Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pentax K-7 review (part 3)

Having shot nearly 1,000 frames with K-7, I think it is time to conclude my review.

Image quality

In general image quality is excellent, however it deserves a few more words.

Good: white balance

My initial impression of K-7's white balance was less than favorable. In fact, it is probably due to a fact that I misoperated the camera. That dynamic range highlights extension was the culprit. Indeed, when lacking the light the AWB tends to be somewhat bluish-magentish. However it happens really seldom and is easily corrected in processing. Simply one has to be just a bit more particular about the white balance, that's all there is to it.

Demanding: resolution

K-7 has almost 1.5 times more pixels than K10D. It means that even a slight camera shake that cannot be handled by shake reduction system will be seen on the picture. Even so slight focusing mistake will be noticeable as well. The lens that is not sufficiently sharp can be easily spotted. This new 14.6 MP sensor is indeed quite demanding. But if you hit it, you hit it big.

Good: dynamic range

Compared to K10D, K-7 has noticeably wider dynamic range. I cannot give you numbers but I can tell you this:
  • I can pull more picture from the shades.
  • Under bright Mediterranean sun I can still shoot by the sea and get no saturated areas in either end of the histogram.
  • The bright areas also hold more useful information than in case of K10D.
The dynamic range of K-7 is very good compared to my previous cameras.

Very good: noise

Let us start with pointing out that ISO 800 is perfectly usable. My camera is set at auto ISO 100-800 with NR starting at ISO 1600. I have also shot in rather dim indoors at ISO 2000 and got good results. At ISO 800 the noise is present, but it has no ill effect on image detail.

Evidently I will have to work more with higher ISO to gain necessary experience .

Good: low light shooting

I have shot some 10-30 sec exposures and I am satisfied. I have also shot the night sky. Here is an interesting bit. Naturally, the night sky shot is almost completely black frame with some stars here and there. If I pull the exposure controls all the way to the bright side, I am starting to see a square pattern. It is as if the sensor is divided into small square zones. This is probably reminiscent of well known banding issues of older Pentax cameras. It seems that under similar conditions my K10D shows lots of vertical lines. Honestly, it does not bother me even ever so slightly. The night sky came out just right and I don't think that moving exposure slider in Lightroom all the way to the right (+4Ev) and brightness slider all the way to the right is something I am ever going to have to use. Thus, aside from brief mention, this square pattern is not an issue whatsoever.

Summary: yet another excellent camera body from Pentax

Pentax K-7 is indeed a very good camera. I still need to study it and to learn how to extract the best images from it. I am very much convinced that a choice to buy one was right.

If you have K10D or K20D and are satisfied with your camera, you don't really have to spend money on another body. However if you do spend your money, you will not be disappointed.

Sample pictures

From now on I intend to shoot exclusively with K-7. Galia gets complete control over K10D. Thus, be sure to watch this blog for real life examples of what K-7 is capable of in the hands of this photographer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great and informative review. I too have a K-7 and there is lots to learn with this camera. You are absolutely right about the sharpness...good glass is a plus and locking the mirror up helps too.
Happy shooting!