Saturday, October 31, 2009

New RICOH Mirrorless Digital System Will NOT Be K-Mount!

Everyone learns from different recent rumours (but maybe from the same "source") that Ricoh is going to launch a new "Evil" system on November 12 on which the new system and products will be announced.

However, much speculations are on whether the new Ricoh system will have a K Mount recently. My bet is that all these are just wishful thinkings of quite some old Pentaxians, as the old auto-aperture Rikeon P lenses were already not Pentax system compatible, although mechanically they did build on a K-mount.

Now, here is yet another newest rumour which talks about the Ricoh will use an unique brand new "slide-in" interchangeable lens mount system, which is not a bayonet type! See the below new post, in which the reporting tone is quite firm:-

http://www.dchome.net/viewthread.php?tid=773891
(Post in Traditional Chinese)

So, let's wait and see what will happen! There are only less than twelve days to come!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Real Pentax Pride and Classic - LX



Came across this post recently, the LX photos are touching. The old-day Pentax lenses and bodies are just masterpieces with excellent workmanship and superb build quality, which just blow any of the modern Pentax gear out of the water so easily hands down, DA Limited included. But, those were the days..

http://www.mobile01.com/topicdetail.php?f=255&t=1144120

(Text in Traditional Chinese, Google Translation in English Here)

Do note that in the above original page you need to click on each of the photo links to view specific photo.

K-x and K-7 Enter Top 20 Selling DSLRs at Amazon!

According to the latest news reports at the 1001 Noisy Cameras, the K-x has entered the Top 20 Selling DSLRs positioned at 14th last week at Amazon.

Well, it is actually long time no see for a Pentax to appear amongst the Top 20, actually not even the first 50ths. Congrats Pentax (umm.. actually Hoya)!

Besides, unexplainably, the K-7 (body only) also suddenly appears at the 20th this week!

Notice: Temporary Down of Some Blog Picture and Geocities Page Links

As you may have known, the Geocities has been closed by Yahoo and now my site is being migrated to a new domain, the RiceHigh.Net. In the meantime, all my geocities links are down which include all my pages and pictures/graphics hosted there. I expect things will resume normal by next Monday, November 2.

See you at the new RiceHigh.Net, very soon! :-)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

K-x Debug Mode Activation Method

Similar to the method(s) for entering the debug mode of most later Pentax DSLRs, here is the latest disclosure, for the K-x:-

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1036&message=33494665

Quoted:-

"How to get into DEBUG mode for K-x, firmware 1.0:

1) create file MODSET.492 with
[OPEN_DEBUG_MENU]

  • line must end with CR/LF (endline char in windows)

2) turn on the camera while holding +- (Av) button

3) congratulations, you are in debug menu"

But there is just one interesting and valuable thing Pentax has officially warned us in the above thread, that is, before you are to send your cam under warranty back to servicing, do remember to deactivate the debug mode!

Read Also:-

UPDATED: New Method to Access the Debug Mode of Various Pentax DSLRs

K-m Debug Mode Unleashed! (For AF Correction)

K-7 Debug Mode YouTube Demos

The Fightings Between K-x and K-7 Continue! ;-)

Here is the latest shootout lab measurebation by Falk Lumo (aka Falconeye), which I think is scientific, of good quality and higher level standard. Go read, inspect and measurbate yourself and the results (and conclusion(s) drawn up as well) may surprise you!

http://falklumo.blogspot.com/2009/10/lumolabs-pentax-k-x-vs-k-7-sensor-and.html

Yet, there is another comparison made between the K-x and K-7, by the "Pentax is Death" guy (aka Ogl). Full size sample photos are posted.

http://fotkidepo.ru/?id=album:24445

I think both guys have done an objective enough tests and the results obtained are of certain good reference values. I won't write further here about my observations and comments and would just let you go figure out yourself and make your own judgement!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New K-x Japanese Special Site (Interesting)

Look here for a super long Flash clip for the Introduction: http://www.camera-pentax.jp/k-x/

The Old Colour Simulator: http://www.camera-pentax.jp/k-x/#/simulator/120101

The Official K-x Colour Ranking: http://www.camera-pentax.jp/k-x/#/ranking

Sample Photos (Downsized): http://www.camera-pentax.jp/k-x/#/photo/all

The K-x Users: http://www.camera-pentax.jp/k-x/#/people

I think Hoya marketing has done a pretty job this time and I don't mind to help them to promote this site and actually the K-x as such! ;-)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

K-7 Debug Mode YouTube Demos

First, you need to know how to enter:-

http://ricehigh.blogspot.com/2009/08/new-method-to-access-debug-modes-of.html

And, here is the Debug Mode Menu, Sub-menus and Functional Items:-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRpPBCa1rMU
(in English)



Next, here is the Additional SETUP Sub-menu and Items:-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrWieDnm5oE
(in Japanese)



Disclaimer/Reminder: Play all those at YOUR OWN RISK! YOU are the ONE WHO know what you are doing actually and special care and attention must be paid IF YOU PLAY!!

Cypress Full Frame CMOS Sensor is to be Used in the Rumoured Upcoming Pentax Full Frame Body?

With surprise and to doubt about the reason(s) behind, Cypress has updated their datasheet of their 36 x 24mm CMOS sensor at their website, recently:-

http://download.cypress.com.edgesuite.net/design_resources/datasheets/contents/ibis4_14000_8.pdf

And, a rumour has begun recently for that the "upcoming" Pentax Full Frame DSLR body will use this sensor:-

http://www.nphoto.net/news/2009-10/22/6f1e08121de985fa.shtml
(Text in Simplified Chinese)

..of which the contents are 90% the same as another Chinese article that was posted two years ago at another Chinese site:-

http://news.fengniao.com/69/691199.html
(Text in Simplified Chinese)

But just don't look down at those Chinese websites' reports. My experiences were that they were either pure rumours and imaginations or the cases were just in another extreme - the authors received REAL information from insiders and they dared much to disclose, without anything of being afraid! :-)

As for the Cypress sensor, below are some of my impressions on the published Specs:-

1. 8um Pixel Size is really large. The K-x pixel size is only 5.6um, as I have calculated last time;

2. The "Rolling Shutter" capability means that it should be video recording ready, and also the Live View (For more technical information about the "rolling shutter", read my last post here);

3. The Master Clock is of 15MHz is slow (The old K10D Sony CCD is clocked at 25MHz);

4. As such, the Maximum Frame Rate of the sensor is low, too, at only 3 fps;

5. The Full Well Capacity at 65,000 electrons is large;

6. The Dark Current at a rate of 223 electrons per second is very low (which affect noise performance and dynamic range);

7. The Dynamic Range of 65.4 dB means a theoretical maximum DR of 10.86EV steps which is not too impressive, in contrast;

8. At a 3.3V operating voltage and a low operating frequency of 15MHz, this would be a low power consumption device (< 176mW as specified). But actually one thing I don't understand is about the DR spec in dB. If I have to calculate it from the Full Well Capacity to the Dark Current, it is only of 49.29 dB, which is yet lower than the published spec and the value is lower than typical, also. (If any of the imager experts read here, please enlighten me! TIA. :-))

Well, after all, actually there is no outsider knows at the current stage if Pentax is really making a Full Frame DSLR body, not even mention to which and what sensor in such a rumoured body. Btw, I think there are still other (limited) choices, but this Cypress CMOS would be a relatively much cheaper option, I bet. Performance wise, it is yet unknown. But normally I would not expect miracles from novices - even the electronics giant Samsung has been striking much for making a better APS-C sensor, with higher performance, better image quality and less bugs, frankly.

Some K-x Video Samples

Daylight (Animals):-
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeGCEKwrbCc



Night Scene (Fireworks):-
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGxtNicC71Y



Not bad IMO..

A Recent Interview with Hoya Corporation's COO

Here is the Bloomberg report:-

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601110&sid=aRJv.HxndPMY

Hoya Corporaton's Chief Operating Officer (COO) was interviewed and he has talked something about Pentax. The relevant parts are quoted:-

"An acquisition of a health-care business would help President Hiroshi Suzuki expand the company’s most-profitable division, and build on a strategy that led to the 2007 purchase of endoscope maker Pentax."

Well, Pentax is still an endoscope maker in the eyes of Hoya..

"Hoya is a little weak in basic technologies, so it makes sense they’d consider buying a business in order to save development time"

They admit that their technologies base is weak.

"I don’t know whether we’ll go with Samsung or somebody else, but I can say that we’ll have a deeper relationship with some electronics guys"

It seems that the partnership with Samsung has come to an end and a new partner has *been* found and something is under the pipeline (maybe).

"There will be consolidation in the camera business and a small player like us will be like a small boat on a rough sea. But let me be clear: we will not shut down this (Pentax) business."

It is told that Pentax will continue to play in the field in the meantime. Anyway, this is somehow meaningless as Lehman Brothers etc. didn't tell us that they would go out of business but the world could only know until those happened!

"Pentax’s sales of 24.6 billion yen ($267 million) in the first quarter were one tenth the 246 billion yen in camera revenue at Canon Inc., the world’s largest maker of the devices."

Having 1/10th of the sales of Canon is not bad indeed, IMHO.

"Pentax was the only unprofitable unit among Hoya’s divisions, posting a 941 million yen loss during the quarter ended June 30."

"The Pentax unit likely turned profitable for the first time in seven quarters after the company cut costs by reducing the workforce, the Nikkei said. Hamada declined to comment on the report"

It seems that the COO has not much confidence in turning the Pentax business from red (which is the only thing red within the Corp.) to black, or he wants to keep it as a secret for some reasons.

Friday, October 23, 2009

K-7 Firmware 1.02 Promotes Noise?

This K-7 user has updated the new firmware, but he found now his K-7 ISO 800 shots are even more "measly". See the crops of samples he posts and I am quite sure that you will feel for him!:-

http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/783991-post45.html

The shots are really so scary and terrible! All EXIF data are kept intact so you can check more shooting details yourself.

He further stated that going back to firmware 1.01 could eliminate the problem:-

http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/784046-post48.html

But then I think the K-7 Jpegs are really just too noisy at ISO 400 already with original firmware. So?

Besides, someone in the same thread has done a quick test and posts a ISO 100 shot, a ISO 3200 shot and 3 comparison shots for normal Sharpness, Fine Sharpness (1) and Fine Sharpness 2 in Full Size. Go figure out the differences, if any visible, by yourself:-

http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/783791-post38.html

The ISO 3200 shot is really unusable btw, IMHO.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

K-7 Firmware 1.02

http://www.pentax.jp/english/support/digital/k-7_s.html

  • Added [Fine Sharpness 2] which makes image outlines even sharper than [Fine Sharpness] to the Sharpness setting of Custom Image. How to select [Fine Sharpness 2], Click Here
  • Improved total image processing performance at the particular shooting condition or setting such as preview image quality at the "Water Color & Pastel" of Digital Filter mode.
  • Improved stability for general performance such as with Battery Grip D-BG4, the rear e-dial may rarely become unstable in particular shooting condition.

Direct download links:-

Windows:
http://www.pentax.jp/english/support/digital/firmware/k7_e102w.EXE

Mac:
http://www.pentax.jp/english/support/digital/firmware/K7_E102M.zip

My Humble Warning: Don't *hope* for Miracles!

Endless K-x Samples! ;-D

The K-x has been on sales in both Japan and Hong Kong for about one week now. There have been a lot of the original sample photos uploaded by those new K-x users.

So, let's view the Japanese PhotobleNet gallery again, there have been a lot of K-x photos uploaded recently:-

http://pentax.photoble.net/?L=en

The good thing for viewing samples at the PhotobleNet is that most of the shooting information and picture data are posted, which are indeed quite valuable.

I have read 10 pages and selected some of the images for brief discussion here:-

Picture
Page Link
My Comments

http://pentax.photoble.net/?exif=091021005
This LightRoom converted picture is nice, although I would prefer more contrast and sharpness. The colours are okay but not something that worth a Wow.

http://pentax.photoble.net/?exif=091021009
One of the first in-camera HDR samples that you would find on the Net. Not bad for the pic. As for ISO 1600 with medium Noise Reduction, the noise is well controlled whilst loss of image details is not too severe.

http://pentax.photoble.net/?exif=091021006
A 20 second exposure at ISO 1600 (Medium NR setting). Quite impressive! Well, I think the K-x is really a night camera and it is well suited for Astrophotography.

http://pentax.photoble.net/?exif=091021007
The Sirius Star was shot at ISO 800 *without* NR. Really impressive, again!
http://pentax.photoble.net/?exif=091021010
The picture generally lacks contrast, good colours and sharpness. The poster writes that he PSed the shot for the car name plate but I don't think this would cause too much impact in the IQ of the picture. Disappointed result anyway.
http://pentax.photoble.net/?exif=091019002
Ditto. I am not impressed with the contrast, colours and sharpness of this pic. The DoF is shallow but the lack of sharpness is just too obvious - see the animal's right eye.
http://pentax.photoble.net/?exif=091019001
This one seems better but the blue colour of the sky don't look very pleasing.
http://pentax.photoble.net/?exif=091019003
This one is better but still not up to my expectation in term of Image Quality. The Bokeh of the kit lens is not too good neither in this shooting condition, also.

Well, in short, I think the K-x is an excellent indoor and night camera. But on the days, so far I am not impressed with the daylight photos. I am afraid that K-m is still the King of IQ in Pentaxland if you take pictures on bright days, with richer and more eye-pleasing colours, better contrast as well as better sharpness and image details. In fact, most of the day sample photos of the K-x I have seen so far resemble quite some of the unfavourable IQ characteristics of the Nikon D90, which I don't like.

p.s. The only favourable day-time K-x samples I have seen so far would be this one, which I think the IQ is very good:-

http://ricehigh.blogspot.com/2009/10/korean-k-x-special-page.html

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More K-x 6400 Shots



See:-

http://informationondigitalcamera.blogspot.com/2009/10/pentax-k-x-night-shots-at-iso6400.html

(Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/heartlogic/sets/72157622494864286/ (with other samples taken at lower ISO speeds))

Download the full size images if you want to measurbate (forever and endlessly! ;-p)

Happy measurbation!

Well, once again, it seems that the ISO 6400 IQ and noise level is somehow close to that of the ISO 1600 of the K-m of which the IQ is yet better than that of the K-7 at just ISO 800. I think I have to say a "Well Done!" to Pentax this time but at the same time, they should consider to replace the sensor in the K-7 and give us a revised and updated model of it soonest! Is it actually logical to have an entry level model to outperform their own "flagship" in IQ like this??

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

K-x Vs K-m (K2000) ISO Measurbation

Here is the full-size test sample gallery for measurbation (by Pentaxian "Devorama" who has both a K2000 and K-x), the background of the test has been briefed in his main page:-

http://www.flickr.com/photos/11899953@N02/sets/72157622477827457/

and also with more shooting information told in his post at the DPR:-

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1036&message=33396364

I think the dog JPEG shots are not easy to compare as the WB tones are quite different, although they are the only in-camera JPEG shots. The dog shots give us some idea on how the AWB and preset Tungsten WB of the two cameras behave under that lighting condition, though.

As for the RAW shootout for different ISO speeds, I prefer to inspect and compare the converted images with original Pentax software, i.e., Pentax Digital Camera Utility 4. For quicker and easier view and measurbation on those DCU converted pictures, I re-organise and tabulate them as follows:-

ISO
K-x
K2000 (K-m)
100

200

400
800
1600
3200
6400
Not Available
12800
Not Available
* Click on any of the pictures above will download the full-size original image - Warning: All Large Files!

My opinion? It seems both cameras are not bad in IQ and noise control/details retained. I still like the colours of the K-m better but the K-x is not that bad anyway. But one thing is just for sure, both cameras will blow K-7 out of the water so easily or just let the K-7 eating dust in the land as long as IQ is the utmost important thing under concern.

It would be interesting to see how different sensors could affect the IQ performance of different PENTAX DSLR bodies afterall!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Some News on the Latest CMOS Imager Technologies and Developments

Last year, Sony announced their development of their new Back Side Illuminated (BSI) CMOS imager which they intended to use in their digital camcorders and P&S DCs (the sensor is small in size):-

http://www.sony.net/SonyInfo/News/Press/200806/08-069E/index.html

Whilst the light receiving area per pixel are expanded and it well observes the law of Physics for getting more photons (and thus light power and finally energy) on the photo site, the technology is not yet quite mature and other technical issues arisen are yet to be resolved, e.g., more colour crosstalk as a result of less colour separation (thinner grids and partitions) for adjacent different Bayer filters and pixels.

Now that after one year, Samsung also talks about their new BSI sensor is coming. Samsung even dare telling us they are going to make slightly larger sensors (same pixel pitch, more pixel count, will explain more below) based on the same idea and technology:-

http://techon.nikkeibp.co.jp/article/COLUMN/20090903/174903/
(in Japanese, or Google Translation in English here)

But from what are presented in the above (for the diagrams and word descriptions etc.), I am afraid that Samsung's BSI is just 99.9% identical to that of Sony, whom should be the original inventor (patented?) for that innovation and new technology. The pitch/pixel sizes disclosed are exactly the same, i.e., 1.75 um as mentioned, although the pixel counts are different (5MP of Sony Vs 14.6MP of Samsung). What a "coincidence"! And also, I just wonder why Samsung like the 14.6MP pixel count and number so much??

Btw, both sensors are much smaller in size anyway. Let's say a 12.4MP APS-C imager (say, the one used in the new K-x) means 4288 x 2428 in 24 x 16mm (approximately, 3:2), which just implies that the linear pixel size is 0.024m / 4288 = 5.6um. So each pixel is of area in the square of 5.6um. So, as for a 1.75um square pixel, which is just a much smaller sensor in size, even though if it has a much higher pixel count than the Sony prototype (14.6MP Vs 5MP), which is just by no means can match the size of any DSLR sensor format and system so far - Well, 14.6MP = 4672 x 3104. And, 4672 x 1.75um = 8.176mm, i.e., the sensor is only slightly more than 8mm for the long side. Do note that even 4/3 sensors are at roughly about 18mm in length for the long side (to put it simpler, let's assume the 4/3 is half-frame 135 in 3:2, although actually they are in 4:3, i.e., 18 x 12mm).

Next, at the other side, let us see the latest breakthrough in sensor technology and development of Fujifilm:-

http://www.dpnet.com.cn/News/2/12014/1.shtml
(in Simplified Chinese, or Google Translation in English here)

So Fuji has been successful in making their own "Foveon", with some kinds of new "organic" technologies and theoretical improved sensor performance. Their prototype built is still experimental, though. And light fading problem (uneven spectral response/light sensitivity between RGB) of the original "Foveon" is yet to be resolved. I do hope they can succeed shortly and make new generation of superb sensors with their new technologies, as a result of their extensive and intensive R&D and investment made. When the day comes, I am sure all digital cameras will have improved performance, regardless of sensor sizes and formats, which will surely a good news to all people. And, there will be no more Bayer artifacts, which just means better image quality without any doubt. Moreover, demosaic algorithms will no longer be essentially required and much on-board processing power can be saved (and at the same time getting rid of the Bayer artifacts and moires).

K-x and K-7 ISO Noise/Detail Comparisons (All Speeds)

This is the K-x test, full size original test images can be downloaded:-

http://www.focus-numerique.com/test-103/pentax-k-x-test-bruit-electronique-12.html
(or view in English by Google Translate here)


(ISO 200 to 12800)

And, we can see also the K-7 test. Here it is:-

http://www.focus-numerique.com/test-91/pentax-k-7-test-bruit-electronique-12.html
(or view in English by Google Translate here)


(ISO 100 to 6400)

Okay, I won't comment further this time. I blog, you measurebate and decide!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

K-7 Green Banding Issue

Here comes the brother of the K-7 vertical green line bug, the vertical green banding of the K-7!

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1036&message=33389418

Well, I think this careful-minded K-7 user has a very clear description of the phenomenon and problem. The banding does not always appear. But when it appears, once appeared, all ISO speeds are affected.

Do note he has updated to the latest 1.13 sub-version of the K-7 firmware 1.01 already but problem persists.

Read Also: Updates on K-7 Vertical (Green) Line Bug

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Self-Disassembled DA 21

Just see this self-explanatory post about the case:-

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1036&thread=33243488

And the posted photo of the "separated" lens is linked:-



In fact, this is not the first time I see such a reported case. Last time I saw in a Chinese forum that a DA pancake lens was automatically self-separated into two pieces like this, exactly (the link of the post cannot be found now, though).

So, the durability and reliability of those super-thin Pentax pancake lenses are now in question. Is it horrible enough to see a lens to self-disassemble into two pieces like this? Really something unimaginable, I must say.

Update (10-20): One More Recent Adverse Report..

http://www.dchome.net/viewthread.php?tid=772742
(in Tradition Chinese)

The whole focusing assembly of his new DA 21 which purchased only one month ago has loosen and there is great play. The user questions about the "limited quality" of the limited lenses. Well, what to ask actually? Pentax has told us already! From the words "limited quality", it just means the quality is limited! ;-D

Once Again, K-7 SR Issue that Causes Horrible IQ

Further to the last reports of the issue, it seems that the SR system of at least quite some K-7 units are having problem. See the latest report from yet another K-7 user just a few days ago:-

http://pentaxforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=75494

Sample pictures with central crops are posted. It really looks horrible, as the poster writes. It just shows that the SR just *Added* Shakes, instead of reducing it, when the SR function was turned on.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Korean K-x Special Page

Well, there is no new nor special information over there but I think the presentation is nice!

http://www.popco.net/zboard/view.php?id=just_arrived&no=111

The girl and product photos are very nice but from the EXIF (if any preserved for some of the photos) I can see that these are not taken with Pentax gear but just a Kodak FF DSLR anyway.

The sample movie clips are in Flash format. They look nice for the colours and sharpness I would say but there is some jumpiness. It is actually unknown for whether it is caused by format conversion loss for dropped frames or the source video clips are just like that, nevertheless.

Update (10-17):

Sample K-x photos uploaded at the Korean site:-

http://www.popco.net/zboard/zboa ... esc=asc&no=5787

http://www.popco.net/zboard/zboa ... esc=asc&no=5794

http://www.popco.net/zboard/zboa ... esc=asc&no=5820

Well, those are downsized and without any EXIF data. But what I want to say is those pictures are looking . . . . really nice!

Old Question: Will there be a Pentax Full Frame DSLR?

Well, I summarise the events and news in ascending chronological order below:-

Time:-
News/Event:-
October 2007The Pentax lens system went DA.
April 2008
AP told that Samsung was making a Full Frame sensor.
June 2008
Full Frame DSLR model was under planning.
September 2008
Hoya senior officials targeted to use APS-C to rival Full Frame. (What?! My Pardon?)
October 2008
RiceHigh made a K-mount Full Frame body himself, after prolonged wait from Pentax but got nothing and being so desperate! :-o :-(

Big Discovery: DA lens is not working on Full Frame DSLR body! ;-)
October 2008
Samsung denied the development of a Full Frame sensor!?
March 2009
645D Revived but nothing was talked about a Pentax Full Frame.
March 2009
Hoya told that the Full Frame K-mount system was not yet aborted and that the DA lens specifications had to be revised. (but so far up till now we have seen *nothing*!)
March 2009
RiceHigh had used his Full Frame K-mount DSLR body with his Pentax Full Frame lenses for long, already.
March 2009
Pentax was still sourcing sensors for their upcoming DSLRs
April 2009
RiceHigh continued to enjoy his cheapest FAJ Full Frame Pentax lens on his K-mount Full Frame DSLR body.
May 2009
New lens roadmap was "leaked" and new Full Frame lenses were unveiled.
August 2009
Hoya achieved their set target and promise back to September 2008 - K-m rivaled the K5D in resolution and image details!
August 2009
Sony marketed the ever cheapest Full Frame DSLR body, Pentax/Hoya was still unable to react and had no reaction!
September 2009
Leica also had their Full Frame Body finally, leaving Pentax alone for a legacy 135 system without a Full Frame DSLR body!
October 2009
Latest Rumour from Russia told that a Full Frame Pentax DSLR body would come in late 2010, the broken dream of old film Pentaxians was revived again! (but endlessly with little hope!)
NOW
Pentax has not yet published any update to their previous lens roadmap since it was last updated back to March 2009, with the deletion of some previously announced DA lenses.

Next? The Future? Will Pentax work out a Full Frame DSLR system? Will there be one?? Well, the answer is just either Yes or No - I can guarantee! And I think only this game (or something alike) will tell the Truth! ;-D

Well, I've given up! Just don't think more! Or, you will need to "See a Doctor" or simply, a "Psychiatrist"!! ;-D LOL..

Purchase Alert: Price of White K-x Kit is Dropping!

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=9555858&type=product&id=1218124207638

At Best Buy, offered price is cheaper than that of B&H and Adorama, (a white) kit lens is still included.

Go, go, go..! :-)

K-x Matches the D3s ;-)

.. in the Movie Mode!:-

http://www.dpreview.com/news/0910/09101403nikond3shandson.asp

The standard ISO range of the D3s is exactly the same as the boosted one of the K-x. But the boosted highest ISO of the D3s is crazy anyway - 102,400! What? :-0

The pixel count is similar too, but there is one important difference, i.e., the D3s has a Full Frame sensor (but of course the K-x has not)! Btw, it is also a Sony one.

Of course for everything else of the D3s, it just blows any of the Pentax DSLRs out of the water so easily. Actually, nothing should and could be compared!

Whilst there is no real "sound" from Pentax for having a Full Frame DSLR sooner or later (but only this last rumour), the K-x is now equipped with the Nikon D90 Sony sensor or its latest variant. It is just a good sign for the K-x case as those Sony CMOS sensors were previously only used exclusively in Nikon DSLRs but now Pentax/Hoya has started to pick it (or them later) up.

Even though Pentax later on uses the FX sensors with low pixel count (just like those used in the D3 and D3s), many Pentaxians' dream for a Full Frame Pentax DSLR can still be realised some days later, hopefully. My wishful thinking.. (I know!)

In the meantime, some Nikonians may now be very "disappointed" with the yet low pixel count and the low video recording spec of the D3s. But then there is also a D3x which uses the same sensor as the Sony A900/A850 and with 24MPs. But then the D3x does have its problems, see:-

http://ricehigh.blogspot.com/2008/12/ultimate-whiner.html

Enjoy and have fun!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sensor (CCD/CMOS) Artifacts and CMOS Rolling Shutter

Have you tried to use a DSLR to take video and discovered that there were some strange "skewing" effect when you panned the camera and shot motion, in which the person or a vertical object is distorted? Well, here comes a nice technical article that gets those sensor artifacts mostly explained, in a yet easy-to-understand and clear way:-

http://dvxuser.com/jason/CMOS-CCD/

In the article, some pros and cons about the CCD against CMOS are also mentioned, e.g., CMOS is more energy efficient and generates less heat in general. Those do apply to digital still cameras as the different characteristics are the same. In fact, some sensor artifacts as mentioned in the article such as smear would occur for CCD and partial exposure (in case of electronic shutter of the sensor in use and with quick exposure like using flash) would occur for CMOS even for taking still pictures. It is just a very interesting read and useful article afterall.

The articles does not go too deep into explaining the Smear effect of the CCD, though. But I can make some quick explanation to amend it here. So, what're the major difference(s) between CCD and CMOS sensors actually? If I have to explain it very briefly, what I would say is that CCD and CMOS are just the same thing in basic working principle but they are different in the basic architecture of which the pixel data is amplified and extracted in a quite different way. Such different cause various differences in artifacts, noise, power consumption and so on. The smearing we can see in the illustration is just a case of charge overthrown and that the overthrown charge cannot be reset during the course of pixel data retrieval just because it is the limitation of the "architectural" design and as such that particular sensor artifact is seen, in the final produced picture.

AFAIK, there is no video-capable DSLR using a CCD sensor, but all are equipped with CMOS sensors. So, the three artifacts, namely, Skew, Wobble, and Partial Exposure, do apply to all video-capable DSLRs that use CMOS sensors (solely anyway).

Here in Hong Kong there is a local DSLR gear magazine, the DiGi Bi-weekly, do test the Skewing artifact/effect each time when they tested a video-capable DSLR in movie mode. In fact, I read their tests of the 500D, EP-1, GH1, D5000, K-7 etc. before and it was found that the Pana performed the best in showing the least artifact for the undesired effect. Maybe this is owing to the higher refresh rate of the sensor for its electronic shutter, i.e. the (much) shorter (re-)cycling time. So, I think Pana do have some edges in their sensor and electronics / video technologies whereas the others are catching up in the game. Well, I believe Canon do also have some better technologies too but they won't give the consumers so much and too many in any digital *still* picture camera! After all, Video (Cam) is (for) Video and Still is Still!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

K-x Super High ISO Samples

@ ISO 12800 and 6400:-

http://www.flickr.com/photos/29738823@N02/sets/72157622549473808/

Really impressive, I have to say, for the noise control and details retained. The colours still look odd but these are extreme conditions and the (auto) white balance can't be perfect anyway.

Update (10-16):

According to information provided by "noou" (thx indeed :-)), here are more latest K-x samples uploaded by the same person:-

http://www.flickr.com/photos/29738823@N02/sets/72157622410764903/

Now we can see low(er) ISO ones, also.

Friday, October 09, 2009

POLL: K-x Vs K-7 Vs K-m

If you have to get a Pentax body right now and you currently do not have any body, which current Pentax DSLR body do you get? Assuming that you can afford any of them but of course you should still consider the features you need and the Cost/Performance ratios of different bodies.

Here is the Poll:-

Which Pentax body right now?
K-x
K-7
K-m
Direct Poll Link: http://www.learnmyself.com/poll22204x010F49E4

Updates on K-7 Vertical (Green) Line Bug

There is progress of the case, although nothing is official so far:-

http://ricehigh.blogspot.com/2009/09/k-7-vertical-line-issue-silently-solved.html

It seems that Pentax/Hoya has been trying hard to eliminate/hide the problem by firmware, the problem and phenomenon is reduced, but it is still not totally eliminated.

Let's wait and see what other affected K-7 users will report in due course.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

New Review, More K-x Full Samples

Thanks to RiceHigh's Pentax Blog reader "mike", I've discovered a new K-x review at a Chinese blog:-

http://blog.pchome.net/article/210469.html
(Google translation in English here)

The blog article tells the testing story and background. It links to the following K-x sample gallery:-

http://product.pchome.net/digital_dc_pentax_k_x/sample_162488_0.html

To view the full-size pictures, click on the thumbnail of the interested picture first. And then click the link named "查看原图" below the preview pic. After that, the original full picture will be downloaded and displayed.

Inspect and pixel-peel yourself and draw your own conclusion(s)! I won't make comments this time. :-)

Nevertheless, here are some key remarks by the reviewer/author on the shooting settings etc. (as mentioned in the above blog article):-

1. Lenses used are DAL 18-55, DA 18-55 II, FA 77 Limited and DA* 300. If you have the latest updated version of the Pentax Photo Browser, you will be able to see which lens model is in use;

2. Some of the pics were taken in AdobeRGB colour space, direct viewing with browsers may show some colour incorrectness - view the EXIF to distinguish those;

3. Some pics taken with DA lenses had the in-camera CA correction function enabled. 1 to 2 seconds of delay/calculation time was involved for the process.

The Red K-x is Delayed


(Picture Source: http://www.dchome.net/redirect.php?goto=findpost&pid=8903303&ptid=760141)

See the latest news from the DC Watch:-

http://dc.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/news/20091008_320170.html
(in Japanese, Google translated version in English here)

Well, this Red Zaku will be delayed for 17 days. The reason for the delay is that "there have been too many (pre-)orders". The release of the black and white versions of the K-x is unaffected.

Pentax/Hoya must need some more time to buy the red paint! Isn't it?

Ken Rockwell's Leica M9 Samples (Full Size)

Further to my previous report on the new Leica M9, here is the latest news update: Ken Rockwell has posted some brand new M9 samples, taken with his various old Leica lenses!

http://www.kenrockwell.com/leica/m9/examples.htm

Wow, the Image Quality is really impressive, I have to admit. The optical quality of the lenses have yet once again shown to be excellent and the new body does produce very good results.

I have to say I am super jealous of Leica users who are now having the option of putting their old film lenses onto a Full Frame digital body - just look how Ken Rockwell put his 39-year old standard 50mm and took the picture! And it remains a 50mm lens! Now, all of their lenses are given new lives and actually re-born. I just wonder when are all those old Pentax film lenses (many of which are excellent) owned by all those old-school K-mount users and Pentaxians over the world can be re-born. And, hopefully even there will be one (a Full Frame Pentax DSLR body), the K-mount in it will NOT be a crippled one! Oh, no... please.. But also, only if Pentax the brand and system will survive..! (How long and will it? Who will be the next to own "Pentax"? And, will the next owner just simply drops the brand like what Sony did to (Konica-)Minolta??)

K-7 Hot Pixel Issue (and Latest Firmware Revisions only Exaggerate It)

See this latest K-7 user's bug report:-

http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-dslr-discussion/75613-k7-reverting-firmware.html

Everything is clearly explained, and with sample photos posted which show the hot pixels.

In fact, Pentax have been silently updating the firmware "1.01" with minor revisions from (1.01.0)0.05 -> 0.09 -> 1.13 but it seems that whilst the vertical line issue resolution is of mixed results, other serious sensor issues were re-born.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Why the IQ of the K-7 (Sensor) could be Worse than That of the K20D?

I think many people could have noticed that the IQ of the K20D is actually better than that of the K-7 with more image details and less noise. Here is an example for quick comparison:-

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/pentaxk7/page29.asp

Do note the K-7 images above are with Medium Noise Reduction on whilst the K20D are Without. I don't agree with the author that the different noise levels of the comparison images. I think the noise reduced K-7 images are quite close to those of the non-NRed high ISO images from the K20D, which clearly contain more details (and of course). Maybe I would even say the K20D's test images even have slight edge for having a little less noise - go measurebate and verify yourself!

Back to 2006, I had written a technical article on the case study of an imager with 2 data output channels against a 4th one. Although it is about CCD imagers (Sony ICX483AQA and ICX493AQA, used in the Nikon D200 and the K10D respectively), the same technical issues and concerns apply in case of the older Samsung 14.6MP CMOS imager (two channels for data readout) against the new one that used in the K-7 (four channels). Just read my that article for more technical details and my remarks:-

http://ricehigh.blogspot.com/2006/12/secrets-of-k10d-part-1-of-3-heart-ccd.html

So, after all, the 2-channel or 4-channel approach is just a give-and-take. If the imager designer wants more speed, he would scarify the quality, and vice versa. The case of CMOS sensor could be even worse as amplification on pixel information is not by individual data "clocked-out" channel, but in more discrete form primitively with individual circuit component required per pixel, say, the signal (pre-)amplifier. On top of these, aggregated data capture/output channels and devices are still required. As such, more noise are resulted. Again, just remember: no electronic component and circuitry can be made equal. The unequalness and asymmetry or whatsoever is called just means inconsistency, which is the source of noise that finally appears in the recorded picture.

Last but not least, the image processors like the DIGICs and PRIMEs etc. can do the tricks by "Noise Reduction", but noise is eliminated altogether with image details, which are lost, as a result (which is yet again what I don't like about the Canon APS-C DSLRs like the 50D and the 7D etc.). So, again, Full Frame is the only way to go for 135 form factor DSLRs, including our K-mount one, if *both* low noise and higher image details are desired including the maintain of a comparable higher pixel count. Btw, I hope that the latest rumour of Pentax/Hoya has planned for a Full Frame DSLR is true and if it really comes by fall 2010, then it would be a real dream for all old film K-mount Pentaxians like me!

Hoya CEO Still Thinking to Sell Off Pentax?

Here is the latest interview article with Hoya's CEO by the Japanese Nikkei financial news:-

http://business.nikkeibp.co.jp/article/topics/20091002/206120/?P=1
(in Japanese, login is required to view the full article, registration is free)

Via the PentaxForums and photofan.jp, the excerpt is as follows:-

HOYA's CEO, Suzuki revealed his idea for Pentax digital camera department:
"Don't think keeping (the Pentax digital camera sector) in the HOYA Group forever,
Let it merge with other companies, or independent is also OK "

It is further mentioned that the K-x will be the turning point between success or failure of Pentax (the brand) and the sales result will change the faith of Pentax! (What? The K-x is the last chance given? And, K-7 is not the main project with key concern?)

Hence, the stance taken by the CEO and Hoya about the whole Pentax camera business is clear, that is, it is a business that can have or not to have, which simply means it is just a "don't care". So, where are commitment and determination then?? (None actually, I'm afraid, very unfortunately..)

The Nobel Prize for Physics 2009

Yesterday the instant headline news in the media has been about the award of the Nobel Prizes and the winners of this year's prize for Physics are the "Father of Fibre Optics" and the Inventors of the CCD Imager:-

Hong Kong News Headlines - South China Morning Post (SCMP.com)

http://www.dpreview.com/news/0910/09100601nobelprize.asp

The CCD imager is the heart of all digital cameras whereas fibre optics and electro-optical electronics and devices are the bases of modern communications which the Internet is built on. Both are very important to our life and actually the two things are two of the most important hobbies of mine for decades - I have been a digital photographer since the Year 2000 and an Internet user since 1990.

As a Hong Kong people, I feel extremely proud of Professor Kao of being awarded the Nobel Prize finally, after so many years of his invention and his huge contribution to the Mankind. Personally, I was the student of Professor Kao back to 1990 and there were occasions that I chatted and discussed things directly with Professor Kao face to face in person and what I must mention is that Professor Kao is an extremely modest, friendly and polite person with good open-mindedness, despite that he has extraordinary foresight and rich technical knowledge in engineering and research.

I think Professor Kao must be one of the most respectable persons in my life and I had learnt a lot of things from him which are much beneficial and useful to me. Undoubtedly, I feel extremely proud of once being a student of him, in addition of being a Hong Kong citizen for having such a great Hong Kong and Chinese scientist and engineer.

Update (10-9):

Here are some latest touching news and reports about Professor Kao and his recent life and family:-

http://hk.news.yahoo.com/event/fc/20091007/hknobelkao.html

http://hk.news.yahoo.com/article/091008/3/eliy.html

http://hk.news.yahoo.com/article/091008/4/elgu.html

http://hk.news.yahoo.com/article/091008/4/elgv.html

(all in Traditional Chinese)

Despite that Professor Kao now has the Alzheimer's disease, so that he has almost forgotten what fibre optics is about, he has yet remembered much about his wife and many things about their life and marriage.

I'm glad to learn that Professor Kao still has good health and an enjoyable family life and he has received much support from his family even though he has the disease. But life is life and that's life and everyone has to face it no matter how. In fact, we have to face all the difficulties in our lives, as long as we are still happy and to face all those bravely and positively and family is actually the most important thing in our lives which cannot be replaced by anything.

My all the best wishes and blessing to Professor Kao!

And for me, without the best support and pardon from my wife, I think I cannot spend some more time in writing/maintaining my blog of which the time is somehow "squeezed" from my family time. So, I would like to also thank her here publicly with this opportunity! (my lovest, if YOU read this.. :->)

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Six Years of AA Battery Pentax DSLRs

After six years of AA battery driven Pentax DSLRs, since the *ist D, I have plenty of NiMH batteries and chargers in my home! They are of different makes and models, to name a few, those includes Mitshibishi, Panasonic, Sony, Sanyo, GP, Super and so on.. And, I just wonder how much money and time I had been wasted in sourcing a better AA rechargeable solution.

I own four models amongst those AA Pentax DSLRs, namely, the *ist D, *ist DS, K100D and now the K-m. Out of my original expectation, my 7th Pentax SLR body is not the K-7, but the K-m, despite that I was one of the first people who pre-ordered! :-(

Now, thanks to Pentax and their infamous battery issue, my house is still full of those Ni-MH batteries so that I can save the Earth and protect the environment so much! ;-) Anyway, these batteries are useful to me as I have so many remote controls in my home (dozens of - I'm a gadgetaholic, I admit) and also there are just too many other small devices and toys that need AA batteries..

What I want to mention in this blog entry is about the best and the worst Ni-MH batteries and models I ever bought and own. Maybe I mention about the best chargers first, they are those made by Panasonic, highly recommended. Another tips of mine for selecting chargers is that do NOT buy "quick" chargers that charge too fast (say, 15 minutes or something). Those chargers do NO GOOD to the batteries, nor the charging quality is really good. Cooling fan actually doesn't help much. The cooling fan can blow away the heat *outside* the batteries. But how can they get the heat *inside* the batteries Away?

Well, the worst battery I have ever owned is the Sanyo 2500 mAh NiMH (early model, which Sanyo advertised heavily everywhere and claimed to be the highest capacity NiMH created and made ever!), which IMHO is just a Piece Of Junk. In fact, this battery has been "crowned" as "King of Self-Discharge" by photohobbists locally in my city, which it will discharge to nothing usable just after one to two days it has no power at all after that. Really POJ or maybe even just a POS! Indeed, this name of "King of Self-Discharge" is really so exact and is best describing this ever crappy Sanyo rechargeable model, which was with only 100% hype, and solely.

What is the best battery then? Eneloop? Nope.. It is usable but not the best battery I own. Lately, I have found and bought four new Camelion AlwaysReady new-type LSD (Low Self-Discharge) NiMHs and I do find a difference.

When used in my K-m, the AlwaysReady show clearly that it is just superior to the Eneloop. It is more powerful and my K-m is now ever strongest (the motor torque is different, as that can be heard obviously). As what Camelion claims, the AlwaysReady recovers much faster after high drain, or even "short circuit", whereas the Eneloop does recover slower according to my own experiences. With freshly charged batteries, after high drain (say, put the K-m into the Continuous Hi frame mode for five shots), the Eneloop will show "half-depleted" momentarily but the AlwaysReady is still able to maintain its power level, with a green battery symbol. If the batteries are already shown as "half-depleted", further draining the Eneloops will make my K-m shut-down. In contrast, with AlwaysReady, it can still sustain the power until it cuts off very transitionally, but not suddenly (unlike the Eneloop). Even when the battery symbol has just become red (empty), the AlwaysReady can still do a few more shots before the batteries "die", which has never been possible with the Eneloop.

So, the Camelion AlwaysReady is what I highly recommend for all Pentax users with our AA battery driven DSLRs. Finally, there is a better solution to the problem, although it is not offered by Pentax! Combined with Pana's chargers (not too "quick" but reasonable in charging time, say, two hours something), the best result can be obtained. I do not recommend Camelion or those common GP chargers that are widely available though, as I have recently read cases of explosion of both on local press and in another local photo forum. Panasonic is the brand that I mostly trust, with best performance, reliability and safety (although their offers are usually not that cheap).

The Colour K-x Can Now be Ordered Online Internationally?

Just see the translated page of Rakuten (a large Japanese gadgets online shop):-

http://en.item.rakuten.com/j-pre/k-x-lkorder/

Try it out yourself, maybe you can order your preferred colour out of the 100 colours of the K-x! Good luck!

Some more remarks:-

1. I don't know if they would accept international orders, especially for the colour K-x, but it *seems* to be.

2. The sold price is ¥59,829 (no tax required outside Japan), which is roughly equal to US$650 and is in line with the price sold at B&H and Adorama. But then you can get a customised colour combination.

3. If you fail to order the special coloured K-x but you still wish to have one, you can think of painting your Pentax bod(ies) yourself and here is the solution!

Plenty of K-x Full-size Samples, Production Firmware

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mbdb/

Just view the above album and you can find them all! Outdoor and indoor, low ISOes and high ISOes, including 6400 shot (an example here - Warning: Large file, click will download!).

Well, what I would say I am not impressed with those samples. Colours are odd and many of the images are not sharp (blurry and with low resolution). Moreover, purple fringing has now come back as a more serious problem, see this example (Warning: Large file, click will download). I just hope that it is just owing to the "user's errors" or he is just a really "bad photographer" (as those defensive but offensive Pentax fanboys always talk about and I'd better use their usual terms! LOL..). But anyway, I think it is unlikely to be the case. It seems that the IQ of the K-x isn't that great at all, so far from all those full-size original K-x sample photos that have been posted.

But one thing is for sure, the noise control of the K-x is excellent. Just see how little noise the above 6400 shot is. I am sure it will blow the K-7 out of the water too easily in this regard.

As far as other IQ aspects, I am afraid that the K-m should be far better. So my humble recommendation is that if you just want a *Pentax* DSLR as a photographic tool, get the K-m now as the price has started to drop and as long as the remaining stock lasts.

Is this Price of the DA 21 Real?

http://www.amazon.com/Pentax-21mm-Limited-Digital-Cameras/dp/B000FZ2VXY/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&s=photo&qid=1254739325&sr=1-18

Amazon lists only 1 unit of the DA 21 left and they ask for (US)$1,052.13 for this unit! What? Is it real or just an error?? But anyway, this price is insane!

But anyway, for anyone who selects the item and then purchases online, they would possibly pay this cost, which is almost doubled the selling price of the same lens at B&H.

In my city, the current street prices of the DA 21 are all at around at (US)$550, whilst back to July, it costed only $420. There has been an increase of $130, or by 31%, within two months! Crazy enough?

I guess Pentax/Hoya has almost forgot that their DA lenses are APS-C cropped afterall. All of the wide angle DA primes and zooms cannot be used on Full Frame (see this Illustration). Btw, recently there has been a rumour talking about there will be a Pentax Full Frame DSLR by the end of next year and I do believe a Full Frame Pentax DSLR body will still come later if they can survive. With the old prices, I still have some hesitation to invest just because of this FF compatibility concern. Now, I would almost forget to get any new DA lenses from now on, for those silly new prices being asked and also for the poor QC of the DA Limited lenses I experienced as well (even when I once had the implusion to buy one).

Monday, October 05, 2009

Practical Solution to Dark Blindness of the K-7


(Source: http://pentax.photoble.net/?exif=091004009)

Wow! What a practical solution to the dark blindness of the K-7! No more worry about the super high noise of higher ISO speeds other than the base ISO speeds of 100 and 200 only! No more worry about the K-7 of being a "Daylight DSLR"! No limitation of such forever!!

I believe it does work. Just try it out yourself if you're really pissed off by the problem! It can also be used for taking movies! Really great idea and much useful! Thanks, guy! You're really so clever and what a really simple *solution*!!

Colour Ranking of the 100 K-xes



The above is a Japanese ranking of different 100 colours of the K-x, as at 12:30 p.m. of 10-2-2009. (Source: http://pentax.photoble.net/?exif=091002001)

Guess what are the most popular colours and what are the least popular ones? Go figure it out yourself! :)

Update (1-7): Here is the Official Ranking Page:-

http://www.camera-pentax.jp/k-x/#/ranking

Well, now people like the Panda most and then the Fire Engine next.. ;-)

The Definitive Guide to P-TTL Flashes

Since the prices of the original Pentax flashes have gone up like rocket (not only lenses), I think it's time to learn more about other options. I have found the following guide about Pentax P-TTL flashes, for both original branded and 3rd party options, highly recommended:-

http://pttl.mattdm.org/
(The Guide is being updated from time to time)

Read Also:-

Which Flash Units are Safe for Pentax DSLRs?

P-TTL Vs TTL - A Technical Brief

P-TTL Reliability

Saturday, October 03, 2009

"Highly Recommended"

When the test pictures and data all show that the JPEGs are ridiculously soft and images are super noisy (ISO 400 is already too terrible!), the DPR guys yet still "highly recommend" the camera. Really amazing! I have no more to say and better to leave my this blog post almost blank!

Still lucky that they post many of their test results, go judge yourself. Just remember pictures won't lie but people will! (Although people can still carefully select the pictures and manipulate the data!)

p.s. Also think about why it has taken so looong for DPR to "finalise" and publish their K-7 review, in particular.

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