't get much better in the range up to 3200, its the upper range that is getting interesting. ISO 6400 used to be useless, now it might be acceptable.

All I can recommend is to get better NR is software. That has taken bigger strides since the K-5 was released than the sensors. Topez Denoise, Nik Efects Define,.. using special techniques like dark frame NRm Pixel shift..

QuoteOriginally posted by PPPPPP42 Quote
I know there are some software solutions that actually work on these pictures without knocking out stars as noise, but its better to just start with a cleaner image.
Yeah, K-5 is pretty great. If you want K-1 or KP you might get a slight improvement, but its probably more economical to spend the money on software first. Much cheaper than buying a whole new camera.
Although, things like Pixel shift and bigger MP count might help you out in some situations. You can crop a 24MP image more than a 16MP image. And no AA, so the images will be sharper.
04-30-2017, 07:44 AM   #3
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The K-5 is still a very good camera.

The K-1 is the best low light/ high ISO option.

The KP shows promise, but we've yet to see numbers on Dynamic Range. A K-3 is not as good at either. I'm kind of hoping the KP will bring the 24 MP sensor back to K-5 ISO values. At that point you truly get the advantage of the larger sensor. IF that turns out tone the case, then the KP will be there first real successor to the K-5. The K-3 is more an action camera.
04-30-2017, 07:53 AM - 2 Likes   #4
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My experience: the k-3 had worse noise than the k-5 when pixel peeping, but for the overall image performed better because of the additional sharpness due to lack of AA filter. I'd be happy using the k-3 at ISO 3200, but was only ever happy with 2000 for the k-5. I had a ks-1 for a while, the ISO performance was a touch better than the k-3. I'd probably prefer to keep that at 3200, but 4000 was there if needed. The downside though is that the white balance and colour accuracy wasn't as good.

The k-1 was a bit of a jump. I personally prefer to keep it under ISO 10000, but if it's warrented, I'll push it to ISO 16000, but that will require a bit more effort in light room. At pixel peeping resolutions it's somewhere between half a stop to a full stop better than the k-5 at least. When however you consider that you're getting 36mp rather than 16mp, the overall effect is that the image quality at higher isos is improved (unless you're uploading the images to Facebook, which seems to amplify the noise in a really nasty way!)

Comparing ISO performance between the bodies, I'd say that ISO 1600 on the k-5, is equivalent to ISO 2000 (k-3), ISO 2500 (ks-1), ISO 8000 (k-1). [when viewing the final images at full size, and not pixel peeping]. I've not had a chance to use the KP myself, but if it slotted in somewhere between 2500 and 3200, it wouldn't suprise me.

But that's just my opinion. The difference between the apsc bodies isn't massive, the difference between the apsc bodies and the k-1 is noticeable.

(If the k-1 was in crop mode, it's not that different to the ks-1 in my opinion - that apsc camera being the best ISO performer I've played with to date - although the white balance and colour rendition isn't up there with any of the 14bit raw models)


Last edited by robthebloke; 04-30-2017 at 08:03 AM.
04-30-2017, 10:20 AM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
The K-5 is still a very good camera.

The K-1 is the best low light/ high ISO option.

The KP shows promise, but we've yet to see numbers on Dynamic Range. A K-3 is not as good at either. I'm kind of hoping the KP will bring the 24 MP sensor back to K-5 ISO values. At that point you truly get the advantage of the larger sensor. IF that turns out tone the case, then the KP will be there first real successor to the K-5. The K-3 is more an action camera.
Funny how you ignore k-70
04-30-2017, 10:34 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tigs Quote
Funny how you ignore k-70
My understanding is that the K-70 was an AF improvement but not necessarily high ISO noise or Dynamic Range improvement. The KP has the extra imaging processor that helps with noise, same as the K-1. The K-70 doesn't. That's what I think, feel free to correct me.
04-30-2017, 11:31 AM   #7
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The K-70 has the "Accelerator Unit" as well - paired with the Prime M II instead of the Prime IV, but it's there.
04-30-2017, 11:35 AM   #8
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I have a K-30 and a KP. The KP is one stop better on pixel level in ISO 800-6400 range. Adding the megapixels, I think it's approximetly 1.5 stop noise performance.
I set auto ISO on K-30 to 100-1600, and I set the KP to 100-6400 for general work.

04-30-2017, 11:38 AM   #9
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The pixels in the K-1 are about the same size as those in the K-5, so you will not gain any reach when cropping. And if you do crop so that Andromeda for instance have the same size as when you shoot with the K-5 you will not gain anything, well close to nothing. Comparing pixel for pixel the advantage is small.

However the K-1 has so many more pixels and if you use them all, then you will se about one stop improvement over the K-5. So wide angle shoots will improve, cropping hard not so much, if anything at all.

Also in my experience, although that might be due to sample variation, the O-GPS1 works better on the K5 then the built in tracker does in my K-1. Probably due to O-GPS1 being further away from the magnets in the camera.
04-30-2017, 11:49 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
My understanding is that the K-70 was an AF improvement but not necessarily high ISO noise or Dynamic Range improvement. The KP has the extra imaging processor that helps with noise, same as the K-1. The K-70 doesn't. That's what I think, feel free to correct me.
Just having switched from a K-5 IIS to a a K-70 I can confirm that without a doubt the K-70 is a jump up. My guess is a full step and then some advantage.
04-30-2017, 01:42 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by newmikey Quote
Just having switched from a K-5 IIS to a a K-70 I can confirm that without a doubt the K-70 is a jump up. My guess is a full step and then some advantage.
That sounds awesome,

A few IR comparisons...
K-3II vs K-70 1600 ISO , K-70 is better


KP vs. K-70 1600 ISO, K-70 is better


K-5 at 1600 ISO, really, the poorest of the images in terms of noise.


IN this series, the K-70 definitely looks to be the best of the bunch. 1600 would normally be the highest I would shoot one of these cameras so to me, it's a comparison of what i would get at my highest preferred ISO.

OK someone tell me why the KP is so good again? The K-70 image just looks to have a bit more life to it. Although look at how much more detail the K-5 has in the red fabric swath. That's just surprising.

Last edited by normhead; 04-30-2017 at 01:49 PM.
04-30-2017, 05:05 PM   #12
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I have the K-5, but mostly use my K-5 IIs which I found is a bit sharper in many cases due to lack of an AA filter. It is great for both low noise with also better detail, so I find it usable for most subject matter up to ISO 3200. That case of the red fabric design being better with the K-5 is due to more noise suppression necessary with the K-70, since the K-5/K-5 IIs sensor has less native noise requiring less noise control. But most other detail is unaffected by the excellent anti-noise properties of the K-70, or the KP, or the K-1. Oftentimes, anti-noise properties will smooth out overall detail along with noise.
05-01-2017, 08:23 AM   #13
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Go to this comparison page on DXO Mark. You can compare SN, dynamic range, color depth, etc. From about 3200 upwards, the K1 noise performance is about 2.5 dB better than the K5, and superior in other measurements, as well.

Pentax K-1 vs Pentax K-5
05-01-2017, 08:39 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by CDW Quote
Go to this comparison page on DXO Mark. You can compare SN, dynamic range, color depth, etc. From about 3200 upwards, the K1 noise performance is about 2.5 dB better than the K5, and superior in other measurements, as well.

Pentax K-1 vs Pentax K-5
DxO mark doesn't give you images but shares their evaluation. I prefer to look at the images and make my own evaluation. But for Dynamic Range, they are the guys.
05-01-2017, 07:03 PM   #15
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I am confused, in those 5 shots I would say the K5 shot was clearly the best because its the only one that captured detail instead of erasing it as was mentioned.
Any camera can process out all the noise if it goes far enough, but that's the opposite of what I want as I am essentially taking a picture of noise when doing astrophotography and always end up working exclusively with the raws.


I am mainly interested in the cameras abilities to create as clean a raw as possible and not its ability to clean up its mess.
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