U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: OT: 16 bit editing myth or reality?

Re: OT: 16 bit editing myth or reality?

I think I have an idea for a short and simple test one can do in PS and possibly other software as well.
Say we start with a hi bit color image ie. anything above 8 bit and lets call it image A (an 8 bit original would also work). Make a copy of it and convert it to 8 bit and lets call it image B. Next do exactly the same editing on both image as long as image A remains in 16 (15) bit, when your done you save both image A and B and then convert image A to 8 bit mode. Then use Apply Image>Subtract>Offset 128 to compare image A to image B and then check the mean and standard deviation of the resulting image. The mean should be near 128 and the standard deviation will give you a measure for the test. Values of 128 (mean) and 0 (stdDev) mean a perfect match which you probably wont get but now we need to interpret the actual difference in terms of quality which may not be so easy in RGB mode but in Lab mode one could do the following, reload your saved image A and B, convert A to 8 bit and then convert each to Lab. then Apply Image>Subtract with no offset this time, if the L* mean is zero, try again but this time instead of applying image A to image B do the opposite (B to A) then record the mean and stdDev of each channel,  assuming it is possible then you would have:
L* (L*mean, L*stdDev)
a* (a*mean, a*stdDev)
b* (b*mean, b*stdDev)
now do the following:
(((L*mean)/ L*stdDev)^2 +
((a*mean)/ a*stdDev)^2 +
((b*mean)/ b*stdDev)^2)^(1/2)
Now we can now interpret the resulting value (~= CIE delta Error 1976),
if the value is smaller or equal to 1, this means the difference is imperceptible in other words the human eye can't see the difference
if the value is above 1 but below say 4 then we could say the difference is negligable
if the value is above 4 then we could say the difference significant
Since I divided by the standard deviation above the resulting value is not exactly the CIE dE1976 (square root(L*^2 + a*^2 + b*^2)) and then the interpretation I gave is not technically correct. We would need to use a more elaborate statistical method because we are dealing with means and std dev and not with simple numbers as the CIE dE implies. But if the standard deviations are small, (less then 1) then this will increase the overall result and not reduce it which make the above interpretation even more valid. If the standard deviations are larger then 1 then we could say right away that the difference between our image is probably significant.
We could use this method to test B&W image as well, when editing is done convert both image to RGB then to Lab or directly to Lab if possible and proceed as above to evaluate.
Ideally, this would need to be done on more then one image, 30 or more would give us what is called a confidence interval that the difference is or is not significant based on the (variant) CIE dE method I used. Then some could say this method (CIE dE1976) may not be so good to begin with and I couldn't contest that but I could say this method is simple to use because the math is relatively simple and especially if the CIE dE value is small then more elaborate dE calculations wouldn't significantly improve on this simple test result.
If I'm aloud an "educated" guess, I wouldn't be surprised if there is no significant difference between editing in 16 bit mode compared with editing in 8 bit mode and I also wouldn't be surprised to ear that most proponant of 16 bit work would say I'll stick with my current workflow. In fact, I'll probably do the same because however small the difference may be it could make the difference between a fine print and an ordinary one...
Happy holidays to all
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, December 16, 2007 7:01 PM
Subject: Re: OT: 16 bit editing myth or reality?

Hi Yves,

I think your inquiry is interesting—especially the cumulative effect that adjustment layers would have on file data.

In the mean time, I have no doubt that 16 bit is far superior—and even to take it a "bit" further, I would venture to say that 16 bit RGB is better than 16 bit grayscale when working on the same "grayscale" file—the numbers seem to work better.  Bruce Fraser confirmed that with me (before he passed away).  I had contacted him when I was writing my book about some anomalies I found working with 16 bit gray scale files.

Anyway, good luck with your inquiry, I'll look forward to hearing your conclusions—in the mean time I have no doubt that working with 16 bit capture files is far superior to 8 bit.

Try doing some sort of series that makes an adjustment followed by one that reverses it and see how much error accumulates.  BTW, it has been suggested that even rotating a file can lead to some sort of degradation of data.

Best Wishes,
Mark Nelson

Precision Digital Negatives - The System
PDNPrint Forum at Yahoo Groups
In a message dated 12/16/07 4:31:46 PM, gauvreau-yves@cgocable.ca writes:



You could be right but I (we) don't know if PS works with real number until the data needs to be save or whatever. If it's not the case and this would be surprising, then each editing step would effect the data and each additional editing steps would have a cumulative effect. I don't think what you propose below is correct even if PS works with real number because the starting point would be different.


Let's say I choose arbitraly a normalised [0..1] pixel level of 0.5, lets see what our starting value could be in 8 bit resolution. This would mean we started with a value of 0.5*255=127.5 => 127 or 128, now in 16 bit this would be 0.5*65535=32767.5 => 32767 or 32768. Lets say our original pixel value is 32767, PS would transform this in 32767/65535 = 0.49999237 and we could proceed with editing from this value but if we convert this value to 8 bit and save it for later comparison, PS would need to convert this to a value to an integer value between [0..255], so lets do this by 0.49999237 * 255 = 127.4980545 and to 127 by rounding. If we need to apply the same editing to the 8 bit data file, PS will convert 127 to 127/255 = 0.498039215, a difference of 0.001953155, though very small this difference could be increased by editing the image further. Just out of curiosity say we apply a small gamma correction of say 1/1.45 and see what effect it as.


0.49999237^(1/1.45) = 0.6199955

0.4980392^(1/1.45) = 0.6183242

for a difference of 0.001671312


The difference is now lower, this could be surprising and it's why a full analysis including both color errors and quantization errors migth produce interesting results. I made a search on Google to see if someone did this kind of analysis but as of now (4) I saw only perceptual comparisons and no number crunching but interestingly the few test I've seen seem to indicate the difference are imperceptible from 8 or 16 bit editing on printed image. Food for thought don't you think?





PS I don't recall any discussion of this topic in particular but I have a bad memory so don't take my word for it.

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