Pixel binning on the SD1

Started Jul 29, 2011 | Discussions
gbainbridge
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Pixel binning on the SD1
Jul 29, 2011

I'm idly wondering whether anyone has tried that yet?

By my maths it should give images roughly the same size as the SD9/10, but be very good at low light/high ISO.

Anyone got any examples yet?
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yukoner2
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Re: Pixel binning on the SD1
In reply to gbainbridge, Jul 29, 2011

gbainbridge wrote:

I'm idly wondering whether anyone has tried that yet?

By my maths it should give images roughly the same size as the SD9/10, but be very good at low light/high ISO.

Anyone got any examples yet?
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Thanks,
Gary.

Gary, I'm having some difficulty finding information on what "pixel binning" is and how to go about using it. When I google it I get a lot of sites that simply use the term but nothing more.

Is there some software that does this?

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DMillier
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Re: Pixel binning on the SD1
In reply to yukoner2, Jul 29, 2011

Pixel binning is where photosites are averaged together to produce a pixel eg in the SD1, 4 photosites can be averaged to form 1 pixel. Advantage: lower noise, disadvantage: lower resolution.

Pixel binning is engaged by choosing the lowest resolution setting. I think it was done this way on the SD9/10 but not on the 14?

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SigmaChrome
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Re: Pixel binning on the SD1
In reply to DMillier, Jul 29, 2011

You can do binning on the SD14. In RAW mode, set resolution to MED or LOW.

More info here: http://www.foveon.com/article.php?a=71

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RKGoth
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Re: Pixel binning on the SD1
In reply to gbainbridge, Jul 29, 2011

gbainbridge wrote:

I'm idly wondering whether anyone has tried that yet?

By my maths it should give images roughly the same size as the SD9/10, but be very good at low light/high ISO.

Anyone got any examples yet?

I've done it for a noise test; from memory (I think I discarded the files, as I can't find them now) there was not a significant improvement in noise at higher ISO. I'll do some proper tests sometime.

FWIW the improvement in shot to shot speed is pretty handy though, and you still get a 3.6Mp x 3 file from it.

(Also I have a 63Mb (60.3 reported in SPP5) X3F file here. WOW. It's a shot of a mesh garden chair back viewing flowers though the sharp mesh. Not pretty, done for technical reasons)

For no reason, have a picture of a spider. 1/10th second at F10 with a 150mm OS Macro, this is a crop but not a resize. Forgot to turn off NR, too - it's a touch sharper in the cobwebs with it off (sharpness is -0.5).

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yukoner2
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Re: Pixel binning on the SD1
In reply to SigmaChrome, Jul 29, 2011

SigmaChrome wrote:

You can do binning on the SD14. In RAW mode, set resolution to MED or LOW.

So this is done in camera then? I'll have to give that a try.

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Erik Magnuson
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Re: Pixel binning on the SD1
In reply to yukoner2, Jul 29, 2011

yukoner2 wrote:

Gary, I'm having some difficulty finding information on what "pixel binning" is and how to go about using it.

Foveon called it VPS. It's supported on the SD9/10/14/1 by using MED or LO resolution in raw. It's actually a hardware feature of the sensor but the DPx and SD15 don't support it. (probably just not implemented in original TRUE chip.)

MED is 2x1 horizontal binning, that every two horizontal column pixels are combined but all of the rows are untouched. The result needs to be interpolated by SPP back to square pixels. Because of the 2x combining, the raw file is 1/2 the size (excluding compression)

LOW is 2x2 binning: a group of 4 pixels in a square are combined to form one larger pixel. Again, this is purely hardware, SPP just sees a smaller dimension file (e.g. 1/4 the size.)

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petr marek
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Re: Pixel binning on the SD1
In reply to Erik Magnuson, Jul 29, 2011

VPS technology, same as it´s video implementation was known since the first Foveon (I rember reading this page years ago http://www.foveon.com/article.php?a=71 ). But I´m not sure, if Sigma implemented this function. Reasons are two:

1) Sigma never presented this feature and never used full video capabilities of Foveon

2) The real advantage would be, that binned superpixels with square of the photodiodes area, are more sensitive and more persistent. So they would need lower energy (ISO settings) "to see" and perform wider dynamic range. Fujifilm experimented a lot with combined sizes of photodiodes and I can imagine if they had such possibility, they would shout it loud. I think that various RAW image sizes may not be result of really connected photodiodes before the capture, but after the light is captured by the normal pixel array.

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rick decker
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Re: Pixel binning on the SD1
In reply to gbainbridge, Jul 29, 2011

This shot and the next 3 are at ISO3200 - Low Res SD1, SD15, Hi Res/Downsized SD! and SD1 Hi res. Clearly the low res shot is the winner.

http://www.pbase.com/rickdecker/image/136431296

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tammons
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Re: Pixel binning on the SD1
In reply to gbainbridge, Jul 29, 2011

I was under the impression that pixel binning was built into the architecture of the image chip, IE use 4 adjacent sensors to create one pixel. In the case of Sigma that would be actually 12 sensors to create one pixel, but from what I understand that design is patented and not available to Sigma at this point.

I am sure it would be great if implemented into a Foveon chip.
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Erik Magnuson
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Re: Pixel binning on the SD1
In reply to petr marek, Jul 29, 2011

petr marek wrote:

But I´m not sure, if Sigma implemented this function.

Oh, it's implemented; you only have to look at X3F files from supported cameras to see how.

2) The real advantage would be, that binned superpixels with square of the photodiodes area, are more sensitive

Alas with the noise characteristics of current X3 implementations, the improvement is small vs. simply downsizing the image; the most anyone has claimed after testing is about 1 stop for LOW vs. HI downsized.

I think that various RAW image sizes may not be result of really connected photodiodes before the capture, but after the light is captured by the normal pixel array.

Line and pixel skipping would produce significant aliasing artifacts.

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RKGoth
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Re: Pixel binning on the SD1
In reply to tammons, Jul 29, 2011

tammons wrote:

I was under the impression that pixel binning was built into the architecture of the image chip, IE use 4 adjacent sensors to create one pixel. In the case of Sigma that would be actually 12 sensors to create one pixel, but from what I understand that design is patented and not available to Sigma at this point.

Um, it's part of the Foveon's architecture and always has been... so whilst I'm not saying that the patent issue you mention is wrong (never heard it before?), it's definitely part of what a Foveon chip can do, and how the camera achieves the low resolution mode I believe.

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petr marek
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Re: Pixel binning on the SD1
In reply to Erik Magnuson, Jul 29, 2011

Erik Magnuson wrote:

petr marek wrote:

But I´m not sure, if Sigma implemented this function.

Oh, it's implemented; you only have to look at X3F files from supported cameras to see how.

2) The real advantage would be, that binned superpixels with square of the photodiodes area, are more sensitive

Alas with the noise characteristics of current X3 implementations, the improvement is small vs. simply downsizing the image; the most anyone has claimed after testing is about 1 stop for LOW vs. HI downsized.

I think that various RAW image sizes may not be result of really connected photodiodes before the capture, but after the light is captured by the normal pixel array.

Line and pixel skipping would produce significant aliasing artifacts.

I don´t mean pixel skipping. I mean 4 connected pixels (photodiodes surfaces), which woul lead to reduced resolution, but higher natural dynamic range (flexibility). The difference should be huge, if well implemented, like compact cameras photodiodes vs full frame camera photodiodes (both with same res).

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Erik Magnuson
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Re: Pixel binning on the SD1
In reply to petr marek, Jul 29, 2011

petr marek wrote:

I don´t mean pixel skipping. I mean 4 connected pixels (photodiodes surfaces), which woul lead to reduced resolution, but higher natural dynamic range (flexibility).

That's what VPS is claimed to be.

The difference should be huge, like compact cameras photodiodes vs full frame camera photodiodes (with same res).

It's not nearly that simple. From a sensor designer:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1000&message=38717540

Smaller pixels typically have lower read noise. One reason large pixels look less noisy is that they cannot detect high-frequency shot noise (or high-frequency detail either.)

See here for a comparison between two sensors one with 50% more pixels.
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1018&message=30190836

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Erik Magnuson
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Re: Pixel binning on the SD1
In reply to tammons, Jul 29, 2011

tammons wrote:

In the case of Sigma that would be actually 12 sensors to create one pixel, but from what I understand that design is patented and not available to Sigma at this point.

The only thing that could be patented are particular electronics layouts to achieve this effect. Since X3 "pixels" are somewhat differently arranged than most, they may also use different methods for combining readouts.

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petr marek
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Re: Pixel binning on the SD1
In reply to Erik Magnuson, Jul 29, 2011

Thanks for links. It´s for sure not simple at all:) Maybe one day will make this feature Foveon cameras more competitive with top Bayer sensor cameras in low light conditions.

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rick decker
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Re: Pixel binning on the SD1
In reply to tammons, Jul 29, 2011

It would be interesting to know why the the buffer holds 14 shots at medium and at low resolution. You would think lowe res would be higher.

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richard stone
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Re: Pixel binning on the SD1
In reply to Erik Magnuson, Jul 29, 2011

There are several benefits from the binning, including a much higher speed of shot to shot performance and much lower use of memory.

As for better performance in low light, it works and it helps. One stop? That is conservative, in my view. You may lose fine detail, but then, is fine detail what we are looking for in high ISO shots? Do Bayer images at high ISO retain all the fine detail? Was the fine detail going to show up in the print anyway?

Just like downsizing? I generally wonder if anyone actually does that.

From a very personal perspective, the images from the low setting can look just excellent, and very smooth and clear. I know everyone on this forum, myself included, gets caught up by the detail and the look that can be captured by the Foveon sensor, but there's more to good and appealing images than that.

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tammons
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Re: Pixel binning on the SD1
In reply to rick decker, Jul 29, 2011

Never mind just read above......

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gbainbridge
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Re: Pixel binning on the SD1
In reply to yukoner2, Jul 30, 2011

Yes, Pixel binning is done in the camera at the time of taking the photo, rather than simply reducing the resolution later. With the SD9/10 and the SD14/15 it reduces the available pixel resolution too much to be really useful, but with the SD1 it may well be a useful technique.

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