JPEG Posterization (was: D300 - Terrible banding in dark areas - False Alarm)

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by tommy_cuellar, May 2, 2009.

  1. Hello,
    I was wondering if anyone else was having this dark banding issue.
    Here's a 100% crop of a dark corner of one of my photos:
    Although I cropped and exported as a jpg from Aperture, it looks pretty much like this (except with fewer red spots).
    The crop was taken from the top-right corner of this full-sized picture (though the banding is evident in most of that gray area at the top of the picture):
    (that's Francis Ford Coppola hugging George Lucas, in case you're wondering ;)
    I shot the photo at ISO 1600 with active D-Lighting on High, High ISO Noise Reduction set to On, Sharpening set to the fourth tick, and shot using Jpeg set at Fine and full-sized. Colors are Adobe RGB. The full-sized version of the photo came straight from camera and was not imported or exported to/from Aperture.
    I've had this issue also when I've shot monochrome in low-light (using a single candle, for example), and banding has occurred even at ISO 400. It radiates outward from the center, and the darker the room, the more noticeable it is.
    Is it my camera or my settings?
    Thanks in advance to anyone who can help me solve this issue!
  2. All I can see is a black rectangle.
  3. What is this a picture of? Maybe posting the whole photo would help us.
  4. Really?? Hmmm... I wonder if it could be my monitor? I'm viewing this on a 2007 MacBook Pro with the brightness set on high. Anyone else just see a black rectangle?
  5. there was a post not long ago when someone was aghast at noise in one of his D300 photos, and one of the contributors to the forum pointed out that ADL on high can accentuate the noise. maybe you can tweak it down a notch in NX and see if that helps.
  6. does aperture read the active d light settings at all?
    in any case, i see what you're talking about, and it's very minimal (so minimal that i wouldn't think of it unless it was ruining critical prints), and although my monitor is a little behind calibrating schedule, i don't think it's that far off. have you printed it, and noticed the same?
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I don't see any banding at all. The crop in the first post looks completely black and there is no banding in the full image either. Tommy, could you please pin point exactly where this "terrible banding in dark areas" you are referring to?
    Sorry, but I am a bit annoyed by the several "banding" flase alarm threads recently. The monitor should be the first thing to double check:
    Pretty soon, people will claim that the Nikon D300 has the "reputation" of a lot of banding problems. Some early D200's indeed had that issue, but as far as I know not the D300.
  8. I think Tommy you are refering to the posterization that's taking place? you can see in the black image that there are "bands" running diagonally slanted at 45 to the right. where it's the lightest at the left and gets progressively blacker to the right. It's only noticable on my monitor if I look at an oblique angle though.
    I'm guessing it's something to do with noise reduction, judging by the rest of your image which seems to have some heavy heavy noise reduction going on!
    Sorry I can't offer a very good explanation of why it's happening though...
  9. I see what Tommy is talking about. Perhaps banding is the wrong word. I had the same thing when taking shots with a clear blue sky - it appears as though the graduation from light to dark is not smooth, as though it has steps.
  10. I also see some posterization. That's usually a JPG compression artifact.
  11. When I put my monitor to bright (which would be brighter than what would be printed anyway), I can see some sort of banding that mainly looks like a JPEG compression artifact. I suggest that you tone down Active D-lighting and shoot raw and compare. Just call George and Francis, they'll probably get together for another shot :)
    Seriously I think it's the JPEG and in addition to that possible the ADL that's the problem...
  12. ah, yes.... i guess posterization is the correct word. sorry for misusing "banding." and Paul, that's exactly what i'm talking about. did you find a solution to that issue?
    and i'll try shooting raw next time and turning off ADL, especially when shots will have large areas of darkness.
    thanks for all your help, everyone!
  13. I definitely see what the poster is referring to in the full size photo. If I'm not mistaken "banding" is usually vertical or horizontal - in this case the "bands" are circular and concentric with one another, so I don't think it's what would normally be called banding. The "bands" seem to have the brightest spot in the photo - the two persons' heads - as their radius, but are only visible in the very dark upper area. I wonder, at this very high sensitivity level, if this could be some sort of lens-related effect.
    The overall magnitude of the noise seems appropriate to the ISO however.
  14. Tommy, I honestly can't recall if I had ADL on when I took the shots. I do shoot in JPG tho (large, fine) and my ISO was 200. I will have to do some more testing to see exacly what brings it on.
    In the end I did a quick selection of the sky and added some guassian blur - a bit of a pain but since the sky was perfectly clear blue, the selection was simple and it actually fixed the problem quite nicely.
  15. I don't see any banding and I know what it looks like - I've shot the D1 (Nikon first DSLR is still the record-holder in this aspect) for some years. Regarding the the clumpy grain in the shadows I suspect that Noise-Reduction and Sharpening simply don't work together but against each other. ADL does funny things sometimes (muted colors in the shadows) - that's why I prefer to turn it off and use the much more fine-tunable highlight-shadow-function in PS. Btw - no offense - was the focus off or is Noise-reduction killing every detail?
    Please excuse my english - georg.
  16. Thanks God for my Spider 3 display calibration device. I think (like Matt) that's a JPG compression artifact. There is no banding at all, there are probably 8 (8 I can see) graduation steps from dark grey-red to full black , and looks like posterization.
  17. Tommy -
    you do not have a banding issue & like Shun I'm getting a bit tired of all the banding comments.
    Please consider doing a search on banding & find out what's considered banding.
    Yes your shot is noisy - run a noise reduction on the background for that. Past that I see no problem.
  18. To be fair Lil, Tommy has already apologised for the misuse of the word.
  19. got it about the "banding" vs. "posterization" naming issue. thanks for the clarification :)
    and all time raw instead of jpg.
  20. This image has had a *huge* amount of NR done to it. It looks like overused Smart Blur... That's the likely source of "banding"...
  21. So...ISO 1600 + NR-High = Posterization? The only reason I shot at 1600 was so that I didn't have to use flash. I shot this at this event I went to last night called "Francis Ford Coppola and Friends" and didn't want my flash to be a nuisance. I didn't do any post production at all. The large image is straight from camera.
  22. I think it must the result of posterisational sub-quantification in the retro symphonal convuvolitingual bits. (sic). Oh, how I love digital. The banding issues almost submerge the "what grain is best" in B&W film, eh Shun?
  23. I used to see this all the time with my D200 at underexposed parts of my image, especially where light falls off fast (eg. flash images with more depth of field than flash range). RAW with no DL (D200 does not have it), and I used to use linear curves in custom tone control. They all disappear when I expose correctly and use one of the Nikon picture settings (standard, vivid, landscape ...) in capture NX2.
  24. edited in capture NX2
    picture control Vivid
    exposure +2.0
    shadow 20
    saturation 15
    high pass sharpening
  25. another example at 100%. original on top, picture control neutral at bottom.
  26. Paul,
    I guess I must have missed it.... Sorry
  27. Comments from the moderator in this post remind me of why I will never pay a dime for looking at this website.
  28. Tommy,
    I can clearly see the posterization (banding) and a lot of noise/artifacts, especially in the shadow areas. It looks quite awful.
    My guess is that it is a combination of high ISO and D-Lightening/Sharpening working hard. In conditions with low light and slow zoom lenses you have to accept lower quality. I suggest shooting difficult lightening conditions in RAW, turning off at least the in-camera sharpening and doing some post work. A faster lens would help both image quality and reduce motion blurr.
    I agree with Indraneel, Capture NX2 is great working with these kind of pictures.
    I am surprised that several people can not see these problems. Perhaps, you should do something about your monitor settings. Especially those who are publishing tests of cameras and lenses.
    Hope this may be of some help,
  29. Tommy,
    now in the dark I can clearly see what you're talking about. Again as we've already established it's posterisation & an effect I have seen now & then out of both Nikon & Canon cameras. It is however not the other mentioned issue.
    It comes out of a combination of issues & is not the camera but rather the light situation along with post processing. Noise reduction will make it better as will reducing the sharpening.
    Good luck
  30. JPEG is called a lossy compression for a reason. Although it's not that bad, the area could be darkened still and it would be dark enough not to be obvious at all.
    Comments from the moderator in this post remind me of why I will never pay a dime for looking at this website.​
    Interesting...could you elaborate a bit?
  31. You mast have some problem with your monitor. I seeing this on a iBook G4 and everything is o.k.
  32. What you are describing shows up very clearly on my monitor, and further, I have experienced the same thing at higher ISO levels (even at 800). Even using fast lenses. I don't understand why people get defensive and seem to take even the mere suggestion that the camera is producing less than great results as a personal affront. Are some of you doing R&D for Nikon or what?
  33. The problem is worse when images are resized down. I guess lesser pixels mean a less smooth gradient. Probably edge sharpening will have a similar effect. Vincent Versace in his capture NX DVD series uses fine monochrome grain to "break up" these blotches.
  34. It might be worth noting that one should first calibrate a monitor (or at least properly adjust a monitor) before commenting on "issues" and "problems".
  35. So the problem as I see it is that you were using Active D-Lighting at ISO 1600, while shooting jpg. What happened is that areas that were down at the very lowest 8 bit number values were boosted up by the ADL to the point where they were visible, and banded. I wouldn't shoot at ISO 1600 + ADL + jpg under any circumstances, let alone in ones with large flat dark areas.

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