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Archive 2012 · D800: 12-bit RAW vs. 14-bit RAW
  
 
slrl0ver
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p.1 #1 · D800: 12-bit RAW vs. 14-bit RAW


This is a request for those with D800s:

Can you provide some low-ISO and high-ISO 12-bit RAWs along with same scene shot with 14-bit? Since D800 has no 'sRAW' 12-bit lossy RAW is (for now) as good as it gets for smaller 'RAW' files so I wanted to see how good or bad it might be.

Thanks,
slrl0ver



Mar 30, 2012 at 08:00 AM
Kittyk
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p.1 #2 · D800: 12-bit RAW vs. 14-bit RAW


camera is about 3000$, memory cards are cheap, storage (even after flood) is cheap.

if you shoot 12bit raw, and even lossy compressed, you are giving up some percents of image quality (more if you expose it wrong). you lose some dynamic in shadows, about half stop of over exposure and underexposure headroom. is it worth it?

here is ultimate sraw solution: if you shoot that much that it is a problem, shoot less, because obviously you are throwing away too much



Mar 30, 2012 at 08:33 AM
ChrisDM
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p.1 #3 · D800: 12-bit RAW vs. 14-bit RAW


Kittyk wrote:
here is ultimate sraw solution: if you shoot that much that it is a problem, shoot less, because obviously you are throwing away too much


Best comment on the subject I've ever heard!

But to the OP, here is an article on the subject, although I have also read some disagreements with it so don't take this as gospel yet:

http://francoismalan.com/2011/10/raw-12bit-or-14bit-lossy-or-lossless/



Mar 30, 2012 at 10:29 AM
Creative Edge
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p.1 #4 · D800: 12-bit RAW vs. 14-bit RAW


Kittyk wrote:
here is ultimate sraw solution: if you shoot that much that it is a problem, shoot less, because obviously you are throwing away too much


love this, words to live by



Mar 30, 2012 at 11:21 AM
sjms
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p.1 #5 · D800: 12-bit RAW vs. 14-bit RAW


you purchased the wrong camera to start thinking about size and shortcuts. nothing like being prepared for what you wan/need to do.

Edited on Mar 30, 2012 at 08:36 PM · View previous versions



Mar 30, 2012 at 11:49 AM
slrl0ver
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p.1 #6 · D800: 12-bit RAW vs. 14-bit RAW


With all do respect, I think the question isn't unreasonable to ask -- given the number of views, I think others are interested too! It sounds to me like people are saying the D800 is a Ferrari, and if you buy a Ferrari don't ask what it's like on a drive to a grocery store it should only be at redline on the Autobahn.

I counter with the point the D800 isn't like a Ferrari and I might not need 36MP for every shot but because the camera doesn't have a downsampled 'RAW' mode, the best I can hope for is 12-bit lossy, or JPEG. With my 5DMK2 I found sRAW and mRAW to be quite useful -- I don't really need a 21MP shot of an item I'm going to put on Craig's List, but having RAW means I have a bit more latitude if I get the exposure wrong. And I like using my SLR for these types of shots because I can get what I want quickly compared to using a P&S.

There are plenty of features in modern cameras we don't 'need' from a purist view (auto-ISO?) but if you have them and use it, it certainly makes life easier in a variety of situations.

- slrl0ver



Mar 30, 2012 at 07:21 PM
sjms
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p.1 #7 · D800: 12-bit RAW vs. 14-bit RAW


its like driving any other car to the store, only you waste more gas.

you learn as you go, you play with it until you find your sweetspot that you find acceptable.

auto iso is quite usable in various situations as news gathering and sports. anywhere where you can and will get great variations in light level.

you need to get involved with it yourself and shoot shoot shoot. play the variables.



Mar 30, 2012 at 08:41 PM
James Markus
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p.1 #8 · D800: 12-bit RAW vs. 14-bit RAW


I think you need to do a search on the difference in 12 bit versus 14 bit color. I know this isn't going to be received well, but it is impossible for you or anyone else to see the difference. People claim they can, but in the almost five years I've followed this topic no one has yet demonstrated a single credible shred of evidence of properly exposed files at both bit depths showing any difference at all.


Mar 30, 2012 at 09:21 PM
slrl0ver
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p.1 #9 · D800: 12-bit RAW vs. 14-bit RAW


Thanks all for the responses.

sjms: I don't own the camera yet, and I'm hesitant to plonk down $3K until a few my qualms are addressed, which is why I asked in the first place. Storage and processing power, while getting cheaper, aren't 'free'. I've just gone through the process of building a new NAS and new computer, but they MIGHT be underspec'd for full-time 36MP shooting. Buying bigger hard-drives isn't a panacea, drives with larger capacities have a MUCH higher correlation with failures. I work in consumer electronics design and my products ship in 10-'s of millions of units/yr, so my datapoints are quite solid.

I think people want reviews and test shots precisely because taking a leap of faith on this kind of stuff can be expensive, otherwise we could just buy equipment sight unseen, untested, unreviewed and do it all ourselves! Why even bother with reviews of anything? It should all be perfect, right?

- slrl0ver



Mar 30, 2012 at 09:41 PM
sjms
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p.1 #10 · D800: 12-bit RAW vs. 14-bit RAW


$3k on this thing is the biggest bargain out there. i wasted more money on Canon when i used it then i ever on Nikon to date. i also shoot with a 40MP Hassy when i am required (not mine but they are my shots). i find no particular issue or difference in processing on the same machines i do my 12MP stuff on. it just takes a few more seconds in the long run and storagewise yes the raw images are larger. but its easily adapted to. you make like the world just remade itself because of this toy. you are making much ado about nothing. i use a simple Drobo S and i'm old school so a learned to shoot what i need and not spray and pray. in all this i still manage to eek out somewhat of a living between 2 jobs.

i too may get one possibly in october as my archiving work for the NPS may lead to it. nothing else will really change though.



Mar 30, 2012 at 09:53 PM
 

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locomacdaddy
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p.1 #11 · D800: 12-bit RAW vs. 14-bit RAW


Also, don't forget if your output is print- I thought that the printed page can't take advantage of the extra info. Correct me if I'm off on this. One of the experiments I never got around to was:

shooting same (somewhat controlled) scene at 12 and 14 bits, process identical and print at approx. 16x24" to see if there is any visible difference. Has anyone seen any data like this?

I still always shoot 14bit raw and process to allow the most flexibility in post, but not sure in print what it means.



Mar 30, 2012 at 10:01 PM
afm901
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p.1 #12 · D800: 12-bit RAW vs. 14-bit RAW


He is the best discussion I have seen on the topic:

http://www.earthboundlight.com/phototips/nikon-d300-d3-14-bit-versus-12-bit.html

Scott



Mar 30, 2012 at 10:41 PM
mshi
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p.1 #13 · D800: 12-bit RAW vs. 14-bit RAW


I wish D800 had 16-bit raw but I do understand those who want to use just 8-bit.


Mar 30, 2012 at 10:44 PM
afm901
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p.1 #14 · D800: 12-bit RAW vs. 14-bit RAW


locomacdaddy wrote:
Also, don't forget if your output is print- I thought that the printed page can't take advantage of the extra info. Correct me if I'm off on this. One of the experiments I never got around to was:

shooting same (somewhat controlled) scene at 12 and 14 bits, process identical and print at approx. 16x24" to see if there is any visible difference. Has anyone seen any data like this?

I still always shoot 14bit raw and process to allow the most flexibility in post, but not sure in print what it means.



Keep in mind that just because you can't see an obvious difference in any specific detail in the print, it doesn't mean there isn't a tonal difference in the image.

Scott



Mar 30, 2012 at 10:46 PM
taob
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p.1 #15 · D800: 12-bit RAW vs. 14-bit RAW


Kittyk wrote:
if you shoot 12bit raw, and even lossy compressed, you are giving up some percents of image quality (more if you expose it wrong). you lose some dynamic in shadows, about half stop of over exposure and underexposure headroom. is it worth it?

IMHO, yes. I've been studying the differences between the different NEF compression options with the D800, just as I've done with the D700 and D300 before it. To keep a long story short, the reasons people bring up for shooting 14-bit lossless (smoother tonal gradations, better highlight recovery, more shadow detail) are true in a mathematical sense. However, unless you consistently underexpose your images by 4 stops or more, or overexpose by 2 stops or more, there is no practical difference. Your skies are not smoother (even after extreme adjustments), your shadows aren't any less blocked up, and you don't magically get an extra stop or more of latitude.

However, my average 14-bit lossless NEF is around 45 MB. My average 12-bit lossy NEF is around 30 MB. I just bought four 16GB CF cards and a 64GB SD card as backup. The difference in capacity is 1400 images vs 2100 images. That difference carries forward to card transfer times, file backup times, disk storage requirements, etc. Yes, disk space is cheap, but it ain't free. A 50% increase in storage efficiency is nothing to sniff at, especially when there is virtually no trade-off in terms of image quality or processing power.

I can post sample images if anyone is really curious.



Apr 04, 2012 at 04:46 AM
lou f
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p.1 #16 · D800: 12-bit RAW vs. 14-bit RAW


my imac is 2009 and it handles big 40mp 14 bit raw files just fine. what the big deal with big files?

check by thom, he covered this today.



Apr 04, 2012 at 04:19 PM
taob
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p.1 #17 · D800: 12-bit RAW vs. 14-bit RAW


lou f wrote:
my imac is 2009 and it handles big 40mp 14 bit raw files just fine. what the big deal with big files?

It all depends on your patience and performance thresholds. My 2007 2.4-GHz Q6600-based desktop with 8GB of RAM handled 200MB NEFs (90-megapixel, 16-bit, 4000 dpi 6x6 scans from a CoolScan 9000ED) well enough. Things were obviously slower than with the 10MB 12-megapixel NEFs from my D700, but certainly not 1/20th the speed as the file sizes might suggest.

I upgraded to a Core i7-2600K last Black Friday, and recently added a USB 3.0 reader. I'm getting between 3-4x the throughput downloading images from the D800, which more than makes up for the increase in file size. So it all balances out.



Apr 06, 2012 at 12:56 PM
slrl0ver
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p.1 #18 · D800: 12-bit RAW vs. 14-bit RAW


Hi taob,

I would love to see some samples, and/or crops comparing 12-bit vs 14-bit. The testing by FM member Dave has shown us that processing needs (and storage) are very linear with MP count, but that was all done with 14-bit.

- slrl0ver



Apr 08, 2012 at 10:11 PM
taob
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p.1 #19 · D800: 12-bit RAW vs. 14-bit RAW


slrl0ver wrote:
I would love to see some samples, and/or crops comparing 12-bit vs 14-bit.


Let me first start off by saying yes, there is a difference between 12-bit vs. 14-bit, and lossy vs. lossless. No question there, since the file sizes suggest this quite clearly. The real question (to be made individually by each photographer) is whether those differences are relevant to their shooting style.

Okay, with that out of the way, let me start with some simple examples. Here are 9 crops at 100% from the D800 at ISO 6400. To make things easier, I've only used the extreme raw compression settings: either 12-bit lossy (about a 35MB NEF) or 14-bit lossless (about a 50MB NEF). Click on the thumbnail to download the full-resolution file:







Can you see any differences? Are you able to tell which images are shot at what settings? This is the point many people have made in the past: there is a mathematical difference between the various compression options, but you are not going to notice 99.9% of the time. I figure I'll use this as a starting point, then move on to situations that do show the differences.



Apr 08, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Mark_L
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p.1 #20 · D800: 12-bit RAW vs. 14-bit RAW


I guess the (visible) difference may be in working the files hard in post like pulling out shadow detail or big contrast increases.


Apr 08, 2012 at 10:57 PM
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