Fri 10-Dec-10 11:37 AM | edited Fri 10-Dec-10 11:38 AM by Mike in FL
For those who are shooting 14 bit files with your D700, what made you decide to go with the larger files? Have you done comparisons of 12 bit and 14 bit outputs? If so, did you compare images on your computer, or in print? Thanks!
I shoot exclusively 14-bit for a couple reasons. First, I rarely need high-speed shooting, so I see not need to speed up my camera by going 12-bit. Second, I have read in many places that, with heavy manipulation, 14-bit RAW files can stand a lot more before artifacting starts becoming visible. The way I see it, the more resilient I can make my files, the better.
Now, with that said, I am not the type to make test shots and compare. I don't have the time for that. I'd rather be out shooting, making pictures, than stuck in front of my computer.
Either way you go, the D700 makes some outstanding images when properly exposed. Unless you are a Photoshop junkie, I doubt you will see a significant difference. But you never know.
Initially it is a simple reason. More data = good. And as raw processors improve the ability to get more from that extra precision increases. As far as visible things... I can see it in shadow areas and when I need to bring data back in post processing.
Do 14 bit images look vastly superior to me? They don't. However, I use 14 bit exclusively as long as I have plenty of CF cards available. To me, the lost storage space is a reasonable price to pay for the possibility of increasing an image's appearance.
In the past, I became sorely miffed when some slide scans became severely posterized. Was it actually a bit depth issue? I really don't know and don't care. But as long as the D700 has a 14 bit option, I'll use it.
But I won't use TIFF just because it gives a bigger file size!
I have done some comparisons and could not see any difference whatsoever between 12bit and 14bit NEF files. Also, I'm dealing with analog to digital conversions in my line of work and I know that the last few bits are largely meaningless and just represent noise.
All this said, I still have my camera set to 14 bit. There is no meaningful downside for me, and even if the extra bits might not help, they sure are not going to hurt image quality.
I am a 14-bitter for the future. I am sure better software is on the way that will get better results from 14 bit images. Thirty years ago I programmed the latest computer processors that became obsolete? No, now they are used in Christmas cards!
12 bit is 2,000 shades or red, and of blue and of green. 14 bit is 8,000 shades of each colour. For highest quality work, especially if manipulating after capture the extra shades can be an advantage. What is worth noting is best quality in an images is unlikely to be seen on the web - because a narrow colour gamut sRGB 8 bit (256 shades of each colour) jpeg file is what is usually posted.
Photography is a bit like archery. A technically better camera, lens or arrow may not hit the target as often as it could if the photographer or archer does not practice enough.
When I decided to shoot exclusively in RAW, I decided to stick with the highest possible quality in terms of what the camera can record, and that meant 14-bit. As others have noted, it's the number of effective colours (depth) that it preserves in the file. While I don't do much post-processing, it's nice to know that the file has the detail if it is required. I can't really see much savings in shooting 12-bit. It might record a bit faster or something, but if you're interested in shooting RAW, go with 14-bit and lossless-compressed.
I believe that input information on any digital imaging should retain as much information as possible including scanning and photographing. Then later on, you can adjust files for a particular function.
So I use 14 bit RAW and adobe RGB on my D700. Then it converted to Pro Photo RGB in PS and LR.
Even if you know your shots are going to be required Jpeg, you never know if you would like to print (needs higher IQ) or to adjust your client's unexpected requests which need higher IQ. Again I believe it is a better practice to retain input information in highest possible stage.
So you're suggesting "Tiff RGB," as it says in the menu? Does does photoshop work with that or does ACR? Interesting. You're suggesting I try it. If anyone even answers, it would naturally stay light on the subject since this a d700 list, not a software list. I never had even dreamed of TIFF. I had thought simply uncompressed, lossless Raw was best. For me, speed and space are not issues I worry over.
I use 14 bit for reasons mentioned above regarding more colour being available. I can't say I've seen a difference, but then I've never looked for it. The only two downsides I can think of are larger file size and a bit smaller buffer when shooting continuous (the shooting frame rate does not slow down).
Neither of these are generally an issue for me. I might go down to 12 bit if running out of CF card space or if I want to fit a few more frames into the buffer when shooting high speed continuous.
I have to agree with what most people here have said. I notice no difference whatsoever between the 12 and 14 when posting to websites or doing small prints. However, I have noticed differences when post-processing and then printing large prints. As primarily a pro landscape/nature photographer, speed is not as important as fine tuning for large prints for my clients. Even with wildlife, I am not one to lean on the shutter release and squeeze off images so quickly the buffer gets filled. So, it's 14-bit for me!
Wow! Thank you so much for such a generous compliment. I'm humbled.
Feel free to ask questions, either here or through my blog. There are some terrific and knowledgeable photographers in Nikonians and with such a diversity of opinion, you're sure to get a good education on any topic.
I too would like to add my compliments re your images. They are indeed very beautiful. Well done my fellow Nikonian. I am privileged to have seen the very best in photography and you rank up there. Have a great holiday.
I previously used a D200 and only had access to 12 bit RAW images. Now with the D700 I can use 14 bit RAW images. In processing I haven't really noticed a big difference though the D700 can also produce images at a much higher ISO than the D200 can so I will leave the 14 bit selected for now.