HDR and the Pentax K30


My Set Up

I finally got around to trying out the HDR features of the Pentax K30. For this test I used JPEG as the file format, set the ISO to 100 and used f9 for the aperture. For the next test I will use RAW for the brackets

My subject was the lighthouse at Talacre Beach and just to add some interest it was raining, not heavy, but the beach is very exposed. Not only did I get wet, the K30 did as well, but it’s weather proof, as is the lens so it was a good test for that feature as well.

The Pentax K30 was mounted on a tripod and I used the shutter button to fire off the images. I’ve got a remote control from my previous Pentax Camera but just haven’t got round to checking if it will work with the K30.

HDR Settings

The Pentax K30 has 4 setting for HDR

  • HDR Auto
  • HDR 1
  • HDR 2
  • HDR 3

As well as using these settings I also fired off a set of 3 bracketed exposures from –2 to +2 which I processed in 3 different HDR programs, just for comparison with the in-camera HDR function

  • Machinery HDR Effects
  • PhotoMatix
  • SNS-HDR Pro

Processing

For the in-camera HDR images, the only post processing I did was to crop the image to 930 x 616 for posting to Flickr. No other processing was done. The HDR images which were software generated were also cropped to the same size, 930 x 616. I like my HDR to be pretty natural so I used the default preset for PhotoMatix and SNS-HDR Pro. Machinery HDR Effects has lots of presets, none of which you could call default, so I used the settings that I normally choose for my images.

Pentax K30 HDR Images

HDR Auto Image from the Pentax K30

K30 - HDR Auto

It’s a bit dark for me, but one thing that is impressing me is the DOF. With my old camera I struggled to get everything in focus from front to back. Let’s compare this to the 0 Ev from the bracketed set

Pentax K30 - Exposure Bracket  0 Ev

Personally I think the two images look almost identical, if anything the 0 Ev from the bracketed set looks a shade lighter. Next up is HDR 1

HDR 1 Image from the Pentax K30

Pentax K30 - HDR 1

Definitely better, still a bit dark though. The one thing I have not done here is to take any of the images into Adobe Photoshop Essentials and adjusted them. I wanted to show the output direct from the camera. HDR 2 and HDR 3 are unusable as far as I am concerned. Judge for yourself.

HDR 2 Image from the Pentax K30

Pentax K30 - HDR 2

HDR 3 Image from the Pentax K30

Pentax K30 - HDR 3

For comparison I will show you the output from the dedicated HDR programs. Each program has it’s own capabilities as I explained above

Dedicated HDR Software HDR Images

Each HDR program has it’s own unique capabilities and it’s really down to a matter of taste. I’ve processed them using the default settings for no other reason than I want to see which gives me the best output, with as little noise as possible from the supplied JPEG’s from the Pentax K30

Machinery HDR Effects

Pentax K30 - Exposure Bracket with Machinery HDR Effects

Of late Machinery HDR Effects has been my HDR program of choice. I find it has an intuitive interface and gives me consistent results.

HDRSoft PhotoMatix

Pentax K30 - Exposure Bracket with PhotoMatix

PhotoMatix is probably the choice of most people, but personally I’ve never really liked it. I never seem to get consistent results.

SNS-HDR Pro

Pentax K30 - Exposure Bracket with SNS-HDR

Before Machinery HDR Effects came along, SNS-HDR Pro was my usual HDR processing software. On  my computer it’s a bit slow to process but it does give consistent results every time and the images are very natural looking. One problem I found though was the output from my old Samsung GX-10 started to produce some weird results when processed with SNS-HDR Pro. However, I like this. It looks very natural and yet gives a more dramatic sky, exactly how I remember it today.

Conclusions

The Pentax K30 in-camera HDR is a nice idea, however I’m not sure that I will use it, and, if i did, it would probably only be HDR 1. Compared to the dedicated HDR programs it has some way to go. Saying that, I could probably use it at a pinch but I think the Jury is still out on this one.

I intend to repeat this test, only this time using RAW instead of JPEG. That’s if I can. I only picked the camera up on Wednesday last week. I spent the weekend at the London 2012 Olympic Games, so I’m still getting used to the camera and it’s settings. If I can use RAW with the HDR functions of the Pentax K30, I will then be able to decide if I could make use of the in-camera HDR function of the Pentax K30.

Update 01 August 2012.

According to the manual for the Pentax K30 in-camera HDR is not available when RAW is selected as the file format. That rather puts paid to my trialling RAW.

Further Update 01 August 2012

I did another test of the in-camera HDR Function, only this time I let the camera choose the ISO with Auto ISO. As I was in a Cathedral were photography using tripods, although not exactly frowned upon, is discouraged, I decided to try it hand-held, to see how the Pentax K30 managed. As I wasn’t using the tripod I didn’t exactly get my horizon straight. I really must turn on that feature as well. Anyway here are the results.

HDR Auto

Pentax K30 - HDR Automatic

A little over-blown in the highlights but definitely much more usable.

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10 Comments

  1. I was woundering how doing HDR 1 at -2,0,+2 relates to HDR 2 at -1,0,+1? I seams to me the k-30 has 12 settings for HDR not 4.

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    1. Andrew

      The K30 manual for HDR is not exactly specific but it appears to be that there are 4 HDR methods. Auto, 1, 2, & 3. By default the Exposure Value for all of these settings is set to -/+3. I changed them to -/+2 because that is what I would normally use if I was doing a 3 shot bracket. I’m going to try the default tonight to see what difference it makes. HDR 2 & 3 seem to increase the saturation to the extent that it just doesn’t look natural anymore.

      Like anything else it’s experimentation. I may find something I really like and in that case I would use it.

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  2. The HDR 2 & 3 seem to be stronger effects. So maybe using a Exposure Value of -/+1 would be more natural.

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