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R8 - 10MP or 8MP?

Many prospective R8 buyers and people who are considering upgrade of their old (or not so old) trustworthy R cameras complaining about R8 image quality. The truth is that many R8 samples shows somewhat ugly per pixel performance. I think it's partially caused by excessive sharpening (even at Soft) and partially by noise reduction, which performs differently in daylight and night shots. I was curious if there would be a visible difference in lower resolution shots produced by R8 and the results are really surprising! The 8MP out-of-camera photos looks very acceptable at pixel level! Look at these 100% crops.





Here you can get the full size files:
Out of camera 10MP file (Fine quality):
R0010254_normal.jpg

Out of camera 8MP file (Normal quality):
R0010257_normal.jpg

Original 10MP scaled down on PC using Bilinear algorithm:
R0010254_8mp_pc_bilinear.jpg

It's really interesting to see such big difference visible mainly in tree branches? Of course, scaling the pictures down makes them always a bit softer and so nicer at 100%. Lower resolution also hides many of the ugly details seen in original photo. But the R8 down-scaling algorithm seems to be very good? Either this or the camera processing routine is quite different on down-scaled photos? But the important point is, that the 8MP photos looks very good at pixel level? Much better than the original 10MP files! I will have to do more tests to be sure it's really that good. I'm particularly interested about differences between R7 native 8MP photos and R8 set to down scaled 8MP mode.
 

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Hi Pavel,
I found your idea quite intriguing that downsizing images to 8MP can improve image quality. Yor samples suggest that in-camera downsizing works -- why ever -- better than downsizing in Photoshop, even though only "Normal" JPEG quality is available.
I did a quick-and-dirty test of my own -- a still-life in tungsten, which is probably not a good idea, but now it's dark, after all. At first look, the differences are minor, and the samples with Photoshop downsizing seems to look a little bit better. I did all my test with sharpness set to "soft" -- maybe that's the reason for the different result.
If the weather is better tomorrow, I will make some daylight tests.
Best regards, Gerd
 
Hi Gerd,

Yes, this test needs some examples to prove its correctness. But it seems to me that 8MP files produced by R8 are almost as good as those from R7 (if not better) and definitely better at pixel level if comparing out of camera 10MP and 8MP files. I believe the Fine quality of 8MP photos would make them even better. The size of 8MP Normal quality file is only a half of the size of Fine 10MP file. So it must be highly compressed and so full of artifacts.

BTW, the above crops were made from files taken with Normal sharpness and Natural colors. I did one more test, this time interior test taken at ISO400 and Soft sharpening. See the crops and judge yourself if the down-scaled R8 photos are worth of something? First thing you might notice is different WB. R8 Auto WB does much better job under artificial light.



Here you can get the full size files:
R8 8MP Normal - Soft sharp. - Natural col. (Normal quality)
R0010313_auto_8mp.jpg

R7 8MP Fine - Soft Sharp. - Natural col. (Fine quality):
R0012322_auto.jpg

R8 10MP Fine - Soft sharp. - Natural col. (Fine quality)
R0010306_auto.jpg
 

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Just a quick comment -- have to come back to this issue in the evening:
- Artifacts around the hazelnut H seem to be less (better) for the in-camera down-scaled R8 image
- The bar code numbers look better on the R7 image.
Seems to be a tough issue. My first impression is that in-camera down-scaled R8 images have fewer artifacts but are softer
Best regards, Gerd
PS: Perhaps, I will find the time for some daylight comparisons...
 
Re: R8 - 10MP or 8MP? My preliminary conclusions...

After having performed a couple of daylight tests, I come to the following preliminary conclusions:
- of course, beware of sharpning set to "normal" for 10 MPx
- also beware of sharpening set to "normal" for 8 MPx
- you can safely use sharpening set to "soft" for 10 MPx -- in-camera down-sized 8 MPx set to "soft" does not bring noticeable improvements over 10 MPx
- scaling down 10 MPx "soft" using bilear interpolation may lead to somewhat cleaner results -- at least, it looks as if the images were shaper compared to the ones that were down-sized in-camera (and set to "soft").

All in all, I will keep my R8 at the "soft" setting and at 10 MPx. Down-sizing in Photoshop will improve the results, though...

Best regards, Gerd
 
I think the R7 vs down-scaled R8 comparison is very exciting. It would be interesting to see similar comparisons of earlier R models compared with (even more) down-scaled R8 images, especially R4. I have a fear that the image engine in R8 is destroying fine textures, like jeans cloth and sand etc. I know a small sensor ultra compact camera is not the right tool for such jobs, but it would still be interesting to see if R8 does better or worse then R4. I think a test could be to see how far from a texture one can take a picture without losing the texture. My belief is that the image engine is programmed to recognize certain textures at certain resolutions, and that it will at some point screw up and destroy the texture, wheres "good pixels" will just keep going until the resolution gets too small.

Another thought is that this "flaky" look of image engine over-run images is optimized for prints, and that the photoshop scaling algorithm (bi-linear or not) gets confused by the "flakes" and therefore does a worse job at down-scaling the image.
 
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