Question about Pentax Optio S4i Digital Camera

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S4i Foliage Problem

I saw the problem before in the S series, but recent pictures led me to believe Pentax solved the problem with the S4i. Maybe I only saw what I wanted to see. The problem is how the S4i renders foliage. It looks like an oil painting rather than a picture. I have tried every possible setting -- sharpness, contrast, mode, et cetera, but foliage still looks like a painting. An example is posted at http://www.pbase.com/aquaplayer/s4i. I have also posted a picture of the same scene taken with an Olympus D-550. Ignoring the differences in color saturation, exposure, contrast, and white balance, the 3Mp D-550 picture has more detail than the 4Mp S4i. The D-550 even has a higher compression ratio (note the file sizes). I did use a tripod. I suspect the problem lies not with the optics, but rather with the image processing within the camera. I have taken pictures of brownish scenes with far better results. The problem seems to be with greens. I know that most sensor arrays have two green sensors for every red and blue. Does this have something to do with it? Or am I missing something? Is there a secret combination of settings that renders foliage realistic? Do I have a dud? Maybe I am expecting too much from such a diminutive camera. Altho my concerns may seem picky, one of the major reasons I bought this camera was for backpacking trips, where many of the shots will include foliage. I have 7 days to return the camera. If I cannot find a solution the foliage problem, back it goes. Any help would be appreciated.

Posted by Anonymous on

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Re: S4i Foliage Problem

Look at page 43 of the S4i manual. To save people the trouble, I'll quote: "Total recording time will be longer when the picture is taken at slower shutter speed, because the noise reducton activates to reduce noise." That implies that at higher shutter speeds there is no noise reduction. That's why I suggested that there may be a bug in the firmware. So which way is it? Did Pentax lie in their manual? Having said that, I still say that the image looks like noise reduction has been applied. So maybe Pentax is confused, not me.

Posted on Sep 08, 2005

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Re: S4i Foliage Problem

Yes, noise reduction is applied to the image regardless of shutter speed. It seems that it is applying noise reduction dynamically i.e. in places where the camera thinks that there are more noise, more reduction takes place. The S4I tends to preserve edge details, hence the watercolor effect. In fact, if there is no noise reduction, ur S4 will produce very noisy, but detailed images. Take a look at pics taken by the nikon SQ. A good example of no (or very little) noise reduction. But the pics retain quite a lot of image details.

Posted on Sep 08, 2005

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Re: S4i Foliage Problem

What this image looks like to me is that noise reduction has been applied. When an image has been overly noise reduced, texture appears like plastic which some of the foliage in your image looks like. I thought that the S4i only did noise reduction in night mode or in really slow shutter speeds. I looked at your EXIF data and it indicates a shutter speed of 1/60 second. That should not have invoked the noise reduction. I wonder if the firmware has a bug and noise reduction is always on? Maybe you or someone could try some controlled experiments to see if it can be determined when the noise reduction kicks in?

Posted on Sep 08, 2005

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Re: S4i Foliage Problem

I would try Exposure Modes: Autum color, landscape & flower and see if any of them improve what your trying to get.

Posted on Sep 08, 2005

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