Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Size and Weight Comparisons of K-m Vs *ist DS

An *ist DS owner has posted a side-by-side comparison of his camera against his roommate's new K-m as below:-

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1036&message=30501298

The comparison is 3-dimensional, 3 photos of the Back View, Front View and Top View are shown (directly linked herewith).

As one poster who has responded said, the K-m is hardly smaller than the DS. And weight-wise, as others have already commented in the thread, the K-m can be felt even heavier than the DS, despite that the DS has a solid Penta-prism rather than a hollow Penta-mirror that used in the K-m. The K-m does have the in-body SR system, though.

A quick check on the official specs of the two camera bodies verifies well those user comments. The dimensions and weight of the two bodies are as follows:-

Camera Body
Dimensions ( W x H x D, in mm )
Reference Volume* (in ml)
Weight in Grams (without batteries and card)
With Four Sanyo Eneloop Rechargeable NiMHs and
a SD Card (Grams)
K-m
125 x 93 x 66 mm
767 ml
525 g
635 g
*ist DS
123 x 93 x 68 mm
778 ml
505 g
615 g
*Remark: The Reference Volume is a Cubic which is calculated for the worst scenario space occupation for the sake of easy comparison and reference. It is not the actual volume of the camera bodies which should be smaller.

So, as we can see, the K-m just beats the DS by a fraction of hair for its overall dimension but however the DS beats the K-m considerably more in the overall weight. In fact, the K-m is not the smallest *and* lightest APS-C DSLR on this planet, as far as portability is the key concern, not even only in the Pentax-land.

For the sake of an interesting further comparison, I tabular the size and weight specs of the K200D and K20D as follows:-

Camera Body
Dimensions ( W x H x D, in mm )
Reference Volume* (in ml)
Weight in Grams (without batteries and card)
With Batteries and SD Card (Grams)
K200D
133.5 x 95 x 74 mm
939 ml
630 g
740 g (Four Eneloops and Card)
K20D
142 x 101 x 70 mm
1004 ml (More than 1L!)
715 g
802 g

So, we verify once again the K200D is ridiculously large and heavy, particularly for an entry level DSLR. Similarly, Ned Bunnell previously showed us the size differences between the K-m and the K200D in his Blog, right before the K-m was out. In fact, the K200D is the most bulky entry level DSLR ever made on Earth. And, the K20D is awful large and heavy and the portability is not good. Nevertheless, it should still be noted from the above for one of the big disadvantages of using rechargeable AA (NiMH) batteries, that is, it introduces comparatively much more weight than any Lithium solutions (not even to mention the inferior battery performance and being less powerful).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Star Wars Stormtrooper K2000W LE ?

In order to fight with all the enemies in the contemporary vigorous DSLR wars, Pentax has just announced their latest secret weapon, the Star Wars Imperial Stormtrooper, model K2000W LE! (Official name!) Here is the photo of it:-


(Click the above to read the full official announcement!)

With this powerful fighting machine, I am sure that Pentax will finally win in the battle! But before the final victory arrives, I bet that:-

1. The Stormtrooper will get scratches everywhere (well, as it was born to fight ;->)

2. Fingerprints and grease appear everywhere on the body (umm, coz.. hehe.. you think yourself!)

3. iPod users with Classic iPods will accidentally pick this instead of their iPods when they go outside, especially when they are in a hurry!

4. Polar animals will like this Stormtrooper much and eventually they will buy one for each of them! (So, the market is HUGE overthere!)

That's great! Well done, Pentax/Hoya!! I am looking forward to see the foreseeable BIG marketing success of this latest Stormtrooper!!!

Keep it up, Pentax! Next time, please do us the Gundam Red Comet, so that we Pentax fans can see another powerful fighting weapon that will beat all others'!!

Hey, but wait! Have Pentax become Bandai or have we gone to the Toy 'R' Us after all?

Update (Dec. 18):

To make the K2000W LE a true military thing, someone over at the DCHome.net has made it for Pentax!

Here is yet the snapshot of that "new" product:-



And, for another model that is truly targeted for ladies and girls or even for children:-



Now, I have learnt the great wisdom of the super brilliant Pentax and Hoya marketing executives. They have made it White (Right) this time so that everyone can paint on this "new" K2000W LE model to suit their tastes, just like what model hobbyists are doing in painting their unfinished models and parts in whatever ways with whatever colours/patterns they like! Really wonderful!

Congrats to Pentax for having a big victory this time (and once again!)! They now can have much more models than what their competitors have and in the near future, they will be able to announce far more "new" products and will win miles ahead in the game (as least in number)! (That must be) Really Great!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Full Frame Mini Shootout - D700 Vs 5D

Updated (Dec. 16): Full Sized Samples Uploaded! Happy Pixel Peeping!!

Here is a mini shootout for the two Full Frame DSLR bodies of my Nikonian friend DBoyX and mine. It would be very interesting to check if the first generation "budget" Full Frame DSLR could rival the latest generation "budget" Full Frame DSLR, after 3 years. Coincidently, the D700 and 5D have nearly the same pixel count, in 12.3 MPs and 12.8 MPs respectively.

Conditions of Testing: All photos taken at ISO 200, in Av exposure mode (f-number set will be mentioned for each set of photos), cameras mounted on tripod, shot in RAW and converted using Canon Digital Photo Professional 3.4.1.1 and Nikon Capture NX2 2.0.0 respectively, Picture Style/Control: Standard with Sharpness at 3, Contrast, Saturation and Tone at 0, Active D-Lighting On or Off as specified, and then converted and saved as the highest quality JPEGs.

1. Round One: With Nikkor AI-S 24mm/2.8; Lens set at f/5.6


(Click to Enlarge)

The results are as follows (Click any of the following pictures to Download the Full Size Samples. Warning: Super Large Files!):-


5D


D700, Active D-Lighting On

As seen in the above, the D700 picture obviously has better Image Quality with less vignetting and corner blur. The D700 produced colours which are more vivid and "pure" while 5D's just look a little bit dull. But you may ask me which one is actually more faithful and true to life? I would tell you neither! It should be somewhere in between!

Well, what has been verified is that the new Nikon has been improved for two weakest spots of those 135 Full Frame DSLRs, i.e., vigneting and corner blur, particularly with wide lenses. It is quite fair to say so as with the test was done with the same old film lens, shot at the same aperture, and actually at same place and nearly at the same time!

One More: With Nikkor AI-S 24mm/2.8; Lens set at f/8


5D


D700, Active D-Lighting On


D700, Active D-Lighting Off

It can be seen that the Active D-Lighting does help to improve the image for better clarity and colours (whether it is faithful to the scene and true-to-life is yet another issue). If I understand correctly, the Active D-Lighting is just an intelligent algorithm to adjust the brightness, contrast (and tone curve) as well as the hue of the picture. Yes, you can say it is just some kind of *automatic* "post" processing afterall.

Anyway, I like the D700 pics more. But again, the true scene is just somewhat in between! Btw, the 5D picture suffers from some highlight washout and with some slight magenta cast too - but the lens used was a Nikkor anyway (with my Pentax film lenses, it should be better).

Two More: With Nikkor AI-S 24mm/2.8; Lens set at f/5.6


5D


D700, Active D-Lighting On


D700, Active D-Lighting Off

2. Round 2: D700 with Nikkor AI-S 50mm/2 Vs 5D with EF 50mm/1.8; Lenses set at f/8


(Click to Enlarge)


5D


D700, Active D-Lighting On


D700, Active D-Lighting Off

(Remark: The focal length of the AI-S lens is manually selected and entered in the D700 and it was left at 24mm which is shown in the EXIF.)

Well, this time you compare and measur(e)bate (maybe endlessly! ;-)) and then judge yourself!

Next: both D700 and 5D and with Nikkor AI-S 50mm/2; Lens set at f/4


5D


D700, Active D-Lighting On


D700, Active D-Lighting Off

3. Last Round: Nikkor AI-S 105/2.8 on D700 Vs SMC Takumar M42 105/2.8 on 5D; Lenses set at f/4


(Click to Enlarge)


5D


D700, Active D-Lighting On


D700, Active D-Lighting Off

It is quite interesting to note that despite the lighting condition was changing for all the above four flower shots, it can still be seen that with a sharp lens on a "sharp" body (I mean the Nikkor on the D700), this combo yielded a somewhat fake looking but yet an exciting flower, whereas with a soft lens on a relatively softer body, the result could be nothing to be excited about (but then the flower looks more natural)! What does this tell us, when we are choosing gear and lens/body combinations, it would be very application oriented indeed and there is actually no absolute good or bad, but just a matter of taste.

Lastly, yet a sample photo with the Pentax FA 43/1.9 Limited on 5D; Lens set at f/4



The picture quality looks very promising. And, as you can see once again, as always, the flare resistance of the true Pentax Ghostless SMC coatings is just something unbeatable and really superb! Even only at f/4, the resolution and sharpness of the whole picture is excellent, from corner to corner. I think to reveal this FA Limited's imperfection, a Full Frame DSLR with far more than 12.8 MPs will be required!

Quick Conclusion

So, D700 or 5D? Which one is better? Surely I would choose the D700 if considering only for the body alone, with no other considerations. The reasons are simple: improved IQ (classic FF DSLR bodies weak spots addressed) and more intelligent and powerful in-camera image processing, with weather sealed and built-in flash in a single package, all of which just mean more readily usable or better looking photos directly out of the camera which is more suitable for shooting outdoor in any weather conditions.

As a side comment, I found that the Canon DPP software is more user friendly, with better interface and more thoughtful in design for its operations. It is just easier to use and the program responds faster and takes (far) less processing time in making conversion. In fact, whilst many Pentaxians have had many bad comments about the Pentax Photo Lab, I just think differently that it is not that bad actually. In fact, the Nikon Capture NX2 is not that easy to use neither and not intuitive as it should be, although it is quite powerful and feature rich. The worse thing with the Capture NX2 is that it runs rather really slow for any operation performed, even just for dragging a tool box or window which is just a very annoying thing afterall - to use it smoothly, a very powerful machine with plenty of system resources is required.

So, could the old or those just a little bit older Pentax K-mount film lenses be adapted to the D700? Very unfortunately, it is NOT. In fact, there is no easy and simple way to directly adapt/adopt any Pentax K-mount film lenses to any Nikon bodies, which is nearly impossible unless the Pentax lens is modified, owing to the shorter back register distance of the Pentax lenses than the Nikon bodies. Just see this example:-

http://www.dchome.net/viewthread.php?tid=288405&page=322#pid6902959
(Text in Traditional Chinese)

Just look at that pity FA 31 Limited became after the modification for what the poor old Pentaxian just wished to adapt his excellent optic to the D700! :-(

But, I just wish to ask: WHY just all those really poor old Pentaxians are forced to do all that? Why *we* can't use our old beloved and excellent Pentax glass like what other Nikonians and even Canonians (those since 1987) can do now? That is, JUST put an old Nikkor or a Canon EF lens on any of those original Nikon or Canon Full Frame DSLR bodies and all the lenses can be used as what they were originally designed! And immediately and at the same time, the users can get all the numerous Full Frame advantages too like high resolution *and* low noise with no compromises (even at high ISO speeds) and wider DoF control, better 3d feel and wider dynamic range, just overall better IQ (recently once again fully verified here), larger and brighter viewfinder, easier manual focusing and so on.

The Answer? It is just all because there is no Full Frame DSLR in the Pentax land and only recently Pentax and Samsung have told that they would not have one in the near future!? But just a few months back earlier, they both said differently as reported. So, who were telling the truth?

At the end of the days, I still hope for a FF Pentax DSLR. I believe that with the technology advancements, this body *should* have better IQ than what the offerings from C and N (or even Sony) today. But the big question is yet again: WHEN? WILL there be one??

Saturday, December 13, 2008

K20D Misfocused at Half Battery Level

Read this self-explanatory post and the full story below:-

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1036&message=30240362

The post was made by the King of Pentaxians, Mr. Jim King, whose probably has the largest collection of Pentax gear on this planet than anyone else. I bet if a single place on Earth where more Pentax gear can be found, this place must only be the Pentax Museum at Japan! (Fortunately, Hoya haven't closed this Museum to save operating costs, like they did this, that, this and that! I still hope some days later I can go there for a tour! So, I will bless!)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Ultimate "Whiner"!

Have viewed this clip:

http://hk.youtube.com/watch?v=tnwf2RShNV0

And I am just laughing out very loudly!

Those rants, whines and brand bashs made are so powerful! Its just so amusing afterall! I must admit that I can by no mean ever match or just even come close!

Enjoy and have fun!!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Unshielded Bodies?

Here is a detailed article by Peter Zheng about the internal dissections and PCB layouts of different DSLR models of different brands, namely, Pentax, Canon and Nikon ones:-

http://docs.google.com/View?docid=df2k6qz2_89db3xzcdq

In the beginning of his article, an excerpt of a Japanese interview with the Pentax imaging department, about the concern of EMI (Electro-Magnetic Interference) of the Pentax DSLR bodies, is also quoted.

One important thing was found and is noted: Pentax's internal circuitries and PCBs (Printed Circuit Boards, and of course those electronic components inclusive) are NOT shielded *whilst* all other models made by Canon and Nikon are well shielded, grade and price regardless. In fact, this could cause EMI issues, also as admitted by the Pentax official in the interview.

The author further writes that Pentax DSLR bodies, from *ist Ds to K10D, are all unshielded. Although he writes no further information about if the K20D, K200D and K-m are shielded, it would be fairly reasonable and safer to assume that they are also unshielded. Nonetheless, it still has the (minimal) chance that Pentax would have already improved the design, by adding a metallic shield like the other DSLR makers have been doing (since long ago), but none of us is for sure unless there is anyone who has dissected one of the three newer Pentax bodies and let us know.

According to the IEC standards, the formal term used on describing devices and appliances should not interfere with each others, electro-magnetically, is called the "Electro-Magnetic Compatibility", or just called EMC in short-form. And, EMC compliance is validated only if one of the following two conditions are fulfilled:-

1. The device does not interfere with any other devices nearby;

2. Any EMI existent in the environment which the device is placed, should not interfere and affect the normal operations of the device.

There is a third case which is not mentioned in the IEC standards, though (but indeed it is not needed to be mentioned, but it is crucial!), that is, the device should not interfere itself and the inside electronic components of the device should not interfere each others amongst themselves. In fact, this is just something that is closely associated with the PCB and component layout design. And of course, the PCB metal shield (as shown in other C and N DSLR models) should help, and in most cases, as it helps to suppress EMI from "flying" around inside the body, once those are arisen, and could eventually be picked up by the PCB traces and/or other electronic components. As for the Pentax cases, you can see some examples of strange interferences which could affect the final images here and here (cases of the K10D and K20D respectively).

Now, let's look at the operating frequencies of a typical 10MP DSLR, say, with the most "popular" Sony 10MP CCD imager. First of all, the CCD is operating at a clock frequency of 25MHz, for the pixel signals to be "clocked" out in a chain (of waveform). Secondly, the CPU and IPU and internal memory RAM etc. of the camera are operating at much high frequencies, usually from several hundreds of MHz to a few GHz nowadays (the lower GHz range is well known as Microwave in dailylife term). For the former 25MHz signals, any external EMI at that *base* frequency could severely affect the signal. However, EMIs with higher frequencies could also affect the signal waveform as the 25MHz is only the base frequencies and there exists higher harmonics (in multiples of the base frequency) contained in the actual signal to be transmitted (which is generated out from the CCD imager, and to be received for second stage processing). As a result, the final transmitted/received signal is distorted (in addition to signal loss and other imperfection of the electronics and circuitries), which eventually to appear as noise, and even worse, in bandings or pattern noises. Similarly, the same case applies to the CPU and IPU which are operating at the GHz levels. The only difference is that the CCD signal (same case for CMOS as well) are just primitive analogue devices which are even be more susceptible to those EMIs and especially they are the heart of the DSLRs as the imagers are just for receiving the raw image and light data afterall.

Well, still remember the IEC EMC standards and the two prime and essential requirements? The other concern is how an (electronics) device which is EM compatible should NOT interfere with other appliances. In the above case, the DSLRs with the (most popular and common) Sony CCD imager could affect FM radio and other RC controlled devices or communication systems in range of tens of MHz or higher (in multiples of that base frequency, even worse, if mixed with other EMIs with other frequencies, in the new intermodulated frequencies as well). And, the much higher CPU and IPU EMIs could affect other devices which are operating at GHz frequencies, e.g., mobile phones, indoor DECT phones, PC and notebooks and so on.

So, afterall, why not shieldED the PCBs?? Even Canon and Nikon DSLRs that are having a metal outer body shells are shielded. How come Pentax DSLRs with only metal INNER frames but all plastic outer shells are NOT be shielded??? Well, I must agree this is a huge concern and issue as raised.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

K200D Discontinued

The K200D has been put into the list of discontinued DSLRs at Pentax Japanese home website:-

http://www.pentax.jp/english/imaging/digital/slr/others.html (English page)

http://www.pentax.jp/japan/imaging/digital/slr/others.html (Japanese page)

Since the K200D was put onto the market in fall February 2008 (see this announcement), the product life of it is only 9 months.

Recently, the K200D has been sold damn cheap, at around HK$4,000 (US$500) for the single lens kit set (with the DA 18-55 II) and less than $3,600 (US$450) for the body alone, which is even cheaper than the K-m which is placed lower in the Pentax camp.

Indeed, I did predict on day one that the K200D would not be a success, owing to the marketing shortsightednesses of Pentax (and actually Hoya), all which I had talked about and analyzed for why, much earlier here. Actually, it has been proven that the K200D is undoubtedly just a market failure and with such a very short product lifetime. In contrast, the elder Nikon D60 and Canon 450D are still here and they are still selling like hot cakes, aren't they? Why? Well, this market failure did not have no trace, just look at what I reported in July about an Internet Poll which showed that the K200D was the least popular or just the least wanted entry level DSLR body, and that did verify once again that the K200D was just a fault and mistake of Pentax/Hoya in the very beginning.

Frankly, Pentax/Hoya should not have wasted their efforts, money and time in making such a K200D (the basic "logics" behind are mostly faulty, I would say again, who wanted a bulky and heavy but weather sealed body at an initially higher than average "entry level" price but without a matching weather sealed "entry level" priced *kit* lens?? Amazing and unbelieveable market positioning and rationales??). What I firmly believe is that they *should* have created, produced and marketed a K-m alike DSLR back to February this year (or actually should be even earlier). Now, fortunately, they have still made the K-m, but unfortunately I am afraid that it is just a bit too late and the most worrisome thing is that the K-m has no updated features as it should have, especially for what it is targeted at those DSLR beginners who mostly have just used a P&S or a prosumer DC, say, the LiveView and those associated *standard* features like Live Histogram and Face Detection and so on.

Anyway, to look at the bright side, anyone and I could *imagine* that there will be a K300 coming soon which is about to replace the K200D (I guess Pentax have opted to drop the "D" letter from now on, as the K2000 is actually not named as the K2000D - there is no "D", against what quite some people still mis-spell and/or mis-type it). However, objectively thinking, I bet the K300 would not happen in the near future. It is because it is just not something that is desirable by Pentax/Hoya to keep more DSLR models in production as it would incur more production costs, business risks and other financial burdens. The reality is just that there is already not much market share left for Pentax to support their current products. In this case, they could be just much happier to group all the existing limited and tiny groups of purchasers for both the K-m and the K200D rather than to split them into two!

Well, it also recalls me of the last Pentax high-ranked official's funny and unrealistic speech of a "lower class entry level DSLR" (the K-m) and an "upper class entry level DSLR" (the K200D)!? And, his September claim of three hierachies of DSLRs has now vanished?

Finally, now if the exposure accuracy of the K-m is really debugged somehow and be better (as it seems to be so far - read my recent blog entries for those preliminary findings) than that of the K20D (which still looks problematic in this department, just like what all other previous Pentax DSLRs have been found to be, no matter from what many different Pentax DSLR users (mostly new) have reported (do searches at Google and other Pentax forums for those) or just look at my this simple and direct analysis), *should* the K20D be also discontinued soonest and be replaced by something that up-to-the-standard (of all others)?

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