Z6 Banding

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Jan 19, 2019
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So, I've currently got a Z6 sat in my basket ready for me to feed it my credit card details. But I thought I'd read all I can first and check out a few more raws. I downloaded the following image (in raw) from the DPReview article where the Z6 is reviewed. It's shot at ISO 100 and shows the outside slightly overexposed and the inside of the hangar in deep shadow. So, not unlike something that might be encountered in a landscape shot.

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So, I thought I'd do a bit of a single-shot HDR treatment on it. Here it is after PP. Shadows +100, Exp +1.5 stops, HIghlights -70.:

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And here is a crop from the top right :

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As you can see, the banding is quite obvious. Now I know that exp +1.5 and shodows +100 is a bit extreme, but OTOH I have had recourse to this sort of pushing before with some landscape shots. This is a good example, taken with the E-M1 (mark i) where its LE noise really does show badly (53s exposure):

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Big Rocks, Small Rocks by Paul Kaye, on Flickr


I know all cameras have limitations, but I'm surprised at the Z6 doing this, esp since the A7iii seems immune to it and they are both very similar cameras in terms of the sensor, PDAF etc. Now I'm dithering...

As another comparison, I dug out a shot I took a couple of weeks ago with my E-M1ii. ISO 200. I pushed it exactly the same - exp +1.5, shadows +100, highlights -70. Here's the before, after and the crop. Pas mal huh?

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Does anyone else have any experience with banding on the Z6. Has it actually caused issues with landscape shots in the real world?
 
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I'm not going to lie, the way you've processed the airplane hangar shot, it looks really, really bad. Is that how you would actually process that image for display? Throw up a picture of the histogram, and I bet that you're just pushing everything right to the middle. There's no contrast in the image what-so-ever, and looks like a typical "HDR" image from somebody that just bought their first camera. I actually like the original image, where the shadows help accentuate the subject of the image.

If that's how you shoot and edit landscape images, then by all means avoid the Z6 and Z7. But for normal photographs, I find the Z6 to be perfectly adequate. Not once have I encountered banding in any of my edited RAW images in the ~2-3 months I've owned it.

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I don’t think you can make an accurate comparison without shooting the exact same scene with two cameras and processing them both the same way. I would compare the Z6 with a D750 in this way.
 
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Also, If you're pushing the shadows by +100, and still putting +1.5 EV of exposure on the image, it means that it was simply too under exposed to begin with, and there was more headroom in the highlights. In that case, dial in +1 or +1.3 EC in-camera so that you're not having to push the shadows as much. Plus, banding aside, the shows in the hangar look terrible, with plenty of chroma noise present. I would never push the shadows that far.

You get much better highlight recovery with the FF sensor than you do with m43, so you can be more liberal when it comes to ETTR.

If you're considering purchasing a Z6, I would rent one for a week or weekend to see if it'll meet your needs and how you shoot & process your images.
 
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@ijm5012 - thanks for the images you posted and your thoughts. You're right about how I've processed the image. The result isn't something that I like aesthetically, but just something to test. I agree that the original is better. The histogram before and after are below:

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It is indeed bunched up in the middle, as you'd expect given the flat rendering.

@acnomad & @Pa - yes, I do know that I'm pixel peeking and I know it's not healthy for me! I also know that true scientific testing needs to be a lot more rigourous than this quick and dirty comparison. It is as it is.

In the final analysis I guess the banding is probably something that would be unlikely to bother me in the real world. If I do a treatment on the shot that's more sympathetic and add a little NR then the banding very nearly completely disappears:

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ijm5012 - thanks for the images you posted and your thoughts. You're right about how I've processed the image. The result isn't something that I like aesthetically, but just something to test. I agree that the original is better.
Does the banding exist with the cameras when you do an extreme push of the shadows? Yes, it does.

Have I encountered it yet in the months of shooting with the camera? No, I haven't.

It all comes down to how you exposed the image at the time of taking the picture. As I said earlier, there is a lot more headroom with the RAW files out of the Z6 than there are out of a m43 camera, so don't be as afraid to ETTR, because you can pull a lot of that back in post. The best way to know if its worth making the switch is to put the camera through its paces how you intend to use it. Only then will you know if its worth it to make the change.

For me, and how/what I shoot, it was and I don't regret it for a second. The Z6 is a very nice camera that I enjoy shooting with.
 
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There is a RAW processor out there that had a remove banding option on our that handles this. It is due to the way that the phase detect pixels are handled.

I've tested this for myself and was not able to get the banding to occur... Then again, it is not always consistent from one scene to the next.

I find that extreme processing is very rare for me so not an issue. It may be an issue if you process too the extreme a lot.
 
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I don't know why anyone would shoot that under exposed to begin with? That's what boosting the EV comp is for, and it's super easy to make a gradient mask to overlay two images in Photoshop. I do it all the time with the exact same image. Takes me a few seconds!
 
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There is a RAW processor out there that had a remove banding option on our that handles this. It is due to the way that the phase detect pixels are handled.

I've tested this for myself and was not able to get the banding to occur... Then again, it is not always consistent from one scene to the next.

I find that extreme processing is very rare for me so not an issue. It may be an issue if you process too the extreme a lot.
I think it's RawTherapee that deals with the banding. I'll try it on this image... more to follow...
 
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Yep - rawtherapee fixes it :). It's a filter they call the "line filter". The shadow fill and exposure comp processing are different in their result compared to LR and it seems the default processing is somewhat better at dealing with the banding, but it's still there before the filter and gone afterwards.

Preprocessing - RawPedia

Before
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After
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Actually - the latest rawtherapee is rather good. Much better than the last time I tried it - probably 4 years ago. I reckon I could probably live without Lightroom if I had to. It seems pretty snappy too.
 
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I'm still trying to remember the last time that I purposely looked at the corners of an image.....
Banding doesn't happen only in the corners, it happens all over the image.

The question you need to ask yourself is, when's the last time you shot an image and pushed the shadows +100, and then pushed the overall exposure by an additional +1.5 EV?
 
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