Banding tryout - DS & DL

Started Oct 22, 2005 | Discussions
wlachan
wlachan Veteran Member • Posts: 6,759
Banding tryout - DS & DL

Just back from the Future Shop and was able to do a brief test with DS & DL on banding. Both were put through the raw continue shooting mode ISO 1600/3200. The brief results I got indicated the DS demo has the same amount of banding as my own DS under the same circumstance, particular worst at the 5th shot as expected. The surprising part is, none of the DL raw files (15 total) have any visible banding. The files look so smooth. Both with firmware 1.00. So it seems the issue was acknowledged and fixed on the DL (and DS2 as well I suspect). I wonder if such improvement could be made by firmware (I am not optimistic though).

Other minor differences included smoother mirror/shutter sound, and sensitivity correction from 400-3200 (1600/3200 only for DS). There were some other features hidden in the menu but I don't remember now. Did I say the 2.5" LCD is sweet?
--
http://www.pbase.com/wlachan/

wlachan
OP wlachan Veteran Member • Posts: 6,759
Re: Banding tryout - DS & DL

I just remember, another feature is AF-S & AF-C in the menu. There is also one more option in the "OK btn when shooting", but I didn't pay attention to what it does.
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http://www.pbase.com/wlachan/

dotnik Veteran Member • Posts: 5,565
DL underrated even by many Pentax users

wlachan wrote:

I just remember, another feature is AF-S & AF-C in the menu. There
is also one more option in the "OK btn when shooting", but I didn't
pay attention to what it does.

I am not surprised.

I also compared these two models carefully before purchase and I decided to buy the DL. It made a more homogenic and "finished" impression IMO.

Pentaprism, many AF-points and more frames during continous shooting are great features but none of them has a big impact on imagequality.

I shot about 100 frames with each camera and everyone in the local shop were suprised to see that the images from the DL appeared to be more consistant looking.

After a while we came to the conclusion that the R & D of every company is not shut down when a camera is released and so when Pentax decided to make the DL they did not have to start all over again but they could build on the experience they had with the DS.

Pentax knew they had to introduce a cheaper version of DS but now they could concentrate on removing the most expensive parts that did not have a direct impact on imagequality while the R & D continued to improve the hardware- and firmwareparts that remained.

I could see that the VF of the DS is in a league of its own and many Pentax users see the pentamirror as a major step backwards. However compared to the competition I had the opportunity to compare with (Canon 350D and Nikon D50) and the VF of the DL is very close to them.

Before the test my plan was to buy the DS with the kit lens but instead I bought the DL with the Pentax DA 16 - 45 mm f/4 lens and that combo is much better than the competition. If you want the Canon 350D or the Nikon D50 with a better allround zoom than the kit lens you will have to pay at least $200 - $300 more.

.......
Have a nice day (a picture says more than 1000 words)
Jim

reflux Regular Member • Posts: 285
Re: Banding tryout - DS & DL

Thanks alot for this information. I will do some more tests on my own and if Pentax ever releases the DS2 in Scandinavia I will try out our consumer laws in Sweden regarding replacements of products with construction/design flaws that the customer hasn't been informed of at the time of the purchase.

Canuck Photo New Member • Posts: 22
Re: DL underrated even by many Pentax users

One would hope firmware improvements are also released to DS owners. The camera is just a computer with an optical input device... and we all know that computer software is never fault free out of the gate.

Jonas B Forum Pro • Posts: 14,596
Re: Banding tryout - DS & DL

I'll support you. The banding issue is... watch my language now... not good!

Jonas
--
Notebook. No photographer should be without one!
Ansel Adams

reflux Regular Member • Posts: 285
Re: DL underrated even by many Pentax users

True, if the noise occurs due to data beeing written to card while the CCD captures its data, it might be as easy as just pausing the write operation while the shutter is open.

dotnik Veteran Member • Posts: 5,565
Re: DL underrated even by many Pentax users

reflux wrote:

True, if the noise occurs due to data beeing written to card while
the CCD captures its data, it might be as easy as just pausing the
write operation while the shutter is open.

I am not an expert but could the fact that Pentax with the DL has reduced the possible number of frames in continous shooting be the simple reason?

-- hide signature --

.......
Have a nice day (a picture says more than 1000 words)
Jim

reflux Regular Member • Posts: 285
Re: My banding test [12 IMGs]

Well, I just tried my camera and Idon't need continious mode for banding to occur, I just shoot while the camera is flushing its buffer to the memory card. Check this out.

I used my DS (latest FW) with a 512MB Lexar 32x SD-card, Lithium Energizer cells, my A 135/1.8 fully open, ISO 1600, underexposed one full stop, JPEG.

I handheld the camera and took a series of shots, one per second (approximately!) in Av mode. Unfortunately I didn't lock the exposure, but even so... All shots apart from the first one were taken WHILE the SD-activity LED índicated writing activity.

I've resized all the images since the banding still was very apparent.

The results:

First image, no banding.

Second image, no real banding.

Third image, horrible banding.

Fourth image, no banding.

Fifth image, no banding.

Sixth - tweltht image, banding in ALL pictures!

It's ALWAYS the same type of banding pattern. First one area of dense, smaller bands, then a fat band further down, if the first bands are high up enough for the lower band to be "captured" in the image.

I also tried a series of shots where I let the camera finish the writing before I took the next photo. No banding. Then I went back to shoot while writing and I got the banding back, slowed down again and no banding. Tried both LCD on and off. Same results.

Ok, normally you probably don't underexpose your shots like this, but still, since the banding only is present when shooting while writing the buffer to the SD-card, it's definitely a problem with the firmware/hardware and it should be fixed. You might think it won't affect you, but I can guarantee you that when you get that almost perfect action photo and then realize it has this kind of banding, just because your subject couldn't wait for the camera to finish flushing, you'll be far from happy.

Also, this was with JPEGs, RAWs would take 4 times longer to write to the card thus render the camera useless for atleast 4 seconds after you fire your first shot if you're unlucky. Tried that too and well, same banding ofcourse.

sigh

I'm tired of this Maybe I should give up concert photography and only take ISO 200 pictures in full daylight?

Pipe Smoker Regular Member • Posts: 232
Re: My banding test [12 IMGs]

reflux wrote:

it's definitely a problem with
the firmware/hardware and it should be fixed.

Do you think your automobile needs fixing when you drive 100 MPH and don't get the same gas mileage as at 45 MPH? Not the car's fault... you are the one whose foot is on the gas pedal and must accept the consequences if your choice exceeds the car's design limits :^)

-- hide signature --

reflux Regular Member • Posts: 285
Re: My banding test [12 IMGs]

It's a tool. It captures images. Even at ISO 1600 in bad light, according to Pentax. Some of the images come out bad due to a design flaw (or something). That flaw/feature is apparently fixed in the newer versions of the camera (DL and perhaps DS2?) which is based on the same hardware platform. Unless this is something unique to my camera, then yeah, I think it's up to Pentax to either repair or replace my tool.

If you don't have a problem with it, fine, I have. It's not about measurbating, I get otherwise good concert shots ruined due to this and instead end up wasting HOURS on fixing them in Photoshop before they can be published.

Jonas B Forum Pro • Posts: 14,596
ISO200 example here

Too much smoking Mr Pipe...

If the camera is specified to x pictures a second I think the buyer should be able to shoot those pictures without having them ruined by the camera itself.
When I bought my DS there was no information about banding. That's it.
I think we should be able to discuss the problem, eh?

Here is for you that are not in denial, and at the same time have a good enough monitor:

Above: *ist DS, ISO200, 100%crop, raw, ACR3.2, no sharpening performed - the only PP applied is white balancing.

The picture shows some minor banding at 100%. You should be able to see it pretty easy in the dark area to the right. If you have seen banding before you should be able to see it in the red area as well. this is not any sever banding. The picture is useable (and in fact showed in this forum before as a portrait picture. Here: http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1036&message=15517036 This is, in other words, not a test picture, or provoced by the user, but a real life example.)

Showing this example is more for the discussion. To me it seems as banding always is present, but for most of the time masked by texture or light. Then it sometimes get real obtrusive like in some of the pictures reflux showed above. Or is my example showing something else?

Jonas

Pipe Smoker wrote:

-snip-
Do you think your automobile needs fixing when you drive 100 MPH
and don't get the same gas mileage as at 45 MPH? Not the car's
fault... you are the one whose foot is on the gas pedal and must
accept the consequences if your choice exceeds the car's design
limits :^)

hcoley Senior Member • Posts: 1,213
Re: DL underrated even by many Pentax users

dotnik wrote:

reflux wrote:

True, if the noise occurs due to data beeing written to card while
the CCD captures its data, it might be as easy as just pausing the
write operation while the shutter is open.

I am not an expert but could the fact that Pentax with the DL has
reduced the possible number of frames in continous shooting be the
simple reason?

Maybe so. I don't get hardly any banding that I can see unless it's the 5th or more shot in a continuous shooting sequence on my DS. I didn't know about this problem until I read it here because I never use continuous mode at ISO 3200. I never see it in single shot mode.
Just an idea.

 hcoley's gear list:hcoley's gear list
Pentax K-01 Pentax K-50 Pentax smc FA 50mm F1.4 Pentax smc DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL Pentax smc DA 50-200mm F4-5.6 ED +16 more
reflux Regular Member • Posts: 285
Follow up for un-believers

And here's an example of a correctly exposured ISO 1600 picture, with banding, that was taken while the camera was dumping the internal memory to the SD card.

Sorry about the boring examples

Again, 6th picture in a sequence, each shot one second apart.

RGB channel:

You couldn't print that.

Blue channel, RGB histogram:

1st image in the same sequence, same exposure, NO banding:

Charming!

daniel.

Canuck Photo New Member • Posts: 22
Re: My banding test [12 IMGs]

What a bizare way of thinking...

A car being less fuel efficient at higher speeds is not the same as a camera distorting a photograph while used within specified limits ... that's more like a car designed to go 100 miles per hour having a wheel fall off at 95 mph.

Let's get back to some basic design principles. Quality products are designed to protect against out of spec usage... examples are speed governors on cars, temperature regulators, etc. If a camera can't take photos at a certain speed, its internal control program should slow down the recycle until it's ready.

Bottom line is this is a bug. And I strongly believe that ALL software errors and limitations that interfere with the designed and specified functionality should be corrected during the supported life of the product. The supported life is the period of time that Pentax is repairs and sell replacement parts for a camera model.

reflux Regular Member • Posts: 285
Re: Follow up for un-believers

Oh, just to clarify, I DON'T use continuous mode, just standard single shot mode that I fire once a second. Using RAW iy could have been every fifth second due to the extra data that has to be written before the camera is done.

wlachan
OP wlachan Veteran Member • Posts: 6,759
Re: DL underrated even by many Pentax users

dotnik wrote:

I am not an expert but could the fact that Pentax with the DL has
reduced the possible number of frames in continous shooting be the
simple reason?

I don't think that's the case. I have noticed basically all DS's 3200 shots (mine & the shop demo) have varies degree of banding noise, even those in single shooting mode. However, they are virtually invisible in practice unless gotton really serious. With the 15 shots I got from the DL demo, none have banding even though I tried to make the pictures look worse in Photoshop. The grain pattern is somehow smoother also. So I believe they either improved the noise reduction algorithm, or redesign the circuit/electronics to cut down the EMF. I don't think it's a temperature problem, but just my guess.
--
http://www.pbase.com/wlachan/

Kimnicho Senior Member • Posts: 2,329
Re: Banding tryout - DS & DL - Wired Mag

Wired Magazine just picked the "DL" as the "Best starter dSLR" and gave it is highest-rating of 5 stars (Rebel XT got 4.5)....sounds like you liked it as well !

wlachan
OP wlachan Veteran Member • Posts: 6,759
Re: My banding test [12 IMGs]

I can certainly understand the frustration especially those who use it professionally. After countless hours of searching and reading, I have yet to find the cause or solution, but one thing seems certain is this problem is not Pentax specific. Even highend Canon like 10D, 20D, 5D or 1D have similar issue. However, not all of them have problem, and some of them seems to be more serious, while some are perfectly fine. So it seems to be a manufacturing variance. The lucky ones got the perfect cameras, many not. There were firmware updated for 1D to cut down the banding but I have no idea on its effective. I suspect it's more than a software issue (more like internal EMF to me). Since I tested one DL only so my observation is by no mean conclusive. Maybe the problem existed on other DL too? I don't know. However, I think it's a good idea to have Pentax look at if still under warranty. Or better yet, send it directly to Pentax Japan Tokyo. If they can't fix it, nobody else can.
--
http://www.pbase.com/wlachan/

dotnik Veteran Member • Posts: 5,565
Re: Follow up for un-believers

reflux wrote:

Oh, just to clarify, I DON'T use continuous mode, just standard
single shot mode that I fire once a second. Using RAW iy could have
been every fifth second due to the extra data that has to be
written before the camera is done.

I have just made a series of ISO 1600 shots with the AF 360 FGZ flash and continous shooting trying to see how fast I could shoot with this flash.

I noticed that the "write" LED was lit before the camera had finished shooting the series and there is no banding whatsoever in any of the images (jpeg).

.......
Have a nice day (a picture says more than 1000 words)
Jim

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