The First DSLR With Built-in HDR

June 2nd, 2009

Last month Pentax announced the K7. The K7 is the first camera that has honest to goodness tone mapping built-in to it’s microcode. When you put it in HDR mode and click the shutter it shoots 3 to 5 exposures +/-2EV and then after about 10 seconds out pops a JPG that’s been tone mapped. I know  you’re thinking, “what about all the tone mapping sliders and subjective choices usually made during the tone mapping process?” You get two choices: Standard and Strong. And you can never get your hands on the three RAW files that when into the JPG that is created.

As you might imagine, this hands off approach to HDR is getting mixed reviews. Christian Bloch, author of the HDRI Handbook, argues for something a little “less smart” while Jack Howard, author of Practical HDRI, hails this as the “beginning of a new era”. Jack’s review has some example images.

Sure, the K7 is probably not the ultimate HDR machine. There are a many of things you can think of to make this approach to HDR better, but it’s an interesting and giant first step. You have to remember that this is a $1300 USD, 14.7 mega pixel camera with HD video. I think this is a pretty good start for in-camera tone mapping. It will be interesting to see more images from this camera and see what the acceptance will be.

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11 Responses to “The First DSLR With Built-in HDR”

  • I would say the first digital camera 🙂 There is more room in film.

    The recent nikons have Adaptive Dynamic Range to regain a little, too :

    But here I’m speaking of highlight detail, not tone mapping wich is a creative process.

  • Just great. I can now see a flood of poorly-made HDRs all over the internet. And DIY realtors just loving them.

  • Marc- Oui, vous avez raison! Merci.

  • Yeah I see what you mean…..I’ve had some crap camera’s that all the “good” camera shops recommened to me!

  • Remember the D90 when it came out with the first iteration of video. Less than stellar, but it opened the door. . .

    This is a fantastic effort from Pentax, irrespective of the results. The first real commercial recognition from one of the major brands. Give it a year and see how Canon and Nikon respond to this. . .Game on guys! I for one, am excited! 🙂

  • we can send a man to the moon… but can’t figure out how to make the sensor in the digi camera see a wider dynamic range of light…..

  • wow great info!!!

  • I don’t think Canon and Nikon will be responding to this new feature for long time. Pentax barely make any impact in the market for Canon and Nikon to be any concerned.

  • Karl said

    “we can send a man to the moon… but can’t figure out how to make the sensor in the digi camera see a wider dynamic range of light…..

    Fuji have been doing it for some time, S3 and S5 Pro had very wide DR, only now equaled by Nikon’s DX3

  • I shoot real estate on a part time basis and have been using the Pentax K7 with a 12-24mm lens. The HDR1 setting has reduced my post processing times as I no longer have to merge photos manually. If you’d care to view a sample slide show where 80% of the images were taken at this setting, using flash, go here:
    While not perfect (and what camera is) The K7 does a very nice job.

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