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K20D vs D80 for high ISO
I know you're all sick of "which DSLR do I buy" questions, but at least I have a specific focus..

Seems to me from the samples that the K20D clearly has a lot more noise, but just as clearly retains more detail even with NR turned off on the D80. Is the difference purely subjective, or is one problem more obvious at print scale, or easier to make up for in post processing, or both?.

Is either or both considered "usable" (for up to 8x10) at ISO 1600 or even 3200?.

Thanks for your time...

Comments (16)

IMO, for 1600 and especially 3200, you really need to step it up to a Nikon D300 or possibly a Canon 40D or better..

I know I'm not answering your question directly, but I don't think either of the choices you gave can give usuable images at 3200. Maybe 1600 with wonderful noise reduction software and a loss of detail. I don't believe that Pentax is noted as a good high ISO camera..

Cheers, Craig..

Comment #1

Guidenet wrote:.

IMO, for 1600 and especially 3200, you really need to step it up to aNikon D300 or possibly a Canon 40D or better..

Yeah, in comparisons I've seen the K20d is no D300 or Canon 5d at high iso. It also doesn't cost nearly as much..

Snip.

Maybe1600 with wonderful noise reduction software and a loss of detail. Idon't believe that Pentax is noted as a good high ISO camera..

The Pentax ist's, K100d's, and Nikon D40 (not X) use the Sony 6MP sensor. The low pixel density give them good performance for their price at iso 1600. It's also provides enough detail to make an 8x12 print. The Pentax K10d with a 10MP Sony sensor is not as good at iso 1600 imho. The Pentax K20d with 14MP Samsung sensor is on par with the K100d at iso1600. The higher pixel density appears to be offset by a lower noise design and larger lenses on top of the photosites..

If you look at the the high iso test images of the K20d compared to other cameras you'll notice the difference in philosophy with respect to noise control. I'd prefer the camera to give me the raw data and let me decide how to handle it..

Http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/pentaxk20d/page32.asp..

Comment #2

Mrxdimension wrote:.

Guidenet wrote:.

IMO, for 1600 and especially 3200, you really need to step it up to aNikon D300 or possibly a Canon 40D or better..

Yeah, in comparisons I've seen the K20d is no D300 or Canon 5d athigh iso. It also doesn't cost nearly as much..

Exactly, and I really can't step up to that price point..

Snip.

If you look at the the high iso test images of the K20d compared toother cameras you'll notice the difference in philosophy with respectto noise control. I'd prefer the camera to give me the raw data andlet me decide how to handle it..

I tend to agree, in theory at least. I haven't really spent much time cleaning up noise...

Comment #3

Port wrote:.

I tend to agree, in theory at least. I haven't really spent muchtime cleaning up noise..

Iso 1600 on the K100 and K20 don't bother me on the screen or at 8x12. I rarely print larger. For my low light shots in bars and pool halls I like to convert to monochrome, add some noise, and attempt to simulate push processed tri-x pan film..

Your mileage may vary. Enjoy whatever you purchase..

PS: where you get into trouble in high iso and low light is if you underexpose and pull the values up in post processing. Until you get a feel for things bracket your exposures a lot in low light and learn to spot the why the one exposed correctly was. I call it Kentucky windage...

Comment #4

Port wrote:.

I know you're all sick of "which DSLR do I buy" questions, but atleast I have a specific focus..

Seems to me from the samples that the K20D clearly has a lot morenoise, but just as clearly retains more detail even with NR turnedoff on the D80. Is the difference purely subjective, or is oneproblem more obvious at print scale, or easier to make up for in postprocessing, or both?.

Is either or both considered "usable" (for up to 8x10) at ISO 1600 oreven 3200?.

Thanks for your time..

Hi.

The pentax 6mp cameras have all been great low light cams at high iso. Auto focus hunts and misses if it gets too dim, but generally the fast primes are great...especially the limiteds. I do not have any limited lenses but am very happy with my Ist*D and especially K100d for low light with fast manual focus primes (low light is why I got the k100d). Many useable iso 3200 pics, mostly jpegs from the camera or with a little pp, mostly without noise reduction..

Having said that I believe the k20d is much better...or at least as good but at more than twice as many pixels, meaning cropping would be great..

If I was buying a low light camera today from scratch and I could not afford a Nikon d3 or the new D700 (and I can not), I would STILL get either a K100d super or k20d....great low light cameras with stabilization on the short fast primes....

If you want faster operating camera then that would swing around to the Nikon..

Neil..

Comment #5

The D80 is capable of good output at high ISO provided you shoot RAW:.

This shot is ISO 3200 and PPd in Capture NX:.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

You can see the full file here:.

Http://placidod.zenfolio.com/p594039426/.

I use ISO 1600 all the time. This gallery will give you a good idea of capabilities:.

Http://placidod.zenfolio.com/p1045531707/.

(A mixture of D50 and D80 shots both at ISO 1600 with different low light lenses on each - They are clearly marked)..

It sounds like your best bet might be to wait for a D90. Our collective best guess is that we are about 1 month away from an announcement. I would love a D700. It would be near perfect for my work but I am not shelling out that sort of money..

What I actually need is a D700 sensor with D80 functionality. I wonder if Nikon might get round to that? A sort of D90 Go Large!.

Chris Elliott.

*Nikon* D Eighty + Fifty - Other equipment in Profile.

Http://PlacidoD.Zenfolio.com/..

Comment #6

Mrxdimension wrote:.

..PS: where you get into trouble in high iso and low light is if youunderexpose and pull the values up in post processing. Until you geta feel for things bracket your exposures a lot in low light and learnto spot the why the one exposed correctly was. I call it Kentuckywindage..

Of course some of us have no choice. I am regularly at ISO 1600 f/2.8 and trying to get 1/60th-1/100th shutter speed when the meter reads 1/20th or similar. I stick with ISO 1600 rather than fiddle round with ISO 3200 one moment and back to 1600 the next and thus regularly have to push process by about a one stop and sometimes more. My observation is that noise is linear to the equivalent ISO. So ISO 1600 pushed to ISO 3200 will look the same as a shot taken at ISO 3200 in terms of noise BUT I think the colours hold better pushed than using the higher ISO..

Here is an example of ISO 200 on my D50 when I forgot to set ISO 1600. (This is the trouble with working with two bodies. I had set one but not the other) I also had EV +1 so the analogue meter was off the scale!!.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

D50 ISO 200 pushed carefully in NX2..

Original is here.

Http://placidod.zenfolio.com/img/v3/p851201537.jpg.

(Only source of light was the reading lamp plus a bit of spill from stage lighting).

Chris Elliott.

*Nikon* D Eighty + Fifty - Other equipment in Profile.

Http://PlacidoD.Zenfolio.com/..

Comment #7

Neil holmes wrote:.

If I was buying a low light camera today from scratch and I could notafford a Nikon d3 or the new D700 (and I can not), I would STILL geteither a K100d super or k20d....great low light cameras withstabilization on the short fast primes....

If you want faster operating camera then that would swing around tothe Nikon..

Speed is also a consideration. In the end, support for the Nikon at local shops may trump both concerns. Thanks for the feedback...

Comment #8

I missed the fact that the ISO test sample shots were JPEG. Does shooting RAW disable all noise reduction (along with other processing) then? I was confused by statements in the review to the effect that chroma noise reduction still ran with NR turned "off.".

Thanks for the samples...

Comment #9

Port wrote:.

I missed the fact that the ISO test sample shots were JPEG. Doesshooting RAW disable all noise reduction (along with otherprocessing) then? I was confused by statements in the review to theeffect that chroma noise reduction still ran with NR turned "off.".

Thanks for the samples..

There's an unsubstantiated rumor that some of the Sony DSLR's apply noise reduction to the raw files. The Sony forum could probably help with that if you're interested. I believe Canon, Nikon, Olympus, and Pentax give you the raw data as the sensor saw it..

Chris, nice high iso work. It looks like the D80 and K20 are pretty well matched in this department. I hear what you're saying about sometimes have to heavily manipulate the raw files..

Neil already mentioned the Nikon has faster auto focus in low light. That's one consideration. I happen to find shake reduction in the Pentax useful because I tend to shoot short primes in low light. Shooting close to wide open and at low shutter speeds I'm going to get out of focus areas and sometimes subject motion blur. I like to use those techniques to help isolate the subject. Not everyone is after the same look..

I suppose you'll have to decide which matters more to you in the tradeoff between faster AF in low light with the Nikon, and shake reduction in the Pentax..

Enjoy..

PS regarding this bit:.

I was confused by statements in the review to theeffect that chroma noise reduction still ran with NR turned "off.".

When shooting jpeg at iso 3200 or 6400 in jpeg mode the K20 applies noise reduction and you can't turn it off. A raw file at those iso's will not have noise reduction applied in-camera...

Comment #10

Thanks for the clarification..

Faster AF in low light is definitely worth something to me. I can buy VR lenses, but I don't think I can buy faster AF (in the same body). I'll just have to hope that Nikon comes out with a VR fast prime if I want to use that sort of lens. I suspect I do but regardless of what I buy, I may as well get used to the kit lens before expanding...

Comment #11

Port wrote:.

I missed the fact that the ISO test sample shots were JPEG. Doesshooting RAW disable all noise reduction (along with otherprocessing) then? I was confused by statements in the review to theeffect that chroma noise reduction still ran with NR turned "off.".

I cannot speak for other cameras but often a comment is made in a review to indicate that there is obviously some NR even when switched out in jpeg. Nr will not be applied by most RAW software unless you switch it in. Capture NX however reads and applies all camera settings in a RAW shot. That includes any Noise Reduction but it is easy to switch it out or modify it as with any other setting. (it is easier in NX2 than it was in NX1).

Many higher Mpixel DSLRs (and all P & S cams) apply NR at high ISO settings even when turned off. You will find the settings for the D80 at the link below..

Http://forums.dpreview.com/...ums/readflat.asp?forum=1034&thread=27384858.

I usually switch out the camara settings and apply a very light wash if necessary with settings of 10/10. Sometimes I apply selective NR just to shadowed single colour surfaces which are prone to show noise..

Chris Elliott.

*Nikon* D Eighty + Fifty - Other equipment in Profile.

Http://PlacidoD.Zenfolio.com/..

Comment #12

Port wrote:.

Thanks for the clarification..

Faster AF in low light is definitely worth something to me. I canbuy VR lenses, but I don't think I can buy faster AF (in the samebody). I'll just have to hope that Nikon comes out with a VR fastprime if I want to use that sort of lens. I suspect I do butregardless of what I buy, I may as well get used to the kit lensbefore expanding..

Hi.

Do not get me wrong, Pentax af works and works well (even on a K100d). It is just not AS quick as other brands, though it is not bad....and on lower end cameras there is not a lot in it. On the other hand there are NO stabilized lenses under 100mm faster than 2.8 for Nikon (or Canon)..

Then there are nice 2.8 zooms, even the ones from the likes of Tamron and Sigma are very nice (eg a 28-75 2.8 zoom is used by many people for band/music photography....with all brands....they are just that much more useable for Pentax (and Sony) and a lot cheaper than the 2.8 vr/IS zooms..

Where the af (and frames per second) makes a difference is for sports and action and things like birds in flight....for those, to get a major difference you need to step up a level with Canin or Nikon..

Edit.

Of course, you should try as many cameras as you can in your price range and get what YOU like...they are all good.neil..

Comment #13

Port wrote:.

Thanks for the clarification..

Faster AF in low light is definitely worth something to me. I canbuy VR lenses, but I don't think I can buy faster AF (in the samebody). I'll just have to hope that Nikon comes out with a VR fastprime if I want to use that sort of lens. I suspect I do butregardless of what I buy, I may as well get used to the kit lensbefore expanding..

There are suggestions that Nikon will finally announce some AF-S primes in about a month to go with the two FF bodies (D3/D700) but I am sure neither of us will like the price! Nikon do not seem keen on VR at wide angles whether for zoom or prime but they do put it on their telephoto lenses e.g 70-200 f/2.8 VR and 200mm f/2 VR..

Chris Elliott.

*Nikon* D Eighty + Fifty - Other equipment in Profile.

Http://PlacidoD.Zenfolio.com/..

Comment #14

Port wrote:.

Thanks for the clarification..

Faster AF in low light is definitely worth something to me. I canbuy VR lenses, but I don't think I can buy faster AF (in the samebody). I'll just have to hope that Nikon comes out with a VR fastprime if I want to use that sort of lens. I suspect I do butregardless of what I buy, I may as well get used to the kit lensbefore expanding..

Canon does have IS in it's 17-55/2.8. Nikon does not. But, they're both expensive lenses..

To answer your original question, ISO 1600 is quite usable on current Nikon and Canon bodies. I don't know about the Pentaxes...

Comment #15

I think either should be fine at 1600. I still use a D70 which is noticeably noisier than an 80, and frankly, while the files look pretty bad on screen at high ISOs, if they are correctly exposed and you don't add additional exposure comp in post, there is no visible noise in prints up to 5x7...

Comment #16

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