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Messages - jrista

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16
Canon EF Prime Lenses / Re: Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM
« on: February 15, 2015, 10:05:24 PM »
Candc, that is indeed the mount I have. My mount has also been upgraded with the Rowan Engineering belt mod, which eliminates a number of gears in favor of pulleys and belts. That eliminates a good deal of backlash, makes the mount more responsive, makes it quieter, etc. The belt mod is another $200. I've also hypertuned it, which improves performance. You can get a kit for doing that for $200, or buy the various parts you require yourself for less than $60. Hypertuning requires mechanical skill, a VERY careful hand, and a LOT of patience and time...it's a slow, methodical process, and I don't recommend it unless you really know what you are doing.


Both the hypertune and belt mod gave me the performance I needed to get these images. Before them, my tracking was around 2-3" RMS, while my image scale was 1.5"/px. Combined with seeing, before modding my stars were usually 6" or so in size, whereas after modding they are about 2.8" in size. That really matters once you get down to it...tight stars are a key factor in a quality image. I recommend the belt mod regardless of your mechanical skill...it greatly improves the performance of the mount.


Regarding getting started in astrophotography, I don't know of any books. I'm a self starter, I have taught myself everything I know my entire life. My knowledge is all based on theory I knew, theory I learned (usually just researching on the internet), practical experience, and trial and error. I am happy to help when I can, but I don't own any astrophotography books, so I can't really help there. I do know a guy who sells CDs for beginners. Jerry Lodriguss, astropix.com. You could start there.

Astrophotography is the most complex form of photography on the planet, by far. I love to see more people getting interested in it...but before you drop a lot of cash on the hobby, make sure you have the patience for it. The Rosette images above? That was five solid nights of imaging, four hours a nigh on Rosette (and the other four on other targets). That is 20 hours of just image acquisition. Another few hours to gather darks and flats (I needed new darks...usually I use a library for those). Over five solid hours of pre-processing, nearly two for frame analysis and rejection (based on a variety of technical factors in the image...FWHM (Full Width Half Maximum, a measure of star diameters), Eccentricity (a measure of star roundness), Noise and Noise Support, etc.), and over three hours of actual image integration work. That was all done in PixInsight with SubframeSelector and Batch PreProcessing scripts and the PI Integration tools. After that came about nine hours of extensive and detailed processing. That involved a lot of heavy work in PixInsight to remove background gradients (gradients are a bitch, and you end up with lots of them in the city because of LP), calibrate color. I extracted an artificial luminance channel and process that with deconvolution, noise reduction, star reduction, more noise reduction, stretching, and finally contrast tuning. After processing the lum, I went back to the original image and started processing the color (noticed a marked change in color after one step, made a copy at the previous, and then split the processing into two paths to get both images above). The color processing involved extensive heavy noise reduction, but you still have to be careful with that so as to avoid star bloat and color fringing in overly softened detail, star reduction, stretching, color contrast and color toning. Finally I had to combine the luminance with both sets of RGB data, and did further processing on those to again enhance contrast and bring out detail without exacerbating noise. That was over eight hours of processing right there. After that, I then started working on all the exports. First I had to export to Potoshop for final processing (vertical banding NR), then final export back into PixInsight for cropping, resizing, and export of multiple versions of the data at multiple sizes, including full size, 50%, small web size, in lum only and both RGB images. I spent a little extra time creating these two images with detail crops as well:







All in all, it was over nine hours of processing before I was finally finished, and about 14 hours of total processing time. The entire process from start to finish including image acquisition was over 35 hours. On ONE object.

I'm not trying to show off here...I just want you guys to understand the level of effort required to make images like these. It is extremely time consuming, requires very dedicated effort, expensive equipment, and both diligence and patience to get through the first six to eight months (which are usually very difficult, as you struggle with all the mechanical and optical and electronic aspects of your gear before you finally learn how it all works, figure out how to keep it all balanced and operating smoothly and guided well and all that). I spent the last year (literally, I started doing astrophotography Feb. 12, 2014) learning how to do all of this, and the images I've shared here are indicative of both the experience I gained over the last year, as well as all the base theoretical knowledge I had going into things.

I LOVE to see new people get interested in astrophotography, for sure. But it's expensive. Excluding my 600mm lens (which is a big part of the reason I was able to progress so fast...it is a flat fielded 150mm aperture f/4 "telescope"...those things cost at least $10,000 in the astro world anyway, and often significantly more; most people start out with something like an 80mm APO Triplet at f/6 or so), I've put over three grand into mount, mount upgrades, guide equipment, filters, large capacity deep cycle batteries, laptop, software, and a wide range of accessories. All of that is very low end equipment, and the hypertuning/belt mod barely gets the mount up to snuff (and a lot of the time, it simply isn't...and my IQ suffers considerably...I can share some examples of how.)

If you love this kind of stuff, love tinkering and fiddling, want to learn a highly technical form of art, then you won't have any problems. On the other hand, if you think it just takes a night of pointing a scope at the sky, and a couple of hours of processing to create images like Rosette, or the Orion images, I recommend you at least learn more about the hobby before you spend money. Even a very low end mount is $1200-$1500, and that is the bare minimum. I would rather you guys be educated enough to know what your getting into, than to recommend you just dive in and spend a lot of money on a hobby that you may find is not something you want to or have the time to invest a lot of effort into. There are simpler ways of starting as well. You can get a Polari or AstroTrac and use a DSLR with smaller wider field lenses to get amazing images for about a grand. That's a much cheaper way to start, an while it still requires and investment of time, it's not nearly as much as it took to produce the Rosette images I just shared.

17
EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: Why not 16 bit files?
« on: February 15, 2015, 04:40:44 PM »
Canon's banding is absolutely due to their hardware. This is a master bias frame from my Canon 5D III:



Note the vertical banding? Here is a better view of it:



This is a superbias frame, where the original master has been run through a special noise reduction algorithm to leave behind just the base bias signal itself. Note...bias SIGNAL. This is IN the sensor, due do the voltage applied to each column of pixels.

Every sensor has this. There are ways of reducing this banding, such as per-column ADC with adaptive adjustment to balance the offsets, producing a flat bias.

The bias signal itself is easy enough to eliminate...you simply offset. The problem with Canon's bias is that it varies a lot...so you cannot offset the entire thing. Each column can often deviate significantly from others, and when they do deviate significantly, that leads to the fixed banding that you can see in photographs.

This is just one source of banding, but it is the source of fixed banding. It's not the most pronounced banding, a lot of the horizontal and vertical banding that shows up in Canon cameras is largely random, and has a significantly larger standard deviation. These other sources of banding come from the row and column drivers, from readout electronics, and from signal interference.

Canon cameras can also still have problems with amplifier glow. For example, a master dark frame from my 5D III:



The amp glow is obvious. The horizontal banding is more obvious in this image as well, as I have subtracted the superbias frame from it, leaving behind only thermal signals and read noise.

As for why not use 16-bit. Canon cameras, due to their noise levels, can't even make full use of 12 bits of data, let alone 14 or 16 (or more). Again, if we use my 5D III as an example, the full well capacity at ISO 100 is (according to sensorgen) 68151e-. The read noise at ISO 100 is 33.6e-. The number of discretely discernible tonal levels in my 5D III is 68151/33.6, which comes out to 2,028.30, or 2028 discrete tonal levels. Noise affects the entire signal...not just the shadows. A 12-bit number can represent everything from 0 through 2^12-1, or 4095. Since 2028 < 4095, Canon is technically wasting bits by using a 14-bit ADC. At best, they are representing the deviations caused by noise more accurately, but they haven't actually increased tonal resolution to any meaningful degree. They are just wasting two bits. If they went to 16-bit ADC, they would be wasting four bits.

The above should also be fairly obvious due to the limited dynamic range of Canon cameras. Canon DSLRs thus far have around 11 stops and change of dynamic range. Dynamic range is limited by the bit depth of the ADC, so if Canon had significantly more than 12 stops (i.e. enough to actually make use of a 16-bit ADC), every single Canon camera would have 11.99 stops of DR. Since most Canon cameras have 10.9-11.4 stops of DR, it is safe to conclude that they are unable to effectively use the full 14 bits of data their RAW format supports. When Canon cameras are all delivering 13.9 stops of DR at ISO 100, then we can start to wonder why they aren't using a 16-bit ADC. :P

18
Landscape / Re: Deep Sky Astrophotography
« on: February 15, 2015, 01:45:45 PM »
Here is another. I just had a run of six clear nights...something I've never seen before...and got a ton of data on several targets. Most were galaxies, the one nebula was Rosette. This is an 11 hour integration (164x240s subs).

5D III + 600mm f/4 + 1.4x (840mm 1.55"/px) on Atlas mount

Two versions, one "narrow band" like and one "natural color":






This is my longest integration to date, at 11 hours. I did this from my back yard with an IDAS LPS-P2 light pollution filter. That's replacing my Astronomik CLS filter, and it's actually quite amazing. Not entirely dark site quality data, but quite good data nevertheless.

19
Canon EF Prime Lenses / Re: Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM
« on: February 15, 2015, 01:44:19 PM »
Here is another. I just had a run of six clear nights...something I've never seen before...and got a ton of data on several targets. Most were galaxies, the one nebula was Rosette. This is an 11 hour integration (164x240s subs).


5D III + 600mm f/4 + 1.4x (840mm 1.55"/px) on Atlas mount


Two versions, one "narrow band" like and one "natural color":








This is my longest integration to date, at 11 hours. I did this from my back yard with an IDAS LPS-P2 light pollution filter. That's replacing my Astronomik CLS filter, and it's actually quite amazing. Not entirely dark site quality data, but quite good data nevertheless.

20
Canon EF Prime Lenses / Re: Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM
« on: February 14, 2015, 12:27:33 AM »
Wow, the price went up on that... When I bought it, it was 190 euros, which came out to around $250. It was some of the best $250 I've ever spent, for sure. The only other more worth-while money I spent on astrophotography was my mount...but that is simply because, without it, I wouldn't need PixInsight. :P
Jon, I haven't seen you on the forum much these days, clearly you've been busy doing really amazing imaging.
I echo the sentiments of others here, truly awe inspiring stuff!

Regarding paid software... I guess in the greater scheme of things how much is $250. Considering how much one spends on a lens and body, and tracking mount, how much time, money and effort goes into the planning a trip and executing the shots, etc... If software makes your life easier and/or gives you results that you are happy with then it sounds like a solid investment.

Thanks. Glad you like the images. :)

Yeah, I don't spend much time here anymore. I realized that there is a group of members who have the capacity to be profoundly nasty, childish people. I realized that for a time, I was a part of that group, and after a couple incidents with a guy named Dean Agar, I decided I wanted to have nothing to do with those people, and that I no longer wanted to be one myself. Also, thanks to the astrophotography and renting some other brands cameras, I realized that many of the people I argued with so hard for a couple years there were actually right, and that I was wrong...Canon has a serious read noise issue and it's holding back their IQ. (Truly serious issues...Canon read noise, once you spend a year digging through it looking for every stray electron's worth of detail you can extract, is the nastiest stuff on the face of the planet when compared to the read noise of Sony, Samsung, and Toshiba sensors. Once you see what Canon read noise really looks like, and how it affects the signal...well, you can never un-see it... :\) Voicing those opinions basically made me a pariah here.

Eh, whatever. I get a hell of a lot more out of doing astrophotography, and talking about it on astro forums, than I ever got out of this place. The die-hard fanboys can have it, as far as I am concerned. :P I've lost too much faith in Canon to keep waiting for them to deliver a product I really want anyway...so I don't have much driving me back here. The 5Ds is interesting...but given the current rumors and official Canon rep statements, I'm quite skeptical of it actually offering any real improvements on the read noise front. I've been significantly more interested in Sony and Samsung products lately, especially after seeing some astro friends disassemble them and marvel at the quality of their construction (and openly voice their confusion at some of Canon's poorer quality innards.)

21
Canon EF Prime Lenses / Re: Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM
« on: February 14, 2015, 12:17:12 AM »
Wow, the price went up on that... When I bought it, it was 190 euros, which came out to around $250. It was some of the best $250 I've ever spent, for sure. The only other more worth-while money I spent on astrophotography was my mount...but that is simply because, without it, I wouldn't need PixInsight. :P
Jon, I haven't seen you on the forum much these days, clearly you've been busy doing really amazing imaging.
I echo the sentiments of others here, truly awe inspiring stuff!

Regarding paid software... I guess in the greater scheme of things how much is $250. Considering how much one spends on a lens and body, and tracking mount, how much time, money and effort goes into the planning a trip and executing the shots, etc... If software makes your life easier and/or gives you results that you are happy with then it sounds like a solid investment.
You have a valid point there :)


Aye. You probably couldn't find anything else in the astro world for as little as $250. Some scopes are as low as $400, but those are usually really short wide field refractors that work best with APS-C-sized sensors.


Most decent scopes are around a grand. Very good scopes are five grand or so. Top of the line scopes are over ten grand, and can be as high as thirty or fourty grand.


An entry-level mount is $1500, a midrange mount is $3000-$6000, and high end mounts are again ten grand and can be well over twenty grand (although a new breed of light weight/portable high end mounts has hit the market, like the Astro-Physics Mach1 or the Paramount MyT, which are about $7500...they don't have the 100lb plus capacities, but they are extremely good mounts).


Then you have your cameras. Aside from ILC cameras, you have your CCDs. Those range in price from around two grand for a "midrange" one from Atik, QHY, Starlite, to around five grand for one of the nice SBIG or QSI ones or a little more for an FLI Microline, to ten to fourty grand for one of the big chips (either FF size 36x24mm, or what they call large format in the astro world, which is 37x37mm or now, with FLI's latest new beast, the 49x37mm 50.1mp Microline 50100.)


So, yeah. Seriously, $250 is a drop in the bucket.

22
Canon EF Prime Lenses / Re: Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM
« on: February 13, 2015, 04:02:17 PM »
Wow, the price went up on that... When I bought it, it was 190 euros, which came out to around $250. It was some of the best $250 I've ever spent, for sure. The only other more worth-while money I spent on astrophotography was my mount...but that is simply because, without it, I wouldn't need PixInsight. :P

23
EOS Bodies / Re: DR from 5Ds will be 2 stop better then 7D mk II
« on: February 12, 2015, 11:33:20 PM »
if you are counting there are 0,66 stop of more dynamic range in 5ds compared to 7dmk2, which means  around  12 stop of dynamic range
better but not good as others


Where is your the 0.66 stops (2/3rd stops) more DR for the 5Ds coming from? Are you just guessing, or do you actually have concrete data?

24
Canon EF Prime Lenses / Re: Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM
« on: February 12, 2015, 11:31:59 PM »
I do just about everything now in PixInsight. Sub exposure culling, calibration, registration, stacking, integration calibration (background extraction, color calibration, etc.), image processing, etc.


I sometimes bring images with too much banding into Photoshop for some debanding (have a great PS action that does that better than anything else),  but mostly...everything is done in PixInsight, even stacking.

25
EOS Bodies / Re: DR from 5Ds will be 2 stop better then 7D mk II
« on: February 12, 2015, 05:16:25 PM »
The noise floor is generally the computed RMS of noise from all pixels from dark frames (usually, you would want to compute it from many dark frames, and generate an average RMS). That would include banding, but bands tend to be outliers, so they don't impact the RMS all that much. The difference between the 5D III DR (10.97 stops) and the possible 5Ds DR (maybe around 11.23 stops) could very well be the difference in banding. That isn't much of a difference, though, assuming the 5Ds does arrive with read noise and FWC similar to the 7D II.

Thanks for explaining! So this would at least account for some of the confusion over "more" or "less" dr, "usable" or "banding".


The key thing here is that noise adds to the signal. So, if you have a read noise floor of, say, 20e-, but your bands are 80e-. The bands are infrequent, so they don't actually change the RMS much...but they add 80e- to the signal. That band is going to shift the ENTIRE signal in that row of pixels up by 80e-. Such a band would be visible with very light shadow pushing, well before you actually got to the read noise floor.


Once that band is gone, you could push the shadows a fair bit more before the actual 20e- noise floor became a problem.


There is also the personal tolerance thing. Canon read noise is ugly, plain and simple. It's got bright red blotches, splotches, short little horizontal juts, green speckle. It's the nastiest stuff. I think most people stop pushing before they get very far, because once they see that, they don't want to go any farther.


That is in contrast to even A7r read noise, which is stored in a lossy-compressed RAW file. A7r read noise is primarily luminance, and primarily gaussian. There is hardly any color noise to start with, and what color noise there is still follows a mostly gaussian distribution. There are very few hot pixels. I have no problem lifting an A7r four stops. The deeper shadows are noisy, but they clean up really nicely, and with just a bit of luminance NR slider in LR.


I think personal tolerance and noise characteristic plays a really big role. There is no question Canon read noise has improved. Compare the 5D II to the 5D III to the 6D, and you will be amazed at the 6D, for sure. But compare the 6D to the A7r or D810...and you'll understand the true value of ultra low read noise. Theoretically Canon could gain DR by increasing FWC as well...but their read noise is just ugly. Even with more FWC, their poor read noise characteristic is still going to give people pause as they start to dig deeper.


Thus, I think it's going to be really difficult to get any kind of objective commentary about the 5Ds data quality until someone does some objective, mathematical testing on the raw files. It's really difficult for people to decouple their perceptions when visually evaluating, and past tolerance limits could be playing a big role in what people are saying about how much more dynamic range the 5Ds has. It may simply be that lower banding and maybe more gaussian read noise is making people feel they can lift more...but in an objective comparison, things may not be much different.

26
EOS Bodies / Re: Skipping the 5D-s. What do you want in 5D4?
« on: February 12, 2015, 02:06:00 PM »
I would like to see 10-11 stops of DR at ISO 6400, and 9-10 stops at ISO 12800. Similar to the A7s. I could really use more at high ISO for off-angle shots of birds and wildlife. I tend to limit myself to strait-on (or mostly so) shots with the sun at my back to minimize scene DR...but that gets fairly boring after a while. Would be nice to have more than 6-8 stops of DR at high ISO so that off-angle shots don't max out the camera.


The other big thing for me would be getting full iTR metering and a 7-8fps frame rate. I was quite comfortable with the 8fps of my 7D...the 6fps of the 5D III feels a bit limiting. With a 150k iTR Meter and AF system and the same 61pt AF, I think the 5D IV would be a powerhouse for wildlife.


The silent shutter would also be awesome. I've scared off some birds and animals with the 5D III shutter once I get close.


I'd be happy with around the same resolution on the 5D IV as well. I think 24mp would be an ideal number, but anything 20+ would be fine.




That's all I NEED. More low ISO DR would be nice, but I don't see Canon doing that. And it wouldn't be necessary for what I would primarily use the camera for.

27
EOS Bodies / Re: DR from 5Ds will be 2 stop better then 7D mk II
« on: February 12, 2015, 02:00:44 PM »
Quote
B. The 5Ds has more editing latitude

to me this just means he's switching to pixel talk. and he's right. you do have more latitude to edit if you have more data even if the tonal depth of that data is shallower.

but whatever. parsing it further is meaningless. And I'm sure since the canon DR and shadow noise problem is as well known as iphones bending, the #1 thing every test will make sure to cover is how, if at all, they have fixed this problem. And given the difficulty of doing a proper test, I'm sure we'll have half the threads claiming it is the best DR on earth, and half of the others claiming it is worse.

Personally I'm not going to look at computational single digit tests like dxo. I'm going to watch Lloyd Chambers blog as well as a few other highly methodical reviewers. Plus the guy has a lot of experience exposing the DR woes on the 5DMKIII which still to this day many deny.


Yeah, we need actual data. Hopefully that will start appearing soon after the camera is released. I know a couple astrophotographers who may grab one of these things early, and Bill Claff has started visiting Cloudy Nights. Some people respect his numbers more than DXOs, although they generally show the same gap between Canon and others. Looking forward to him generating PDR numbers for the 5Ds.

28
Canon EF Prime Lenses / Re: Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM
« on: February 12, 2015, 01:54:03 PM »
Thanks for the explanation and it sounds like post-processing is a major task with these.  That's a lot of work that goes into them!  The second shot is also incredible!  Your astro work keeps getting more and more amazing.


Thanks, Mac. ;)


Definitely a LOT of processing. Anyone who complains about spending a few minutes on their daytime photos should give astro a try. When you spend two or three weekends perfecting one image, the amount of time you have to spend on daytime photos starts to feel totally trivial. :P




29
Canon EF Prime Lenses / Re: Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM
« on: February 12, 2015, 01:34:01 PM »
Thanks, guys! :)


For what it's worth, the Canon telephoto lenses basically ARE telescopes. :P They are actually along the lines of larger telescopes. A lot of really good imagers I know use $400-$1200 refracting telescopes that are a lot smaller, but regarded as quite high quality in the astro world. There are some top of the line scopes our there with tons of advanced features, like special cooling fans and airflow systems and the like (Officina Stellare HiperAPO, for example) that also cost $10,000 - $15,000. The big difference between a scope like that an a Canon great white is mainly the back end configurability...the ability to use robotic focusers, off-axis guiders, field rotators, etc. You need over 100mm of backfocus to use all that kind of stuff, and Canon lenses only have 56mm of backfocus.


Regarding the exposure. It is not one single exposure. It's actually a bunch of 240 second individual exposures, which are then calibrated (bias subtracted, dark subtracted, flat divided), registered (aligned so the stars match up), and stacked (combined with an averaging algorithm, usually one that also does sigma outlier rejection). The "total integration time" or "total exposure time" is the total exposure time across all those sub exposures. So the image above was created from 35 240 second long exposures.


Here is another one. Horse head and Flame nebulas:





Same equipment, same place, this time about 3h 30m exposure.

30
EOS Bodies / Re: DR from 5Ds will be 2 stop better then 7D mk II
« on: February 12, 2015, 01:26:53 PM »
The DR of the 5DR/S IS THE SAME as the 5D MkIII, there is no discussion on that, the only point of interest is the Canon comment that there is improved shadow and highlight latitude. Some say those two comments contradict each other, I think the first is worded ambiguously enough that both might well be true.

I'm still puzzled about the definition of dynamic range (I'm sure we can agree it's about what we find in the raw image data, and not somewhere up the pipeline or at the sensor before it's usable).

Is dr the noise floor (however that is defined?) *excluding* banding, or must it include banding because it's very hard if impossible to remove in post and thus cannot be counted into the "dynamic range"?

Depending on this definition, the 7d2-based 5ds probably will have more dr than 5d3 (as in "less banding") or it won't (unlike the ff 6d/1dx which really improve upon the 5d3). Or am I mistaken? What do the dr experts say?


The noise floor is generally the computed RMS of noise from all pixels from dark frames (usually, you would want to compute it from many dark frames, and generate an average RMS). That would include banding, but bands tend to be outliers, so they don't impact the RMS all that much. The difference between the 5D III DR (10.97 stops) and the possible 5Ds DR (maybe around 11.23 stops) could very well be the difference in banding. That isn't much of a difference, though, assuming the 5Ds does arrive with read noise and FWC similar to the 7D II.


My problem with these statements (paraphrased) is they conflict:


A. The 5Ds has the same dynamic range as the 5D III
B. The 5Ds has more editing latitude


You can't have both at the same time. Maximum editing latitude is ultimately determined by dynamic range. To speculate a bit. One thing that could be going on is that testers who are saying "more dynamic range" are feeling more freedom from lower banding. They may FEEL they have the ability to push shadows more, because the noise they see has a better characteristic. You often didn't need to push shadows at all in the past to see banding...it was often visible right there in the midtones. That would be zero stops shadow pushing, if that was the case. :P Without banding, the difference between not pushing at all (rendering the image to the 8 stops of an 8-bit screen), or pushing a small amount (maybe a stop before banding stopped you)...and pushing up to the three stops allowed by ~11 stops of dynamic range, would seem quite huge.


Perceptually, that would seem like a huge difference. Mathematically, things wouldn't have really changed. If, mathematically, the 5Ds really does have "the same" dynamic range as the 5D III, then logically the claims of more shadow pushing ability are more perceptual than mathematical (and, it would be unlikely that the 5Ds has over 13 stops of engineering DR.)


I don't know what the case is, but trying to reconcile the two statements A and B above, this is one of the conclusions I can draw. You either have the same dynamic range as the 5D III (or slightly better, more like the 7D II)...or you have more dynamic range. To have more dynamic range, you have to have either lower read noise or a larger FWC, or both. You can't have the same dynamic range and lower read noise at the same time...because lower read noise with the same FWC would mean you have more dynamic range.


At this point, to know any more, we need to see literal tests.

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