SD1 DPm banding??

Started Sep 3, 2012 | Discussions thread
Andrew Hodgkinson
Forum MemberPosts: 86
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Re: (Differs from SD-1 to DP-2M) Not really
In reply to maceoQ, Sep 4, 2012

I swapped a DP2m for a replacement because of excessive banding. The replacement is better - banding is more even / less contrasty / "grouped".

(NB - if you're happy with out of camera JPEGs, these are generally far less banded because there's a crude in-camera noise reduction algorithm that hides it almost completely; unfortunately it produces obvious reduction artefacts in the image too, but that should only really be visible at 100% for people intending to use the images digitally rather than as prints).

I find that shadow desaturation and noise issues with the Merrill sensor are more severe than its predecessor, so tend to shoot at around +0.7 EV - i.e. expose for the shadows. This is proving to be a very effective technique given the near-magical highlight recovery of the sensor, but it means you end up balancing negative exposure against positive fill light to draw up shadow detail and push away blown highlights. You get a very Foveon-esque, natural, but HDR-ish style result.

However - at much above +0.3 fill light, depending on the image, banding will be present and you will need to crank up noise reduction to push it away (note that by default SPP always applies medium luma and chroma reduction and, at ISO 100 or 200, this seems to be sufficient to hide banding in all but extreme cases, but it does also hide real detail).

If you have a clever package that can specifically handle patterned noise like that, you'd be best off using it and keeping the SPP luma noise reduction to a minimum. Chroma reduction, though, is best done in SPP - it does a good job of hiding Foveon "patches", seems far better at such low frequency noise than e.g. NeatImage Pro. Beware the strongest chroma reduction setting though, it does something really weird with image contrast and seems to spoil images when used (it is particularly horrific if the image is of a person as it does really bad things to natural shadows in faces/bodies). Full luma reduction is also rather odd, showing a sudden and quite dramatic full image softening compared to the next setting down.

Basically the key to the DP2m is understanding the sensor's many limits, shooting accordingly and getting to know your processing software. You wouldn't buy an expensive Leica film camera, get a roll of film from Poundland and get the result processed into prints at your local high street Chemists, would you? So, this being the digital age, SPP is your first port of call for "developing" your images. I run through everything there, export as 16-bit TIFFs with a decent overall balance, then do the final tweaks in Aperture (though often SPP's original output will be pretty good by itself).

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