Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pentax K-30 And Color

One disadvantage of digital photography is that camera manufacturers seem to have a hard time recreating the look of film. With black-and-white, there doesn't exist the dynamic range in digital that one finds with film. In color, no one seems able to replicate the vibrant look of Fujichrome Velvia or similar slide films.

When I shot film, Fujichrome Velvia (either ISO 50 or 100) was my favorite choice for color. Kodak Ektachrome E100VS was my second favorite--it was the closest thing Kodak had to Velvia, and sometimes it was easier to find.

When you are photographing color, in most cases you want that color to be vibrant--you want it to pop! Sometimes subtle, muted colors are preferred, but more often than not, bright and brilliant is what you want. Digital cameras just don't hold water to Velvia film when it comes to color. When the saturation levels get where they need to be to compete with Velvia, either all details are lost in the vibrant colors and/or it skews the white balance to something undesirable.

To get around this, you've got to mess with curves and layers in post-processing. If you spend enough time manipulating the RAW files, you can get pretty close to Velvia. But who has the time to do this? With slide film, you send it off to the lab and a few days later you get completed, ready-to-go images. No need to mess with the photographs for hours trying to improve them.

That brings me to the Pentax K-30. I very recently got this camera and I've been playing around with it in preparation for a review. Something that I noticed is that JPEGs, right out of the camera, when set to Vibrant, look a lot like Ektachrome E100VS. No out-of-camera manipulation required. Yes, it's not quite Velvia good, but it is the closest I've seen out-of-the-camera from a DSLR.
Autumn Tree - Tehachapi, California
This is a JPEG from the Pentax K-30, set to Vibrant. 
The K-30 really does produce good looking JPEGs. This makes saving in RAW and post-processing at home on a computer less necessary. Anything that saves me time is good. Pentax definitely got this right.

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