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02-02-2009, 06:10 PM   #1
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K200D low light/high iso performance

I'm interested in K200D users' experiences with that camera's performance in low light and high ISO situations. I often shoot my family indoors, especially in the evening, and the lighting in my house is pretty poor. I'm considering buying the K200D but I'm concerned that its high ISO performance, while significantly better than the superzoom P&S I currently have, won't be up to snuff. I have no doubt that the K20D would satisfy me, but that's more $$$ than I want to spend. Any feedback would be helpful.

Indytax.

02-02-2009, 06:42 PM   #2
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I use a k200D and am very happy with its low light performance... however I believe it also mainly depends on the kind of lens you use. The kit lens give reasonable performance under moderate lighting conditions, however I mainly use wide aperture lenses indoors as they perform far better in low light situation, I have FA 50mm f1.4 which is an amazing portrait lens and performance at ISO 1600 is very good. So I would say buy a nice lens with the k200D and you would be happy..
02-02-2009, 06:44 PM   #3
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There is a K100D on the BST thread, it should be fine for what you want.

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02-02-2009, 07:22 PM   #4
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I find it excellent - at least as good as the *istDS I had been using before, and probably a bit better in that in retains more detail and stands up to more aggressive noise reduction if you like. When light is *really* low, I'll even shoot up to a stop or so underexposed and push in PP to give the effect of ISO 3200 or more.

Some high ISO shots in the type of settings you are talking about. All shot at f/2.8:

ISO 1600 (with M100/2.8):


ISO 1100 (with DA40/2.8)


ISO 1600 pushed one stop to emulate ISO 3200 (with DA40/2.8):



Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 02-07-2009 at 11:33 AM.
02-02-2009, 07:24 PM   #5
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I'll second acceptable low-light/high ISO performance using the K200D and fast lenses. Both the FA50 and the DA*16-50 produce very good results, so far.
02-02-2009, 08:56 PM   #6
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Marc,

On your second shot at ISO 1100 - is that emulating the film speed since I understand there is no such setting on the 200D?

In any case, I'm glad you posted these. The first shot is pretty good quality as far as I'm concerned. The last pic is a bit grainy, but if you messed with the settings to emulate 3200 then it's still not bad.
02-03-2009, 09:09 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Edward B. Quote
On your second shot at ISO 1100 - is that emulating the film speed since I understand there is no such setting on the 200D?
The K200D has a custom option to control whether ISO changes by changed only in full stops (100/200/400/800/1600) or whether it can change in half stops or third stops (according to which way you have your camera set up for the other exposure settings). I have mine set for half stops, so I get 140, 280, 560, and 1100.

QuoteQuote:
The last pic is a bit grainy, but if you messed with the settings to emulate 3200 then it's still not bad.
Right - I underexposed by a full stop, then pushed it 0.75EV in PP and then applied a curve to bring out the light areas more (basically to a full stop) while pulling back the shadows. I applied very little actual NR. That's kind of my standard approach, and I can do that in about five seconds flat and apply it to a whole evening's shots when necessary (and then go back and adjust exposure further for specific shots that need either more or less).

I have a higher tolerance for noise and a lower tolerance for loss of detail than some. That's why I apply very little NR. But what I like about the k200D is that 10MP is enough resolution to allow me to apply more heavy-handed NR (eg, using Neat Image) if I want, and hardly lose any detail at all that would be visible viewed full screen or in a 4x6 print.
02-03-2009, 09:30 AM   #8
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Thanks for everyone's thoughts. I recognize that fast lenses are key to getting the most out of these situations, but how would you rate the K200D's high ISO performance with the kit lens?

The rub is that investing in fast DA glass requires a significant increase to the budget. At that point, I could buy a K20D (although i recognize that great arguments can me made that better glass is a better investment anyway).

02-03-2009, 09:56 AM   #9
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If you don't mind manual focus (which I often find a pleasure, actually), you can get fast glass at very affordable prices. I just bought a 50mm 1.4 for $50, and although the body shows some wear, the glass and aperture blades are like new. A 28 2.8 can be had for a great price (I just saw two go off ebay for $20.45 and $22.50), and makes a good all around (almost "normal") prime, possibly good for the kind of shooting you're talking about. I'm less sure about fast manual zoom prices. One of the HUGE benefits of Pentax is the ability to use legacy lenses, if you want to go that route.
02-03-2009, 09:58 AM   #10
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Just one more thought: I've used the Tokina 18-50mm 2.8, and really liked it (a lot of people do). That is a surprisingly affordable lens for a constant 2.8, and it's auto focus.
02-03-2009, 09:59 AM   #11
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Excuse me, I believe the Tokina is a 17-50.
02-03-2009, 10:35 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by indytax Quote
The rub is that investing in fast DA glass requires a significant increase to the budget.
Actually it doesn't if you're talking FA 50 1.4. It costs <$200
02-03-2009, 11:21 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by sinus007 Quote
Actually it doesn't if you're talking FA 50 1.4. It costs <$200
I actually got mine from Amazon for $169.00 It is an amazing lens that can almost do it all, although it produces somewhat soft images with the lens wide open. Feb 2009 issue of Pop Photo has an article that compares 50mm f 1.4 lenses and Pentax came out on top and lowest price too.
02-03-2009, 01:03 PM   #14
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It's almost pointless to talk about high ISO performance if you're just using the kit lens. The noise content of the image is not affected by the lens, of course, but if you're talking about shooting candids in low light, the kit lens just isn't going to give you fast enough shutter speeds at ISO 1600. Doesn't matter how noisy the picture is or isn't if it's blurry. You may get lucky every once in a while, but chances are on average you aren't going to be pleased.

As for cost, don't assume you need expensive DA* zooms to get enough speed. There are lots of great f/2.8 choices for under $300. If you think you can't live without AF, your main options are the FA50/1.4, DA40/2.8, and FA35/2, all of which are in the $200-$300 range (the 50 often a bit below $200, even). But be aware that AF isn't so hot in low light; MF is often just as useful. Once you accept this, you get all sorts of option for under $100 and even under $50. You could get *both* a 28/2.8 and 50/1.7 for under $100 combined.
02-05-2009, 07:32 AM   #15
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Thanks for everyone's thoughts. I know there are a few fast AF primes offered for reasonable prices (I also saw the Pop Photo article on the 50s), but stocking up on 2 or 3 that would cover the length of the kit zoom will still set me back several hundred dollars.

I'm not opposed to manual lenses, in fact I plan on using some K and M42 manuals that I already have but have been neglecting for a couple of years. But I also think AF and zooms are convenient, especially when I'm traveling, walking about, or even when I'm trying to catch a certain 1 year-old who likes to move from place to place (causing me to crawl from place to place, too ).

Sounds like I'll have to live with manual lenses in low light situations unless I want to spend even more (and as Marc points out, still end up using MF in the low-light situtaions) or relearn flash photography. I still haven't settled between the K200D, K10D, or springing for the K20D. (Earlier models don't provide the size & resolution that I'd like for certain projects like Blurb books--they print in 300dpi so 10MP is the minimum I can use for full bleed 8x10 books).
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