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M240 banding?


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The M240 looks like a great new addition to the Leica heritage. No doubt it will be a big seller. But one thing that is holding me off for now is the rather obtrusive banding seen in some M240 samples. Some, but not all, samples from this camera looks like they were made on a poorly mantained inkjet printer. Long horizontal streaks cover the entire image. The M9 has banding in the shadows sometimes at higest ISO, but never this bad. As far as I know there is no good way to remove banding without also annihilating all details (if there is, please let me know!).

 

It was visible in Dr.Rohde's flower pictures, and its visible in Huff's black and white portrait:

http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/L1000097.jpg

 

So my questions to you, dear forum:

- Do you think this is a inherent artifact of the sensor? (IE will not be removed by firmware later)

- To those who actually have a M240: Which ISOs and which conditions does it become apparent?

- Anybody know why banding happens?

 

 

I am planning to get a new M camera during this year, and although it will mostly will be used for black and white shots, I cannot overlook the numerous advantages of the M240 over the MM.

I can live with one stop less ISO but I cannot live with banding.

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Anything over 3200 is marked as "push" which means there are quality concessions to be made.

On a side note, I understand your " numerous advantages" remark, but if you are a B&W photographer, the Monochrom has many advantages over the M as well, including less banding at high ISO.....;) (all sensors are prone to this when pushed, but some more so than others)

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the M as well, including less banding at high ISO.....;) (all sensors are prone to this when pushed, but some more so than others)

 

Could you elaborate more on this please? Which ISOs and conditions will the Monochrom produce banding? I was under the impression that banding was a result of bayer filtering, but this is really not a field of expertise for me.

 

Do you know of any good write-ups on the web about Monochroom banding?

 

thanks in advance

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No- I saw it on my own shots. Strongly underexposed areas at higher ISO will produce banding, extreme underexposure will produce tartan type artefacts.

Basically it has nothing to do with ISO settings, but with underexposure levels.

Edited by jaapv
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Hi There

All cameras are prone to this when pushing underexposed areas - applying noise reduction in chip can help - but has other less desirable effects. Leica seem to have trodden a middle path.

 

Incidentally - I've found ISO 6400 perfectly useable, as long as you make sure you don't underexpose.

 

all the best

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Hi There

Incidentally - I've found ISO 6400 perfectly useable, as long as you make sure you don't underexpose.

all the best

 

This is useful information. I shoot a lot indoors, and find that ISO 6400 is often needed if I want an exposure of 1/125 at 2.8. Also more often I would like to stop down.

 

The monochrom files continue to impress me with their "lifelike" rendering. I have been doing a lot of scans of my great grandfathers large format shots (from the 20s to 50s) and I get somewhat of the same feeling from looking at Monochrom shots than I do from these old master prints. Incredible sharpness and tonality without beeing too "clinical".

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My impression is that the M bands less than the M9, but I've not played with my images that much yet.

 

Banding is to do with the way data is read off the sensor (usually column or row at a time), not related to Bayer filter. The MM will band in the same way as the M9, but it should be about one stop "less visible", as there's no bayer array to take light away from the sensor, meaning you need less amplification to reach a given ISO sensitivity.

 

All digital cameras do it to an extent, but firmware can improve it, and at low ISOs it's generally not visible.

 

I had a Nikon DSLR some years ago that banded at certain settings - might have been related to shutter speed - or something strange like like. Nikon fixed it in a firmware update though.

 

- Steve

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My M9 bands, but only when pushing quite a bit and shooting several shots in succession. If I wait a few seconds between each shot, after the buffer is clear, I can push my M9 files past the the equivalent of ISO 5000 without banding. If I shoot a bunch of shots continuously at really high ISO equivalents, the first one or two shots is banding free, but then it gets progressively worse after that.

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My M9 bands, but only when pushing quite a bit and shooting several shots in succession. If I wait a few seconds between each shot, after the buffer is clear, I can push my M9 files past the the equivalent of ISO 5000 without banding. If I shoot a bunch of shots continuously at really high ISO equivalents, the first one or two shots is banding free, but then it gets progressively worse after that.

 

Interesting, so it may be that electronic processing inside the body is giving interference in the read out process or state of the sensor arrays.

 

(Unlikely, but to exclude heating up of the sensor is easy: just read out the temperature from the file that shows banding with M9info and preheat the whole body to that temperature before taking a first exposure: if it is not temperature as the cause, no banding should occur)

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My M9 bands, but only when pushing quite a bit and shooting several shots in succession. If I wait a few seconds between each shot, after the buffer is clear, I can push my M9 files past the the equivalent of ISO 5000 without banding. If I shoot a bunch of shots continuously at really high ISO equivalents, the first one or two shots is banding free, but then it gets progressively worse after that.

 

Hi Douglas, I had this problem which was mostly eliminated by changing SD Cards. Some people scoffed at me for suggesting it but it really worked in my case. Have you tried another card?

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Hi Douglas, I had this problem which was mostly eliminated by changing SD Cards. Some people scoffed at me for suggesting it but it really worked in my case. Have you tried another card?

 

Yep, I've tried it with the class 10 Transcend SDHC that many recommend, along with some Sandisk cards. I've stuck with the Sandisk, because it clears the buffer faster, and it isn't a problem if I give a three count once the buffer clears. I don't shoot continuously very often, so it's no biggie for me, and we're talking about pushing to ISO 5000+.

 

If the new M shows banding on the first shot of a sequence, that would be more of a problem, for me.

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It seems quite likely that the semiconductor process produces better and worse performing transistors (well, actually happen to know this is the case, I work with electronics and semiconductors are extremely difficult to manufacture to exacting tolerances), and some part responsible for each column (AD?) has substantially worse parts here and there. It is extremely interesting that the time between shots can affect the banding. Semiconductors can get substantially noisier when they warm up.

Now somebody just has to do test shot of a wall with ISO6400 at room temperature and then after cooling the camera in a fridge :D

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Expecting any camera to perform with no noise over ISO 1600 is a stretch. The ISO 6400 shots I've seen, while they have noticeable noise/banding, still look usable for web work and at least as good or not better than ISO 6400 shots from my Sony NEX-6 and Nikon D7000.

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It seems quite likely that the semiconductor process produces better and worse performing transistors (well, actually happen to know this is the case, I work with electronics and semiconductors are extremely difficult to manufacture to exacting tolerances), and some part responsible for each column (AD?) has substantially worse parts here and there. It is extremely interesting that the time between shots can affect the banding. Semiconductors can get substantially noisier when they warm up.

Now somebody just has to do test shot of a wall with ISO6400 at room temperature and then after cooling the camera in a fridge :D

 

So there might be a market for an ice-pack hand grip made of that blue stuff you put in the freezer?

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I think there's a lot of really unrealistic expectations about hi-iso digital (of any camera) esp in regard to "detail in the shadows." And this comes esp from people who didn't start in film where highlights could be burned in but rarely detail brought out in the shadows (esp with TMAX 3200 or Neopan 1600). Shadows are shadows and meant to be dealt as such. Expose properly, and then crush the blacks a bit and what do you know - less noise and/or no banding.

 

High iso is not a crutch to make bad lighting better. In the right circumstances it can allow you to get the shot by allowing for higher shutter speeds and apertures (esp in performance/sports type photography). But it can't change the nature of the light by "opening up the shadows." Why take the dramatic out anyway? Makes for boring....

 

That said the M could very well have problems with banding that are above and beyond human error. I won't know until I try one. Probably won't be for awhile as I'm sticking to my M9's (I'm one of the few that love the look of 1600 with it) and new Monochrome arriving today and use a D600 for high iso in situations the the M's often aren't that great for anyway (ie performance, long lens, super wide lens, etc).

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