12 vs 14 bits raw files

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plumberdp69 Regular Member • Posts: 360
12 vs 14 bits raw files
1

Saw some web articles on the pros and cons of using 12 vs 14 bits raw. Higher data resolution in 14 bits but its usefulness is limited by what human eyes can see (in theory).

Appreciate feedback from Z users on your choice of 12 or 14 bits and why.

Use 14 bits to be on the safe side despite the larger file size?

Thanks.

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Aleks Che
Aleks Che Regular Member • Posts: 132
Re: 12 vs 14 bits raw files
1

plumberdp69 wrote:

Saw some web articles on the pros and cons of using 12 vs 14 bits raw. Higher data resolution in 14 bits but its usefulness is limited by what human eyes can see (in theory).

Appreciate feedback from Z users on your choice of 12 or 14 bits and why.

Use 14 bits to be on the safe side despite the larger file size?

Thanks.

With complex post-processing of a 14-bit file, there is much less chance of getting various artifacts, such as pasteurization.

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Andrew Ellis
Andrew Ellis Contributing Member • Posts: 930
Re: 12 vs 14 bits raw files
9

Haha, Alexs, don't you mean "posterization", as pasteurization is the process of sterilizing a liquid at high temperatures

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kenw
kenw Veteran Member • Posts: 6,323
Only matters at low ISOs
4

The difference is only in heavily pushed shadows at lower ISOs. If you aren’t pushing shadows by three or four stops at lower ISOs you can’t tell a difference even when pixel peeping. Opinions vary but careful tests I’ve seen appear to show that by ISO 200 on a Z7 and ISO 400 on a Z6 it is very hard to see any difference even in pushed shadows.  By something like ISO 1600 the difference is not only not visible but can’t even be measured.

That said since the file size difference is not great I just always shoot in 14 bit. But I don’t do sports and action and for such a photographer even modest gains in buffer depth going to 12 bit may be very worthwhile.

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Ken W
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Mako2011
MOD Mako2011 Forum Pro • Posts: 27,100
Only...
4

plumberdp69 wrote:

Saw some web articles on the pros and cons of using 12 vs 14 bits raw. Higher data resolution in 14 bits but its usefulness is limited by what human eyes can see (in theory).

Appreciate feedback from Z users on your choice of 12 or 14 bits and why.

Use 14 bits to be on the safe side despite the larger file size?

Thanks.

Only time you will notice any practical difference shooting 12 vs 14 bit is when pixel peeping really deep in shots where highlight detail (and sometimes ...even rarer... in deep shadow detail) can show the difference. Exposures where this is the case will be pretty rare. Even then, the difference will be hard to notice even when printing large.

So unless you are trying to capture extremes of highlight detail that require solid processing to bring it to the final image. 99.99% of the time 12-bit is the way to go......but there are rare scenarios were 14-bit does have an practical IQ advantage. Trick is taking advantage of it in those rare cases.  Needs a well processed workflow

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Aleks Che
Aleks Che Regular Member • Posts: 132
Re: 12 vs 14 bits raw files
6

Andrew Ellis wrote:

Haha, Alexs, don't you mean "posterization", as pasteurization is the process of sterilizing a liquid at high temperatures

of course you are right. the fact is that I used Google's auto-translator (I speak Russian myself). Google will be confused ...

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Mako2011
MOD Mako2011 Forum Pro • Posts: 27,100
highlights
1

kenw wrote:

The difference is only in heavily pushed shadows at lower ISOs.

The difference is actually more noticeable (when it is noticeable) with regard to highlight tones the can be captured in 14-bit but not 12.  Even more rare to see the dif with shadow detail tones

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beatboxa Veteran Member • Posts: 7,501
Re: 12 vs 14 bits raw files
7

plumberdp69 wrote:

Saw some web articles on the pros and cons of using 12 vs 14 bits raw. Higher data resolution in 14 bits but its usefulness is limited by what human eyes can see (in theory).

Appreciate feedback from Z users on your choice of 12 or 14 bits and why.

Use 14 bits to be on the safe side despite the larger file size?

Thanks.

Use 14-bit if you are shooting at base ISO (64 or 100), such as in the case of landscapes.

Use 12-bit if you are shooting sports / wildlife / action at ISO 400 or above.  It can help with EVF lag, framerate (fps), buffer, size, etc., though perhaps not as much as one would want since the raws are lossless compressed.

In practice, there is almost no IQ difference between the two, except for a very slight difference in tonality at the very extremes shadows & highlights that are usually invisible unless you heavily push or pull at ISO 100.  And given the amount you have to push/pull, chances are these shadows or highlights are already less than ideal anyway.

If you want to just use one and never think of it again, lean toward what you shoot more of.  If shooting sports/wildlife/action more, use 12-bit.  If landscapes, portraits, etc., use 14-bit.  Again, won't make a significant difference either way.

Stan Disbrow Veteran Member • Posts: 4,815
Re: 12 vs 14 bits raw files
1

Hi,

Yes. Yes, it will. I knew what you meant, and figured Auto something changed it. Still, good for a laugh.

Besides, I really don't want my image data heated up like that!

Stan

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herrMartin
herrMartin New Member • Posts: 3
unpopular opinion

just from my experience with interior, fashion, advertising shoots, no landscape(!).

If you need the massive dynamic range from the Nikon sensors since the d800 there is something wrong in your scene and 99% of the times the photo will look, artificial, tacky or somehow wrong. To get a professional commercial look be careful with your scene contrast. you can fix everything in post — but I don't mean it will sell. 
With Portraiture, fashion, people — if you have to use the range your photo will suck. Unless you are aiming for a particular, look. But most of the time it will look unprofessional, amateurish.  But I also have to admit, it is so nice to have... in this sense it is a pitfall.

kenw
kenw Veteran Member • Posts: 6,323
Re: highlights
3

Mako2011 wrote:

kenw wrote:

The difference is only in heavily pushed shadows at lower ISOs.

The difference is actually more noticeable (when it is noticeable) with regard to highlight tones the can be captured in 14-bit but not 12. Even more rare to see the dif with shadow detail tones

Do you have an example or reference for this? I have never seen anyone ever claim this, Google produces no results and it defies the fundamentals of quantization and shot noise. But if there is something peculiar about Nikon that would be good to know. And it is certainly possible for *lossy* compression schemes.

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Bernard Waxman Senior Member • Posts: 1,622
Re: highlights
4

Mako2011 wrote:

kenw wrote:

The difference is only in heavily pushed shadows at lower ISOs.

The difference is actually more noticeable (when it is noticeable) with regard to highlight tones the can be captured in 14-bit but not 12. Even more rare to see the dif with shadow detail tones

Actually your claim makes no sense.  Areas of highlights and anything above the mid-tones  use a majority of the bits and the lower bits have no noticeable effect.   I would be interested in you being able to give an explanation or examples to justify your claim.

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bmwI

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Mako2011
MOD Mako2011 Forum Pro • Posts: 27,100
Noticable...?

kenw wrote:

Mako2011 wrote:

kenw wrote:

The difference is only in heavily pushed shadows at lower ISOs.

The difference is actually more noticeable (when it is noticeable) with regard to highlight tones the can be captured in 14-bit but not 12. Even more rare to see the dif with shadow detail tones

Do you have an example or reference for this? I have never seen anyone ever claim this, Google produces no results and it defies the fundamentals of quantization and shot noise. But if there is something peculiar about Nikon that would be good to know. And it is certainly possible for *lossy* compression schemes.

Here's one I've used often:

14-bit compressed

12-bit compressed

The highlight tone differences in the overexposed bricks are more "noticeable" to my eye than tone differences in the shadows. Seems easier to lose detail from channel clipping at the highlight end.  Doesn't mean 14-bit can't aid in getting more detail at the other end...I just think it's more obvious at the high end when you compare apples to apples.    Might be that the color shift in shadow detail when lifting hard pops out more to folks ... vs actual detail captured

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Mako2011
MOD Mako2011 Forum Pro • Posts: 27,100
trick..

Bernard Waxman wrote:

Mako2011 wrote:

kenw wrote:

The difference is only in heavily pushed shadows at lower ISOs.

The difference is actually more noticeable (when it is noticeable) with regard to highlight tones the can be captured in 14-bit but not 12. Even more rare to see the dif with shadow detail tones

Actually your claim makes no sense. Areas of highlights and anything above the mid-tones use a majority of the bits and the lower bits have no noticeable effect. I would be interested in you being able to give an explanation or examples to justify your claim.

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/64583451

I think the trick is to find a scene where highlight detail at the edges is first a player.  A white wedding dress with lots of texture would be an example.  Then shoot/expose so that detail is right at the edge of clipping at 14-bit....then compare to same shot at 12-bit.

Then do the same for a shadow scene.  I submit that the practical dif will be more noticeable to the average viewer with the highlight detail comparison

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kenw
kenw Veteran Member • Posts: 6,323
Re: Noticable...?
3

Mako2011 wrote:

kenw wrote:

Mako2011 wrote:

kenw wrote:

The difference is only in heavily pushed shadows at lower ISOs.

The difference is actually more noticeable (when it is noticeable) with regard to highlight tones the can be captured in 14-bit but not 12. Even more rare to see the dif with shadow detail tones

Do you have an example or reference for this? I have never seen anyone ever claim this, Google produces no results and it defies the fundamentals of quantization and shot noise. But if there is something peculiar about Nikon that would be good to know. And it is certainly possible for *lossy* compression schemes.

Here's one I've used often:

14-bit compressed

12-bit compressed

The highlight tone differences in the overexposed bricks are more "noticeable" to my eye than tone differences in the shadows. Seems easier to lose detail from channel clipping at the highlight end. Doesn't mean 14-bit can't aid in getting more detail at the other end...I just think it's more obvious at the high end when you compare apples to apples. Might be that the color shift in shadow detail when lifting hard pops out more to folks ... vs actual detail captured

Thanks for clarifying!

To be clear those images are from:

https://www.diyphotography.net/12bit-vs-14bit-raw-and-compressed-vs-uncompressed-does-it-matter/

And they are specifically for lossy compressed RAWs.

For lossless compressed RAWs there is no highlight difference between 12 and 14 bit.

So that's an important distinction for the OP.

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Mako2011
MOD Mako2011 Forum Pro • Posts: 27,100
Re: Noticable...?

kenw wrote:

Mako2011 wrote:

kenw wrote:

Mako2011 wrote:

kenw wrote:

The difference is only in heavily pushed shadows at lower ISOs.

The difference is actually more noticeable (when it is noticeable) with regard to highlight tones the can be captured in 14-bit but not 12. Even more rare to see the dif with shadow detail tones

Do you have an example or reference for this? I have never seen anyone ever claim this, Google produces no results and it defies the fundamentals of quantization and shot noise. But if there is something peculiar about Nikon that would be good to know. And it is certainly possible for *lossy* compression schemes.

Here's one I've used often:

14-bit compressed

12-bit compressed

The highlight tone differences in the overexposed bricks are more "noticeable" to my eye than tone differences in the shadows. Seems easier to lose detail from channel clipping at the highlight end. Doesn't mean 14-bit can't aid in getting more detail at the other end...I just think it's more obvious at the high end when you compare apples to apples. Might be that the color shift in shadow detail when lifting hard pops out more to folks ... vs actual detail captured

Thanks for clarifying!

To be clear those images are from:

https://www.diyphotography.net/12bit-vs-14bit-raw-and-compressed-vs-uncompressed-does-it-matter/

And they are specifically for lossy compressed RAWs.

Yes...he also compared uncompressed if memory serves. Dif is simmilar

For lossless compressed RAWs there is no highlight difference between 12 and 14 bit.

I'm not so sure. Uncompressed 14 vs 12

I'm still seeing a dif in detail captured .....  but again not enough to drive me to 14bit from 12

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FuhTeng
FuhTeng Senior Member • Posts: 1,278
Re: 12 vs 14 bits raw files
1

plumberdp69 wrote:

Saw some web articles on the pros and cons of using 12 vs 14 bits raw. Higher data resolution in 14 bits but its usefulness is limited by what human eyes can see (in theory).

Appreciate feedback from Z users on your choice of 12 or 14 bits and why.

Use 14 bits to be on the safe side despite the larger file size?

Thanks.

I'm happy - this thread is both fun (pasteurization!) and informative. Sadly a rare combination on this site.

Anyway - I never bother with 14 bit for anything unless I'm at base (or very close to base) ISO, as other's have said. Both my Z6 and D850 are setup with one of the banks for landscape photography where it's in aperture-priority, at base ISO (100 or 64 respectively), 14-bit.

This is a great summary too - https://photographylife.com/14-bit-vs-12-bit-raw

And further, Thom Hogan recommends the same of 12 bit over ISO 400.

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OP plumberdp69 Regular Member • Posts: 360
Re: 12 vs 14 bits raw files

Many thanks to all for your inputs.

Will try out 12 vs 14 bits at base ISO and higher and see where is the cut-off ISO for me. Maybe close to what has been mentioned here.

Pardon me for my knowledge. Correct in thinking at base ISO, the electronic amplification is not high enough at the expense of not capturing the actual and full tonality of the image? And thus 14 bits can help in recovering more later?

Thanks.

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beatboxa Veteran Member • Posts: 7,501
Re: 12 vs 14 bits raw files

plumberdp69 wrote:

Many thanks to all for your inputs.

Will try out 12 vs 14 bits at base ISO and higher and see where is the cut-off ISO for me. Maybe close to what has been mentioned here.

Pardon me for my knowledge. Correct in thinking at base ISO, the electronic amplification is not high enough at the expense of not capturing the actual and full tonality of the image? And thus 14 bits can help in recovering more later?

Thanks.

I don't think that i understand this question. At base ISO, the camera has potential to capture the full tonality & range it is capable of. At 14-bit, a given range will have maximum tonality. At 12-bit the camera will retain the same range, but could have less tonality.  All of these assume lossless compressed or uncompressed.  Compression obviously changes many things when it comes to tonality & range.

When you move up from base ISO, for example 200, you are in essence clipping 1 stop out of the top. So you have the same tonality, but less range (a maximum half as much). In other words, you cannot expose as much. So by ISO 400, you have the same range & tonality at 12-bit and 14-bit for a given ADC.

This is true until you get to ISO 800--the second distinct ISO. Here, it will have more tonality than a simple software boost; but less than ISO 100, because again: the exposure range potential here is only 1/8th as much. Therefore, the practical tonality will be less than ISO 100 (if exposure at ISO100 is 8x as much). But again, because it is much less than the maximum tonality & range at ISO 100, 12-bit should likely be sufficient and indistinguishable from 14-bit here (and above) as well.

So 14-bit is really only practically different--and even then barely so--at ISO 100 & 200 on a Z6.

OP plumberdp69 Regular Member • Posts: 360
Re: 12 vs 14 bits raw files

beatboxa wrote:

I don't think that i understand this question. At base ISO, the camera has potential to capture the full tonality & range it is capable of. At 14-bit, a given range will have maximum tonality. At 12-bit the camera will retain the same range, but could have less tonality. All of these assume lossless compressed or uncompressed. Compression obviously changes many things when it comes to tonality & range.

When you move up from base ISO, for example 200, you are in essence clipping 1 stop out of the top. So you have the same tonality, but less range (a maximum half as much). In other words, you cannot expose as much. So by ISO 400, you have the same range & tonality at 12-bit and 14-bit for a given ADC.

This is true until you get to ISO 800--the second distinct ISO. Here, it will have more tonality than a simple software boost; but less than ISO 100, because again: the exposure range potential here is only 1/8th as much. Therefore, the practical tonality will be less than ISO 100 (if exposure at ISO100 is 8x as much). But again, because it is much less than the maximum tonality & range at ISO 100, 12-bit should likely be sufficient and indistinguishable from 14-bit here (and above) as well.

So 14-bit is really only practically different--and even then barely so--at ISO 100 & 200 on a Z6.

Noted and many thanks!

I was adding 1 + 2 and got 12! Ha. What are my 1 and 2?

1 - electronic ISO is via changing the signal amplification. High amplification leads to electronic noise (=noise in the image). I thought at base ISO, there is no or very little amplification.

2 - Because of no or little signal amplification, 14 bits then will give better data resolution, better image quality than 12 bits.

Guess my line of thought is irrational. Thanks for your clarification.

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