Approve the Cookies
This website uses cookies to improve your user experience. By using this site, you agree to our use of cookies and our Privacy Policy.
Index  •   • New posts  •   • RTAT  •   • 'Best of'  •   • Gallery  •   • Gear  •   • Reviews
New posts  •   • RTAT  •   • 'Best of'  •   • Gallery  •   • Gear  •   • Reviews
Register to forums    Log in

FORUMS Nikon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Nikon Cameras 
Thread started 17 Jul 2015 (Friday) 19:13
Search threadPrev/next
sponsored links
(this ad will go away when you log in as a registered member)

12 bit or 14 bit raw?

Senior Member
650 posts
Gallery: 487 photos
Best ofs: 2
Likes: 1799
Joined Nov 2007
Location: PA
Jul 17, 2015 19:13 |  #1

Hello folks,
My first digital DSLR was a Canon, so I did not have a choice between 12 bit or 14 bit raw files. What is the difference? Which do you shoot? DO you shoot some things in one and some others in the other? Any input would be appreciated.




Nikon D600, D300, Nikon 35 1.8G ED, Nikon AF-S VR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED, 18-70 3.5-4.5G ED, Nikon 200-500E ED VR F5.6, Yongnuo YN-568EX Speedlite.
My Flickr page:​/gp/26345736@N04/QJhy5​A (external link)

sponsored links
(this ad will go away when you log in as a registered member)
1,543 posts
Gallery: 2 photos
Likes: 59
Joined Nov 2008
Location: Titusville, Florida
Jul 17, 2015 19:46 |  #2

I only shoot 14 bit, but from what I've read, it is a waste ;-)a.

M10 - ZM 21mm - Elmarit 28mm-CV - Nokton 50mm f/1.2 - Elmarit 90mm

I wasn't even trying
3,680 posts
Gallery: 30 photos
Likes: 617
Joined Jun 2009
Location: Sydney - Australia
Jul 17, 2015 19:52 |  #3

Me too. Card space is pretty cheap. I've got 64gb in cards for my primary card slot on a 16mp camera so not worried about the extra 5% or so memory space usage

Gear List

Senior Member
687 posts
Likes: 3
Joined Aug 2006
Oct 28, 2015 14:52 |  #4

I choose 14 bit, does it a make a huge difference in what i'm shooting? I really dont' think so. Does it really hurt anything now? So I just always use 14 bit, since I normally don't feel up a memory card too quickly anyway.

Feedback 2
Feedback 3
Feedback 4
Feedback 5

Reader's Digest Condensed version of War and Peace [POTN Vol 1]
41,424 posts
Gallery: 1 photo
Likes: 2420
Joined Aug 2005
Location: Belmont, CA
Post edited over 3 years ago by Wilt. (3 edits in all)
Oct 29, 2015 09:42 |  #5

Generally, the earliest digital cameras stored their RAW data with 12-bit representation, and the later ones (for the past 10 years or so) use 14-bit representation. All of that gobbledigook simply means that the camera can grab 4096 'levels' vs. 16384 'levels' of brightness for each sensel (i.e. light sensitive area) of the sensor. But then the camera (or your RAW conversion software) has to convert that RAW data into a JPG file to print it, and JPG files only have EIGHT-bit representation, or 256 levels. So there is a lot of 'compression' of the 12-bit (or 14-bit) to fit within the narrow 8-bit range!

For the purist who dabbles in trying to grab the most dynamic range from the camera RAW data, recovering the maximum of 'shadow detail' with the lowest amount of circuit noise, 12 vs. 12 bits matters. In short, for most folks who simply store JPG in camera, the 12- vs. 14-bit 'debate' is a 'does not really matter a lot' difference.

You need to give me OK to edit your image and repost! Keep POTN alive and well with member support​hp
Canon dSLR system, Olympus OM 35mm system, Bronica ETRSi 645 system, Horseman LS 4x5 system, Metz flashes, Dynalite studio lighting, and too many accessories to mention

Mostly Lurking
14 posts
Gallery: 1 photo
Likes: 8
Joined Aug 2013
Location: Costa Mesa
Nov 18, 2015 18:16 |  #6

I don't know about most other folks, however I engage in an extremely wide variety of types of photography. My full-time job is wedding and portrait photography, but also include commercial and editorial work sometimes. My hobby, though, is landscape photography, astro-landscape photography, and timelapse photography.

I therefore have good reason to use both 14-bit and 12-bit NEF, depending on what I'm shooting.

I can fit 2500-3000 raw images on a 64 GB card if I use 12-bit and compressed RAW on my D750, which is highly convenient for getting through a 15-16+ hour Hindu wedding day!

I also use 12-bit and lossy compression when shooting 10,000+ images on major adventures for timelapse photography, since each raw frame is only going to wind up being 1/30 of a second in a single timelapse clip.

For many other things, including serious landscape photography of course, I use 14-bit lossless NEF.

"What's so amazing, that keeps us stargazing, and what do we think we might see?"
Portfolio: photos.matthewsaville.​com (external link)
Adventures: (external link)

Senior Member
638 posts
Gallery: 24 photos
Likes: 70
Joined Oct 2012
Location: Spring Hill, KS
Dec 29, 2015 15:45 |  #7

I shoot the highest possible quality settings no matter what. Always large RAW and 14 bit. I can always through the extra data away later.
Doesn't matter to me if it is a waste of disk space or not. If it ain't there to begin with it ain't gonna be there ever.

G1x, EOS 1Dx, EOS 1D Mk IV, ef 8-15mm f4L,
ef 16-35mm f2.8L II, ef 24-70mm f2.8L II, ef 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II,
Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sport
*** PS 6, ACR 9.3, Lightroom 6.5 ***

sponsored links
(this ad will go away when you log in as a registered member)

3,582 views & 0 likes for this thread
12 bit or 14 bit raw?
FORUMS Nikon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Nikon Cameras 
x 1600
y 1600

Jump to forum...   •  Rules   •  Index   •  New posts   •  RTAT   •  'Best of'   •  Gallery   •  Gear   •  Reviews   •  Member list   •  Polls   •  Image rules   •  Search   •  Password reset

Not a member yet?
Register to forums
Registered members may log in to forums and access all the features: full search, image upload, follow forums, own gear list and ratings, likes, more forums, private messaging, thread follow, notifications, own gallery, all settings, view hosted photos, own reviews, see more and do more... and all is free. Don't be a stranger - register now and start posting!

COOKIES DISCLAIMER: This website uses cookies to improve your user experience. By using this site, you agree to our use of cookies and to our privacy policy.
Privacy policy and cookie usage info.

POWERED BY AMASS forum software 2.1forum software
version 2.1 /
code and design
by Pekka Saarinen ©

Latest registered member is 18schroj
935 guests, 330 members online
Simultaneous users record so far is 15144, that happened on Nov 22, 2018 Digital Photography Forums is the website for photographers and all who love great photos, camera and post processing techniques, gear talk, discussion and sharing. Professionals, hobbyists, newbies and those who don't even own a camera -- all are welcome regardless of skill, favourite brand, gear, gender or age. Registering and usage is free.