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Upgrade the memory of your 2019 iMac up to 128GB

Testing the Nikon Z7 for Pattern Noise in Typical Landscape Scenario

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist and Nikon mirrorless wishlist and Canon mirrorless wishlist.

The Sony A9 has horrific pattern noise, which is pathetic for a 24-megapixel camera; see Two Examples of Pattern/Banding Noise at ISO 100 (Pine Creek Skyline, Mt Tom). Hence my concern over pattern noise in the Nikon Z7, because it has many PDAF pixels on its sensor.

Dynamic range means the usable range of black to white tones. Noise can reduce dynamic range, so a key performance metric of any camera is noise. To my knowledge, none of the noise rating take any notice of pattern noise, making noise ratings potentially quite misleading, because pattern noise is far more difficult to deal with.

For my outdoor work, it is critically important that there be no pattern noise in images because often the shadows must be boosted considerably (equivalent to up to ~4 stop push) and/or a black and white conversion with pattern noise in one (or more) channels where pattern noise destroys the potential of the image. In general, I often need a lot of post processing headroom for outdoor images, but particularly black and white images, so image quality must be high in all three color channels.

I chose the scene below as representative as a typical high dynamic range outdoor scene. A key point is that blue sky can be quite dark, which yields a grossly underexposed red channel. If there is pattern noise, it is likely to show up in blue sky, as the human eye (brain) readily picks up horizontal or vertical patterns (striping/banding).

Nikon Z7: Looking for Pattern Noise (Conness Drainage)

RawDigger histograms are included to show the actual exposure recorded by the sensor.

Conness drainage (east) looking towards Mt Conness
f8 @ 1/500 sec, ISO 64; 2018-10-05 15:13:56
NIKON Z7 + Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon
ENV: Mt Conness drainage east, altitude 10500 ft / 3200 m

[low-res image for bot]
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