We all know when using cameras to photograph a night scene, the resulting pictures are often blurry and the image noises are inevitable unless a tripod is used with long exposure. It can be very difficult to capture a sharp shape of the pedestrians on the dimly lit sidewalk, while avoiding the image noise at the same time.
Kandao Raw+, a new tool introduced by Kandao Technology, uses computational photography techniques to help you take better quality images in such situations. It is a smart tool on computer that helps you to produce a new image with increased detail, dynamic range, and lower noise, by combining a burst shots of raw images into one. It works compatible with Kandao’s 360 camera Obsidian and QooCam, as well as most camera models which are supported by Adobe Camera Raw.
Kandao Obsidian low-light 360 image processed by Raw+
Reduce noise in low-light
Kandao Raw+ uses a burst of shots in raw files with short exposure times. By aligning these shots automatically, multiple images are merged and to reduce noise and bring out the details. You don’t need a tripod or to worry about motion blur that would come from increased exposure time, as the images are taken in burst and Raw+ will reduce the blur during the image processing.
You can start by taking a burst of full-resolution raw images with your hand-held camera (suggested to turn on AF-S autofocus and shoot in the highest burst rate). Then import up to 16 frames into Kandao Raw+. It will begin the alignment according to a reference image that you choose (by placing it on top of the file list) and merge them into a high-quality DNG file for better post-production.
(SONY LlCE-7RM2, Tamron 28-75mm F2.8, 75mm, F/2.8, 1/25, ISO 800)
Above is a comparison between the picture produced by Raw+ and the original one. When boosting the brightness of shadows, you will find a significant improvement of details and noise performance. The Raw+ image is much cleaner and sharper.
Increase dynamic range
For high-contrast scenes, how could we create HDR images? Traditionally, photographers can use bracketing, which captures a sequence of pictures with different exposure value, then merge them together. With Kandao Raw+, now you have another way to create a high dynamic range picture.
By using Kandao Raw+, you can take a burst shot with the same exposure time, noted that to avoid the highlight blowing out, i.e. exposure to the right. The noise in shadows can be taken care of by combining enough shots together. Raw+ will produce a 16-bit color depth Raw file from the 12 or 14-bit images, and a nearly 4EV theoretical increase in dynamic range offers you a greater latitude for Raw processing.
It enables you to light up the shadow without sacrificing the image quality, saving the scenery outside the window, as shown in the example below. The wall behind the curtain on left picture is noisy while the resulting picture of Raw+ is clearer.
(OLYMPUS PEN-F, OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8, 40mm, F/11, 1/160, ISO 640)
As you can see from the results above, by using Image stack, the pedestrians and leaf are ‘ghosted’ in the result(on the right), while the Raw+ aligned and merged these shots based on the sharpest one, so the noise of the result is reduced meanwhile it looks sharper.
Since these shots are taken in the burst with short exposure time, the alignment could be very accurate, which makes Raw+ perfect for processing portrait in low light and high contrast scenes. As you can see from the example below, a man standing in front of TV screen waves his hands. In order to keep the screen from blowing out and capture a sharp movement, the shutter goes to 1/200 which makes the man’s shape lost in darkness. But after processing with Raw+, the details of subject’s face and hands come back with the clearer result, no blur caused by motion, no ghosts or other artifacts.
(SONY ILCE-6300, 35mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art, 35mm, F1.4, 1/200, ISO1600)
Here is another comparison, one shot with ISO 100 to reduce noise, one shot with ISO 16000 and processed by Raw+. The noise performance of these two pictures are similar, while the man’s hand in the left picture are blurry due to his waving, the right picture successfully captures the sharpest movement.
Raw+ for Kandao Obsidian and QooCam
As a company specialized on high-end computational photography software solution and hardware manufacturing, Kandao was known for its professional 3D 360 camera ‘Obsidian’ for VR/AR content creation, which won the “Best of Innovation” award at CES 2017 and favored by Hollywood-level filmmakers around the world. It became one of the few 360 VR cameras that pushes the boundary of image technology to enable depth mapping, 6-Dof and space reconstruction based on imagery calculation and analysis.
Besides applying the computational photography technology into 360 video/photo stitching, stereoscopic view generation, depth map rendering etc., Raw+ is another feature introduced by Kandao that aims to explore the possibilities of the photographic world. In order to make Raw+ perform better on Kandao Obsidian, the camera has already been able to capture an extreme fast burst of 8 DNG raw files in 0.27s, to eliminate the motion blur especially in the night scene and dramatically improve the image quality.
(Kandao Obsidian fisheye 2mm, F2.8, 1/30, ISO800)
While similar technology has been deployed by several smartphone manufacturers, Kandao now refines to make it compatible with most mirrorless/DSLR camera in the market, allowing more users to explore the next generation computational photography technology. Furthermore, Raw+ will be available for Kandao’s new 360/3D camera QooCam which unique 3 lenses and interchangeable body, which is about to officially hit the market in August this year.
Download the Kandao Raw+ (Mac & Windows)
(Recommended system: win10 64bit/MacOS 10.13.x + 8GB RAM)