Pentax K-1 High ISO Noise Reduction

Like other Pentax DSLRs, the K-1 offers an unusually flexible amount of control over noise reduction applied to its JPEGs. In addition to "Auto", you can adjust how much NR is applied ("Off", "Low", "Medium" or "High") at all ISOs, or you can select "Custom" which allows you to choose from the same four options at each ISO sensitivity setting in whole EV increments. That is, if you enable 1/3 EV ISO steps, you get one NR setting for ISO 100, 125, and 160, another for ISO 200, 250, and 320, etc. The same applies for 1/2 EV ISO steps, but with only two sensitivities sharing each setting (ie. ISO 100 and 140 share a setting, ISO 200 and 280 share one, etc.). Kudos to Pentax for continuing to provide such excellent control over noise reduction for JPEGs.

See for yourself how the Pentax K-1's "Auto" and "Off" High ISO NR settings compare to RAW without noise reduction under daylight-balanced lighting. (Note that these RAW images have no sharpening applied, so they look softer than camera JPEGs at low ISOs.) Click on any of the crops below to see the corresponding full-sized image.

High ISO Noise Reduction Comparison
Daylight-balanced illumination
"Auto"
"Off"
RAW (no NR)
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S
O

1
0
0
"Auto"
"Off"
RAW (no NR)
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O

2
0
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"Auto"
"Off"
RAW (no NR)
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O

4
0
0
"Auto"
"Off"
RAW (no NR)
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O

8
0
0
"Auto"
"Off"
RAW (no NR)
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O

1
6
0
0
"Auto"
"Off"
RAW (no NR)
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O

3
2
0
0
"Auto"
"Off"
RAW (no NR)
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O

6
4
0
0
"Auto"
"Off"
RAW (no NR)
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O

1
2
8
0
0
"Auto"
"Off"
RAW (no NR)
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S
O

2
5
6
0
0
"Auto"
"Off"
RAW (no NR)
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S
O

5
1
2
0
0
"Auto"
"Off"
RAW (no NR)
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O

1
0
2
4
0
0
"Auto"
"Off"
RAW (no NR)
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S
O

2
0
4
8
0
0

As you can see, the Pentax K-1 applies high ISO noise reduction across the entire sensitivity range, with chroma noise reduction detectable already at ISO 100. Also notice the "Off "setting clearly does not eliminate noise processing altogether (especially in the red channel), but it does leave a bit more fine/subtle subject detail in JPEGs than Auto, when the Auto setting doesn't select "Off." Still, we wish the "Off" setting was less aggressive, particularly with low contrast reds as in our tricky red-leaf fabric.

Note that for the K-1 Auto selects "Off " for ISOs 100-1600, "Low" for 3200-6400, and "Medium" for ISO 12,800 and above.

 



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