October 28, 2009

Lumolabs: Pentax K-x HD video quality

The Pentax K-x is an incredible machine for an entry level SLR. Here, I will look at the quality one can expect to obtain from its 720p@24Hz HD video capture mode.

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:

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.

Watch the original at 100% size.

Zone plate test chart. 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. Watch the original at 100% size. The sampling frequency is clearly visible by the position of the four false color disks positioned at an 70% radius. The false color at and remaining artefacts beyond the sampling frequency is due to a missing video anti alias filter.

Note that the false color artifacts are significantly more intense than from the K-7, overall and esp. at 45°.

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

In comparing with the K-7, please note that the panning speed is not exactly equal. The magnitude of the rolling shutter effect is proportional to the panning speed. Also note that the K-x video has slightly more blur. Lightning condition and aperture has been the same, though.

Some testers have stated that the K-x has a stronger rolling shutter effect than other cameras. I cannot confirm this. Maybe, the opposite direction of skew disturbed the viewing habits of video testers ...


The Pentax K-x delivers very good HD video quality. It has color moiré artifacts close to the Nyquist frequency which are due to subsampling without an anti alias filter. The artifacts are strong and not so nicely confined to a close neighborhood around the sampling frequency. So, in real footage one has to expect to see some textures with color moiré. This is a problem of all SLRs though, specifically those sampling at natively 720p.

The effect seems to be about that of a Pentax K-7 along horizontal and vertical lines. But the K-7 has no such artifacts along diagonal lines which may point to the fact that it uses more and differently aligned pixels in its subsampling procedure. Obviously, the K-7 scans 1024 lines (using 864 in 16:9 format) whereas the K-x only scans 720 lines.

Interestingly and unlike the K-7, the K-x has no magenta/green fringing and no double seam effect along near vertical lines. The subjective effective resolution in 16:9 is about 1350x717 or 1.0 MPixel. This is an excellent value not achieved by consumer HD camcorders. It even surpasses the 1280 limit ;) The K-7 has slightly less resolution in the horizontal direction but much better resolution along diagonal lines.

Further reading:
- Lumolabs: Pentax K-7 HD video quality
- Lumolabs testing methodology.


  1. Do you think it is possible Pentax may release a firmware update to improve anti aliasing? Is it something that could be fixed (if not totally) by firmware?

    I'm not familiar with Pentax, what's their policy considering firmware updates?

    Thx Falk!

  2. I see no evidence that the K-x "delivers very good quality HD video." To the contrary these tests exhibit some of the worst aliasing, moire, noise and rolling shutter of any video capable DSLR. Additionally, the K-x doesn't allow manual control of shutter speed and ISO, so it seems to me that the video mode of this camera is not suited to serious purposes.

    I hope to be proven wrong, as a $600 APS-C 24p camera would be a great development for filmmaking, but the online test footage that I've seen, here and elsewhere, has been truly dismal.

  3. So CCD cameras are still the best option for HD video? and also @Anonymous: at this price of the K-X I'd like to see any other manufacturers have a camera that shoots HD video or even any video at all.

  4. Quote: K-x doesn't allow manual control of shutter speed and ISO.

    The Kx does much better than the Canon 500D and Nikon D5000, which are the relevant cameras to compare to. The Pentax allows manual control of aperture, and locking of ISO and shutter. With the Canon everything floats with light intensity. With the Nikon aperture is manual but ISO and shutter continue to float.

  5. Great blog.A usefull test and analysis not available elsewhere.Keep making this information available please.Sadly the k-r doesnt add much to the video specification.Thankyou.


Please if posting anonymously, choose a nickname for your post. Thanks.