JPEG, low ISO sensitivities

The highest I'd use in good light for JPEGs is ISO 800; even at low ISO sensitivities the shadow areas show a little too much noise reduction, but the brighter areas look fine.

(These may look slightly underexposed, but that's a result of the default color settings, which increase contrast and saturation too much.)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

JPEG, high ISO sensitivities

While it can squeak by for ISO 3200, past that it's pretty unusable.
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 100 JPEG

Pentax's processing seems to result in slightly soft photos -- the raw version of this looks a little sharper.

(1/80 sec, f4.5, ISO 100, AWB, spot metering, 18-55mm lens at 42.5mm)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 200 JPEG

Generally, the photos are acceptably sharp, if not great.

(1/80 sec, f9, ISO 200, AWB, spot metering, 18-55mm lens at 55mm)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 400 JPEG

At ISO 400, photos still look good, with no excessive noise reduction.

(1/100 sec, f2.8, ISO 400, AWB, spot metering, 18-55mm lens at 40mm)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 800 JPEG

At ISO 800, it still handles edges pretty well. Color noise in the raw files stays relatively fine-grained until you hit ISO 1600.

(1/30 sec, f4.5, ISO 800, AWB, spot metering, 40mm f2.8 lens)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

Colors, Natural vs. default (Bright)

Pentax's default color settings -- dubbed Custom Image -- result in the most severe hue shifts and clipped shadows I've ever seen. This really becomes a problem when shooting in low light.

(1/80 sec, f4.5, ISO 100, AWB, multisegment metering, 40mm f2.8 lens)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 1600, Bright vs. Natural colors

In bright illumination you can usually get away with boosting the contrast and saturation of the colors, but in low light it results in a lot of lost shadow detail and odd color shifts.

(1/40 sec, f2.8, ISO 1600, AWB, spot metering, 40mm f2.8 lens)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 1600 JPEG

Although you can see the artifacts, which include noise-reduction effects and jaggies on high-contrast edges -- JPEG images without fine details can still be usable at ISO 1600.

(1/125 sec, f4.5, ISO 1600, AWB, spot metering, 40mm f2.8 lens)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 1600 raw vs. JPEG

While the trade-off is some graininess, you can recover some detail by shooting raw at the higher ISO sensitivities.

(1/125 sec, f4.5, ISO 1600, AWB, spot metering, 40mm f2.8 lens)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

Colors

As long as you're not looking for accuracy, the colors on the default settings will likely look pleasing to you.
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:
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