DP2m banding: New unit much better than old

Started Aug 21, 2012 | Discussions thread
Andrew Hodgkinson
Forum MemberPosts: 86
Re: DP2m banding: New unit much better than old
In reply to balchinian, Aug 22, 2012

balchinian wrote:

I can see that there's still significant banding in your new camera.

It's obvious in the above images as it's being pushed that way, but yes, even in some ISO 100 shots, if you start trying to balance fill light up against negative exposure compensation to get a more HDR-like effect, or just to try and pull back some highlights without hitting the shadows too hard, then banding becomes visible pretty quickly.

What do you think of that?

The new camera is more recoverable than the previous one; I would just have to resign myself to a small amount of noise reduction.

Have you asked Sigma about it?

No; what would they say? It's a known documented problem in the SD1m and the DP2m, seems to have been around 'forever' with this sensor, so it looks like a hardware issue. It's one more compromise.

Will you be keeping your new camera, or will you try to trade it in again until you get one that doesn't do banding?

Wouldn't trade it in again no. I'm tempted to keep it because there's nothing else like it around. I picked up a Sony RX100 out of curiosity while the DP2m was away; the two compliment each other I guess. The RX100 has to be exposed for highlights while a Foveon camera's better exposed for shadows.

Raw files from the RX100 can be processed down to 50% their original size without sharpening (in essence, a Foveon like process of combining a 2x2 array of RGB pixels into one full colour result, subject to the behaviour of the selected demosaicing algorithm). The outcome is very similar to the DP2*s* (and similar resolution); the lens isn't so good, but it can zoom and is wider at the wide end, so more versatile. Sometimes images I took were a bit more detailed with the DP2s, other times the RX100 won (it should do, with 20MP across 3 colours available, c.f. about 15MP for the DP2s across 3 layers).

However: The 50% size nice-and-sharp output from the RX100 is much smaller than the DP2*m* output, obviously. There's still noise in the RX100, although it's more random - no banding - and seems cleaner at ISO 100, but the shadows pick up noise quickly; they don't lose colour, but do get messy in the details. So you don't blow the highlights, but you do get much more grain in the shadows. Compromises again. Very nice range of functionality in a tiny body though and very good battery life.

So again, apples & oranges... Still on the fence; there is AFAICS no other camera on the market at any price which can produce the same quality, size and clarity of image as the DP2s with good light. Is it worth the compromises? Gaaaah

One thing's for sure, it does feel really nice to use and is quick, really, even against the RX100; it's just the autofocus that is slow and less reliable (the Sony's autofocus seems to be made of magic pixies and unicorns - it's extremely fast and seems to be able to focus on just about anything).

If the DP2m just had one of its flaws sorted, that'd tip the balance - less banding, or better battery life, or better shadow colour rendition, or better low light performance, or whatever...

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