Nikon D600 vs. Pentax K-3 Image Comparison: Pentax Sweeps Nikon Discussion

Discussion in 'Digital Camera News' started by Laura Hicks, Oct 26, 2013.

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  1. Laura Hicks

    Laura Hicks DigitalCameraReview Editor

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    We recently acquired a Pentax K-3 for review and decided to put the camera to the ultimate test--a 24 MP APS-C sensor camera versus a 24 MP full frame sensor camera. Although this sounds like a completely unfair test, the Pentax DSLR lineup has garnered quite a bit of admiration for its image making capabilities. In fact, others likephototheology on youtubeshowed the K-5 IIs dominating theCanon 5D Mark III, theNikon D4and theNikon D7100. So why not put the Pentax K-3 up against one of the best selling full frame cameras currently available? We figured the Pentax would do a good job, but we never imagined the results would be so outstanding. Our testing shows that the Pentax K-3 swept the Nikon D600 in almost every image we took. Even at high ISOs the Pentax held its own against the full frame sensor!



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  2. Jerry Jackson

    Jerry Jackson Administrator News/Review Writer

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    Scandalous!

    ;)

    But your article does support my personal findings that -- when it comes to real-world use -- you REALLY have to pixel peep to see any of the image quality advantages that manufacturers claim are inherent to full frame sensors ... and even then there's no "guarantee" that you'll capture an overall more appealing image with a full frame sensor.

    Bottom line, modern APS-C sensors aren't at a significant disadvantage to modern full frame sensors. Back in 2009 and 2010 there was a bigger difference, but today's APS-C sensors (particularly those from Sony) are pretty impressive.
     
  3. jazzie

    jazzie New Member

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    In the film days I used Nikon for a couple of years, but switched to Minolta, because a number of my slides was overexposed.
    If I look at sample images on different sites from Nikon I find many images overexposed and thus colours are subdued.
    I don't understand why they use this technology, as other brands (even newcomers like Panasonic and Samsung) don't have this problem.
     
  4. tecnoworld

    tecnoworld New Member

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    Hello, very interesting article. Since you seem to own a Galaxy nx, I'd really like to see how this camera compares, in the same test. Thanks.
     
  5. snapcap

    snapcap New Member

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    Hi Laura,
    Thank you so much for this very exciting review. If possible would you be able to test the Pentax K3 to see if it has the banding issue that plagued the Nikon D7100? I am a Nikon user currently, but returned 2 D7100's when even correct exposures showed severe banding when Active D-Lighting was enabled. A few shots at base ISO with some degree of underexposure should be able to determine if your copy of this camera has the same issue. If you can post the raw files, that would be greatly appreciated. A lot of people are wondering if this camera shares the same sensor as the Nikon D7100.
    Also, I would love to see some real world test shots of the multi area white balance. ie. portraits in shade with some sunlit areas of background (with and without flash if possible). Obviously, I understand if these requests are not possible.
    Again, really enjoyed your initial review!
    --Mark
     
  6. Patrice

    Patrice New Member

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    Hi,
    I fell on your article while googling for something else. I like that kind of comparison, and I have a few comments.
    "Which would you choose"?
    ... probably the Nikon because of its softer tones :)
    "what you would like to see"?
    ... apples with apples comparison - I mean:
    If you want to compare pictures taken with a 85mm at f/4 on a FX system with a similar setup on an APS-C system, I think that you need a 55mm lens at f/2.8 or so. The DOF of the 55mm at f/4 is higher than the DOF of the 85mm at f/4, so the pictures taken with the K-3 may look sharper. What does matter here is the absolute physical aperture of the lens - at the same distance for the same image given the crop factor -, roughly 21mm at f/4 for the 85mm (85/4), which gives 55mm/21mm = f/2.6. It's a matter of geometry. Maybe someone more knowledgeable in optics than me can confirm.
    Otherwise: I actually own both systems, a Pentax APS-C (K-30 @ 16mpx) and a Nikon FX (D700 @ 12mpx). I like both, depending on the use. The Nikon has softer tones and is a lot better in low light, although the K-30 has (had?) one of the best APS-C sensor for low light. Even if I use a "natural' setting, sometimes I find the tones of the K-30 too harsh. However, for some pictures I don't like the "Nikon look" given by the post-processing engine.
    AF and metering are better on the Nikon, sometimes by far. Pentaxes tend to underexpose (trying too much to expose for the highlights?), altough it's better with the K30 than with my preceding Pentaxes. The feeling of holding a D700 is also special, but given the price range compared with the K-30, it's not a surprise.
    One last point: The in-camera shake reduction of the Pentaxes is really great.
    The fact that Pentax and Nikon seem to share some Sony sensors (K5 vs D7000, K3 vs D7100) allows for additionnal interesting comparison.
    Regards
    Patrice
     
  7. gerard_bekking

    gerard_bekking New Member

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    The test is not very accurate in my opinion because it does not take into account the extra dept of field that comes with a smaller sensor. The depth of field of an APS-C sensor is approximately twice as big as on the full-frame and therefore a comparison should also be made between apertures with the same dept of field. To exclude the effect of extra sharpness due to the extra depth of field a full-frame should have his aperture closed one maybe two stops more than the APS-C lens.
    The same was true for 36x24 film when compared to 6x6 in the film ara and also goes for full-frame compared to mid format digital camera's
     
  8. philbaum

    philbaum New Member

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    Thanks for this excellent comparison of field shooting. Both cameras have their pros and cons, Personally, i bought the K3 and love it. The resolution from it still amazes me, The quiet shutter (quieter than the D600 by the way) and the low light AF (specified to be down to -3 EV) were the most important factors for me. When i got it, i realized that Ricoh has juiced up the processing speed of everything. There's a coupla things i could nitpic, but when Ricoh did so well on the important parts, i spent no time submitting my order.
     
  9. Andy Stanton

    Andy Stanton Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    I agree - the K-3 has very impressive image quality. Ricoh has done a good job with the brand.
     
  10. Andrew_E

    Andrew_E New Member

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    "Each image was taken in a RAW format then converted to JPGs through Lightroom. No adjustments were made to the images before publishing this article."

    I don't own either camera, so have no dog in this fight so to speak (sorry, I couldn't resist a bad pun with the dog photos ;) ) but comparing color and exposure from unedited raw files rendered into JPEGs seems to be just comparing Adobe's default conversion of files taken using the camera's default settings, so really just comparing the taste choices of engineers at Adobe, Ricoh, and Nikon. I'm assuming that any photographer buying a camera at this level would very quickly learn the metering, white-balance, and color intricacies of their chosen camera (and conversion software if they use raw) and adjust those to match their own taste. Am I wrong in this assumption? Why would someone pay this much for a camera, then not bother to set it to take pictures how they want their pictures to look? Similarly, why would someone go to the trouble of shooting and converting raw files, but not bother to at least adjust the default conversion settings to their taste?
    I could understand comparing straight out of camera JPEGs at default settings with entry level cameras where users maybe aren't interested in setting up their camera to suite them, but aren't both the K-3 and D610 aimed at users with a bit more interest in photography?
     
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