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Pentax K3 II: SuperResolution Pixel Shift Mode vs StdRes: Carved Stone Box

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo.

Pentax K3 II

See also my in-depth review of the Sigma 35/1.4 DG HSM Art, used for this study.

Added to the Buffalo Coin and Engraved Letter Opener page is another A/B comparison between SuperResolution pixel shift mode and StdRes modes on the Pentax K3 II.

This painted wooden box features intricate carved-stone figures. The comparison is from the central 15% of the frame (about 3.7 megapixels of the 24 megapixel sensor).

Pentax K3 II: SuperResolution Pixel Shift: Ultra Fine Details (Silver Coin, Engraving, Carved Stone Box)


Reduced size crop
f6.3 @ 2.0 sec, ISO 100; 2016-02-26 09:30:45
PENTAX K-3 II + Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

[low-res image for bot]

Dan M writes:

Wow. The carved box figures are exactly the kind of thing I was hoping you’d use. One area that really shows a difference is the handle on the dagger or sword the lady on the left is holding.

Some of your readers must think we’re nuts to spend so much energy on this. An hour in a museum or auction house studio would give them our reasons.

You might be photographing jade figures that might be changing owners for the first time in 60 years, or leaving an original family for the first time in 150 years. Or a Christmas “Pyramid” and its carved Nativity figures from 1840s Germany that cannot and should not be manhandled for photography very often, or exposed to studio lights beyond what’s absolutely necessary to record every detail from each angle, once. Many of the photos are for condition reports to record every possible detail of wear or damage to the artifact when it first arrives in the collection. That’s the base information to which all future changes in the artifact will be compared. Artifacts just can’t be photographed any time you feel like it, or when you get new gear. Many are on display. It is an event when we take Crockett’s Betsy out of her permanent gallery display case. I can remember every time we’ve done it. It is not easy to photograph a long rifle.

Put another way: When I photograph our top artifacts, it’s with a ridiculously oversized Gitzo 5514 tripod, with cable release, with a super secure artifact table, with lights positioned before the artifact is placed and only fine adjustments made afterward, with the camera set on MUP, with all knobs on the tripod and ballhead tightened and secure, with front curtain shutter employed. And of course, the images are 16 bit Tiffs in the originals we keep, and the raw file is kept for each key image. These ain’t snapshots, in other words. We’re trying to employ everything possible to maximize the quality of the image. So in that world, the difference between toggling to standard vs toggling to SupeRes Pixel Shift in your test images means a great deal. Especially when you consider that once the K-1 and a good compatible lens was purchased and put on the job, it would add no time to what might be a hour and half setup, but from then on it adds that last measure of quality to every image you take. So the K 1 could be a big deal for product or artifact work.

DIGLLOYD: with SuperRes mode, fine cuts in the stone and even fine crystalline edges within the stone emerge. These sorts of details are only half-way there in StdRes mode.

I’m assuming that the forthcoming Pentax K1 will be a very noticeable step up from the K3 II, because each pixel is 55% larger in area and it is full frame with 50% more pixels in total.

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