Support Cameralabs by shopping at my partner stores or buying me a coffee!
Buy me a coffee!

Follow my RSS feed at Camera Labs RSS Feed
  Latest camera reviews

Lumix G80 / G85
Olympus OMD EM1 II
Sony RX10 Mark III
Sony RX100 Mark V
Nikon COOLPIX B700
Sony A6500
Lumix FZ2000 / FZ2500
Nikon COOLPIX B500
Lumix LX10 / LX15
Fujifilm XT2
Nikon D3400
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Ricoh GR II
Canon G7X Mark II
Canon SX720 HS
Canon EOS 80D
Olympus TG Tracker
Nikon D500 review
Canon EOS 1300D / T6
Lumix GX80 / GX85
Fujifilm X-Pro2
Fujifilm X70
Lumix TZ80 ZS60
Sony A6300
Canon PowerShot G5X
Lumix TZ100 ZS100
Sony A7s Mark II
Sony RX10 II
Lumix FZ330 / FZ300
Sony RX100 IV
Canon G9X
Fujifilm XT10
Nikon COOLPIX L840
Canon SX530 HS
Olympus OMD EM10 II
Canon SX410 IS
Panasonic Lumix GX8
Olympus TOUGH TG860
Sony A7r Mark II
Canon PowerShot D30
Olympus TOUGH TG4
Canon PowerShot G3X
Canon EOS 5Ds
Nikon COOLPIX S9900
Sony HX90V
Canon EOS T6s 760D
Panasonic Lumix G7
Panasonic Lumix SZ8
Canon EOS M3
Olympus EPL7
Samsung NX3000
Panasonic Lumix GM5
Nikon D5500
Panasonic Lumix GF7
Olympus OMD EM5 II
Nikon COOLPIX S9700
Canon SX710 HS
Panasonic TZ70 / ZS50
Sony Alpha A7 Mark II
Canon EOS 7D Mark II
Fujifilm X100T
Nikon COOLPIX S3600
Sony Alpha A5100
Sigma DP1 Quattro
Sony Cyber-shot W830
Nikon COOLPIX L830
Nikon D750
Canon SX400 IS
Sony Cyber-shot H400
Panasonic Lumix LX100
Canon SX60 HS
Canon ELPH 340 IXUS 265
Canon G7X
Nikon COOLPIX P530
Canon SX520 HS
Canon G1 X Mark II
Panasonic Lumix FZ1000
Panasonic TZ60 / ZS40
Sony RX100 III review
Sony A3000 review
Canon EOS 1200D T5
Sony WX350
Nikon P600
Sony Alpha A5000
Sony Cyber-shot HX400V
Panasonic Lumix GH4
Panasonic TS5 FT5
Sony Alpha A6000
Canon SX700 HS
Canon SX600 HS
Olympus TOUGH TG2
Nikon AW1
Nikon D3300
Fujifilm XT1
Olympus STYLUS 1
Sony Cyber-shot RX10
Olympus OMD EM1
Panasonic Lumix GM1
Nikon D610
Sony Alpha A7
Nikon D5300
Canon PowerShot A2500
Sony Alpha A7r
Canon ELPH 130 IXUS 140
Nikon COOLPIX P520
Nikon COOLPIX L820
Canon PowerShot S120
Panasonic Lumix GX7
Canon SX510 HS
Canon PowerShot G16
Fujifilm X20
Panasonic FZ70 / FZ72
Canon EOS 70D
Sony RX100 II
Canon ELPH 330 IXUS 255
Panasonic Lumix GF6
Fujifilm XM1
Olympus EP5
Panasonic Lumix LF1
Panasonic TZ35 / ZS25
Olympus XZ2
Sony HX300
Panasonic Lumix G6
Sony HX50V
Fujifilm X100S
Canon SX280 HS
Canon EOS SL1 / 100D
Panasonic TZ40 / ZS30
Nikon D7100
Fujifilm X-E1
Canon EOS 6D
Nikon D5200
Panasonic Lumix GH3
Canon PowerShot S110
Panasonic Lumix G5
Sony NEX-6
Panasonic Lumix FZ200
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
Nikon COOLPIX P7700
Olympus E-PL5
Canon EOS M
Panasonic TS20 / FT20
Canon PowerShot G15
Nikon D600
Nikon COOLPIX L810
Canon PowerShot D20
Sony RX100
Panasonic Lumix LX7
Canon SX500 IS
Fujifilm HS30 EXR
Sony HX200V
Panasonic FZ60 / FZ62
Canon 520HS / 500HS
Canon 110HS / 125HS
Nikon D800
Canon EOS T4i / 650D
Canon PowerShot A3400
Panasonic ZS15 / TZ25
Olympus E-M5
Nikon D3200
Fujifilm X-Pro1
Canon PowerShot A2300
Canon SX240 / SX260
Samsung NX200
Sony Alpha SLT-A77
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Panasonic ZS20 / TZ30
Canon PowerShot G1 X
Sony NEX-7
Panasonic GX1
Olympus E-PM1
Nikon V1
Sony NEX-5N
Canon EOS T3 / 1100D
Canon EOS 600D / T3i
Nikon D7000
Canon EOS 60D
Canon EOS 550D / T2i
Canon EOS 7D

All camera reviews
  Best Buys: our top models
  Best Canon lens
Best Nikon lens
Best Sony lens
Best budget DSLR
Best mid-range DSLR
Best semi-pro DSLR
Best point and shoot
Best superzoom
Best camera accessories

Camera Labs Forum

Any questions, comments or a great tip to share? Join my Camera forum and let everyone know!
  DSLR Tips

Free Shipping on ALL Products
Pentax K20D Gordon Laing, May 2008

Pentax K20D results : Outdoor resolution / Studio resolution / Real life Noise

Pentax K20D vs Sony Alpha A350 vs Canon EOS 450D / XSi real-life noise

Support this site by price checking below

Sony DSLR-A350


To compare noise levels under real-life conditions we shot this scene with the Pentax K20D, Sony Alpha DSLR-A350 and Canon EOS 450D / XSi within a few moments of each other using each of their ISO settings. The K20D was set to its default Bright Custom Image option.

In the absence of the new Mark II 18-55mm budget lens, we tested the K20D with the DA 18-250mm. The Sony and Canon bodies were tested with their respective kit lenses, the DT 18-70mm and EF-S 18-55mm IS. All lenses were set to f8 and adjusted to deliver the same field of view. The K20D's High ISO NR was set to the default OFF for this first set of results.

The image above was taken with the Pentax K20D at 27mm f8 and the original **** JPEG measured 11.6MB. We matched the exposures of the Sony A350 and the Canon 450D / XSi to those metered by the Pentax K20D. The crops are taken from an area just below and to the left of the centre, and are reproduced here at 100%. These images were taken during the same session as those from our Sony Alpha A300 review, so if you'd like to compare them against a 10 Megapixel model, check out our Sony Alpha DSLR A300 results page.

A quick glance at the crops below shows the K20D in a very favourable light against the other cameras, especially its 14 Megapixel rival from Sony. It's important to factor-in their differences in default image processing though. As discussed in the first results page and our image processing section of the review, the K20D applies greater sharpening, contrast and saturation by default than models like the Sony A350, and that's certainly apparent in the punchier appearance of the crops. It's also revealing to note Pentax has opted to switch off its High ISO NR by default compared to Sony which has it switched on.

But even with this all taken into account, it's clear the K20D is simply holding onto much more detail than the Sony at higher sensitivities. The A350 is showing softness due to noise and subsequent processing even at 200 ISO, and by 400 ISO much of the finest detail is lost. At 800 ISO and above, the Sony's quality is really suffering, and switching its NR off or boosting the sharpening to match the K20D makes little difference.

In contrast, the K20D produces preferable output across its entire sensitivity range, and the absence of NR actually results in a more attractive grain-like noise compared to the smearing of most cameras. We believe while the K20D's default processing can be a little over-punchy, the decision to switch off NR by default was the right choice. After all, if you don't like the noise in your images, you can always boost the internal NR or apply it using software tools later. At least the detail is retained though.

Interestingly, while the Canon 450D / XSi also has its NR off by default, it exhibits greater smearing of fine detail at higher sensitivities which you won't be able to retrieve. So overall, an excellent result here for the K20D and the Samsung CMOS sensor which despite packing a lot of pixels onto its APS-C sized real estate, delivers very respectable performance at high sensitivities.

The Pentax K20D offers four different settings for its High ISO Noise Reduction: Off, Weakest, Weak and Strong. To compare all four settings, scroll to the bottom of this page. Alternatively, to see more real-life images taken with the K20D across its entire sensitivity range including several taken indoors under low light, check out our Pentax K20D Sample Images page.

Pentax K20D
High ISO NR off (default)
Sony Alpha DSLR-A350
High ISO NR on (default)
Canon EOS 450D / XSi
High ISO NR off (default)

100 ISO
100 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
3200 ISO not available
6400 ISO
6400 ISO not available
6400 ISO not available

Pentax K20D real-life noise: High ISO NR settings

The Pentax K20D offers High ISO Noise Reduction with four different settings: Off (the default), Weakest, Weak and Strong. To measure the impact of these, we re-shot the same scene moments later at all sensitivities using each NR setting. Pentax didn't confirm at what sensitivity the NR kicks-in, so we've included results at all sensitivities; that said, from the crops below, it appears to really show an effect above 800 ISO. We've pictured 100% crops below for comparison.

The differecne between NR off and NR Weakest are certainly subtle across the range in these examples. Switching up a notch to the Weak setting shows slightly lower visible speckles and a smoother appearance at 800 ISO and above without compromising fine detail too much.

Switching to the Weak NR setting shows greater smoothing and a further reduction in speckles especially at 1600 ISO and above, with another reduction in detail as a result. The final Strong NR option is more like what we're used to seeing with most cameras these days, applying noticeable smoothing at 1600 ISO and above to eliminate most of the noise speckles, but taking most of the fine detail with it.

So we'd say Pentax made the right choice by disabling High ISO NR as standard. We believe it's delivering the best overall output of the four settings below, and if you don't like visible noise speckles you can always reduce them with more sophisticated software tools later; at least the fine detail remains in the original image data.

Now let's have a look at some more real-life examples including several low-light indoor compositions in our Pentax K20D sample images gallery.

Pentax K20D
High ISO NR off (default)
Pentax K20D
High ISO NR Weakest
Pentax K20D
High ISO NR Weak
Pentax K20D
High ISO NR Strong
Pentax K20D at 100 ISO - NR off   Pentax K20D at 100 ISO - NR weakest   Pentax K20D at 100 ISO - NR weak   Pentax K20D at 100 ISO - NR strong
100 ISO
100 ISO
100 ISO
100 ISO
Pentax K20D at 200 ISO - NR off   Pentax K20D at 200 ISO - NR weakest   Pentax K20D at 200 ISO - NR weak   Pentax K20D at 200 ISO - NR strong
200 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
Pentax K20D at 400 ISO - NR off   Pentax K20D at 400 ISO - NR weakest   Pentax K20D at 400 ISO - NR weak   Pentax K20D at 400 ISO - NR strong
400 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
Pentax K20D at 800 ISO - NR off   Pentax K20D at 800 ISO - NR weakest   Pentax K20D at 800 ISO - NR weak   Pentax K20D at 800 ISO - NR strong
800 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
Pentax K20D at 1600 ISO - NR off   Pentax K20D at 1600 ISO - NR weakest   Pentax K20D at 1600 ISO - NR weak   Pentax K20D at 1600 ISO - NR strong
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
Pentax K20D at 3200 ISO - NR off   Pentax K20D at 3200 ISO - NR weakest   Pentax K20D at 3200 ISO - NR weak   Pentax K20D at 3200 ISO - NR strong
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
Pentax K20D at 6400 ISO - NR off   Pentax K20D at 6400 ISO - NR weakest   Pentax K20D at 6400 ISO - NR weak   Pentax K20D at 6400 ISO - NR strong
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
6400 ISO

Pentax K20D results

Outdoor resolution / Studio resolution / Real life Noise
All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2017 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

/ Best Cameras / Camera reviews / Supporting Camera Labs