Pentax K200D

Pentax K200D vs Canon EOS 450D / XSi

Pentax K200D High ISO NR comparison

The Pentax K200D 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 only show an effect at 800 and 1600 ISO. We’ve pictured 100% crops below for comparison.

The difference between NR off and NR Weakest are certainly subtle across the range in these examples. Switching up a notch to the Weak setting results in fractionally fewer visible speckles and a smoother appearance at 800 ISO and 1600 ISO without compromising fine detail too much. But it is a case of pixel-peeping.

Switching to the Weak NR setting shows noticeably greater smoothing and a further reduction in speckles at 800 and 1600 ISO, 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 (including those above), applying considerable smoothing at 800 and 1600 ISO to eliminate most of the noise speckles, but taking fine detail with it. In all these respects, the various NR settings on the K200D work similarly to the K20D.

So on both cameras 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 to see more real-life examples across its sensitivity range, check out our Pentax K200D Gallery.

 
Pentax K200D
High ISO NR off (default)
 
Pentax K200D
High ISO NR Weakest
 
Pentax K200D
High ISO NR Weak
 
Pentax K200D
High ISO NR Strong
Pentax K200D at 100 ISO - NR off   Pentax K200D at 100 ISO - NR weakest   Pentax K200D at 100 ISO - NR weak   Pentax K200D at 100 ISO - NR strong
100 ISO
 
100 ISO
 
100 ISO
 
100 ISO
             
Pentax K200D at 200 ISO - NR off   Pentax K200D at 200 ISO - NR weakest   Pentax K200D at 200 ISO - NR weak   Pentax K200D at 200 ISO - NR strong
200 ISO
 
200 ISO
 
200 ISO
 
200 ISO
             
Pentax K200D at 400 ISO - NR off   Pentax K200D at 400 ISO - NR weakest   Pentax K200D at 400 ISO - NR weak   Pentax K200D at 400 ISO - NR strong
400 ISO
 
400 ISO
 
400 ISO
 
400 ISO
             
Pentax K200D at 800 ISO - NR off   Pentax K200D at 800 ISO - NR weakest   Pentax K200D at 800 ISO - NR weak   Pentax K200D at 800 ISO - NR strong
800 ISO
 
800 ISO
 
800 ISO
 
800 ISO
             
Pentax K200D at 1600 ISO - NR off   Pentax K200D at 1600 ISO - NR weakest   Pentax K200D at 1600 ISO - NR weak   Pentax K200D at 1600 ISO - NR strong
1600 ISO
 
1600 ISO
 
1600 ISO
 
1600 ISO

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Pentax 18-250mm lens


vs Olympus E-520

real-life noise

 
 

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions we shot this scene with the Pentax K200D, Canon EOS 450D / XSi and Olympus E-520 within a few moments of each other using each of their ISO settings in Aperture Priority modes. The lenses on each camera were adjusted to deliver the same vertical field of view – see note below.

The E-520 was fitted with the Zuiko Digital 14-42mm, the Canon with the EF-S 18-55mm IS and the Pentax with the DA 18-250mm; note this was the only lens Pentax had available for our review.

The image above was taken with the Pentax K200D with the DA 18-250mm lens at 27mm f8 and with a sensitivity of 100 ISO; the original *** 10M JPEG measured 4.01MB. The crops are taken from an area to the right of centre and presented here at 100%.

Note: The Olympus E-520, like all Four Thirds DSLRs, captures images with a 4:3 aspect ratio that’s narrower than the 3:2 aspect ratio of most DSLRs including both the Canon and Pentax models here. In this test we adjusted each lens to deliver the same vertical field of view, so we’re not using the full width of the Canon and Pentax images. As such, the 450D / XSi and K200D are only using 10.8 and 8.9 of their total Megapixels here respectively.

One look at the crops below and again it’s obvious how the K200D is applying greater contrast, saturation and sharpening by default, delivering much punchier-looking images. At first glance these appear preferable, but much of what you’re seeing is digital processing which can equally be applied to the other cameras if desired.

Interestingly while the K200D may boost these settings, it sensibly holds back on the noise reduction by default to retain detail albeit at the cost of greater visible noise. In contrast, the E-520 and 450D / XSi take a different approach and apply greater noise reduction by default to deliver lower visible noise, but at the cost of softer images. Note the Canon 200 ISO sample is fractionally out of focus.

As such, noise speckles become quite visible at 400 ISO on the K200D and more obvious at 800 ISO. At 1600 ISO the result is quite patchy, but at least there’s no significant loss of saturation – and more importantly, there’s a decent degree of detail retained throughout the ISO range.

Ultimately while we’d personally tone down the colour and sharpening on the K200D, we do prefer its default approach of minimal noise reduction. After all, it’s easy to apply more NR if desired, but impossible to remove it from a smeared image. If you do prefer a softer touch though, the K200D, like the K20D, offers four different High ISO NR settings: there’s the default Off, followed by Weakest, Weak and Strong. To see examples of each, scroll down to the bottom of the page. Alternatively if you’d like to skip straight to more real-life examples across its sensitivity range, check out our Pentax K200D Gallery.

Pentax K200D
with Pentax DA 18-250mm

Canon EOS 450D / XSi
with Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS
Olympus E-520
with Zuiko Digital 14-42mm
   
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
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