October 28, 2009

Lumolabs: Pentax K-7 HD video quality

I have previously reported about the HD video mode in the Pentax K-7.

The corresponding blog articles are here:

Here, I will set a level playing ground for future comparisons of the video image quality obtained from various cameras.

In my lumolab testings, I will not report about ergonomics or lack of features etc. The internet is full of this easily obtained information and I will refrain from duplicating it here.

The above is a frame from a dumb sample video, available here:
Bavarian Camels (K-7 version).

Test chart results:

Video frame from 720p HD mode. ISO resolution test chart using FA 31 Ltd. at f/4.5. The inner part is 4x. The 720p Nyquist limit is at "8.5" in the outer part. The 1024p Nyquist limit is at "10.0" in the outer part. The color moiré shows that the 720p frames are downsampled from 1024p video frames.

Watch the original at 100% size!

Video frame from 1536x1024p HD mode. The 1024p Nyquist limit is at "10.0" in the outer part and "2.5" in the inner part. The resolved parts with distinct lines is about "8.0" in horizontal and "8.5" in vertical direction, corresponding to 1200x850 pixels in 3:2 or about 1200x717p pixels in 16:9 mode.

Video frame from 720p HD mode. The big circles have a resolution limit of 1080 LW/PH. The smaller ones are 2x and 4x. The Nyquist limit is at 720 LW/PH which is about 67% into the big circle. The Nyquist limit of the 1024p sampling is at 864 LW/PH which is 80% into the big circle. Watch the original at 100% size.
The sampling frequency is clearly visible by the position of the four false color disks positioned at an 80% radius. The false color at and remaining artefacts beyond the sampling frequency is due to a missing video anti alias filter.

A similiar image for the Canon 5DmkII is visible here: Canon 5DmkII zone plate test.

Rolling Shutter Test:

Panning left and right to evaluate the rolling shutter effect.

Note that the sensor of the Pentax K-7 is read out in the opposite direction compared to that of the Pentax K-x, like top-down rather than bottom-up.


The Pentax K-7 delivers stunning HD video quality, specifically in 720p. It has color moiré artifacts close to the Nyquist frequency which are due to subsampling without an anti alias filter. The artifacts are strong but seem to be nicely confined to a close neighborhood around the sampling frequency. So, in real footage one has to really hit the "wrong" texture to see the effect.

The effect seems to be about that of a Canon 5DmkII along horizontal lines. But the Canon has no such artifacts along vertical lines, pointing to supersampling within lines and line skipping. The Pentax K-7 does line and row skipping. Obviously, the 5DmkII scans 1053 lines whereas the K-7 only scans 1024 lines.

Moreover, in 1024p along nearly vertical edges (cf. the 1024p resolution test chart), one can see the magenta/green fringing and a double seam effect. This is much less visible in 720p though. Additionally, it may be possible to cure it in post processing. The subjective effective resolution in 16:9 is about 1200x717 or 0.9 MPixel. This is a good value actually not achieved by consumer HD camcorders.

Due to its supersampling applied to 720p video, footage from the K-7 looks more cinema-like and analog than footage from entry-level dSLRs.

Further reading: Lumolabs testing methodology.

1 comment:

  1. Great information on pentax k7 hd video quality. Keep up the great work, you are providing a great resource on the Internet here!



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