(SR5) A first for Sony: 14bit RAW files on the A99!

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Finally! The Sony A99 FF camera will be the first Sony camera to have full 14bit RAW file recording! It is something Nikon cameras (like the D800) have since a long time now so it was about time fro Sony to use it too. But will it really bring some noticeable improvement?

The administrator of Cambridgeincolour wrote: “It is usually image noise — not the 12/14-bit A/D dynamic range — that ultimately limits the photo’s visible dynamic range. A 14-bit linear A/D converter has a dynamic range of 14 f-stops, for example, but this is far beyond what is visible because of image noise (5-10 f-stops at the very most).
Further, A/D converters and CCD/CMOS sensors are not always linear; in which case the image bit precision/depth does not necessarily correlate with A/D dynamic range. Take a look at the last two sections on bit depth and tonal curve in the dynamic range tutorial. There’s a lot more on this there, although be warned that this concept can be quite confusing.
At present the only tangible use I can think of for the extended 14-bit precision is more shadow tonality in a RAW photo which has undergone extreme shadow recovery. If this is true, then 14-bit is worth it in exchange for the marginally larger file sizes. However, I have no evidence of this in practice.

More 12 vs 14 bit tests: here and here.

I have been told the JPEG engine has been improved too. But we have to wait for real test to see if Sony’s wake point has been finally straight out too!

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