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02-25-2009, 01:06 PM   #1
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New k20d owner with low ISO noise issue

Hi. I am new to this forum and new to my k20d.

I recently purchased a k20d, along with a DA* 16-50 lens. I have done quite a bit of photo restoration over the last couple of years and I have observed with high end telescopes for 15-20 years, so I have a basic knowledge of photography and optics, but I am new to DSLRs.

I like the overall feel of the k20d. A good friend of mine has a Nikon D300 and I have been borrowing it the last few days, with a 17-55 f/2.8 lens, and making comparisons, though I recognize the comparison is not completely fair given the substantial price difference. The D300 has certain ergonomic advantages, as well, but overall I like the handling of the k20d.

My biggest concern , though, is that I have been finding noise show up regularly at 100 and 200 ISO, shooting in my home taking shots of my wife and children. A few outdoor shots of shadow areas produces some noise at the same low ISOs, though a bit less so. I have been using flash (on board flash; I am thinking of getting the Pentax 540 flash) and also some non-flash. The noise shows up in flash pictures in shadow/dark areas: like a portion of the couch that is not well lit or portions of the room that may not be as well lit or were not brightened by the flash. I have tried to be reasonable in my “pixel peeping” and realize I am looking for noise, but it is rather obvious in portions of pictures. This does not show up with the Nikon D300.

In non-flash pictures the noise is even more apparent in darker areas of the room, or even just our dark couch, that is being photographed. I also have a friend who used their Canon 40d and took a few dozen shots inside our home and I have those raw files to look at, too. There is a bit of the same kind of noise with the Canon, but significantly less so. It is virtually absent in the Nikon.

I am shooting RAW.

So, I guess I am wondering if this is fairly normal for other k20d owners. I know I can use some noise reduction software (the k20d does not apply its noise reduction at low ISOs, only at 800 and above when turned on).

I have not printed anything yet and will do so this weekend so I can see the difference with what is on screen and on paper.

My use will be for doing some light portrait work, some for pay, and some landscape/nature work more for myself, but perhaps for occasional pay. So, this is a hobby camera, but I may do some light side work.

The 16-50 lens is fairly nice. I worried I might get a bad copy, but it seems pretty even and in line with the “good” reviews.

Am I making too much of things?

Thank you in advance.

02-25-2009, 01:34 PM   #2
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First, post an example or two if you don't mind. At least then we'll know if it's normal behaviour or not. Second, IMO Nikon is kicking butt right now in NR, however many here will say at the cost of lost detail (haven't personally compared the two enough to say if that's true or not).
02-25-2009, 02:11 PM   #3
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I will post later this evening. Thanx so much.
02-25-2009, 02:32 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by lawjbm Quote
The noise shows up in flash pictures in shadow/dark areas: like a portion of the couch that is not well lit or portions of the room that may not be as well lit or were not brightened by the flash.
I think this is normal, but it's not visible in prints or more normal images. It's excessive chroma noise in shadow areas if you slightly underexpose the area. It was traced back to an ADC that wasn't high enough precision by some folks.
Put up your photos to see if it's what I'm thinking of.

It doesn't really matter much in real photos though, and I suspect it's why some people think it has "filmlike grain"...

02-25-2009, 03:52 PM   #5
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I just got a new K20D, with a old K10D, both don't have any issue with noise at ISO 400 and under. I found if shooting at ISO1600, noise become very visible if picture is under exposure. If exposure is correct or a little over, it still very acceptable at ISO1600.
02-25-2009, 04:19 PM   #6
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winglik: it's only visible if you pixel peep dark areas or if you print up a huge so you can effectively pixel peep w/ the naked eye :-)
02-25-2009, 05:16 PM   #7
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Do you have the extended dynamic range enabled? If so, I've seen the exact noise you mentioned with it. If it's off, then I don't know what the problem is as I only see this with extended dynamic range.

In what I've seen, the K20D should be close (at least, if not equal) to the D300 in noise, provided you shoot raw and carefully reduce the noise. The K20D places an emphasis on detail at the expense of noise, while the D300 takes the opposite approach.

I'm betting you've got EDR on, though. It's useful, but only in the truly high contrast/DR situations.
02-25-2009, 05:18 PM   #8
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Noise at ISO 100 or (ISO 200 w/o D-Range) is entirely invisible to the naked eye.

You can only see it, if you look at dark areas at an angle onto your LCD screen, or if you increase brightness (of dark areas). Both of which effectively boosts the effective ISO in those parts of the image. If you do so, apply noise reduction as well as the camera firmware doesn't do it at all.

02-25-2009, 05:49 PM   #9
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Low Noise issues

Hello all:

Thanx so much for your replies. I have attached 2 photos or at least have tried. If it does not work I will try again. They are JPEGs converted from a RAW. My children are in it the house photo. I do not mean to offend anyone, but I am in the law enforcement/prosecutorial field in a small town. Same idea with my car and home. I am sorry. I hope you all are not like"who is the freak that just joined?"

The noise on the couch is a good example of the type of noise that shows up. I used the flash so that portion of the room got less illumination.

I used the DA* 16-50 lens at f/5.6 at 31mm. ISO is 200. I think DR was on. I will try again later with it off. I have used ISO 100, though, and gotten similar, though less, noise and DR is off at ISO 100. This picture had 1/45 of a second with shake reduction on.

The home picture is the same lens at f/5.6 ISO 100 at 16mm and 1/500 of a second. SHot in raw and converted to JPEG. On my house by the wreath and window the brown of the house is a bit noisey. This is very minor and only appears at about 50% and up and it is small. If this was it I probably woudl not complain, but it was sunny and I used the correct WB in Camera RAW. Other pictures of my home show similar noise and also noise under the overhang of the "A" frame.

Am I being too critical? The D300 was perfect.

The other issue I have is that the pictures seem a bit soft and not so vibrant. I know that is RAW to some extent, but the RAW D300 photos of the same shot at the same settings are sharper and clearer. NOt punchier, just clearer and a bit brighter and sharep. And the 17-55 lens is not a VR lens.

Are there some preferred camera settings anyone can suggest for me to try?

I really do not want to return the camera.

Thanx so much.

Gregg
02-25-2009, 05:52 PM   #10
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Here are the pictures

I attached the pictures--I hope it worked.
02-25-2009, 05:57 PM   #11
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One more try

I could only get the picture of my kids uploaded.
Thanx again.

Last edited by candgpics; 09-28-2012 at 07:11 PM.
02-25-2009, 05:59 PM   #12
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Here is the other one

Ok. Here is the other one.
Thanx.

Last edited by candgpics; 09-28-2012 at 07:11 PM.
02-25-2009, 06:03 PM   #13
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Ok, one more try

I cropped it a bit. I am not sure if the noise will be visible, which may make my complaint seem unreasonable, but I will see what it looks like when posted.
Thanx.

Last edited by candgpics; 09-28-2012 at 07:11 PM.
02-25-2009, 06:06 PM   #14
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One more message

The crop of my house makes things look worse than they are, but there still is noise at 100 ISO and I am wondering if I am doing something wrong, if this is just the camera, or if I have a bad copy of the camera.
Thanx.
02-25-2009, 06:55 PM   #15
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Whatever ISO you are shooting at, shadow areas are underexposed, sometimes by several stops, so some noise is going to be there.
I could be wrong, but I think you will find that the Nikon defaults tend to higher noise reduction and more sharpening during raw conversion.
And also, the Nikon is a newer and significantly more expensive camera, it should be better.
Try adjusting your default settings during RAW conversion to a more aggressive noise reduction and sharpening level and see if you don't like it a bit more.
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