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Thread: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

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    IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    I've spent a fair amount of time this morning experimenting with frame averaging on the IQ4150. I posted yesterday that frame averaged results are far superior to single frames in terms of noise but I also wanted to compare to traditionally stacked and averaged images using Photoshop.

    Observations and questions:

    Frame averaging can greatly reduce noise which allows a lot of latitude to lift exposure and shadows without incurring excessive noise.

    It does not (my opinion) increase dynamic range. Bright highlights and deep shadows are equally recoverable in a single frame or FA, there's just less noise when averaged. Exposing for the highlights and lifting shadows in post can yield a clean image, but it doesn't automatically do any tone mapping.

    Taking individual frames and averaging in Photoshop is no worse and may be slightly better than averaging in the IQ4150. Note that in this test I pushed exposure, etc. in Capture One working with RAW files and then stacked the resulting images.

    I have seen some magenta artifacts when bright highlights are present for only a small portion of the total frame average exposures. I'm still exploring this issue and working with my dealer.

    The explanation from Phase One is still somewhat convoluted. I'm curious if it does the calculations on RAW date or after demosaicing. Stacking in Photoshop has to be done on a demosaiced image.

    Samples and test:

    I arranged a simple, high contrast scene in my studio. All samples were captured at ISO 50 @ 1 second and I used 10-frame stacks for comparison. I processed all frames in Capture One by setting the WB to Tungsten, and then pushed Exposure, Highlights and Shadows to the max. I also pushed contrast almost to the max.

    I exported the test images as 16-bit ProPhoto PSDs and stacked in Mean stacking mode in Photoshop for comparison.

    The samples here were cropped to 100% and saved as sRGB JPEGs.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Not much of a surprise - processing a PSD in Photoshop is MUCH worse than processing the RAW in C1. For this comparison I output the original unadjusted 16-bit ProPhoto files from C1 and then stacked in Photoshop. I then attempted to brighten the images in PS. Single frame, stacked in Photoshop and frame averaged in the camera all look equally bad.

    Brighten shadows in RAW and then stack in PS to reduce noise - GOOD

    Stack in PS to reduce noise then brighten shadows in PS - BAD
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Stocks View Post
    Not much of a surprise - processing a PSD in Photoshop is MUCH worse than processing the RAW in C1. For this comparison I output the original unadjusted 16-bit ProPhoto files from C1 and then stacked in Photoshop. I then attempted to brighten the images in PS. Single frame, stacked in Photoshop and frame averaged in the camera all look equally bad.

    Brighten shadows in RAW and then stack in PS to reduce noise - GOOD

    Stack in PS to reduce noise then brighten shadows in PS - BAD
    In my experience, it is always better to brighten shadows in RAW than in TIFF, regardless if you do raw manipulation in C1, LR or ACR.

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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Stocks View Post
    The explanation from Phase One is still somewhat convoluted. I'm curious if it does the calculations on RAW date or after demosaicing. Stacking in Photoshop has to be done on a demosaiced image.
    I agree Phase One's answer is hard to parse.

    Given that the result is a raw file (with a file size commensurate to true raw data, not RGB/demosaic'd data) it's clear the math is done on the raw pixel level, not after demosaicing.
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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Stocks View Post
    I've spent a fair amount of time this morning experimenting with frame averaging on the IQ4150. I posted yesterday that frame averaged results are far superior to single frames in terms of noise but I also wanted to compare to traditionally stacked and averaged images using Photoshop.
    Thanks for the tests. Have you tried varying the number of frames? I wonder how many are necessary to make the noise disappear entirely. My D850 can do multiple exposures and generates an averaged raw file (14-bit, max 10 frames). I am not comparing the image quality of D850 with IQ4150 here. I wonder if I should use my D850's multiple exposure more often to extract the last bit of image quality.

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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Here is another example, my first experiment. 0.5 sec, f/11, ISO 50. ~ 4 stops underexposed. This is 100% crop after +4 Exposure and 30 Shadows. Std left, 20 frames FA right.

    Dave

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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Dave

    Do you use the Topaz Denoise AI software.

    Just curious is you run the denoise on the none frame averaging shot if the end result will be similar? Topaz has really nailed noise reduction without loss of details.

    Paul C

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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by SrMphoto View Post
    I wonder how many are necessary to make the noise disappear entirely.
    An infinite number. How many to make the noise invisible at the desired viewing distance? That's another question.

    😉
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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul2660 View Post
    Dave

    Do you use the Topaz Denoise AI software.

    Just curious is you run the denoise on the none frame averaging shot if the end result will be similar? Topaz has really nailed noise reduction without loss of details.

    Paul C
    Hi Paul,
    No I do not, that is a good point. In fact, it has been several years since I've done any noise reduction at all on files above my defaults in C1/LR. That goes for other camera systems too: IQ180, IQ3100, a7rii and even the 18mp Leica Monochrom. I know that sounds crazy; I just never see noise anymore in a print. Well, maybe it is more accurate to say I haven't worried about it in a print. Perhaps it has been visible but I have not taken the time to notice. I've made several 90" prints, but most of those are two-image stitched panos and they were all at base ISO.

    I am not too sure about how I am going to use this feature. On the one hand:
    • It is pretty easy to use, so why not use it whenever possible.
    • When files are really pushed you can, at least on-screen, see a clear difference.

    On the other hand, I'm not sure how often this noise benefit is going to "expose itself" in a print. And as you point out, I could at least make a minimal effort to reduce that single-frame noise! There are, of course, other benefits to FA like eliminating the need to carry a bunch of ND filters and getting rid of things like those crazy birds flying around Stokksnes.


    Dave
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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by JimKasson View Post
    An infinite number. How many to make the noise invisible at the desired viewing distance? That's another question.

    😉
    I would posit that "inoffensive" is a better standard than invisible. That is, of course, subjective, but seems to be the final result that you should care about.

    Some images benefit from heavy grain. Some do not. The question is what camera, technique, and post processing will get you the image you want with the amount of grain that fits the image (whether high, low, or near zero).
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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Hi Dave

    I agree itís a interesting question as to how to use it.

    Outdoor shots itís always going to need a 2nd shot to blend back due to movement issues. Problem is the combination as the FA shots appear smoother to my eye i.e. no grain. So combination on a oak tree or pine tree would be a time consuming event vs just running a nose reduction tool.

    But I agree it makes sense to run a few in each series.

    Still need to get out and do some stream work.

    Paul C

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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by SrMphoto View Post
    Have you tried varying the number of frames? I wonder how many are necessary to make the noise disappear entirely.
    I'd say it depends on your camera, the scene and your expectations. With my test scene and pushing the exposure very aggressively I've found that 10 frames is more than enough with the IQ4150 where the Sony a7R2 needs 16 to 32 frames and my old Sony a6000 never catches up even with 96 frames. (Older Sony cameras support the Play Memories apps which includes one call "Smooth Reflections" that does in-camera averaging and outputs a RAW file.)

    There is definitely a trend of diminishing returns as you add additional frames. Each frame contributes 1/n where n is the number of frames. So frame 5 contributes 1/5th, frame 10 contributes 1/10th and frame 100 contributes just 1/100th to the average. Again, considering the a6000, there isn't much difference between 32 and 96 frames.

    I think that I will start using frame averaging more and more. I don't see it as much or any of an advantage for a well lit and well exposed scene but it can work wonders if you need to aggressively work a scene post processing. I'll try to use it for foreground frames when doing night sky photos when I can live within the 2 second shutter speed, otherwise I'll continue to stack in Photoshop. We're taking the kids and grand kids to the beach next week and the a6000 will be my only camera so I expect I'll use frame averaging when I can to get more out of an aging camera.

    FWIW I wouldn't expect any noise reduction process to be able to compete with frame averaging. Frame averaging truly adds additional data to the image whereas noise reduction can only spread, average or smear existing data.
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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpeterson View Post
    I would posit that "inoffensive" is a better standard than invisible. That is, of course, subjective, but seems to be the final result that you should care about.

    Some images benefit from heavy grain. Some do not. The question is what camera, technique, and post processing will get you the image you want with the amount of grain that fits the image (whether high, low, or near zero).
    Very sensible. After all, we are presumably photographing with a purpose, and IQ beyond that which achieves our purpose is unnecessary.

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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    My thoughts as I have not tried to use Frame Averaging much outdoors is that if there is a chance of 'Any' camera movement due to wind it would probably be advantageous to use a 10 stop ND. Any slight movement would probably not be noticed due to the long exposure where with Frame Averaging (again I haven't tried this under these conditions) any movement is reported to be very destructive.

    Random thoughts.......

    Victor

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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by vjbelle View Post
    My thoughts as I have not tried to use Frame Averaging much outdoors is that if there is a chance of 'Any' camera movement due to wind it would probably be advantageous to use a 10 stop ND. Any slight movement would probably not be noticed due to the long exposure where with Frame Averaging (again I haven't tried this under these conditions) any movement is reported to be very destructive.

    Random thoughts.......

    Victor
    I think movement is movement regardless of whether you use a 10 stop ND or frame averaging to achieve the same exposure time. Camera movement will probably always be a problem, subject movement may or may not depending on the subject. However, frame averaging with a shutter speed that's too fast for continuous capture may show some artifacts depending on the scene, the motion, the number of frames and the shutter speed. So far in my very limited experience subject motion hasn't been a problem but I can certainly imagine scenarios where it would be.
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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by vjbelle View Post
    My thoughts as I have not tried to use Frame Averaging much outdoors is that if there is a chance of 'Any' camera movement due to wind it would probably be advantageous to use a 10 stop ND. Any slight movement would probably not be noticed due to the long exposure where with Frame Averaging (again I haven't tried this under these conditions) any movement is reported to be very destructive.

    Random thoughts.......

    Victor
    Frame averaging (in camera or in post) gives you a similar result as ND filter. Pixel shift is a technology where movement tends to cause problems.

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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    I was thinking back to the images presented by Phase with one shot in Skye at the lighthouse. There was some criticism about the slight blur of the image due to some slight camera movement. I am thinking that the slight 'blur' would have been eliminated by using a like time frame with ND's. The camera movement was probably very random and would have been overshadowed/eliminated by the non-movement time.

    Again.... I have no experience with this but will in time.

    Victor

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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by SrMphoto View Post
    Frame averaging (in camera or in post) gives you a similar result as ND filter. Pixel shift is a technology where movement tends to cause problems.
    Movement of any kind is totally blurred in P1 Frame Averagine, even a slight breeze can and will disrupt the shot, and the effect is not the same as with a ND over the same time frame. The blur is most times chopped, even with the frame averaging set to no gapping. Leaves, and tree branches are very easily blurred. And in fact the comment on Pixel shift and movement is a bit misconstrued. Pixel shift at least on a K1 Pentax needed the camera to be still (no different than P1 and Frame Averaging). Subject movement could be handled very well, unless there was a strong wind blowing. LR/ACR did a TERRIBLE job on this, and that was most folks saw. C1 never did a raw conversion for Pixel shift (sadly) but tools like Iridient and or Silky Pix both proved that you can get a very good image from a subject where there was movement. In fact no artifacts at all.

    I wrote up a article on my site that shows the differences in what various raw converters did with the K1 images. Sadly, Adobe did their one and done look at the K1 as they do for most raws and C1 never even attempted to convert them. The fact that Iridient could easily out perform Adobe on the raw conversion of K1 Pixel shift was at enhanced after Iridient started to allow Dng output. Prior to that I never used them as their raw tool set can't compare to either C1 or LR/ACR.

    https://photosofarkansas.com/2017/06...-and-silkypix/

    Frame Averaging in P1 can't handle any subject movement at least from what I have seen so far. You need 100% no wind.

    Paul C


    Paul C

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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    It appears there are two basic reasons for using frame averaging, simulating a long exposure like you would get with a neutral density filter or minimizing noise in shadows. Neither use is new but it's exciting to have access to the tool right in camera.

    Astrophotographers have been using frame averaging for years to reduce noise in order to brighten and stretch dark areas. This article does a good job of explaining that it's really about total exposure time, not total number of exposures. Astrophotographers frequently talk in terms of the number of hours of total exposure time on a target with all of the frames stacked and averaged.

    https://www.skyandtelescope.com/astr...acking-signal/
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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Yes, stacking has been in use for quite a while in the Astrophotography world. Mean and Maximum mode in Photoshop, which were as I understand it discovered quite by accident and put into Photoshop around Version 4 or so with the "stack modes".

    https://photosofarkansas.com/2014/09...raphy-results/

    I still use this same process when I go after Star Trails, and it can be use for Milky Way work also, but workflow is different, but same result, less noise and better color in the Milky Way.

    Paul C

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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    There are a number of approaches for astrophotographers.

    For deep sky images from a telescope most use either Deep Sky Stacker or PixInsight. Both can process RAW files along with dark, flat and bias frames. They can also automatically align the frames as there is frequently some drift over time, even with a good tracking mount.

    For widefield astro-landscape photos Starry Landscape Stacker (Mac only) or Sequitor (Windows only) are common. Again they can read RAW files, align based on star patterns and handle additional files to help manage noise and vignetting. They can also separate the sky portion from the foreground and process it separately (the stars move and need to be aligned, the foreground doesnít move).

    The various dedicated astro-stacking tools offer the advantage of stacking RAW files rather than demosiaced photos. They generally offer quite a few processing and averaging options that Iím not even smart enough to list, much less describe.

    And of course you can use Photoshop but it only works on files after theyíre processed from RAW. The old school way is by adjusting layer opacity once the frames are loaded into the layer stack. The bottom layer is at 100%, layer 2 is at 50%, three at 33%, 4 at 25% and so on. The result is the average of all layers. The modern approach is lo load the layers into a smart object and then choose a smart object stacking mode of Mean or Median. Mathematically the Mean stack mode is identical to adjusting layer opacity.

    For noise reduction Iíve found comparable results frame averaging in camera versus processing in C1 and then stacking ďfinishedĒ frames in PS. Stacking in PS is more hassle but does offer some flexibility advantages. If youíre using averaging in lieu of ND filters then doing it in camera can provide the advantage of continuous capture whereas individual frames will always have a time gap.

    For star trails I simply load the frames into the layer stack and change all of their blending modes to Lighten, no smart object needed.

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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Frame averaging is very common in scientific imaging. I ran a number of microscopes that could use that. Most commonly you are using it when exposures were really marginal, usually a variation of fluorescence, either epi-fluorescence or confocal. It was one method of separating detail from noise particularly with low-resolution chips. As Craig notes, there are really great reason to use it for astrophotography and I have seen stunning results. For general photography with relatively high light levels and high resolution sensors, the benefits for prints is less clear--folks are posting some extreme examples at 100% in this thread just to see it. Having printed a lot of images on a 42" printer and knowing how viewers parse images, I am not sure how much return the technique will have practically speaking. Still, if you have it, use it. There may also be creative applications...

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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul2660 View Post
    Movement of any kind is totally blurred in P1 Frame Averagine, even a slight breeze can and will disrupt the shot, and the effect is not the same as with a ND over the same time frame. The blur is most times chopped, even with the frame averaging set to no gapping.
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul2660 View Post
    Frame Averaging in P1 can't handle any subject movement at least from what I have seen so far. You need 100% no wind.
    Frame averaging is a form of long exposure. It handles motion the same way as a long exposure if:
    - you use a shutter speed that results in gapless capture
    - you use a shutter speed that does not result in gapless capture but you use enough frames that the gaps average out

    It's expected that, in order to get to (or near enough to) gapless capture, you might need a 2-3 stop ND filter or a polarizer filter. If you use no filters it's likely you'll need a couple dozen frames at minimum to achieve that gapless (non staccato) look.

    In your case, since you dislike the aesthetic of subject movement in the breeze (this is not a judgement on my end; just clarifying your preference for others) it would only be useful in highly static scenes (e.g. desert rock formations). For others who were already purposefully doing long exposures (and in some cases going to some lengths to get such long exposures, such as testing multiple brands of 20 stop ND filters and gaffe taping their bodies) this represents a huge improvement in that workflow.
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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    For general photography with relatively high light levels and high resolution sensors, the benefits for prints is less clear--folks are posting some extreme examples at 100% in this thread just to see it. Having printed a lot of images on a 42" printer and knowing how viewers parse images, I am not sure how much return the technique will have practically speaking. Still, if you have it, use it. There may also be creative applications...
    The single-shot raw fidelity of a Phase One IQ4 150mp was already best-in-class, so it stands to reason that the decreased noise level from frame averaging will definitely be most noticeable on very large prints, very high res digital use (e.g. 4k monitor with a pinch-able zoom) or for heavy crops, and even then only in scenes with high/challenging dynamic range.

    Of course I just described a good chunk of the use cases for our typical Phase One user .
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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Extreme long exposure with ND filter usually is fine with windy condition. If this Frame Averaging only works with "no windy condition", it's not useful for landscape photography.
    Just a short question, as a plain Phase One user. I really need straight answers.
    Can I replace 10-15-stop ND with this Frame Averaging for landscape photography?
    Is it real or just hype?
    I've paid almost $50, 000 for this camera. Sony A7R IV costs ~ $3, 500. Fuji GFX 100 costs $10, 000. The MINT Fuji GF 32-64 + 110-200 + 23mm cost only $4, 000.
    I am irritated and confused about this issue now.
    I expect the best for the IQ4 150. Not over-promised and under-delivery.
    Thank you for your help. These questions are for anyone.

    Best regards,

    Pramote

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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Stocks View Post
    There are a number of approaches for astrophotographers.

    For deep sky images from a telescope most use either Deep Sky Stacker or PixInsight. Both can process RAW files along with dark, flat and bias frames. They can also automatically align the frames as there is frequently some drift over time, even with a good tracking mount.

    For widefield astro-landscape photos Starry Landscape Stacker (Mac only) or Sequitor (Windows only) are common. Again they can read RAW files, align based on star patterns and handle additional files to help manage noise and vignetting. They can also separate the sky portion from the foreground and process it separately (the stars move and need to be aligned, the foreground doesn’t move).

    The various dedicated astro-stacking tools offer the advantage of stacking RAW files rather than demosiaced photos. They generally offer quite a few processing and averaging options that I’m not even smart enough to list, much less describe.

    And of course you can use Photoshop but it only works on files after they’re processed from RAW. The old school way is by adjusting layer opacity once the frames are loaded into the layer stack. The bottom layer is at 100%, layer 2 is at 50%, three at 33%, 4 at 25% and so on. The result is the average of all layers. The modern approach is lo load the layers into a smart object and then choose a smart object stacking mode of Mean or Median. Mathematically the Mean stack mode is identical to adjusting layer opacity.

    For noise reduction I’ve found comparable results frame averaging in camera versus processing in C1 and then stacking “finished” frames in PS. Stacking in PS is more hassle but does offer some flexibility advantages. If you’re using averaging in lieu of ND filters then doing it in camera can provide the advantage of continuous capture whereas individual frames will always have a time gap.

    For star trails I simply load the frames into the layer stack and change all of their blending modes to Lighten, no smart object needed.
    A great summary of the pros/cons/limitations!
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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Landscapelover View Post
    Extreme long exposure with ND filter usually is fine with windy condition. If this Frame Averaging only works with "no windy condition", it's not useful for landscape photography.
    Just a short question, as a plain Phase One user. I really need straight answers.
    Can I replace 10-15-stop ND with this Frame Averaging for landscape photography?
    Is it real or just hype?
    I've paid almost $50, 000 for this camera. Sony A7R IV costs ~ $3, 500. Fuji GFX 100 costs $10, 000. The MINT Fuji GF 32-64 + 110-200 + 23mm cost only $4, 000.
    I am irritated and confused about this issue now.
    I expect the best for the IQ4 150. Not over-promised and under-delivery.
    Thank you for your help. These questions are for anyone.

    Best regards,

    Pramote
    I may be confused, but with a ND and long exposure, wind movement will will the same issue? as you are attempting a single long exposure say 2 minutes and anything moving will be a blur, especially leaves, and branches of trees. In a city scape, car lights will be streamed, etc. Clouds will be turned into a flow of movement, again very dependent on the wind/cloud movement/time etc.

    You should be able to get a very similar effect with Frame Averaging. The key as has been pointed out is as close to gapless as possible. And to figure that out, the only way I know is to pick a total time of exposure and then play with the other settings, shutter speed/ISO/single exposure time and see if you can get to gapless. Right now the single longest exposure is 2.0 seconds and shortest is .25 (1/4) of sec (have to have to camera set to 14 bit, if in 16 bit shortest is 0.9.

    From my images, the difference in noise/gain in details is pretty significant, and is better than a single long exposure even at base ISO with a ND 10x etc. As Doug pointed out, the key is try to get gapless as possible so you don't get the staccato look to leaves, (which would not happen with a single long exposure). Shadow details are improved significantly enough that it makes sense (at least to me) to always fire off a few frames.

    The only thing I have noticed over and over is the frame averaged images can take on a creamy look to themselves, very smooth in areas where you might still want texture. This doesn't always happen as bad as other times and it's very easy to get the grain back in C1.

    There are many places outside of my state where I would start with Frame Averaging immediately, due to the overall static nature of the subject. It will be interesting to see what FA does for a sunrise/sunset, say a 2 minute exposure or 5 minute with movement of sun.

    If any type of an alignment process/step can be implemented in the future, P1 will have created the ultimate camera solution at least for my type of landscape work. Doubt that can be done as all the combinations are being done in the back, and this would require some pretty heavy lifting, but after all the back is running Linux, so maybe the next generation 200MP back will have this.

    Paul C
    Paul Caldwell
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    www.photosofarkansas.com
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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul2660 View Post
    The only thing I have noticed over and over is the frame averaged images can take on a creamy look to themselves, very smooth in areas where you might still want texture. This doesn't always happen as bad as other times and it's very easy to get the grain back in C1.
    The extremely smooth very-very-very low noise look of frame averaging really threw me at first. Until you really look very carefully at subject matter to compare what actual real-world-detail is recorded it can almost make the image look soft or out of focus. This isn't that unexpected; grain/noise naturally makes an image look sharper, so reducing grain/noise can make an image look less sharp.

    I wouldn't be surprised if most people find they sharpen frame-averaged raws a bit more than single-capture raws, not because they contain less detail, but because they contain (virtually) no noise that would otherwise enhance the sense of detail.
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Landscapelover View Post
    Extreme long exposure with ND filter usually is fine with windy condition. If this Frame Averaging only works with "no windy condition", it's not useful for landscape photography.
    Just a short question, as a plain Phase One user. I really need straight answers.
    Can I replace 10-15-stop ND with this Frame Averaging for landscape photography?
    Is it real or just hype?
    Of course the best way to answer this if for you to do your own testing. But for most people I think the answer is yes, "this will replace your 10-15-stop ND with this Frame Averaging for landscape photography" at least a lot of the time. You may still want to have a 2-3 stop filter or polarizer in some cases to help get the shutter speed longer and either gapless or close to gapless.

    Note that Paul's comments are based on and specific to his desire to have imagery that has no motion blur. Either high-ND-filter long exposure or frame-averaging long exposures will render motion with blur.

    If you have something that is moving (e.g. swaying tree branches) and want to render it sharply neither high-ND-filter, nor frame-averaging is an acceptable approach, at least by themselves. In some cases a single fast exposure could be blended in Photoshop with a longer exposure (whether via high-ND-filter or frame-averaging).
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    I really hope Phase One can extend the slowest shutter speed. Right now if you want gapless capture you have to live in a very narrow range from around 1/2 second to less than 2 seconds (2 seconds is the max but tends to go into an infinite loop so it isn't really usable). Sensor read speeds probably won't allow faster shutter speeds but I don't understand why it needs to be limited to 2 seconds. Sunset, blue hour and nightscapes frequently go well beyond 2 second shutter speeds and would be common use cases for frame averaging.

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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Stocks View Post
    I really hope Phase One can extend the slowest shutter speed. Right now if you want gapless capture you have to live in a very narrow range from around 1/2 second to less than 2 seconds (2 seconds is the max but tends to go into an infinite loop so it isn't really usable). Sensor read speeds probably won't allow faster shutter speeds but I don't understand why it needs to be limited to 2 seconds. Sunset, blue hour and nightscapes frequently go well beyond 2 second shutter speeds and would be common use cases for frame averaging.
    Think about a scene that needs 8 seconds at ISO 50 and you can reasonably spend 2 minutes capturing (reasonably meaning the stability you think your tripod can provide, or before you get bored, or before the cost-benefit of moving on to other scenes kicks in, or before the light changes, or before car headlights are likely to come into the scene etc).

    Compare the following:
    A) 15 frames at 8 seconds each at ISO 50 (not possible with current firmware)
    B) 60 frames at 2 seconds each at ISO 200 (is possible with current firmware)

    Each frame of (A) will be lower in noise due to the lower ISO but there are more frames of (B) to average.

    I suspect P1 R+D tested both and found the end result of (B) ends up either ahead or roughly the same. The math would say (A) has a one stop advantage, but there may be other factors like sensor temperature and sensor-long-exposure behavior and darkframe behavior that offset that advantage.

    That said, if for no other reason than simplicity (i.e. not having to change exposure settings between single captures and frame averaging), I also hope this range is extended. You're right that I don't think it can be made shorter (for gapless captures) due to sensor-hardware constraints.
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpeterson View Post
    Think about a scene that needs 8 seconds at ISO 50 and you can reasonably spend 2 minutes capturing (reasonably meaning the stability you think your tripod can provide, or before you get bored, or before the cost-benefit of moving on to other scenes kicks in, or before the light changes, or before car headlights are likely to come into the scene etc).

    Compare the following:
    A) 15 frames at 8 seconds each at ISO 50 (not possible with current firmware)
    B) 60 frames at 2 seconds each at ISO 200 (is possible with current firmware)

    Each frame of (A) will be lower in noise due to the lower ISO but there are more frames of (B) to average.

    I suspect P1 R+D tested both and found the end result of (B) ends up either ahead or roughly the same. The math would say (A) has a one stop advantage, but there may be other factors like sensor temperature and sensor-long-exposure behavior and darkframe behavior that offset that advantage.

    That said, if for no other reason than simplicity (i.e. not having to change exposure settings between single captures and frame averaging), I also hope this range is extended. You're right that I don't think it can be made shorter (for gapless captures) due to sensor-hardware constraints.
    I tried it with my test scene. Of course, with current firmware and the 2 second limit I had to increase ISO to keep the shutter speed below 2 seconds (since the camera goes into an infinite loop at 2 seconds). I shot:

    8 seconds, ISO 50 single frame

    1.6 seconds, ISO 250 single frame

    1.6 seconds, ISO 250 average from 8 frames

    1.6 seconds, ISO 250 average from 20 frames

    For normal processing all but the single ISO 250 frame were usable. When pushed aggressively to highlight shadow noise the average of 8 was a little worse than the single ISO 50 frame and the average of 20 frames was a little cleaner.

    In terms of camera workflow though I'd still much rather keep the same 8 second shutter speed and simply activate the FA tool. Otherwise there is a short dance as you adjust ISO up and shutter speed down to get below 2 seconds. That also makes it rather impractical to go back and forth between single frames and FA.

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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpeterson View Post
    Think about a scene that needs 8 seconds at ISO 50 and you can reasonably spend 2 minutes capturing (reasonably meaning the stability you think your tripod can provide, or before you get bored, or before the cost-benefit of moving on to other scenes kicks in, or before the light changes, or before car headlights are likely to come into the scene etc).

    Compare the following:
    A) 15 frames at 8 seconds each at ISO 50 (not possible with current firmware)
    B) 60 frames at 2 seconds each at ISO 200 (is possible with current firmware)

    Each frame of (A) will be lower in noise due to the lower ISO but there are more frames of (B) to average.

    I suspect P1 R+D tested both and found the end result of (B) ends up either ahead or roughly the same. The math would say (A) has a one stop advantage, but there may be other factors like sensor temperature and sensor-long-exposure behavior and darkframe behavior that offset that advantage.

    That said, if for no other reason than simplicity (i.e. not having to change exposure settings between single captures and frame averaging), I also hope this range is extended. You're right that I don't think it can be made shorter (for gapless captures) due to sensor-hardware constraints.

    Seems like another scenario where the lowest ISO may not achieve the best result, more rethinking of how we would have previously approached the scenario using single capture mode. With FA, ISO is (to an extent) less of a noise-quality issue as the FA process itself eliminates noise. So much in the same way everyone is concerned that you can't set FA to 16bit only, this is no longer the same process once you enter the FA Twilight Zone realm there are a different set of rules. This is going to take some unlearning and relearning on photog's part. IF P1 could do an entire tech piece on this it would be most helpful for the IQ4 owners rather than have us all guess our way through it.

    R
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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by RLB View Post
    Seems like another scenario where the lowest ISO may not achieve the best result, more rethinking of how we would have previously approached the scenario using single capture mode. With FA, ISO is (to an extent) less of a noise-quality issue as the FA process itself eliminates noise. So much in the same way everyone is concerned that you can't set FA to 16bit only, this is no longer the same process once you enter the FA Twilight Zone realm there are a different set of rules. This is going to take some unlearning and relearning on photog's part. IF P1 could do an entire tech piece on this it would be most helpful for the IQ4 owners rather than have us all guess our way through it.
    Agreed. In our first IQ4 150mp Frame Averaging article we tried to get at this by saying that the Photographic Triangle was now more of a Photographic Pyramid since this is a new dimension. But building on your Twilight Zone theme, maybe the analogy is more then "upsidedown" dimension from Stranger Things .

    I agree we could use more information from Phase One, but this is the role that good dealers and forums have played in the past. I'm honestly a bit less interested in how Phase One thinks this tool should be used and more interested in how clients use it and what our own testing at DT shows. That said, more points of data/reference are always welcome, especially from the engineers who code all this stuff into existence!
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Stocks View Post
    I tried it with my test scene. Of course, with current firmware and the 2 second limit I had to increase ISO to keep the shutter speed below 2 seconds (since the camera goes into an infinite loop at 2 seconds). I shot:

    8 seconds, ISO 50 single frame

    1.6 seconds, ISO 250 single frame

    1.6 seconds, ISO 250 average from 8 frames

    1.6 seconds, ISO 250 average from 20 frames

    For normal processing all but the single ISO 250 frame were usable. When pushed aggressively to highlight shadow noise the average of 8 was a little worse than the single ISO 50 frame and the average of 20 frames was a little cleaner.
    That's great information. Though it may not hold once you get to 8 seconds; hard to know since they lock us out of testing it .

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Stocks View Post
    In terms of camera workflow though I'd still much rather keep the same 8 second shutter speed and simply activate the FA tool. Otherwise there is a short dance as you adjust ISO up and shutter speed down to get below 2 seconds. That also makes it rather impractical to go back and forth between single frames and FA.
    Agree 100%.
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpeterson View Post
    That's great information. Though it may not hold once you get to 8 seconds; hard to know since they lock us out of testing it .
    Agree 100%.
    Actually we can simulate a test by taking multiple frames and averaging in Photoshop - which I determined earlier gives nearly identical results. In this case, stacking nine 8-second frames yields a much cleaner image, though to be fair, it was already pretty darn good. I really have to artificially push the exposure and contrast to bring out the grain.
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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpeterson View Post
    I agree we could use more information from Phase One, but this is the role that good dealers and forums have played in the past. I'm honestly a bit less interested in how Phase One thinks this tool should be used and more interested in how clients use it and what our own testing at DT shows. That said, more points of data/reference are always welcome, especially from the engineers who code all this stuff into existence!

    While I agree with this to an extent, P1 who designed and built the IQ4 absolutely has thoughtful intent into how the FA should function. This should not be a cat and mouse game of trying to figure out how to make FA work the way it was intended, not the dealer or end user. Sure as artist we will come up with ways P1 may have not considered, but what I'm asking for is the basis of operation.

    R
    Last edited by RLB; 29th July 2019 at 10:50.
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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    I think there is a lot of fundamental misunderstanding going on as to what frame averaging does.

    It does nothing more or less than taking 10 pictures and averaging them in photoshop. But does so at the raw capture level via data from the sensor.


    Anytime you shoot a long exposure where you capture movement through use of an ND or not you can use frame averaging for that.

    The "windy" scenario will only matter when you are trying to capture a scene with a relatively short ish exposure. So that is assuming you have plenty of light and the Noise advantage will really be minimal in terms of simply capturing the shot as intended.

    The movement in the scene will be limited by shutter speed so if you need like 1/250 to stop wind movement. You need to shoot at that speed, and in that scenario you will not be able to use frame averaging as there will be movement. But imo you really don't need to be using frame averaging in such light conditions anyway as there is plenty of light. If you really really needed noise performance for shadows you could take 2 shots yourself and average manually and would probably still gain a lot of noise benefits and you could only average the selected areas.

    Fundamentally frame averaging in the scenarios where it is useful (low light / boosting shadows) is no different than using a long shutter speed where if there is movement in the scene it will be recorded via the long shutter.

    Edit: one final note. Noise adds to perceived detail, that is why sometimes people add noise to make a image look sharper. When a FA image looks to smooth is because it lacks the perceived detail added by noise. A simple experiment will be to add grain to a FA shot and you will see it will look sharper.

    An interesting thing is you could probably sharpen a lot more on a FA shot due to no noise you would get far less artifacting.

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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Boinger View Post
    I think there is a lot of fundamental misunderstanding going on as to what frame averaging does.

    It does nothing more or less than taking 10 pictures and averaging them in photoshop. But does so at the raw capture level via data from the sensor.


    Anytime you shoot a long exposure where you capture movement through use of an ND or not you can use frame averaging for that.

    The "windy" scenario will only matter when you are trying to capture a scene with a relatively short ish exposure. So that is assuming you have plenty of light and the Noise advantage will really be minimal in terms of simply capturing the shot as intended.

    The movement in the scene will be limited by shutter speed so if you need like 1/250 to stop wind movement. You need to shoot at that speed, and in that scenario you will not be able to use frame averaging as there will be movement. But imo you really don't need to be using frame averaging in such light conditions anyway as there is plenty of light. If you really really needed noise performance for shadows you could take 2 shots yourself and average manually and would probably still gain a lot of noise benefits and you could only average the selected areas.

    Fundamentally frame averaging in the scenarios where it is useful (low light / boosting shadows) is no different than using a long shutter speed where if there is movement in the scene it will be recorded via the long shutter.

    Edit: one final note. Noise adds to perceived detail, that is why sometimes people add noise to make a image look sharper. When a FA image looks to smooth is because it lacks the perceived detail added by noise. A simple experiment will be to add grain to a FA shot and you will see it will look sharper.

    An interesting thing is you could probably sharpen a lot more on a FA shot due to no noise you would get far less artifacting.

    While I agree with most of your post I disagree with a few points.

    I believe FA is doing much more "taking 10 pictures and averaging them in PS" . I think the point is that's a workflow we are familiar with, but I beg to differ in that's not exactly what's happening behind the curtains in the IQ4 now, or more importantly what is planned for the future of this significant feature. I don't think we should over simplify what FA is doing, I feel P1 needs to give us all, users and dealers far more insight into this feature so we can exploit it properly, or as it may be, suggest changes in future features for it.

    I think its great that folks are willing to spend so much effort testing this...but P1 where are you? Help us understand this feature!

    Noise; the addition of noise in post can do two things; hide digital noise (oatmeal squishy style) with smaller sharper fine grain noise, or it can as you suggest add to "perceived sharpness" of the image. If the grain patter looks sharp our brains assume the image is as well. We often add specific kinds of noise when making large format output for these reasons although the type, size and grain structure very based on many factors. It's easy to overdo this, but as with spices the right amount makes it perfect.

    R

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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by RLB View Post
    While I agree with most of your post I disagree with a few points.

    I believe FA is doing much more "taking 10 pictures and averaging them in PS" . I think the point is that's a workflow we are familiar with, but I beg to differ in that's not exactly what's happening behind the curtains in the IQ4 now, or more importantly what is planned for the future of this significant feature. I don't think we should over simplify what FA is doing, I feel P1 needs to give us all, users and dealers far more insight into this feature so we can exploit it properly, or as it may be, suggest changes in future features for it.

    I think its great that folks are willing to spend so much effort testing this...but P1 where are you? Help us understand this feature!

    Noise; the addition of noise in post can do two things; hide digital noise (oatmeal squishy style) with smaller sharper fine grain noise, or it can as you suggest add to "perceived sharpness" of the image. If the grain patter looks sharp our brains assume the image is as well. We often add specific kinds of noise when making large format output for these reasons although the type, size and grain structure very based on many factors. It's easy to overdo this, but as with spices the right amount makes it perfect.

    R
    That is exactly what it is doing, but via the sensor sampling instead of processing it post capture.

    My theory is that at a specific pixel it will sample that pixel x amount of times by the chosen number of frames then average the data at that pixel and put that one averaged pixel into the raw file for that specific pixel.

    This is done on the whole sensor as it easy to do it this way instead of taking individual captures of 10 pictures of 150MP each and then averaging that in camera. The back doesn't have the processing power for that.

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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Boinger View Post
    That is exactly what it is doing, but via the sensor sampling instead of processing it post capture.

    My theory is that at a specific pixel it will sample that pixel x amount of times by the chosen number of frames then average the data at that pixel and put that one averaged pixel into the raw file for that specific pixel.

    This is done on the whole sensor as it easy to do it this way instead of taking individual captures of 10 pictures of 150MP each and then averaging that in camera. The back doesn't have the processing power for that.
    I agree mostly with your theory, but it would be nice if P1 would just tell us. And then explain the theory behind the settings options. I don't think its unreasonable at the price point to expect this.

    Doing this at the pixel level as you suggest makes far more sense in consideration of the monster size individual files.

    I appreciate, as I suspect others do as well, all of the testing done and information shared.

    R

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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    We know wind blowing leaves and tree branches will show motion blur when using a long exposure. And, it doesn't matter how you achieve the long exposure, either an ND filter or frame averaging will show motion blur. We also know that frame avera8, 16, ging with relatively short shutter speeds can create a stroboscopic effect.

    So, how bad is it? It's fairly windy here today so I did a quick test. I shot a single frame at ISO 50, 1/200th @ f/11 as a baseline. I then kept doubling the number of frames, 2, 4, 16, and so on up to 2 minutes. To my eye, even the two minute frame average shows some stroboscopic effects in the blurred leaves and branches but the clouds render just fine.

    Depending on the distance to the trees, the size of the print and your expectations they may work fine in print - or they may not. I would expect features like automotive light trails that don't wave back and forth to render much worse. (But, if it's dark enough to photograph light trails from cars you probably don't need an ND filter or frame averaging to create a long exposure.)

    I don't have my 10-stop ND filter so I can't do a direct comparison.

    The samples here show single frame, 2 frames, 16 frames and 2 minutes (around 150 frames as I recall).
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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    While Topaz denoise ai does a great job, I would hardly call it a replacement for noiseless capture. Even with low ISO images areas of fine detail that contain noise can get muddy when trying to remove shadow recovery detail. I love it on skies and large elements though - incredible.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul2660 View Post
    Dave

    Do you use the Topaz Denoise AI software.

    Just curious is you run the denoise on the none frame averaging shot if the end result will be similar? Topaz has really nailed noise reduction without loss of details.

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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    I agree this is a curious limitation. Of course you can adjust the ISO to get the correct exposure. Perhaps the effective SNR is the same or better averaging 4 2 second exposures at ISO 200 than in 1 8 second exposure at ISO 50.

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Stocks View Post
    I really hope Phase One can extend the slowest shutter speed. Right now if you want gapless capture you have to live in a very narrow range from around 1/2 second to less than 2 seconds (2 seconds is the max but tends to go into an infinite loop so it isn't really usable). Sensor read speeds probably won't allow faster shutter speeds but I don't understand why it needs to be limited to 2 seconds. Sunset, blue hour and nightscapes frequently go well beyond 2 second shutter speeds and would be common use cases for frame averaging.
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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    This statement confuses me. In a static scene, frame averaging doesnít smooth out texture that is in the subject. Why would you want noise when you can have true detail in the subject.
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul2660 View Post

    The only thing I have noticed over and over is the frame averaged images can take on a creamy look to themselves, very smooth in areas where you might still want texture. This doesn't always happen as bad as other times and it's very easy to get the grain back in C1.

    Paul C
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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by etrump View Post
    This statement confuses me. In a static scene, frame averaging doesn’t smooth out texture that is in the subject. Why would you want noise when you can have true detail in the subject.
    Hi Ed.

    To my eyes it does. Might be lack of noise thus less perceived details. Very easy for me to see in leaves.

    Edit. Just went back over some images. It’s the lack of noise that is throwing me. Files are amazing cleaner with just a 2 frame average.

    It’s a great step forwards and something I will alway shoot no matter what the scene as many things can be blended back.

    Paul C
    Last edited by Paul2660; 29th July 2019 at 17:19.
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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Thank you for your insights!

    Is P1 "Frame averaging" any different from Sony "Smooth reflection" for Sony A7R II (discontinued for A7R III)?

    Pramote

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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    I agree, itís something totally new to have a noise free image and requires a new mindset.

    The thing that blew me away is how cleanly files upsize. Even ISO 50 images get noisy with upsizing which is something I almost always have to do.

    Itís an easy addition to my normal workflow to finish up with a couple frame average exposures before recomposing.

    The other thing that is very useful is the ability to stop a long exposure midstream. I donít know how much time Iíve wasted because walked through a scene only to stop in the middle and take a phone snap of my scene.

    Totally useful in almost every situation. Would be nice to have an iso 25 even if it was no cleaner than iso 50.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul2660 View Post
    Hi Ed.

    To my eyes it does. Might be lack of noise thus less perceived details. Very easy for me to see in leaves.

    Edit. Just went back over some images. Itís the lack of noise that is throwing me. Files are amazing cleaner with just a 2 frame average.

    Itís a great step forwards and something I will alway shoot no matter what the scene as many things can be blended back.

    Paul C
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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Landscapelover View Post
    Thank you for your insights!

    Is P1 "Frame averaging" any different from Sony "Smooth reflection" for Sony A7R II (discontinued for A7R III)?

    Pramote
    The two seem fundamentally the same with some differences in implementation. Both seem to create an image that is the average of numerous frames calculated directly from sensor data. It's useful for either simulating an ND filter or to reduce noise in shadows.

    The Sony Smooth Reflection (SR) app produces both a RAW and JPEG result.

    The SR interface provides some settings for specific scenarios as well as a custom setting where you can choose the number of frames, but the choices are in rather large increments.

    SR doesn't use an electronic shutter so can't do gapless captures.

    SR doesn't seem to have a shutter speed limitation other than the 30 second limit of the Sony camera.

    The SR app costs $4.99 whereas Phase One's Frame Averaging tool is free (well, free with the purchase of a $50,000 camera).

    Note that the Play Memories apps (like Smooth Reflections) are not supported by newer Sony A7 and A9 cameras. It is still supported on the a6xxx series cameras.

    I toyed with it on my Sony cameras a few years ago and promptly forgot all about it. The current discussion has reminded it's available and I envision using it more frequently now. I have it installed on both my A7R2 and an older a6000. In round numbers the A7R2 approaches IQ4150 noise levels with double the frames. The a6000 improves dramatically with averaging but never get very close.
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    Re: IQ4150 Frame Averaging Comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul2660 View Post
    Hi Ed.

    To my eyes it does. Might be lack of noise thus less perceived details. Very easy for me to see in leaves.

    Edit. Just went back over some images. Itís the lack of noise that is throwing me. Files are amazing cleaner with just a 2 frame average.

    Itís a great step forwards and something I will alway shoot no matter what the scene as many things can be blended back.

    Paul C
    I agree that the Frame Sampling images look slightly softer than a long exposure of the same scene. I also agree that it is the lack of 'any' noise that fools my eyes a little.

    I also wanted to know how a Frame Sampling image would cope with some slight camera movement. I took a long exposure of 40 seconds and a frame sampling image (2.0s, 40 seconds, 20 images) of the same scene. The frame sampling image was continuous.

    I was fairly certain that slight camera movement would have no effect on the long exposure and I was right. But the results for the frame sampling image were also the same. If there is any difference it is so subtle that I can't detect it.

    What this means to me is that for a static scene I could possibly have a little wind vibration without loss of image quality.

    By movement I mean that half way through each test I physically tapped the side of camera a couple of time - I could see the camera move. I find this very encouraging.

    Victor
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