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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Colour Rendition Shootout: 6M CCD Vs 16M CMOS - *ist DL2 Vs K-5

It has been almost ten years since Pentax launched their first DSLR, the *ist D, almost ten years ago. I did buy my *ist D very shortly after it hit the streets and it may be interesting to read back my old textural review of it which was first published back to fall 2003.

Okay, nine years something has elapsed and now the new Pentax cameras have climbed up to 16 megapixels in pixel count and resolution. Yet, as we all know, they are all equipped with an APS-C sized cropped (still!) sensor in 16M. The noise level of the new CMOS sensor is undoubtedly lower and they are video capable. But how about the image quality besides resolution? What have we gained, or, actually lost?

So, I decided to do a shootout test myself, side-by-side and head-to-head for my two old and newer Pentax DSLRs, namely, the *ist DL2, which is the last *ist body actually, and the K-5, which is the first Pentax DSLR using the same never-upgraded but ever recycled Sony 16M CMOS sensor or its variant in all the newer Pentax DSLRs up till now! :-o

Test Conditions:

Both cameras set in RAW mode, manual white balance in daylight, fixed at ISO 200, the same lens of DA21/3.2 was used in Av mode, the same scene was then shot consecutively in pairs;

Custom image mode was set to "Natural" with all centre/zero/default settings except sharpness was set at +1. Pictures were then all converted from RAW to 6M Jpegs without any adjustment (using camera settings) with original Pentax Digital Camera Utility (Laboratory) Version 4.3, for both the *ist DL2 and K-5 pictures. The results are posted in the following album of mine:


Full size original images are available for downloading per popped-up picture page in the above.

What I can tell is that the *ist DL2 images are far more natural and faithful to the actual scene in real world than all those made with the K-5! The K-5 images are yet whiter than the DL2's, though, despite that both cameras were actually set to daylight preset manual white balance already.

If you look at the leaves of the trees, the green colours of the K-5 pics are actually looking rather fake and odd. Ditto for the brown colours of the trunks of the trees. In fact, the flower I shot is in orange red, but not that red colour that K-5 has produced and rendered!

Besides, to my surprise, the dynamic range of the *ist DL2 pics is shown to be yet better than that of the K-5 despite that the DR mark measured by DxO is far higher for the K-5 and its 16M CMOS sensor! Just observe the shadow details.. :-o

In fact, the favourable colour rendition was top one big reason why I still stayed with Pentax system regardless of the low performance of the Pentax bodies plus all the various technical and quality issues that were associated with the Pentax system and Pentax themselves. Now, it seems that this main point and reason has also gone with the later and latest Pentax bodies! >:-[

At the end of the day, I am afraid that now putting those excellent Pentax glass on a Canon body do produce much more favourable results even in term of colour rendition, see my this set of recent examples here.

After all, you may have a different opinion than me, but I think my pictures have clearly spoken for themselves! And, this test should be scientific enough as I have already tried to keep all the possible variables and affecting factors to minimal, FWIW.