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Leica Q - banding & noise

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Hello all.

 

I've owned my new Leica Q for just under 2 weeks now and I'm still getting to grips with it.

This is the latest in a long line of "street photography" oriented cameras that I have owned (Leica M8.2, Leica X1, Ricoh GR, Fuji X100, Fuji X-T1), so I can't help but compare their performance - especially after all of the rave reviews that the Q has received.

I've got to admit that I'm feeling a little underwhelmed so far - I'll reserve judgement for, as there is bound to be a learning curve with any new camera.

 

One thing that has really surprised me is the amount of banding that is present at shots taken at 200 ISO (admittedly pushed 2EV in ACR).

I know that I can push the image through the Define 2 plug-in, but should it really be necessary at almost base ISO?

I honestly think I got better performance from my M8.2 at ISO 200.

 

Is this just a case of user error? Or have I got a dud?

 

 

Thanks for your thoughts!

T

 

Crop of full image, resized to 1400 x 1400:

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100% crop:

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100% crop:

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I wouldn't say it is user error as I too can get the same problems even at low iso's. What is strange is that sometimes it doesn't seem consistent the way it happens and I notice it most (like in your examples) in darker shaded clothing and other times when I think I will get some banding I don't. On the whole the files are just so good that it doesn't particularly worry me as when I do get it can be sorted in Dfine 2

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On the whole the files are just so good that it doesn't particularly worry me as when I do get it can be sorted in Dfine 2

 

Thanks for getting back to me.

I'm amazed that the ISO performance has been given such glowing reviews.

 

I'm using ACR that came bundled with Elements 11 to convert the DNG files.

Do you think this is having any impact on the banding / image quality?

I can't quite face getting to grips with the free Lightroom yet.

 

Any tips on how to use Dfine 2?

Do you use it for noise reduction also, or just banding removal?

Do you apply it to the whole image, or just brush-in the effect where it's needed?

 

Thanks again!

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I only ever use Dfine 2 if I want to get rid of the banding and do all NR in Lr6

I use these settings

 

I would actually say that the DR and iso performance is in fact very good only to be let down by the banding which as I said before I don't really find to be a big issue as it can be sorted fairly easily.

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Thanks very much. Nothing to do with my version of Adobe Camera RAW it seems, as you're also seeing it in LR6.

 

I don't know - maybe I was spoiled by my Fujis and expected the Q to perform at least as well, given the price differential and gushing reviews.

 

Anyone else got any thoughts on banding? Is this something that could be improved in a firmware update?

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Banding aside I find the Q files to be amongst the best  i have ever used, they have an incredible level of sharpness and very good DR. I have learn't that you need to expose further to the right and with some practise you will find how far you can go without clipping the highlights. I no longer have a fuji but used to have theX100s, X-pro 1 and XE1 and I can honestly say that I would take the Q files any day. I would really encourage you to see beyond this issue(yes it is a pain but it solvable) as for me at least this is to date one of the best digital cameras I have ever used. Can it be improved in a firmware update? I have no idea. Enjoy the camera for the little jewel it is

 

P.S I find the Dfine 2 clears up the banding 100% without effecting the rest of the images IQ. the first time I tried this a while ago with Leica M files I couldn't believe how well it dealt with the banding and it seems to be even more effective on the Q files which actually suffer less from noise in the shadow area than the M

Edited by viramati

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Thanks again for your thoughts.

 

Dfine 2 is very effective at removing the banding, but I do find it has a tendency to remove other fine horizontal detail in the picture. I'm not surprised - how would it know the difference between banding and real information?

 

Anyway, the jury is still out for me. I definitely need more time to gel with the Q.

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Could you show us the Histogram (without corrections in ACR/LR) ?

 

To be honest, this looks like a classic case of severe underexposure of the main subject by backlight.  The noise and banding are the least of the problem - you have lost the contrast and the colour as well. The only things you could have done were:

1. Take  a shot with the light.(but you would have lost the moment)

2. Use a fill flash (but I can imagine a reluctance to do so in a Street situation)

3. Expose for the subject and accept a blown-out sky (which is featureless anyway)

4. Make the best of it in PP like you did and get a sub-optimal image..

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Could you show us the Histogram (without corrections in ACR/LR) ?

 

Sure - I'll do this when I get home.

 

It was 2 stops underexposed - I've pushed the Exposure slider +2 EV using ACR - no other changes.

 

Looks like the Q is a lot less tolerant of exposure mistakes than the "ISO-less" sensors in the Fuji cameras.

 

It's all good - I'll just have to learn to be less sloppy with my technique!!

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In fact, Dfine2 is very good, but it may well be that your default sharpening settings settings in ACR are too aggressive. Capture sharpening requires that it does not produce artefacts that will get in the way with further processing.

Do your capture sharpening and denoising in ACR, using the masking and detail slders as well, and you will find that you will get much cleaner files to work on.

You should read the noise sharpening "Bible"  by Schewe and Fraser: Real World Sharpening, to really get it perfect. Maybe not completely up to date with the latest ACR version, but it addresses all te basics -and more.

 

Edit: Considering your previous cameras (with the exception of the M8 and Ricoh) it is more than likely that your capture sharpening defaults are set too high.

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Thanks. To be honest, I never move the sharpening sliders in ACR, so they may well be set to a default that is too high for files coming out of the Q.

 

I'll take a look at that article later.

 

Cheers, T

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It is more than an article - it is a book ( not too thick) that is required reading for everybody who is serious about his postprocessing workflow, IMO.

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It was 2 stops underexposed - I've pushed the Exposure slider +2 EV using ACR - no other changes.

So your reference point should be ISO 800 – ISO 200 plus 2 EV. The interesting question would be how this compares to a perfectly exposed shot taken at ISO 800.

 

Looks like the Q is a lot less tolerant of exposure mistakes than the "ISO-less" sensors in the Fuji cameras.

The sensor in the Q might be a little less ISO-less than the Sony sensors Fuji (and many other, including Leica) uses.

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Could you show us the Histogram (without corrections in ACR/LR) ?

 

 

Here you go Jaap - the original shot is not massively underexposed.

 

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Can't make a silk purse out of a sows ear.......

 

I think criticising a camera because it cannot make up for the original deficiencies in the photo is a bit mean ......

 

There are threads here with similar photos and complaints for almost every digital camera that Leica has produced ....... banding in shadows when subjected to significant exposure adjustment is a fact of life. 

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Here you go Jaap - the original shot is not massively underexposed.

 

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Not extreme, agree, but there is considerable clipping in the shadows, and the colour temperature is surprising for an outdoor shot.

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Hi Jaapv - I tend to leave camera set to AWB - this is what it chose.

 

Thighslapper - I agree that it's not a great picture. I picked it as an example as it clearly showed the phenomenon, to support this discussion.

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