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 Post subject: A700 DRO Comparison
PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 5:34 pm 
As I mentioned in the A700 review thread, I recently took a couple of images that I think show the huge difference between DRO options on the A700. I rarely take pictures with DRO off or on Standard (what was used in the review). Normal shooting has been using DRO+ but I started messing with Advanced modes recently with some interesting results. Last week I was in St Louis for work and looked out my hotel window to a pretty cool sunset with new Busch Stadium in the foreground so took some images with different DRO levels. The window was pretty dirty too so not exactly great conditions for shooting. Lens used was Sigma 18-200.

These aren't award winning images or strict comparison tests, but the two images below were taken within minutes of each other and I think show off what the benefit of the A700's great DRO options can give to a shooter. It is also a huge competitive advantage for Sony and I think these images show why. The first image is taken with DRO+ and the second is with DRO Advanced (level 5 I believe). The difference would be even more pronounced if I had used no DRO or Standard for the first image so would be even more impressive of a difference I think. The same camera settings were used between these two images and the ONLY post processing done was a slight crop on each, removing some of the bottom of the image because it was an ugly parking lot.

DRO+, ISO 100, 1/30, F4 hand held

Image



DRO Advanced, ISO 100, 1/40, F4.5 hand held

Image


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 Post subject: Wow
PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 7:06 pm 
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That is a significant difference, looks very good. I read about the huge advantages of DRO Advanced on photoclubalpha.com already, but these are also good examples. Thanks for sharing.
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 9:21 pm 
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Hi ChiSoxFan, thanks for the examples - that is a dramatic difference and one where the technology has produced a better-looking image out of the camera.

I'm a little curious about the exposures though. According to your figures, the Advanced and preferred version has a shorter shutter speed and smaller aperture, but the same ISO. So the A700 is actually gathering less light for this shot, which would imply a significant tweaking of the tonal levels to bring out that shadow detail - with an impact on noise.

Could you confirm the exposures and perhaps also post 100% crops from an area in the stadium to compare the noise levels? I'd also be interested in seeing what you could bring out from the first shot using Levels or Curves in PS...

But yep, as far as in-camera processing's concerned, there's a nice benefit here.

Gordon


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 12:36 am 
Gordon,

I took that set using P mode because I was in a rush to get the sunset and my main concerns were finding the cleanest portion of the window and making sure I could get focus and no glare from the inside of the room. Wish I would have been outside instead but oh well. The tone curves for the two images are vastly different with the DRO Advanced one being much more balanced and bell shaped. If you look at crops, the DRO Advanced one is a good amount noisier which is where you need to be careful the settings you use it. From the looks of it, the areas inside the stadium are at around ISO 400 or 800 with the rest of the image at 100. I bet it would clean up pretty well though as it's mostly luminance noise with no chroma.

I'm not that great at Photoshop yet so don't know if I could do justice to much of anything compared to what the camera did. I did just upload the original, non cropped jpgs along with their associated RAW files if you or anyone else wants to view or tinker with them. Here's the download link. Somewhere around 30 MB.

http://download.yousendit.com/8CE17FF62A4D43F5


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 1:06 am 
Here are some 100% crops. First is the DRO+, then DRO Advanced, then the same DRO+ crop but with a quick fill light adjustment to match the exposure of the DRO Advanced crop. The DRO Advanced crop looks a bit noisier but also sharper than the DRO+ with fill light. Could be a bit of camera shake of course though but not sure.

DRO+

Image

DRO Advanced

Image

DRO+ with Fill Light

Image

[/img]


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 10:05 am 
DRO Advanced seems to increase the level of noise significantly. DRO + fill light seems like a good balance though.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 11:02 am 
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grahamnp wrote:
...DRO + fill light seems like a good balance though.

But look at the apparent loss of detail. I don't have personal experience with the technology but looking at the photographs
I wonder if you could produce the "DRO+ with Fill Light" effect by Photoshopping. Judicious use of noise reduction
and sharpening filters might even improve on the result.

To be fair though, I guess it's to the A700's credit that all that processing can be done "in camera". Given that the A700 sensor
isn't a radical technological breakthrough then it's nice to have the camera provide heavy duty processing if wanted while
those who want more control over the process are also catered for.

Bob.

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Last edited by Bob Andersson on Thu Nov 15, 2007 5:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 5:29 pm 
grahamnp wrote:
DRO Advanced seems to increase the level of noise significantly. DRO + fill light seems like a good balance though.


Yes this is true, but keep in mind that fill light comparison is only showing a small crop. If you saw the whole image the sky would have been completely blown compared to the DRO Advanced one. I'm sure a similar look could be done in PS by masking and selectively editing the darker areas while keeping the sky well exposed, but in my opinion it's just a ton easier and faster to use DRO Advanced for a shot like this and do a quick run in Neat Image if it's a bit too noisy for you.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 9:49 pm 
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At first glance, I'd say this confirms my suspicions that the various DRO modes may produce nice results when viewed from a distance, but at the cost of reduced IQ and or greater noise upon close inspection. To my eyes it seems similar to the effect you'd get if you tweaked the curves or levels in Photoshop. It's certainly nice to have it as an in-camera option, but I still don't think it's ground-breaking.

I'm not bashing the A700 though -I still think it's a great camera, but unless I wanted a quick fix, I'd probably shoot without DRO and process later.

Thanks again for thse examples ChiSoxFan - they do illustrate the effect much better than my DRO examples in the review.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2007 9:42 am 
ChiSoxFan wrote:
grahamnp wrote:
DRO Advanced seems to increase the level of noise significantly. DRO + fill light seems like a good balance though.


Yes this is true, but keep in mind that fill light comparison is only showing a small crop. If you saw the whole image the sky would have been completely blown compared to the DRO Advanced one. I'm sure a similar look could be done in PS by masking and selectively editing the darker areas while keeping the sky well exposed, but in my opinion it's just a ton easier and faster to use DRO Advanced for a shot like this and do a quick run in Neat Image if it's a bit too noisy for you.


In that case, DRO advanced would be the better option. I suppose that, like Nikon's D-Lighting, the need for DRO is negated if you are willing to do post processing which would do a better job albeit at the cost of time and convenience.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2007 2:39 am 
The A700 have the option JPEG+RAW, and the DRO is in the JEPG and the RAW is not, but you will can activate in IDC2, Sony Software...


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