Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The truth about banding

Image 1

Image 2

Image 3

Image 4

Banding has become an issue for a few people with the 5D2 and I want to set the record straight. Canon has produced an excellent camera that when used correctly will produce some of the best images you can get from a digital camera and in my experience blows away 35mm film. Digital still needs correct exposure to produce a good image, although you can expose for different parts of an image and blend them in PS or you can use GND filters to correct the exposure in camera. Images can only be pushed so far before they fall apart with any camera. Now I'm not trying to protect Canon but when I see people say "wow the 5D2 has banding issues so I'm going to brand X", well that just cracks me up, is it a perfect camera? no, of course not, if it took perfect images every time where would the fun be in photography ? is there room for improvement? of course and we'll see that in the future.

The image above was taken midday with a 5D2 and a 16-35 2.8 II lens using live view, image 1 as you can see is not well exposed, the shadows are very dark and I could have done better with this image. The 2nd image was corrected in Lightroom, I brought the Fill Light up to 24 and adjusted the curves up extensively to brighten the shadow areas. Normally for a correct exposure I would not even touch Fill Light. Image 3 was then adjusted in CS3, first I brought the Whites to 236 and then I masked the shadow area and brought the Whites to 210, this is a huge adjustment for the shadows, a lot of images from many cameras could not have taken this much adjustment. The final image is a 100% crop of the shadow area, shrunk to 1000 pixels. Is there noise there in the shadows? sure what would you expect when you bring up the shadows 3 stops, is it bad ? no, is there banding ? no, would I go further ? no, there is no need.

So if your thinking about getting this camera and you hear about banding issues, take it with a grain of salt and don't miss out on this fantastic image producing machine. You can produce great HDR images also, but just remember if you want to make bad images you can do that also by pushing the images 4 or 5 stops and looking at your image at 500%.

Ross Murphy Images In Light