Nik Viveza 2: Overcoming Spiral Artifacts By Increasing Bit Depth

I am a huge fan of Nik Collection professional photographic tools and have only Google to thank for making them really affordable when they bought over the company. It began with the Viveza plug-in that made local adjustments possible (Lightroom offers a similar tool by way of the Local Adjustment Brush but early implementation isn’t nearly as smooth as Nik’s U Point technology). I’m writing this post not to review this tool but to highlight a problem I’ve encountered sometime back (visibility pronounced under the right conditions) with the Viveza tool, and how support staff resolved the (annoying) problem in less than 48 hours, in two emails.

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The problem I’m talking about are the spiral artifacts after I’ve applied local brightness and contrast adjustments to the white and red colored part of the helicopter body. You can see the spiral patterns (“banding” being the technical term to describe this occurrence in digital images) radiating from the chopper to the rest of the image.

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To further clarify, there are banding issues caused by the camera (as explained here) and there are those amplified and made more pronounced as a direct result of editing. I have another helicopter photo where slight artifacts can be seen even when the image is a 14-bit RAW (they can still occur under the right conditions but the effects are lessened due to the use of an anti-aliasing (AA) filter on the sensor.

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Because the raw converter (not Lightroom) I used to process this photo doesn’t have local adjustment capability, I exported the image to JPEG before making final adjustments using Viveza 2 as a Paintshop Pro plug-in. There’s no visible banding when I applied the same editing after increasing the image to a 16-bit image even though a JPEG file is inherently 8-bit (easily done via “Increase Color Depth”).❤

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Photo of Brunei Shell Petroleum’s Sikorsky S-92 SAR helicopter. Just so you know, if you’re noticing the area outside the body being unnaturally bright, that’s intentional as a result of more aggressive than necessary adjustments in my attempt to provoke banding. No signs of that happening, at least not with this photo so it’s all good!😀

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