HDR PQ HEIF: Breaking Through the Limits of JPEG
As Canon’s latest flagship professional DSLR camera, the EOS-1D X Mark III boasts amazing continuous shooting speeds and support for 5.5K RAW movie recording, but let’s not ignore its various improved still shooting features. In this article, we take a closer look at its support for the HDR PQ HEIF format, which takes still image shooting to a whole new frontier.HDR mode on your camera, it probably involved taking a few exposures of the same shot using different exposures, and then merging them together. This helps you to extend the dynamic range represented in the shot and retain more details in highlights and shadows. It certainly is a way to make images look more dramatic. However, regardless of how you achieved your conventional HDR shots, the colour information is ultimately recorded in the narrow SDR range of colours, which causes the tones and contrasts to appear less smooth. This is what makes it so easy to end up with a shot that looks overprocessed. How, then, do movies and videos manage to achieve that ultra-realistic, cinematic look with just one exposure? That’s because they record images with a large colour space and high bit depth, which has not quite been possible on traditional digital cameras until now.These two images were converted from exactly the same RAW file. The conventional 8-bit JPEG file looks brighter but flatter, whereas in the HEIF*, you can see more details in the light and shadow areas, and there appears to be more dimension. This is because the HDR PQ HEIF format is able to handle the image information captured in the RAW file better. *Know this: HDR PQ-like JPEG To enable web display, the "HEIF" examples in this article are HEIF files converted to HDR PQ-like JPEG. This is a special JPEG format that renders images to resemble what they would look like when viewed on an HDR display, but they are still 8-bit files and subject to the limits of our SDR-based monitors. So, if you are amazed by the difference now, expect even better with actual HEIF on an HDR monitor! The different HDR standards: What is HDR PQ? There are currently two main HDR standards: - Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) is highly interchangeable with SDR monitors - Perceptual Quantizer (PQ) is optimised for HDR monitors The EOS-1D X Mark III uses the HDR PQ standard, which is also used in video HDR formats such as HDR10, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. As this standard records contrast in absolute values, the image quality is more stable across different display screens. It is increasingly widely adopted for video production, but can also be used in still photography. HDR PQ combines the PQ gamma, which enables images to display a wide dynamic range close to that of what the human eyes see, with the ultra-high resolution that your EOS camera capable of. (Fun fact: “4K” works out to approximately 8 megapixels, and the average new camera has much more than that!) The result is a very realistic look, with contrasts that are presented appearing close to what we see in real life.
- - A CMOS sensor with improved high ISO speed noise reduction capabilities
- - The new High Detail Low-Pass filter, which prevents moire and false colours for pictures that are clearer, sharper and more faithful
- - The new DIGIC X image processor, which enables high-resolution sharpness processing as well as improved noise reduction
Photography is not just about what you can capture. It's also about what you can see.When we talk about still shooting features on a camera, one thing that we sometimes tend to forget is that photos are not just about what you manage to record as data. What you can see when you display the shot on a monitor matters too. If the data on the colours and tones of an image that is captured by your image sensor is not within the range of what your display device can show, then you won’t be able to see the image accurately. JPEG is one of the most widely used formats for digital images especially photographs, but it was first created in 1992. Being popular has its downsides—display devices keep improving, but the JPEG format has not quite evolved to keep up. HDR (High Dynamic Range) monitors have become more widespread in recent years. These monitors use a colour technology that enables them to display a wider range of colours and contrasts than conventional SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) monitors, which also means that they can show the details in light and dark areas more faithfully. For this reason, images shown on a HDR monitor look more realistic, as though you were seeing the scene with your own eyes. Digital images are mostly stored in JPEG format because it can be displayed on just about any display device, including older ones. But the colour space and dynamic range of 8-bit JPEG doesn’t take advantage of what the new HDR monitors can offer. Camera FAQ #5: Will Photos Taken in RAW Retain Their Image Quality When Retouched? HEIF In comparison, recording in HEIF on the EOS-1D X Mark III gives you 10-bit colour depth within the same file size as a JPEG file. Because of the way this information is rendered, unlike RAW, you can see its effects without having to post-process them first. In other words, you can enjoy the visual impact of this wider dynamic range straight out of the camera.
JPEG / 8-bit / sRGB
HDR PQ HEIF / 10-bit / BT.2020*