My PERSONAL take on the Oly RAW files.

Started Feb 16, 2012 | Discussions thread
liquidsquid
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DR and bit depth
In reply to Louis_Dobson, Feb 17, 2012

Louis,

Lets not forget that many of these small camera systems are storing RAW images as 12 bits, and each bit represents a single stop (2x gain) per color per pixel. If you are hoping for the dramatic ability of 3 stops of pull in shadows while maintaining highlights that means you are essentially reducing your bit range to 9 bits That would be if the sensor and A/D converter actually produced 12 usable bits of image data during a capture, which it doesn't. I am not sure of what the usable range actually is on these cams, but likely around 10-11 bits, which means a 3-stop pull gets you in the 7-8bit per pixel range. Toy camera range.

It just isn't realistic to expect a consumer-level camera to give this performance away and compete with high-end systems. You are simply going to have to pitch the buck on something with more capability and stop being "cheap" and wish for that magical non-existent large format performance in a small cam.

When it comes to landscapes on a single image and huge DR capabilities, you really need a camera with more than a 12 bit signal path, like the Pentax which has another 2 bits to work with I believe, something like 14 bits. Probably the smallest cam you can get with magical DR.

The NEX is better than our m4/3 as far as IQ of the sensor goes since the sensor achieves pretty close to the optimum 12 bits (does it have greater conversion depth?), but that does not mean that pulling 3 stops in shadows gains you any meaningful data, it just prevents noise from being as visible since you start with less noise in the lower-order bits you are dragging up. You can likely accomplish something very similar by clipping shadows and running some strong filtering on them before you pull 3 stops on u4/3 as well.

You are starting to drive me nuts on this whole thing as you clearly have some really high expectations on consumer equipment. It is like assuming a Dodge Neon can outrace a Corvette. Keep buying Neons and you will keep getting Neon performance, but don't complain about Dodge because they are making the Neon.

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