EX Z1080 RAW Mode- Directions, Processing, Impressions, Samples

Started Dec 8, 2010 | Discussions
madmaxmedia Senior Member • Posts: 1,609
EX Z1080 RAW Mode- Directions, Processing, Impressions, Samples

Hi all,

I finally was able to get RAW mode working with the EX Z1080, and able to edit the files on a PC. The instructions are similar to other Casio models, but not exactly the same. Until I figured this out, I was wearing out my fingers trying to execute the button presses fast enough. Turns out its not that hard, when you actually know the right buttons to press!

So first directions on how to access service menu on the Z1080, then info on the Able RAWer program to process the RAW files, then some general impressions from my quick testing thus far.

-- hide signature --

1. SHOOTING RAW
Here are the exact instructions for the Z1080:
(thanks to luhrm, JohnKid, and others)

Hold UP + BS (the Bestshot Button) while turn camera on.
Now you get the white screen with black version nummer.
As soon as you see the white screen, quickly press "Down, Down, BS, Menu"
The service menu menu appears , select 2 :USB TCC Test then select 1:
Quickly press "Right, Right, Set" this will activate more menu choices

Select 7: Image Test ,Then select 1: Bayer Mode , Set it ON by press Left or Right then press Menu until back to normal screen

The camera will now save RAW+JPEG with every shot. The RAW write time is a pleasant surprise, I counted under 5 seconds writing to a SD card. RAW files are about 15MB each, so the write time is excellent IMO given it is an older camera never intended to shoot RAW.

When you turn the camera off and the back on again, you will be back in the extended service menu, and need to select Bayer Mode again if you want to shoot RAW. Otherwise just hit the Menu button, and the camera will start up normally and shoot JPEG only.

You can stop service menu by select 2: USB TC (haven't tested this myself yet.)

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2. PROCESSING RAW

You can use the freeware program Able RAWer to open Z1080 RAW files, and save as JPEG:

http://graphicregion.com/ablerawer.htm

The program is pretty easy to use. There is also a batch image editor (Able Batch Converter) that can run batch jobs on the RAW files, that program is shareware but seems like a good value ($35) if you shoot a lot of RAW. I guess DCRAW is another potential option, but I did not try it with my Z1080 files.

When you first open RAW files in Able RAWer, the images have very little contrast and white balance is off (I suspect the WB info is not being written by the camera, or its not being read correctly by Able RAWer.) There is an option in Able RAWer for 'Use Auto WB' that seems to do a good general job with color. I didn't mess with the other options due to my workflow.

I save the image(s) as JPEG, and then I do my main processing with Adobe Camera RAW (ACR- part of Elements, Photoshop, Bridge, etc.) Adobe apps won't open the Casio RAW, but the nice thing about ACR is that you can do non-destructive editing of JPEGS, just like they were RAW files.) The program saves your edits, but does not permanently apply them to the JPEG files. So you can tweak, save a version, then come back and re-tweak later.

I will post impressions and samples in a reply to this message.

 madmaxmedia's gear list:madmaxmedia's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 Panasonic Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.4 Panasonic Lumix G X Vario PZ 45-175mm F4.0-5.6 ASPH OIS
OP madmaxmedia Senior Member • Posts: 1,609
Directions

Here are the exact instructions for the Z1080:
(thanks to luhrm, JohnKid, and others)

Hold UP + BS (the Bestshot Button) while turn camera on.
Now you get the white screen with black version nummer.
As soon as you see the white screen, quickly press "Down, Down, BS, Menu"
The service menu menu appears , select 2 :USB TCC Test then select 1:
Quickly press "Right, Right, Set" this will activate more menu choices

Select 7: Image Test ,Then select 1: Bayer Mode , Set it ON by press Left or Right then press Menu until back to normal screen

The camera will now save RAW+JPEG with every shot. The RAW write time is a pleasant surprise, I counted under 5 seconds writing to a SD card.

When you turn the camera off and the back on again, you will be back in the extended service menu, and need to select Bayer Mode again if you want to shoot RAW.

You can stop service menu by select 2: USB TC (haven't tested this myself yet.)

 madmaxmedia's gear list:madmaxmedia's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 Panasonic Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.4 Panasonic Lumix G X Vario PZ 45-175mm F4.0-5.6 ASPH OIS
OP madmaxmedia Senior Member • Posts: 1,609
Processing RAW files with Able RAWer

You can use the freeware program Able RAWer to open Z1080 RAW files, and save as JPEG:

http://graphicregion.com/ablerawer.htm

The program is pretty easy to use. There is also a batch image editor (Able Batch Converter) that can run batch jobs on the RAW files, that program is shareware but seems like a good value ($35) if you shoot RAW.

When you first open files, the images have very little contrast and white balance is off (I suspect the WB info is not being written by the camera, or its not being read correctly by Able RAWer.) There is an option in Able RAWer for 'Use Auto WB' that seems to do a good general job with color. I didn't mess with the other options due to my workflow.

Save the image(s) as JPEG, and then I adjust with Adobe Camera RAW (or ACR, part of Elements, Photoshop, Bridge, etc.) Adobe apps won't open the Casio RAW, but the nice thing about ACR is that you can do non-destructive editing of JPEGS, just like with RAW.) The program saves your edits, but does not permanently apply them to the JPEG files. So you can tweak, save a version, then come back and re-tweak later.

 madmaxmedia's gear list:madmaxmedia's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 Panasonic Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.4 Panasonic Lumix G X Vario PZ 45-175mm F4.0-5.6 ASPH OIS
OP madmaxmedia Senior Member • Posts: 1,609
Results and Impressions

I originally picked the Z1080 as a cheap compact digital (we have a Rebel for the general family camera) because it had a relatively large 1/1.8" sensor (I believe the same sensor as the esteemed Kodak C875), good video quality, pretty fast AF, and pretty good handling overall (starts at f/2.8, and the interface is actually very well done!) The results at higher ISO were more or less acceptable, the big problem was excessive noise reduction resulting in that smeary digital look (actually, this even happens at low ISO.) I eventually sold it, but always had some hopes for RAW shooting based on the sensor. I read some recent threads here about RAW success, and bought another Z1080 in great condition for $60 on EBay. So how are the results?

I personally could not be more pleased! One of my favorite all-time cameras is the Ricoh GR Digital (the original), mainly for the subtle JPEG processing and minimal noise reduction that is done by the camera. JPEGs from the camera are noisier than others, but it's a very fine grain effect that is much more pleasing to my eye than excessive NR causing smear and loss of detail. On top of that, most consumer digicams then crank up sharpening which further destroys the image, whereas images from the GRD look a lot more like scanned film. It's not that I want my digital photos to necessarily look 'analog', I just really hate the overprocessed look of most cameras and prefer looking at high ISO film images than high ISO digicam images.

Well, RAW files (after adjusting color and curves) from the Z1080 remind me of the GRD. Images look much sharper and 'real', and this is noticeable even at base ISO (and I thought base ISO image quality was limited by the lens!) With RAW, ISO 1600 is COMPLETELY usable for me. There is of course chroma noise, but chroma noise is the type of noise that is easily removable on a computer WITHOUT adversely affecting other image characteristics. ISO 1600 images from the Z1080 look more or less like ISO 800 images from the GRD. The noise pattern is not quite as uniform and fine as the GRD, but IMO is completely unobjectionable even at 100% viewing- that is saying a lot for ISO 1600 on a 3-4 year old budget digicam! It would also seem to bode well for prints, I expect B&W ISO 1600 will look excellent in fact.

One other note- besides chroma noise reduction, the other thing that can be applied to every image (as with all RAW images) is a bit of sharpening. I actually didn't have to do too much for good results.

So basically I am going to happily shoot RAW on this camera full-time, and figure out a workflow to automate the RAW conversions, probably with a good general preset to adjust levels/contrast, and moderately sharpen and reduce chroma noise. I'm probably going to just chuck the original 15MB RAW files. The original Casio JPEGs are about 2.5MB, the RAW-> JPEG conversions are actually smaller at around 1.2MB (80% quality, of course you can go higher.)

I will post some quick and dirty samples in a reply to this thread.

 madmaxmedia's gear list:madmaxmedia's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 Panasonic Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.4 Panasonic Lumix G X Vario PZ 45-175mm F4.0-5.6 ASPH OIS
OP madmaxmedia Senior Member • Posts: 1,609
Samples

Here are some quick and dirty comparison samples. One set is at ISO 400, the other is at ISO 1600. Please note I did only quick adjustments to the RAW, the main point is to show the different in image detail and processing characteristics.

For the RAW, I applied minor chroma noise reduction and zero luminance noise reduction. You could apply luminance noise reduction to higher ISO on your computer, and it will definitely look better than the Casio JPEG. I also applied minor sharpening (Amount 25, Radius 1.)

I'm sure with more tweaking the RAW would look better and perhaps get more detail. With the samples I posted, the actual difference in discernible detail is not that great, but that wasn't my primary goal-general subjective image quality is. I'm sure if I set up a better test subject I could come to more conclusions, but these results are all I need to know to make RAW worthwile for me.

1080

 madmaxmedia's gear list:madmaxmedia's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 Panasonic Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.4 Panasonic Lumix G X Vario PZ 45-175mm F4.0-5.6 ASPH OIS
gDoubleYa Regular Member • Posts: 151
Thanks for the info Max

I also have the 1080 but was never able to access the menu so I'll try your suggestion. The sensor is actually 1/1.75 with a 25 MP/cm² pixel density.
Excellent camera for the cheap.
--
Gw -Don't mind the noise in the market...jus' remember the PRICE of the fish!

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dgsjsj Regular Member • Posts: 206
Re: Samples

Excellent idea and a brilliant embodiment.

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Sony Alpha NEX-C3 Sony a6000 Sony E 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS Sigma 30mm F2.8 EX DN +10 more
OP madmaxmedia Senior Member • Posts: 1,609
Hiccup with color

I'm having problems with the converted output from Able RAWer as well as a couple of other programs that were able to open the Z1080 RAW file. The images come out really yellow, and it is hard to color correct. I think the problem is more than just white balance or something like that, I think the program doesn't really know how to handle the Z1080 RAW information.

I noticed that Able RAWer correctly converts Z750 RAW images, so I have emailed the Able RAWer developer to see if I could send him a Z1080 RAW file to look at.

I tried using color sliders in Adobe to come up with some settings that worked, but haven't had any success getting good general color output so far. Whereas the Z750 RAW conversion looked fine completely default (and is thus ready for any final tweaking.)

 madmaxmedia's gear list:madmaxmedia's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 Panasonic Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.4 Panasonic Lumix G X Vario PZ 45-175mm F4.0-5.6 ASPH OIS
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