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Author Topic: My thoughts after 48 hours with an IQ260  (Read 1685 times)
Craig Stocks
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« on: July 23, 2013, 06:51:00 AM »
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I decided to trade my P65+ for the new IQ260, which I just received from Capture Integration on Friday. I've been playing with it on my 645 DF and thought I'd share some of my observations so far. I don't really have any experience with the IQ1 series, so many of the comments may apply to those backs as well.

I did most of the processing in Lightroom 5 since that's my normal workflow. Also, I've been unable to coax Capture One 7 into outputting a jpeg. It outputs tiffs just fine though - even when I've selected jpeg settings in the process recipe.

Overall image quality: It's hard to tell any difference between the P65+ and the IQ260 at ISO 50. The IQ260 seems to yield a slightly brighter file, so its base ISO may be just a touch higher than the P65+.

The LCD screen is a lot brighter than the P65+. I've turned it down to 20% brightness, but it's still rather bright. I'll have to recalibrate my eyes and/or pay more attention to the histogram for a while.

The WiFi seems to work OK with a 1st generation iPad, though screen refreshes are sometimes pretty slow.

Battery life seems terribly short compared the P65+, even with WiFi turned off. I only have two batteries, so I may be in the market for one or two more.

The power button is very sensitive, and a quick tap will turn the back off - even if it's doing a dark frame or still writing to the card. Obviously, you loose that frame if you accidently bump the power button. I prefer the P65+ arrangement where you have to momentarily hold the power button to turn off the back. I hope this gets addressed in a firmware upgrade.

Long exposure mode: Phase One suggest using LE mode for anything longer than 10 seconds. In my quick tests, I'm seeing some image degradation when using ISO 140 LE compared to ISO 50. My most recent test was a one minute exposure at each ISO, adjusting the aperture to compensate for the ISO. The ISO 50 shot was much crisper, but showed a fair amount of single pixel noise (though perhaps slightly less so than the P65+). The ISO 140 LE frame didn't show any single pixel noise, but was softer overall.

My usual approach with single pixel noise is to run Photoshop's Dust and Scratches filter at 1 or 2 pixels. I get the best result using a 1 pixel radius and manually healing the remaining spots. Comparing the results, to the ISO 140 LE frame, 1 pixel radius was still slightly crisper, but left a few spots, a 2 pixel radius eliminated all of the single pixel noise, but the result was slightly softer than the ISO 140 LE frame.

My conclusion for now - I'll probably stick to ISO 50 for less than 60 seconds and plan to do some extra processing to clean up the file.

I also noticed some color shift when going from ISO 50 to ISO 140 LE, especially in the shadows.

Lastly - there seems to be a bug in the communication between the camera and back. I'm using the default 60 seconds for the LCD to shut off. When using ISO 140 LE, if the back goes to sleep during the dark frame, the camera will allow you to start another exposure before the back's ready for it. The result is corrupted colors in the 1st frame, and you never get the 2nd frame. I hope that can be fixed in the back's firmware since Phase One stated that they've abandoned firmware updates for the DF body. For now, I'll need to make sure the dark frame is fully complete before starting another exposure.
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Paul2660
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« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2013, 08:03:52 AM »
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Congratulations on the upgrade.

I "crossed graded" from 160 to 260, through Digital Transitions out of NY,  and have had mine for about 2 weeks.  I had demoed 260 in mid June against my 160 and felt the "cross-upgrade" was worth it.

I have not tried any longer exposures than 10 seconds heat here really won't allow it.  The rules for long exposure are the same as I understand them as with a P45+, 1 hour exposures in outdoor temps 69 degrees or lower and it will be a while here before that occurs.

I feel that iso 50 has a bit more head room than iso 50 on the 160 (which was the same chip as the older P65+ especially with highlights.  Shadows show a smoother tonality but I currently don't feel you can push them any more than with the 160.  

Wifi, overall not that impressed as I thought I would be.  As you point out there is a bit of a lag as the images load (2nd gen ipad).  But to me the single biggest issue is that the images load very dark and Capture Pilot seems to over-ride the brightness indicator on the ipad. There is no adjustment in the app for brightness that I can find.  The retina display is not fully utilized currently by Capture Pilot (Phase One knows this and promises improvements maybe).  In my tests it took 20 seconds for the image to become static (not have the wheel turning at the top).  You can zoom in when the wheel is turning, but if you do this a lot it seems to lock up the ipad/back connection.  For now the 100% zoom is a bit jpeg'd and I tend to zoom down a bit.  You can put the ipad display and back display side by side and see that the back LCD display is much brighter.  Many feel that the ipad mini is a better tool for review.  I tend to disagree as the mini has even worse mirroring on the screen in any ambient light.  As the images are currently displaying too dark for me, I feel that the mini would make playback review harder even using your body to block the light. Currently I use the adhoc connection.  In a wifi rich environment it can take a bit longer to hook up as there are so many connections floating around.

Color shifts my opinion is still out on that.  I am only using tech camera lenses so far.  The SK35 might have just a bit more color shift than it did on the IQ160 on shift, center on it's the same.

I am only using Capture One on the files, as I don't like the way LR handles LCC processing.  However you might try some more comparisons between LR5 and Capture One, especially in the LE shots.  Capture One might be able to pull more detail from these shots.  The LE shots carry a different Metadata and may require some processing LR can't do currently (like sensor plus shots).  The other thing to consider is that in Capture One the defaults for noise reduction load in at 50, and I always back these off.  You will definitely see more detail than with the defaults.

Iso 200 and 400 shots that I have taken so far in LE mode hold up better than the 200/400 from 160.  Especially in highlights.  Shadows start to show noise still.

Color, I find I definitely prefer the look of the 260 file over the 160/P65+ file when loaded into Capture One. I know this more subjective with a Digital back but I find the 260 files give an easier starting point.

I am still trying to get my head around the fact that the Dalsa chips really only record higher iso in the meta and it seems you don't really push the chip to higher levels as with a CMOS chip.  This was shown very clearly in a post over on getdpi.  
 in a post where examples show this between iso 50 and 200 on a IQ180 by Wayne Fox.  The question is have is how the newer chip handles this especially in the LE mode.

Screen display on the 260, I leave mine at 80% just like on my 160.  I believe the screens are the same between the two.  After looking at the wifi solution you do tend to realize just how good the IQ LCD is.   In outdoor lighting where I shoot 100%, if I have the screen any dimmer than 80%, it's not really easy to read at least for my eyes.

Power off, I agree is too easy, but I had the same issue with the P45+.  The 160 took more of a push to turn off.  It would be a nice addition to have a button pop up on the screen to confirm power off?  possible firmware upgrade?

The B&W preview option is a nice feature, as in bright outdoor lighting it's often easier to see the finer details in B&W screen mode.  Has no effect on the image as I understand it, just allows you to see output as B&W image on camera LCD.  Coming to older models, IQ140, 160, 180?


Sincerely
Paul Caldwell
« Last Edit: July 23, 2013, 09:50:05 AM by Paul2660 » Logged

Paul Caldwell
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2013, 09:44:28 AM »
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Quote from: Craig Stocks;526667
I did most of the processing in Lightroom 5 since that's my normal workflow. Also, I've been unable to coax Capture One 7 into outputting a jpeg. It outputs tiffs just fine though - even when I've selected jpeg settings in the process recipe.

Right now you are highlighting the recipe you want to use for output rather than checking the checkbox for the recipe you wish to use.

Just check the box. :chug:

If it's not that then it's some other small thing; I'd suggest a Capture One class to get you up the learning curve without hassle.

Quote from: Craig Stocks;526667
Overall image quality: It's hard to tell any difference between the P65+ and the IQ260 at ISO 50. The IQ260 seems to yield a slightly brighter file, so its base ISO may be just a touch higher than the P65+.

a) use Capture One rather than LR so you're getting the most out of the information recorded
b) Unadjusted you won't notice much difference; LR and C1 will both ignore the data at the extremities of the dynamic range (otherwise the image at default settings would look very flat considering the range of tone it captures). But shoot something with strong color and a huge dynamic range and add some shadow and highlight recovery and you'll be able to examine the differences. I've also seen some difference in color rendering, but have not done any formal study of it.

Quote from: Craig Stocks;526667
The LCD screen is a lot brighter than the P65+. I've turned it down to 20% brightness, but it's still rather bright. I'll have to recalibrate my eyes and/or pay more attention to the histogram for a while.

The histogram and user-adjustable highlight-warning are the only way to go for exposure judgement. Otherwise you'll make very different decisions on how to expose when you're facing the sun or not (or in cloudy vs bright vs nighttime shooting). Fortunately the wide-aspect screen lets you see the histogram without obscuring the overall image.

Quick tip: if you tap and hold on the histogram and bump the histogram to #3 of the 5 tools then it's always visible - if you're scrolled to the top-most tools it will be the bottom slot and if you're scrolled to the bottom-most tools it will be the top spot.

[other tool]
[other tool]
[histogram]
[other tool]
[other tool]

Quote from: Craig Stocks;526667
The WiFi seems to work OK with a 1st generation iPad, though screen refreshes are sometimes pretty slow.

Make sure bluetooth is off on the iOS device.

Also, if you're commenting on "On" vs "Adhoc" mode I'd encourage you to try both (using a high quality wireless router like an Airport Extreme with no other traffic on it).

Since you haven't given any numerical times it's hard to tell if you're getting normal results but just not impressed or if you're getting sub-par results. Compared to the speed most shooters are used to shooting tethered the direct-wireless time-to-screen and zoom-to-100% is pretty impressive (especially if they've used any other wireless solutions). Compared to the LCD on the back of the camera it's probably not.

Quote from: Craig Stocks;526667
Battery life seems terribly short compared the P65+, even with WiFi turned off. I only have two batteries, so I may be in the market for one or two more.

Make sure you're using the higher capacity 2900 mAh batteries, preferably less than a year old (they do wear down, as any battery does).

Quote from: Craig Stocks;526667
The power button is very sensitive, and a quick tap will turn the back off - even if it's doing a dark frame or still writing to the card. Obviously, you loose that frame if you accidentally bump the power button. I prefer the P65+ arrangement where you have to momentarily hold the power button to turn off the back. I hope this gets addressed in a firmware upgrade.

I agree!

Quote from: Craig Stocks;526667
Long exposure mode: Phase One suggest using LE mode for anything longer than 10 seconds. In my quick tests, I'm seeing some image degradation when using ISO 140 LE compared to ISO 50. My most recent test was a one minute exposure at each ISO, adjusting the aperture to compensate for the ISO. The ISO 50 shot was much crisper, but showed a fair amount of single pixel noise (though perhaps slightly less so than the P65+). The ISO 140 LE frame didn't show any single pixel noise, but was softer overall.
[...]
I also noticed some color shift when going from ISO 50 to ISO 140 LE, especially in the shadows.

You shouldn't make any assessments in this area until you switch to Capture One.

When you do. Make sure to play with noise reduction settings on both ISO50 and ISO140 to your taste/aesthetic.  ISO50 has greater DR but gains noise more quickly. IQ140 has very good DR, but not as much as ISO50 but gains noise very very slowly (i.e. 8 min looks a lot like 1 min).

Quote from: Craig Stocks;526667
My usual approach with single pixel noise is to run Photoshop's Dust and Scratches filter at 1 or 2 pixels. I get the best result using a 1 pixel radius and manually healing the remaining spots. Comparing the results, to the ISO 140 LE frame, 1 pixel radius was still slightly crisper, but left a few spots, a 2 pixel radius eliminated all of the single pixel noise, but the result was slightly softer than the ISO 140 LE frame.

C1's dedicated single-pixel noise reduction algorithm will do MUCH better at this than your current PS workflow. You can't switch fast enough.

Quote from: Craig Stocks;526667
Lastly - there seems to be a bug in the communication between the camera and back. I'm using the default 60 seconds for the LCD to shut off. When using ISO 140 LE, if the back goes to sleep during the dark frame, the camera will allow you to start another exposure before the back's ready for it. The result is corrupted colors in the 1st frame, and you never get the 2nd frame. I hope that can be fixed in the back's firmware since Phase One stated that they've abandoned firmware updates for the DF body. For now, I'll need to make sure the dark frame is fully complete before starting another exposure.

Bummer. I haven't seen this, but haven't done any long exposure work with a 260 and a DF non plus.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2013, 12:15:38 PM by Doug Peterson » Logged

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shadowblade
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« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2013, 09:53:18 AM »
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What did you think of the live view?

Is it functional enough outdoors (without resorting ton ND filters, which aren't practical with all lenses) to use as the primary means of focus, or is a laser rangefinder, with all the issues of adjusting for tilt, absolute distance vs distance of focal plane, and actually looking for a red dot against a busy background, still necessary?
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2013, 10:04:22 AM »
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Congratulations on the upgrade.

I "crossed graded" from 160 to 260, through Digital Transitions out of NY,  and have had mine for about 2 weeks.  I had demoed 260 in mid June against my 160 and felt the "cross-upgrade" was worth it.

I have not tried any longer exposures than 10 seconds heat here really won't allow it.  The rules for long exposure are the same as I understand them as with a P45+, 1 hour exposures in outdoor temps 69 degrees or lower and it will be a while here before that occurs.

I haven't had a chance (probably won't for a while) to test heat-variation in long exposure. But the sensor architect indicated that the herding technique they are using with the IQ260 (see IQ260 Sensor Story) will make it modestly less sensitive to ambient temperature than the P45+. But for sure ALL sensors do less well (especially regarding high ISO and long exposure) in heat than in cold.

I feel that iso 50 has a bit more head room than iso 50 on the 160 (which was the same chip as the older P65+ especially with highlights.  Shadows show a smoother tonality but I currently don't feel you can push them any more than with the 160.  

Wifi, overall not that impressed as I thought I would be.  As you point out there is a bit of a lag as the images load (2nd gen ipad).  But to me the single biggest issue is that the images load very dark and Capture Pilot seems to over-ride the brightness indicator on the ipad. There is no adjustment in the app for brightness that I can find.  The retina display is not fully utilized currently by Capture Pilot (Phase One knows this and promises improvements maybe).  In my tests it took 20 seconds for the image to become static (not have the wheel turning at the top).  You can zoom in when the wheel is turning, but if you do this a lot it seems to lock up the ipad/back connection.  

This does not match my experience. We should troubleshoot this together. Biggest (easy) cause of problems is having the device bluetooth on.
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Craig Stocks
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« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2013, 10:51:29 AM »
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Thanks for the hints and help. I'll definitely move the histogram to the middle of the stack.

Yes, I know you're not supposed to judge exposure by the LCD, but on the P65+, I had good success with it (in conjunction with highlight warnings and an occasional look at the histogram). The IQ260 looks different. It's better, but not what I was used to, so I was pointing out the difference.

I have no doubt that Capture One (in skilled hands) can produce better output. I've tried to love it, but it just doesn't fit my own workflow very well (back and forth to Photoshop). It does seem to handle single pixel noise better, even with all noise reduction turned off.  Also, Lightroom 5 is using a beta camera profile for the IQ260, so the colors seem start out a but funky. A custom Color Checker profile seems to help.

I was checking and highlighting both. I've now discovered that C1 is putting the jpeg in the original folder rather than "My Pictures" as selected in the "OUTPUT LOCATION." Oh well, eventually I'll get the hang of it.

The point of my comparison was to look at the difference between ISO 50 and ISO 140 LE. I used the one minute time since that's my most likely upper limit, and I didn't want to spend all day taking 30 minute exposures (and dark frames).  I did check in C1 as well as Lightroom and I see the same difference both places. The ISO 140 LE file is slightly softer, similar to something between a 1 and 2 pixel dust and scratch filter in Photoshop.

I all honesty, ISO 140 LE is at least as good as I had hoped, and maybe better. I didn't have any illusions that it would be as good as the base ISO - if it were that good it would be the base ISO. I really wanted to see what I'd have to give up in order to play in the long exposure arena, and I'm not disappointed.

I doubt if I'll have time today, but I can try to post samples tomorrow.
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Paul2660
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« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2013, 10:52:00 AM »
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Live view on these are the same as live view on the on the 160 180 etc.. Hard to use and in  Brightlight long lag times blooming etc. I guess until CMOS comes up that will be given on these backs.

Paul Caldwell
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2013, 02:30:38 PM »
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For continuity:

The OP posted an example of the "softening" effect he saw when using long exposure mode in another forum.

Looks likely the issue was just diffraction (using f/22 for long exposure mode and f12 for the normal mode... F/22 will diffract heavily in this system).
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« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2013, 03:07:44 PM »
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Hi Doug,

Yes, obviously, but I just want to point out that f/22 will loose a lot of microcontrast on any system, but with a higher resolution system you have more to loose.

Best regards
Erik


For continuity:

The OP posted an example of the "softening" effect he saw when using long exposure mode in another forum.

Looks likely the issue was just diffraction (using f/22 for long exposure mode and f12 for the normal mode... F/22 will diffract heavily in this system).
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Craig Stocks
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« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2013, 10:35:32 PM »
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Well, don't I feel silly. I was so focused on keeping the exposure time constant that I didn't think about diffraction. I just re-did the test keeping 1 minute exposure at f/11 by moving the light closer or further away. As Doug suggested, I don't see any deterioration in sharpness, and ISO 140 LE is clearly better on noise.

Sorry for jumping to the wrong conclusion.  Thanks for helping me sort it out.
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