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I thought that the K-01 and the K-5 both sported the same sensor, but checking their specifications in Snapsort I found that their Dynamic Range is different by a little bit more than 1 EV (12.9 EV vs 14.1 EV).

Is that inherent to having a different sensor or is it something that depends on the signal processing engine too?

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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

As far as I know, they do have the same basic sensor technology (not the same sensor), but the key difference between the two cameras in this area is the bit depth. The K-01 has a bit depth of 12 and the K-5 has 14, which means that the K-01 can have 2^12 (4096) different levels of red, green, and blue. The K-5 can have 2^14 (16384) different levels. So, being able to discern more variance in the colors can give the K-5 an advantage in dynamic range.

It should be noted that bit depth doesn't always mean increased dynamic range. If the two ends of the range are the same between the cameras, then the extra 2 bits don't mean anything to dynamic range, they just effect things like posterization. If the ends are different, it's very likely the ends can move farther apart as a result of increased information available (each additional bit doubles the information).

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Interesting, I looked over that when I got my K-01 instead the K-5 a few months ago... Anyway, the main reason was the focus peaking, as I had a bunch of MF lenses already. –  fortran Jul 3 '13 at 12:45
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@fortran - Bear in mind that it may have very little meaning in practice, it kind of depends on what you're shooting and how much light you have. Most people would struggle to see the difference. –  John Cavan Jul 3 '13 at 12:50
    
I know :) and those extra two bits might not even provide any useable information if the picture is not perfectly exposed and shooting with high ISO... –  fortran Jul 3 '13 at 13:16
    
The measured difference in DR is largest at lower ISO. See the measurements->dynamic range tab at dxomark.com/index.php/Cameras/Compare-Camera-Sensors/… –  Michael Clark Jul 3 '13 at 14:34
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According to DxO Mark, the two cameras in your question have slightly different resolutions and pixel pitches which would indicate two different sensors. The K 01 has a 4936X3272 sensor with a 4.8µm pixel pitch, while the K-5 has a 4928X3264 pixel sensor with a 4.81µm pixel pitch. This gives the K 01 16.15MP compared to the K-5's resolution of 16.08MP. The measured ISO sensitivities are also slightly different at each ISO measured. But the significant difference between the two is that the K 01 converts the signal from each sensel to a 12-bit digital value, while the K-5 converts to a 14-bit value. Of course the increased dynamic range theoretically possible with the wider bit-depth depends on processing algorithms to convert it to an 8-bit jpeg, whether that is done so in-camera or on a computer during post processing. In reality, most of the smoother gradients possible with 14-bit vs. 12-bit are lost when converting to jpeg.

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Wiki led me astray... Should have checked the DxO details. :) –  John Cavan Jul 3 '13 at 14:46
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