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


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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