Showing posts with label Video Quality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Video Quality. Show all posts

Monday, August 12, 2013

Shootout of Six Tough DC 2013 Models (XP60 Vs AW110 Vs TG-2 Vs TS5 Vs WG-3 Vs TX30)



http://www.mobile01.com/newsdetail.php?id=13603
(in Traditional Chinese)



Friday, August 09, 2013

New Pentax Reviews: Q7 and K-50

1. DPR's Q7 review is out. Wow, it is completed published so quickly this time. Has Ricoh done something? ;-)

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/pentax-q7

The overall mark given is quite low, though.

2. Full K-50 review at PF:

http://www.pentaxforums.com/reviews/pentax-k-50-review/conclusion.html

So, this is the key point of the conclusion:

"With that said, the K-50 is essentially nothing more than a K-30 in a redesigned casing.  The differences that do exist between these two cameras are subtle and do not affect image quality or usability.  The only new feature to speak of is dedicated support for eye-fi wireless SD cards.  Thus, relative to the competition, Pentax has stood still for about a year now."

"The one thing that discourages us from recommending the K-50 is the fact that it's so similar to the K-30." 

Monday, March 04, 2013

New Full MX-1 Review at the Pentax Forums

http://www.pentaxforums.com/reviews/pentax-mx-1-review/introduction.html

Fairly detailed.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Prime M Cameras Have Only Electronic SR for Video Recording

Two weeks ago, Blog reader "daedbird" first reported that the video recording quality of his K-01 was greatly degraded when the SR was turned on against off. When the SR was activated, obvious rolling shutter effect was seen.

Yesterday, another Blog reader "kadajawi" has responded and writes that it is all about the electronic SR that is actually adopted for all those Prime M Pentax cameras for the Movie mode, K-30 and K-01 inclusive. On the other hand, the K-5 cameras which have the Prime II processor use the hardware SR, i.e., sensor movement, to compensate for the hand shake during video recording.

To verify this, I have checked the online user manuals of the K-30, K-01, K-5 and the K-5II/s as well. It is found that the SR for Movie is defaulted to On for the K-30 and K-01 whilst for the K-5 and K-5II, it is default to be Off instead. So, the supposition of "kadajawi" seems to be true for that "coincidence". Nonetheless, no Pentax manual has ever told anything about the actual SR method and the working principle of it, which yet looks like top secret of their cameras but which we users should actually know about.

Yes, the electronic SR is noiseless but it sacrifices video quality. The mechanical SR is noisy but this problem can be overcome by mounting an external microphone with a shock mount. So, all in all, this is not a real problem and better sound reception quality is gained with the use of an external microphone (and with stereo sound recording possibility too). In practice, my own experience that is the body sensor SR is very useful for handheld video recording to stabilise the video and this feature is still useful when monopod is used.

After all, I think Pentax should give all the Prime M users an option, in the firmware and user menu, for the choice of the SR method via electronic (software) mean or yet the conventional mechanical one, then that would be the best.


Related:- 

Definite Guide on External Video Microphone Selection for Supported DSLRs (Brand Regardless)

A Not-so-common K-30/K-5/K-01 Comparison of Mine

Monday, August 20, 2012

Korean SLR Club K-30 Full Review

http://www.slrclub.com/bbs/vx2.php?id=slr_review&page=1&divpage=1&select_arrange=headnum&desc=asc&no=290

(in Korean, no need to Google translate, the pictures and videos speak for themselves!)

Warning: VERY Large Page - As usual, they put the whole review into a Single page with all the modelling photos, illustration diagrams, measurbation results, sample photos and videos! If you are trying to click on the above link and view the page with bandwidth sensitive connection, just AVOID! :-o

Thursday, August 09, 2012

New Measurbating Review: K-30 Vs K-5 Vs CNS

Digital Camera Info.com has compiled a full measurbation review/test on the K-30. The test consists of 24 sections and some sections are further divided into several sub-sections for even more measurbations! :-o

You can begin with the first "samples" section here, where the shootout against K-5, Nikon D5100, Canon Rebel T3i and Sony A55 begins! At the first glance, I am impressed with the noise and the level of details retained with the Pentax cameras, whilst the colour rendition of the K-5 images seems to be more vivid and "purer" but the noise control of the K-30 at high ISO seems to be better.

I have decided to give up on further commenting on the rest of the tests and it is just too detailed! :-o Just go read yourself and go figure out anything whatever you could find or interpret! So, my this blog post would just end here! :-D


Read Also:-

A Not-so-common K-30/K-5/K-01 Comparison of Mine

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

5D3 Hands-on Impressions and Quick Review

This quick review is purely textural. So, please don't ask me for any picture or further proof on what I say, as I will not provide these. Do bear in mind that things are being subjective as they are my own impressions mostly based on real-world experiences and no extensive measurement was carried.

Pre-requisite: The operation of the 5D3 maybe a bit complicated and it maybe especially difficult for new users. I assume that you should have some basic knowledge about its operations for what I am talking about in the following. If you have not used the 5D2/3 before, you may wish to view the 5D3 operation/user manual beforehand, which can be got here (click to download).

Build Quality: Frankly, it feels somehow cheap in my hands for the coarse pattern matte finishing of the outer shell of the whole body. When it is compared to the original 5D1, the difference is huge and the oldest 5D does feel more refined for the build. Unlike the 5D2, all the buttons are also now also matted, too, except for the shutter release button, which is yet still easy to get scratched anyway. The most unfortunate thing is the new buttons are rather cheaply built (they are smaller and the reaction force is terribly weak!) and thus the overall build quality feel of the whole camera body is also affected! Furthermore, the marks painted on the buttons seem to be easily peeled off, for what I could see there has already been sign of, which I have never seen the same thing happened with any of my Pentax DSLRs, in contrast! :-o All in all, the 5D2 and the original 5D are surely two better built bodies than the new III body, undoubtedly! >:-(

Shutter Action: Each time the 5D3 fires, it reminds me of an old traditional mechanical-type typewriter of the 80s for the sound and feel! Believe me, its stroke is the same! Really terrible! >:-[

Shutter Lag: Fortunately, the shutter lag seems to be better, although it is not considered as something lightning fast, unlike that of the EOS 1 series or those Nikon high-end bodies.

User-friendliness: The operation is 5D-ish, nothing special indeed. However, in particular, I don't like the idea of directly input exposure compensation using the rear quick dial, which was the design since the 5D2. The problem is that it can be accidentally turned whenever the shutter release button is half-pressed. Yes, the dial can be locked, but normally I should not lock it because it need to be used frequently. Still, I prefer the 5D1 design, i.e., to press a button and then turn.

The New "Intelligent Viewfinder": The focusing screen is an traditional optical type with grid lines and central spot metering bracket carved, overlaid with another layer of transparent monochrome LCD for the AF marks and the exclamation mark warning signal display. The craved and the LCD displayed marks are then illuminated with a weak red light source, altogether and for the whole screen. This illumination method looks rather cheap for outcome and the illumination is obviously not even. Practically, I think it has little meaning neither, except in a very dark environment where the user can see almost nothing anyway! So, after all, I just opted to turn the red light off!

Btw, the default 61-point AF indication is too crowded and clumsy and I have turned them all off until they are chosen and they should appear all the time if manually chosen. For auto selection of the wide 61-point, I set the camera in a way that the selected points will only appear after the focus points are selected and the AF is achieved.

Last but not least, it seems that the focusing screen of the 5D3 is not replaceable and for those who wants the previous S-series precision screens (EE-S for 5D1 and EE-G for 5D2) for higher manual focusing accuracy with fast primes, it will yet be another major disappointment.

Metering accuracy (Evaluative): Metering results are bright but not conservative enough, resulting in highlight clipping for many areas in frame in many situations. I understand why Canon make the evaluative meter to expose brighter and has a tendency of this, as the sensor seems not to be too good in retaining shadow details (seems to be worse than the K-5, honestly)! I shall talk a bit more about this in the IQ part below.

By default, the "auto lighting optimizer" is turned on with moderate strength at two steps, which can be turned off for more faithful brightness of the pictures to reflect the true scenes, providing that the metering and exposure is accurate by itself.

Metering accuracy (Centre-weighted Average): Metering results are a bit less bright in general but it has no intelligence of any in detecting any unusual situations, say, high/low reflectance of objects and backlit. In general, it is more consistent in behaviour and is more predictable and thus maybe more reliable. I believe the CWA metering of the 5D3 is yet brighter than those of most of the old traditional film cameras, nevertheless.

IQ (Colour Accuracy/Tendency): Its colour reproduction and rendition (with all L lenses used) is surely Canonish, with saturated colours but less tone details (micro-contrast) reproduced, which I do not like actually. As usual, the Standard mode is more contrasty, produce "darker"/deeper colours and tones. Say for example, this is easily noticed with the green colours, which is more like dark greens than the natural greens with some yellow colours and lighter greens in them. To get "better" colours, I prefer the Faithful or Neutral Picture Styles. The Faithful mode produces an overall a bit warmer tone whilst the Neutral which I believe is "whiter", but yet the colour renditions of both are found to somehow more natural than Standard.

IQ (Textural Feel and Per Pixel Sharpness): Skin texture rendition is surely plasticky, which is one of the reasons I don't like to use Canon gear to do portraiture. I have the feeling that 5D3 pics are being even more plasticky than the 5D2, maybe there is always more noise reduction applied (I set Auto). Per Pixel Sharpness is not that superb as expected for a brand new model without any pixel-count increment. And even using the most expensive Canon L primes won't help, e.g., the EF85/1.2L! :-( After all, if more sharpness (sharpening) is applied, obvious digital artifacts can be seen at pixel level. Shooting RAW maybe better, I don't know, but I hate bad JPEG engine in-camera by all means!

Auto White Balance: I am really disappointed with the AWB of the 5D3. The indoor performance under tungsten is not any better than my old original 5D1. The outdoor performance is better but it is not considered as being very stable (which can be noted for the changed skin tones across different frames taken under similar situation at nearby time). The tungsten/artificial/mixed light AWB of the K-5 clearly wins over the 5D3 there, really. It seems that these years Canon has not done much to improve their algorithms, they used to lead others miles away in terms of AWB reliability of their DSLRs years ago but now it seems that they are lagging far behind and being worse than Pentax! >:-( (Frankly, Pentax is the best system for AWB which is even better than many ILDCs!)

IQ (Noise): The advantage of 5D3 can be seen at above ISO 1600 than the K-5 and 5D2, with more details/better resolution rendered and less clipping in the red colour channel. Below that, the difference is not huge, frankly. But there is room for improvement for the K-5's metering system, which is not that accurate in many cases.

IQ (DR): The 5D3 is weak in highlight reservation but yet the shadow details are not retained/reproduced very well. In order to preserve both, the contrast is needed to be lowered, but then the images will look dull as a result and IQ suffers. The DR of 5D3 is not much different from that of the 5D2, which is yet weaker than the K-5 for what I can see. So, what's point of carrying a FF if the DR could not be better? (Besides the option of less DoF, higher optical resolution and a larger viewfinder view, which especially useful for ultra-wide angle shooting.)

AF Operation (User-friendliness): The AF zone/point selection options maybe too many, but yet these are not really practical than I wanted. I recommend to enable only those options that is mostly useful and to hide those that are not needed. For example, I would choose 9-point zone (in a square) over 5-point zone (in a cross) and that spot AF is really not needed for most of the time and its AF sensitive area is just too small (for it to successfully lock on patterns). Besides, the user has to look through the viewfinder to see what is selected which is rather inconvenient. There is no indication on the body, neither on the top LCD nor on the rear (rough indication is given, though, i.e., the current AF point/zone selection method).

After all, I would rather want to have the flexibility to contract or expand the size of the zone (instead of a fixed five or nine points), say for example, via (the turning of) the rear dial, say, rather than to choose from these two fix-sized patterns.

AF Selection Accuracy (Multi-point): For stationary objects and in One-shot AF mode, it does successfully choose the closest object with some contrast within the frame correctly for most of the time. However, when the objects start moving and in AI servo mode, I found that for quite some times the camera missed the target and just chose a focus point which was contrasty enough and usually it was a stationary object within the frame. :-( So, this 61-point AF system might be not mature enough, I'm afraid. I think it will work better when the subject stands out of a background that is far behind, but this would not be practical enough. (N.B. Standard universal settings for the AF scenarios/cases was chosen, i.e., the first default option.)

AF performance and Accuracy (One-shot AF): The AF speed is lightning fast. The accuracy is acceptable with the standard non-spot AF used. With spot AF of the central AF point, it seems that the AF accuracy would decrease. As mentioned above already, it maybe owing to the fact that the AF area is just too small so that it cannot lock on enough patterns for a larger area for better light information analyses.

AF performance (AI Servo): It does track object well enough as long as the active AF points and area are manually chosen and cover the moving subject, no matter it is in the image centre or not.

Video Quality (in Full HD): I don't notice any noticeable difference in video quality with the default MPEG4/H.264 IPB encoding mode when compared to that of the K-5 (motion JPEG in 720p), when the movies are viewed on an old 1280 4:3 19" monitor. There is no continuous focus tracking available anyway and the Live View AF of the 5D3 is terribly slow by today's standard, i.e., not much improved over the 5D2. It is really rather disappointed to see that Canon has improved nothing after 3.5 years. Now the Pentax LV AF is much faster than the Canon's, with either K-r/K-5 or now the K-01. So, what Canon has been doing these years?!

Conclusion: Compared to the 5D, which was the first Full Frame DSLR body at an "affordable" price (at that time when I bought it, it was a no-brainer as Nikon was still using their DX format) and compared to the 5D2, which was the first Full HD video capable DSLR and with the highest ever resolution 135 FF sensor at its time (already equipped with gapless micro-lenses on sensor), the 5D3 is actually somehow a failure in terms of IQ, build, performance and usability. There is no major breakthrough of any of it, the new multi-point AF system is a catch-up to the Nikon competition, but it is not performing very well than originally expected. Maybe my expectation was too high.

Also as a Canon user myself (although I do not have many Canon lenses as I have for the Pentax), I am really much disappointed with the 5D2 and actually Canon. Surely the 5D3 is still a better camera body than the 5D2 overall, but the 5D3 is selling for $3500 whilst the 5D2 is only for $1800. So, one can actually buy almost two 5D2 bodies with the cost of a single 5D3. So, what's the benefits then? A more updated AF system plus slightly better high ISO performance. A new intra-frame H.264 codec for movie with a higher speed rolling shutter on sensor. That's all about it?!

Btw, I think the 5D2 is something that is the best buy right now for a FF system which means more control on (shallower DoF) plus more resolving power and a bigger view of the viewfinder for ultra-wide angle shootings, which is yet the three major meanings of FF (should also include better sensor IQ, theoretically). Besides, the high performance Canon L glass is another reason for why still Canon. USM and IS plus the highest corner to corner sharpness even near wide opened are the reasons. Nonetheless, as a Pentaxian, whether you like the taste of Canon glass is yet another story. And, the coatings of Canon L glass often suck (when it is compared to the latest generation of SMC of Pentax)! The latest Canon SWC may change that, but there are still not many L lenses have it. I've verified it with the EF24/1.4L II and finally that I agree I've found a Canon glass that could match with Pentax in terms of flare control, but still not so for the colour rendition. Besides, it is interesting to note that the name of SWC looks similar to that of SMC, with an inverted M actually (with more imagination! :-)). It seems that Canon is trying to emulate Pentax in this aspect.

After all, I'm afraid at this moment, with the introduction of the 5D3 and yet the never-marketed 1DX (as it seems to be), this would really mark the decline of the big giant Canon in the history of photographic gear, unless Canon should really do more to change the current unfavourable situation they've created for themselves, soonest, and to address at least some of the major shortcomings that I mentioned above. Not even to say they are the only major camera manufacturer that has not a mirrorless system. I believe that meanwhile the latest Nikon D800/E is surely a better FF offer by considering the body alone. So, Canon should think about why they haven't improved many things within a longish 3.5-year time-frame and have let Nikon to have the chance to get ahead of them! The laziness or reluctance of them must be blamed at the end of the day!! >:-(


Related:-

Monday, April 02, 2012

New K-01 Hands-on Report at DC Watch (with Movie and Still Picture Full Samples)

http://dc.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/review/newproduct/20120402_523182.html
(in Japanese)

Still, I am not going to like the colour rendition of those K-01 samples. It seems that they are too purplish to my like, as usual.

Update (3-3): DC Watch has also published the WG-2 GPS first review of theirs, with movie and still picture full samples, too:-

http://dc.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/review/newproduct/20120403_523395.html

I am NOT impressed with the noise performance of the images anyway. It seems that the ISO 125 shots of the WG-2 are just more noisy than the ISO 250 shots made with my WG-1, which is equipped with a 14MP CCD sensor. To compare, download and inspect those posted large samples from my last WG-1 full review:-

My Take (Tick) on the WG-1 GPS!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Engadget Reviewed the Q, Unfavourable Conclusion



http://www.engadget.com/2011/10/25/pentax-q-interchangeable-lens-camera-review/

"Wrap-up

Pentax really has managed to design the world's smallest interchangeable lens camera -- and yes, it does work. But there's no magic at play here. The Q is small because all of its components were downsized -- Pentax took everything from the lens to the image sensor to the mode dial and shutter release and gave them the shrink ray treatment. Everything but the full-size hot shoe, LCD and SD card slot are miniature versions of what you'll find on larger, more capable cameras. The result is an attractive, pocketable ILC that doesn't quite follow its powerful pedigree.

The Q is a very unique camera -- one of a kind, even -- but that doesn't mean it's the one for you. If money is no object and you're not keen on capturing incredible images and video footage, then perhaps you'll still consider picking up a Q. As for the rest of us -- we're perfectly happy with our larger, much more capable ILCs, and wouldn't dare consider making such a sacrifice just to carry a bit less weight on our shoulder."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

More WG-1 GPS Samples (of Mine)

As long as IQ is concerned, I am not convinced what the Q could do more than a contemporary P&S DC after viewing so many Q samples. In fact, user-friendliness wise, I believe that the Q does even have less portability, than most DCs.

Anyway, further to my last full review on my WG-1 GPS, I post some more more samples from the WG-1 so that anyone here can compare once again, to see if the Q could really supersede any current DC in IQ, and how would it be different, or not!

http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v313/RiceHigh/WG-1_GPS/More_Samples/

All samples are resized to 12 megapixels. Original images are available for download per picture page.

You can measurebate again the resolution, colour rendition, dynamic range, noise, flare resistance and whatsoever. Nonetheless, the video quality is still terrible, which will not be changed at the end of the day! :-( Here is yet a sample clip (view in 720p for the best possible video quality):-


(URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3icTswewl9s)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

NEX-5N Video Overheating Test (Interesting! Plus Q Video Bit Rate Calculated)



URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=fgqhc2ChIFg

Via: http://sonyalphanex.blogspot.com/2011/09/sony-nex-5n-video-overheating-test.html

Well, 22 minutes 23 seconds under an ambient temperature of 30 deg. C. seems to be a longish time. Btw, I just wonder how long would those Pentax cameras could last. The Q user manual states that the maximum recordable time length is in 25 minutes or 4GB in file size, as per P.112. But I just wonder if it will be overheated before this theoretical maximum limit is reached, as there is also a warning statement about high temperature cut under video recording in the same part of the manual (on the same page).

Besides, although it is not directly stated anywhere in the Q manual, the bit rate of the Q H.264/AVC in MP4 video is at about 21.33Mbits/s, which is calculated by dividing the 4GB with 25 minutes (4,000M x 8 bits / (25 x 60s)). This compressed data stream is of a higher bit rate than that of the NEX-7, which is in 16.4 Mbits/s (nominal) only, as lately revealed by someone. Do note that the Q has a higher frame rate at 30 fps versus the 25 fps of the NEX-7 (whilst NEX-5N does 60 fps at 1080p), nonetheless. So, would the P-Q has a higher video quality? Let's wait and see then!

Nevertheless, the P-Q video has two major fall-backs on paper already, one is that it can never auto-focus during video recording, the other is that it only records mono-sound (both are stated in the Q user manual also).


Previous Related:-

When Our Video DSLRs Have High Fever.. :-o ;->

Saturday, September 03, 2011

New Pentax Q RAW and JPEG Full Samples @ PhotographyBLOG

There is where endless measurbation begins, despite that the samples are real-world pictures! Anyway, if you really like, just do it at your own cost and risk! ;-D

http://www.photographyblog.com/previews/pentax_q_photos

Do note that the downsized thumbnails may have been compressed too much such that the DR could be even worse than the originals, which should still contain more highlight and shadow details.

My quick observations: The low ISO pictures are not too bad in IQ but RAW ones could be better, particularly for more vivid colours and being more contrasty as seen from the thumbnails (only). The DR could still be somehow limited, though. But for a DC with a sensor in/of that size, it should be considered that things have been managed very well indeed.

N.B. The DNG files of the Q are not open-able by the Pentax Digital Camera Utility version 4.1 as installed at one of my PCs. So, there exists some kind of incompatibility problem even the RAW file format is in DNG. I am sure the bundled new DCU software with the Q can open it but this incompatible issue is there, and may cause problems with other 3rd party software! :-(

I think for similar scenes and shooting topics, my last year sample gallery of my 550D full review can be compared to:-

http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v313/RiceHigh/550D/Full_Samples/?start=all
(At Montreal, Canada, Copyright (c) RiceHigh, 2010)

Look particularly about the DR, colours, noise and details retained. Of course, the 550D is usually better.

In addition, the exposure accuracy seems to be not good enough and some of the pictures are overexposed with part of the images washed out seriously. This might be related to the limited DR of the pictures nevertheless as the "correct" exposure can never be decided by the exposure system with such low DR of the sensor itself.

Besides, a sample video clip (H.264 in MOV Container) is posted. Judge by yourself about the video quality, e.g., resolution, motion smoothness, sound quality, colour rendition, DR (in particular) and etc. As a friendly reminder, if you're to download the clip, do save it down first as not every media player can decode this new movie codec of the Q. So, it is always safer to save it first and then re-open to play.

N.B. I have successfully played back the clip with the Media Player Classic Home Cinema Edition (aka MPC-HC) but not so with the GOM Player. The CPU consumption of this clip is really high (far more than the "same" 720p MP4 clips that made by my NEX-3, e.g.) and so please be prepared to use more updated and powerful machines for the playback. Otherwise, smooth playback is just impossible!

Monday, August 29, 2011

More Pentax Q YouTube Videos

First, a seems-to-be official Q "introduction movie":-


(URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbZ_aHI6p3k)

At 2:00, it is demonstrated that the bokeh (out-focus characteristic) is completely software controlled, of which this camera function is named as BC which is printed on the mode dial, where BC stands for Bokeh Control.

Next, an unofficial Q test video, taken and edited much like the foreplay of those Japanese AVs in a much similar way and style! Even the background music is alike. Oh, well.. ;-D


(URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EDmigOQqxw)

I am not impressed with the colour output of the videos, but digital filters were applied for many of the clips anyway..

Nonetheless, it can be seen that the Q simply failed to focus well for the video recording. Maybe the user manual focused by himself, or the AF (if any!) hunted a lot, or quite possibly there is simply no AF function during video recording! Anyway, we shall know it very soon, for the availability of AF under movie mode, which was not yet confirmed for the last time.

Besides, below are two more earlier Pentax Q videos about the operation of the camera. But for the sake of interest for some who might not be aware previously, here they are:-


(URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZxCMizYjNY)


(URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRbi_zEK5GI)


Read Also:-

Pentax Q Low ISO Daylight Real-World Samples

Pentax Q High and Low ISO Full Size Samples

Official Pentax Q Samples are Out!

Artificial "Fake Bokeh"

Large Size Pentax Q Sample Photos Plus Hands-on Movie Review Posted by Pentax Insider

Monday, August 22, 2011

My Take (Tick) on the WG-1 GPS! ;-)

My Selection

Despite what the DPR said and concluded, as a loyal Pentax user myself, I recently have acquired the Pentax WG-1 GPS.

Regarding the IQ comments on the tested adventure cameras by the DPR, I actually scratched my head hard when I downloaded the full samples and inspected, which I found quite the opposite than what they have concluded and written in words.

The WG-1 has one of the few non-periscopic lens design that you can find on the market for such a "tough" digital camera for adventure, of which I have more faith for the optical quality, especially for the more accurate alignment of the optical axis and without the adoption of mirrors in the optical path for image formation.

So, here it is. Let me show you a modelling photo of my new toy and gear, first of all:-


(Above: My new Pentax WG-1 GPS Shiny Orange with original Pentax Floating Strap; Click to Expand)

The Cost and What's Bundled

The above set has costed me about (US)$370, with also a 8GB Kingston Class 4 SD card, a monitor protective film (anti-reflective also) and an additional 3rd party Japanese made spare Lithium battery. It is interesting to note from the 3rd party replacement battery model that it is actually marked as a Nikon (EN-EL19) battery alternative but no Pentax model of any is mentioned, but it is just the same and fully compatible!

As you can learn from the official Pentax pages, there are also the standard accessories of backpack hook/strap and a digital microscope stand, which you can see in the above that I mounted it onto my WG-1 simply for use as the lens hood, which prevent stray light from entering into the protective glass and camera lens quite effectively in practical sense. Mounting and detaching the "hood" is quick and easy but yet it is fairly securely mounted, although I would not say it is firmly. I have swum for about half an hour on and off with the camera at my arm or wrist in the sea and the hood was still there~ ;-)

Btw, it should be noted that the floating strap is separately sold, nonetheless. It seems that this original accessory is uniquely made by Pentax and others don't have it. While the extra is paid, I think it is a very useful piece of accessory for preventing the camera to sink to the bottom of the sea accidentally once ungripped. But reversely, it will float up to the sea surface during diving if accidentally ungripped! ;-) So, it all depends!

Build Quality and QC Level

The quality and build of the camera is indeed impressive and it gave me a solid and reliable feel. The colour and appearance of it is appealing and Pentax is standing out of the crowd again as long as outer appearance and colours are counted! However, if you really want to buy, you still have to be careful about the Quality of this camera. The first camera I inspected was completely brand new out of the box but it contained a hot/stuck pixel in the sensor, as it appeared as a blinking green dot in the LiveView mode but not in user menu. The sales person then opened another box, I checked roughly for a while and no problem was spot then.

The WG-1 / GPS units are made in Vietnam:-



Putting aside the defect I've found in the first brand new unit, the QC of the WG-1 seems to be good enough and the glass elements inside the lens is very clean and there is not any misalignment or obvious play for the mechanical parts of the camera itself, i.e., the units are well assembled. It is funny (actually ridiculous) that the lens and optics of a Pentax P&S DC is far cleaner than the Pentax DA Limited lens, despite both are made in Vietnam at (the same?) Pentax factory?! >:-(

Operation and User Friendliness

So, about the user friendliness then. I have not much to say about it in short, as any Pentax camera, it is easy and straight-forward to use and the user should have little difficulties to use it, even for novices, I believe.

As for the exposure modes, there are a wide variety of different scene modes but there is no semi-auto (A or S) nor manual mode (M) neither. But this is not really important for a DC of such.

The LCD Monitor

The 16:9 monitor is bright but coarse. The colour accuracy and viewing angle are both average, though. It has an original high quality anti-reflective film which looks nice.

I had no problem to view the picture and compose framing even under direct sunlight and even I was wearing sun-glasses. For still picture taking, the 4:3 frame size is smaller than the total display area of the whole monitor, and the shooting information is displayed at the left side.

There is a clever power saving feature for the LCD display, too. After some time (default 5s), the display brightness will be dimmed and thus saving power. Press to any button will resume normal lighting level.

The Lens

As for the zoom lens, it is a 5X optical zoom with aperture from f/3.5 to 5.5. The zooming mechanism is internal and nearly completely silent. The zooming action is responsive and fast enough.

The coating of the lens itself in in deep green colour despite it is not marked as SMC. The flare control of this lens is average. With high contrast scenes, some light leakage can be seen across the bright and dark borders, which you could see them in some of those samples posted below.

There is no lens cover or shutter for the camera. Instead, there is a flat protective glass and shield in front of the lens. The protective glass has also some kind of anti-reflection coating but it is not as deep as that of the lens, but yet this protective glass is found to be very easy to clean and is "slippy" enough to get rid of most water droplets that come in touch.

The Image Quality

As for the Image Quality, the camera is just a P&S. Don't expect much from a 1/2.3" sensor anyway! But as for a normal DC of the same sensor size, I do actually find that the IQ of the WG-1 is not that bad at all. At least it is better than the IQ of other current adventure cameras of other brands from what I could see from various different samples as posted in the Internet.

First of all, the compression option of the JPEG (there is no RAW for the camera) should be set to finest, i.e., three stars. The factory default setting is in two stars but I do find some IQ difference between the three stars and two stars. To obtain the optimal IQ for the pictures, I strong recommend that any WG-1 user should select the three stars option.

To begin the measurbation for those ISO pixel peeper (me myself too! ;-)), I would like to post two large size samples to begin with. This was my breakfast of the day. The first photo was taken without flash under ambient light at ISO 400, the second one was made on the same subject but with the flash fired, at ISO 250 (Auto ISO):-


(Click to Download Large Images; Warning: Large Files; Picture Left: ISO 400 / No Flash; Picture Right: ISO 250 w/ Flash)

Actually, I like the colour response of the camera, the AWB is a bit yellowish under yellow light, though. I simply use the P exposure mode in which I can manually choose the Image Tone to "Bright" (The default "Auto Pict." Green mode can't). It seems that this colour response is quite favourable, at least to my own taste. The overall IQ is indeed quite good (to acceptable for some cases) for a P&S DC, which I think is a good thing afterall. The picture information indeed is preserved quite well, with a little bit simple image processing and retouch, the pictures could be quite nice. To show the potential of this camera, please see the samples below. The thumbnail pictures are retouched and enhanced semi-automatically using the batch processing of the IrfanViewer (Yes, I am just too lazy) and the large image files are all un-retouched (Click to Expand and Download. And, you can compare the difference):-

A few outdoor samples at the beach below (ISO 80):-


(Just ignore the two bigger water droplets, which were attached on the lens front and finally appear in the recorded image of the centre sample!~)

And also two more close-up food photos (at ISO 400):-



The noise is helpless anyway, even at ISO80 obvious small grains can be found at the blue sky, say. But after all, what should we expect for such a small sensor? The good thing is that at ISO400, I think the images produced are still usable, although the image details and sharpness do suffer a bit with some loss.

One thing to note about the optional setting on IQ is the "IQ enchancer" feature, which is turned on by default. I found that is something similar to the "Fine Sharpness" setting in the later Pentax DSLRs. But for noisy images, I don't prefer to turn on this option as it will cause strange sharpening artifacts and would also increase noise (for already somehow noisy images). With the IQ enhancer turned off, the images actually do look more natural. There is no noise reduction option available in the setting menu, but I believe aggressive NR is forced anyway owing to the noisy sensor. As for other image settings for highlight and shadow compensation, my advice is to avoid these as far as possible. Indeed, even when using Pentax DSLRs, turning on those functions do no good to the overall picture quality/IQ, IMHO.

The Flash

The flash is tiny but it works in a P-TTL alike mode, i.e., a pre-flash is fired for flash metering before the actually flash exposure is to be made. Unfortunately, the WG-1's flash seems to be under-powered and after the pre-flash it does need some time to recover before it can fire the final flash light. This cause a significant delay and time lag in exposure. Even worse, the pre-flash is somehow too strong so that the eyes of the subject persons are irritated and closed, resulting in lazy eyes in final taken photos. :-(

Other than the above time lag and lazy eyes problems, the flash exposure seems to be accurate and it balances well with the ambient and background light.

System Response

The system/shutter time lag of the WG-1 is typical for a P&S DC, that is, it is not too fast and not too sluggish. Yet it is manageable if you could predict the object and manoeuvre the camera with proper AF techniques, even it is moving. An example work shown below, single AF mode was used:-



Focusing Speed

The focusing speed of the WG-1 is yet again not too fast but not too slow. The face detection of it is quite insensitive and is slow to detect, I would say.

But there is one interesting focus mode option for the moving object. I haven't tried to use it anyway. Maybe it is just a ground-breaking brand new technology of Pentax then if it really works! Why? Have you ever heard that any CDAF from any manufacturer can do continuous servo AF with good results? I am afraid not! :-(

And yes, my Fuji F810 also had a C-AF for a DC, but I am afraid that that C-AF is just Single AF that in a Continuous loop! :-o

Focusing Accuracy

The focusing accuracy of the WG-1 is fair to good, but don't expect razor sharp focusing with the AF for each picture! :-o

The GPS Performance (Sensitivity, Speed and Accuracy)

The GPS data is slow to detect and of low sensitivity/availability. I think both my iPad and my Nokia mobile phone are doing better in term of these. But the location accuracy (for the latitude and longitude) of the Pentax/WG-1 GPS is very high and it is really amazing. See the following OpenStreetMap. By looking back at the original photo, I am almost sure that I was just there, quite exactly:-



But it should be noted that whilst the hit rate of an accurate GPS location is fairly high, it is yet not perfect, sometimes it is still somehow off for some of my photos taken (in a small proportion).

The altitude error and deviation is much larger, nevertheless. For my photos taken at the beach, all should show sea level reading, i.e., the ideal reading should be 0 metre. But however, for those photos, the reading ranged from 1.9m at best up to a height at 40m something, which just indicate a large random error of the altitude measurement.

The SR Function

The SR function is not a hardware sensor-shifted one, but a "Pixel Track" (for what Pentax calls it) software-based processing. It is turned off by default, but I turned it on anyway. But it seems that Pentax has little confidence on the performance of it. Otherwise it won't be turned off by default as the factory setting. From my own experience, it seems that there is no adverse impact to IQ under normal shooting. On a tripod, as any image stabilisation function, it is recommended that which should be switched off.

More Samples

Same as above, the thumbnail photos are semi-automatically enhanced in batch and the large photos are not. To download the 100% original full photos, you have to do it at individual Photobucket picture page and select it from the Option menu:-



Video Quality and Issue

The video of the WG-1 is the weakest link of it, I am afraid. Not only the ageing Motion JPEG in AVI in 720p, and not just the mono-sound single channel recording, but the worst thing is about its video quality. The sound quality is somehow okay but the video quality is really inferior. The colour rendition is strange and video picture is noisy plus image are really coarse (so the 720p is just meaningless - it does much inferior than my Sony NEX which is also in 720p). Motion is not smooth even though there is already no motion compression of any and the CCD sensor often suffers much from light charge flooding/overflow (also known as CCD bleeding/smear) when stronger highlights appear in frame. Under those situation, terrible vertical bright/colour lines will appear as a result. In other less severely affected cases, terrible banding noise is resulted.

Side Note - Quick Tip about the Engagement of the Video Recording Mode:-

There is not a dedicated video recording button on the camera, but the "green button" is programmable as a quick key to enter into or leaving the movie mode. Actually, it is still fast and easy to use, but of course not as convenient as a dedicated recording button, like what we can find in many other DCs nowadays. Besides, once programmed like this, the green button is yet somehow easy to be accidentally pushed which actually happened for a few time when I was in the water while holding the camera, it would toggle between still picture and movie mode unconsciously, which is indeed undesirable.

Battery Life

The battery life of the WG-1 GPS is good enough. I have used the camera for 8 hours on and off with some extensive reviewing for a few times. I had also the GPS function turned on for the whole day. When I came back to home, there was still little battery juice left.

It should be noted that, as stated in the user manual, that the GPS function, once selected, is always working (searching), even when the camera is switched off. So, this would inevitably consume and drain some battery power from time to time. So, the tip is yet one should remember to turn the GPS function off when it is not needed, otherwise the battery juice will be drained completely eventually.

Cleaning and Maintenance After Use

As per the user manual instruction, after use in dirty environment, the camera should be fully washed and then immersed in clean tap water afterwards as recommended. This was what I did:-


(Click to Expand)

After drying, I wiped the front protective optical glass and the LCD monitor of the camera with a lens cloth and put it back into my electronic dry cabinet.

Conclusion

All in all, I am quite satisfied with the WG-1 GPS. It has got the job done quite well for what it is designed and I do think that it worths for what I've paid. Btw, I think this is the most satisfied Pentax purchase these ten years since my last purchase on my Pentax film SLR flagship MZ-S! So, Highly Recommended! ;-D

Update (9-28): New Sample Photos and a Video Clip Added.


Other Related Articles:-

"Where There's Water There is Pentax"! :-o

DC Watch Tough DC Shootout

The State of Pentax (by Q1 2011)

Pentax Optio WG-1 / GPS

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Summer End Camera Group Tests

1. See this belated group test amongst those tough DCs namely the Fuji XP30, Olympus TG810, Panasonic DMC-TS3, Pentax WG-1 GPS, Ricoh PX and Sony TX10, by the DPR:-

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/Q311waterproofcompactgrouptest/



2. The ePhotozine has carried out a group test and shootout amongst the Olympus EP-3 vs Panasonic GF3 vs Samsung NX11 vs Sony NEX-5:-

http://www.ephotozine.com/article/olympus-e-p3-vs-panasonic-gf3-vs-sony-nex-5-vs-samsung-nx11-17084



Some of the results might be interesting enough as the tests were carried out side-by-side and the test shots were made at nearly the same time. Those real-world shots are especially worth for some look, as they could represent real-life performance.


Related:-


DC Watch Tough DC Shootout: TG-810 Vs EX-G1 Vs DSC-TX10 Vs DMC-FT3 Vs FinePix XP30 Vs Optio WG-1 GPS

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Real-World Performance of the Sony Sensor Used in the Q (Image and Video Quality)

Engadget reviewed the Casio Tryx (Exilim EX-TR100) last month:-

http://www.engadget.com/2011/05/04/casio-tryx-ex-tr100-review/

I am almost sure that the Tryx uses the same Sony sensor (12.75MP BSI 1/2.3" CMOS) as the Pentax Q. Putting aside the major specifications similarity, another strong evidence for the same sensor is that the Tryx supports a 240 fps high-speed video capture mode (in addition to the 1080p/30 FHD mode), which is an unique feature of that Sony IMX078 sensor used in the Q.

And, the Tryx supports ISO speeds from 100 to 3200, which is also close enough to the Q.

In the above Engadget review, there are samples of those 1080p video uploaded to the YouTube as well as a bundle of downsized still picture samples, of which most of them were taken outdoor on bright days whereas there are two indoor samples, one is still picture sample and the other is a sample video clip. Below are quotes of the Engadget comments about the (IQ of the) camera, quoted:-

"Image quality
The 12.1 megapixel CMOS sensor does predictably well in broad daylight. Colors were generally sharp and crisp, and for a sub-$250 point-and-shoot, we really had no qualms with our results. Once the light starts fading, however, it has a difficult time snapping a usable image free of blur."

"It's pretty obvious that still images aren't this camera's forte, but it certainly does a better job with 'em while also handling 1080p video than any of Flip Video's (
now-defunct) camcorders ever did. Have a gander in the gallery below to get a feel for the image quality -- just so you know, these are completely untouched aside from a resize."

"It did a laudable job of capturing hues and tone on challenging scenery at some of America's most stunning National Parks. Are we talking DSLR-quality? Hardly, but remember that the MSRP on this is but $250, and it's already selling for $229 at a smattering of reputable e-tailers."

Okay, at this point, I guess some people will start to say that it's a Casio but not a Pentax nor it's the Q and that the Casio is being sold much cheaper and so on.. But, so what? Will Pentax do a miracle? As usual, I blog and let you decide! Last but not least, be remember to have some inspection on the 3 video sample clips, you'll learn more about the quality of the Full HD video produced by this Sony sensor, at the bright and in the dark (note the picture quality of the video frames as well as the motion smoothness).

Continue to read on the Part II..


Related:-

Heart of the Pentax Q - Sony IMX078CQK Imager

How Large a Sensor that Pentax Could Put Into the Q?

Highlights on the Q Specifications

What is your buying intention of the Pentax Q?

How is the PQ of the Pentax Q?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Recent Pentax Reviews

The DPR K-r "quick review" has been out:-

http://dpreview.com/reviews/pentaxkr/

And, here are some typical reactions at their forum afterwards:-

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1036&message=37950461

Besides, Klaus of the PhotoZone has completed a new DA(L) 35/2.4 review:-

http://www.photozone.de/pentax/598-pentax_35_24

The resolution seems to be very high for the image centre with peak performance achieved at f/4:-




Related:-

Summary of Reactions to Popular Online DSLR Reviews

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Canon New Movie Codec for DSLR is Coming (Rumour)



http://www.eoshd.com/content/577-Canon-5D-Mark-3-to-feature-new-MPEG-variant-4-2-2-at-50Mbit

With its high bit-rate 4:2:2 colour space MPEG compression, I bet the video quality will be miles ahead of any of the current MPEG4/H.264 compression codec used by most of the current DSLRs and ILDCs in the market. In view of the advancement of video codec in other larger sensor digital cameras of other brands, Pentax is just lagging thousands of years behind, leaving at the Stone Age! :-(

Bottom line: Will the next Pentax DSLR be equipped with a stereo microphone, at least?

Monday, March 07, 2011

The State of Pentax (by Q1 2011)

The photo industry super analyst Thom Hogan (a Nikonian in principle) has recently written a sum-up of the current states of Nikon's product lineups and families of DSLR and camera gear.. See:-

http://bythom.com/state2010.htm

I think it would be interesting to my readers if I write a similar article about Pentax. So, here we go! :-D


PENTAX HAS:


- A second highest resolution APS-C DSLR body with (relatively) "compact" size, i.e., the K-5 (Canon current APS-C DSLRs all have 18 MPs);

- A weather-sealed mid-grade APS-C body with optional weather-sealed lenses (DA* and WR models);

- Stylish entry DSLR bodies (K-r and the old K-x) with various choices of different colour combinations and special cartoon editions of those. There are always more fun with Pentax regarding this! (And they taught me for not liking black cameras anymore! ;->)

- Compact (but rather slow in speed) elegant DA pancake lenses (i.e., DA 15/21/40/70);

- Choice of other bulkier (but yet not really very fast) DA primes, e.g., DA 35 Macro, DA 35/2.4, DFA 100 and etc.;

- Good to better ergonomics for the body and operational interface/menu design, usually;

- SMC coating - superb flare control, excellent colour rendition;

- SP coating for front/rear glass elements - easy to clean and yet sturdy;

- Still the nearly cheapest entry level DSLR body by now (the price of K-r has been reduced significantly already);

- A higher grade 645D Cropped Medium Format (MF) DSLR body - unique in the market for an "entry level" "low-cost" MF DSLR body and system (but there are only two new lenses launched so far for the digital Pentax 645D "system" anyway);

- Some uniquely designed compact P&S DC with appealing appearance and attractive/useful specs, e.g., the latest Optio WG-1/GPS, which people think that it looks like a Casio G-shock watch.


DOESN'T HAVE:

- An upper grade and true professional APS-C camera;

- A 135 Full Frame K-mount body;

- Faster prime lenses with larger aperture values (they used to achieve this for the FA lineup in the old film days!);

- A complete lens lineup that supports full frame nor there is anything beyond 300mm on the super-tele side, neither;

- There is no Tele Convertor/Adaptor that just supports AF nor SDM, in addition;

- Any plan(s) on the future development of the Pentax systems - at least it is not as transparent as it should be, or, there is no useful for those;

- An updated P-TTL system that can perform better;

- Updated flash units with faster recycling time and more updated features and etc. - The two 360 and 540 models are just too aged and now many Pentax people who want better performance and/or value have already gone Metz;

- A true video compression codec and technology for effective video and motion compression for any of their DSLRs ever made.

- A mirrorless system (at least one body + two lens!).


(SUPER) NEGATIVES:

- SDM of those premium DA* to mid-range DA lenses could die at any time and people scare!

- The latest SAFOX IX/+ never focus properly except at outdoor and on bright days!

- The persistent K-5 sensor stain issue!

- Lack of proper QC for both bodies (made in Philippines) and lenses (made in Vietnam).

- Inferior after-sales support: Slow response to issues / Reluctance to admit problems / Inability to eliminate most technical issues for that those become persistent and infamous.

- Pentaxians on Internet still call the "P" of P-TTL stands for Pathetic, owing to its poor exposure accuracy and reliability! >:-(


Last Analytical Paper:-

Pentax' Performance Evaluation Against Forbes' Seven Secrets of (Successful) Companies

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Another K-5 Review (with Full Samples)

@ What Digital Camera (UK):-

http://www.whatdigitalcamera.com/equipment/reviews/digitalslr/128809/1/pentax-k-5-review.html

ISO measurbation test:-

http://www.whatdigitalcamera.com/equipment/reviews/digitalslr/128809/4/pentax-k-5-review.html

Full-size original samples:-

http://www.whatdigitalcamera.com/equipment/galleries/sample-images/pentax/31570/1/pentax-k-5-review-sample-images_pg_Inspire.html

Enjoy! There are no UFOs/Pearls/Stains found in images nevertheless~ ;-D

N.B. I am NOT impressed with the IQ of those samples btw. :-(


All K-5 Reviews:-

http://www.google.com/search?q=K-5+Reviews&btnG=Find&domains=ricehigh.blogspot.com&sitesearch=ricehigh.blogspot.com

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