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Should I be using 16-bits per channel?
Old 11-27-2005, 07:02 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Is this a dumb question? I can convert RAW to 16-bit per channel out of the 10D. Should I be using this for better image quality? Any know where I can get good information on the real differences?

Greg
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Re: Should I be using 16-bits per channel?
Old 11-27-2005, 09:40 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Tim Grey (www.timgrey.com) has written several pieces on this subject on his free newsletter. I am forwarding you one of those newsletters and hope it answers your questions. Check you e-mail.
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Re: Should I be using 16-bits per channel?
Old 11-27-2005, 10:06 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Some more folks would like to know also.
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Re: Should I be using 16-bits per channel?
Old 11-27-2005, 10:17 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Kevin Ames, in his excellent book "The art of Photographing Women", devotes the entire first chapter to this topic. I highly recommend it!

Mike
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Re: Should I be using 16-bits per channel?
Old 11-27-2005, 12:50 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Wow, I can't believe this one hasn't turned into a firestorm [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]

I'll toss in a couple of cents just for fun. If you convert the raw image from your 10D to both an 8bit and a 16bit file, you will see NO difference. BUT if you are anything like me, you will need to spend some time with those files in Photoshop....the 16bit file will give you more data points to manipulate....not a better image, just more data points. Where you may see a difference is after you have pulled and stretched and done all manner of adjustments to your image. At THAT point, the 16bit file will likely be superior....simply because photoshop has had more information to work with and has had to make fewer 'guesses' to fill in the holes.

OK, let's see if that stokes the fire any [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]



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Re: Should I be using 16-bits per channel?
Old 11-27-2005, 01:11 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Ray,

That is the best explanation I have ever heard. No Firestorm, just a thank-you for a clear and simple explanation without pages of details.

Calvin
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Re: Should I be using 16-bits per channel?
Old 11-27-2005, 03:57 PM   #7 (permalink)
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8 bits = 256 values for each colour
16 bits = 65535 values for each colour

What this basically translates to is that a 16 bit image will have a much larger dynamic range and you will have less clipping, especially in the highlight areas of an image. A quick way to see what I'm talking about is to save the same image as an 8 bit and a 16 bit image. Do a curves adjustment exactly the same on both. Then go check out the histogram.

Keep in mind though that Raw files are essentially 12 bit (12 bit having 4096 values). Since programmes offer editing either in 8 bit or 16 bit mode it is better to use 16 bit. 16 bit mode being able to accommodate 12 bit images makes it a better option.If you use 8 bit then you are essentially compressing 4096 values into 256 and thus you are downsampling and losing information, not to mention that you image can have clipping or blown out highlights.

Jpeg = 8 bit
Raw & Tiff = 16 bit
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Re: Should I be using 16-bits per channel?
Old 11-27-2005, 05:19 PM   #8 (permalink)
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You've already got good answers to the benefits of 16 bit vs 8 bit. But the question is not should you use 16 bit, but when should you use it?

First, when shooting RAW, you are naturally using a 16 bit (well really 12 bit) information set to do all of your manipulations that are possible in the RAW converter. If using CS2, for example, this would give the ability to even fine tune the Curves for the photo. So by the time you open it in Photoshop there may be little to do, if anything, that will benefit from 16bit mode. Since 16bit mode is much slower in PS, then it pays to think about where you want to go with the photo at the point your are ready to save out of RAW. Usually the only major thing I'll do is to do the sharpening of the image since I do multipass and selective sharpening. On many images 16bit won't make any difference for what I do, so I come in as 8 bit. I find that the majority of the images end up being edited in 8 bit and a few in 16bit. It seems to be a good workflow. But, to each his own!

Cheers,
rfs
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Re: Should I be using 16-bits per channel?
Old 11-30-2005, 07:01 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Great information! Thanks. It's about what I expected, but had never really thought about it. I tried my standard stuff in 16-bit and I see a difference. So, I'll probably use 16-bit for processing and then save final at 8 for space concerns.

Thanks again.

Greg
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Re: Should I be using 16-bits per channel?
Old 11-30-2005, 07:02 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I definitely see a difference in my stuff using 16-bit for processing. I'll probably keep doing that and save final in 8-bit for space.
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