Monday, June 02, 2008

British Journal Of Photography Loves Pentax

photographyThere's lots of good news for Pentax lovers in the British Journal Of Photography #7687 (28.05.08). For those unfamiliar with this publication, the BJP is a publication geared to professionals, with excellent coverage of art photography and photojournalism together with news on legal and commercial issues. It also features precise and technical equipment reviews. Each and every weekly issue contains some of the most exciting images you are likely to see. Get it!

Now it seems the BJP has fully recognised the rising star of Pentax. This starts in their bi-annual directory of DSLR cameras, which treats the K20D very fairly, using the word "excellent" twice in the short description.

The article "Optical Illusions" (by David Kilpatrick) described how lens manufacturers are providing sufficient resolution for today's high pixel count sensors. It illustrates this with a photo of the silver FA77 noting that "its ultra high resolution has made it a success in the digital era." A second illustration shows the K20D with the DFA35 LTD, "typical of current trends for high quality prime lenses designed to exploit high resolution".

Pentax comes across better equipped for this new era than other companies. It is noted that only the kit lens required redesigning. "There is no issue with any of the other lenses -- they have tested them all, and they all performed well on the K20D" says Steve Anderson, the product manager.

Well, what would you expect a product manager to say? But the proof is in the pudding. (Or is it in the eating? I've never been too sure about that idiom.)

Their feature camera test compares the K20D with the Sony Alpha 350, two cameras at "The Upper Limits" of APS-sized sensor resolution. The exhaustive charts seem to favour the Sony but reviewer Anders Uschold is not fooled. Writing of the Pentax he says that "these are signs of the weak, low-pass filter, but the camera does not increase fine detail contrast to raise resolution marks at the cost of an artificial representation of textures." On the downside the dynamic range "limits the camera's flexibility for high contrast scenes under low light illumination." That is unfortunate and surprising.

The Sony has an extra stop of dynamic range across the ISO settings. Also the noise figures are much better. Highlight and shadow areas are softer relative to the mid-range brightness areas. The author notes this will make the images look sharper to the eye and to many tests but is actually less accurate in terms of tonal qualities and certain artifacts. In conclusion he remarks that "the resolution of the film-based Macro lens meets its limits. Stopping down is recommended and likely for several lenses."

He picks the Pentax. This is reassuring as I've been tempted by the Sony offerings. Not that I would be changing systems any time this decade. I have too many of those excellent Pentax lenses.

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