Started Oct 1, 2009 | Discussions thread
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Contributing MemberPosts: 805
Oct 1, 2009


You can argue what the cause of the noise in the Sony sensors is, but, I think we all know that the blotchiness characteristic of it is terrible and in my opinion even atrocious. No other major manufacturer has that degree of blotchy color globules at similar high isos. It is visually terribly disturbing.

Look at the test images on the site at actual pixel sizes. Compare the D3x and the Sony a900/a850, with no in camera noise processing applied, and you will see what I mean. Place each image into two separate windows, side by side at 100% size. Move the images to same areas with the hand pointer. At the same high isos (1600 and 3200) the Sony has about twice as much noise when measured by meters.

However, look at the pattern of the Nikon noise and it is not disturbing or distracting. It has a uniform distribution, is the same color family, and is grain like. The Sony has almost twice the instrument measured noise level but the Sony noise at the same level is twice as disturbing because of the color blotching, non-uniformity of the noise color, and different blotch sizes. So in effect we could say that the Sony a900/850 has 4 times the visually disturbing quality of noise in their photos at high iso as compared to the D3X.

Now I am a fellow that recognizes that things just don’t happen by chance in the business section of the DSLR sensor world. Sony makes the sensor for the Nikon D3X and it is supposed to be the same sensor as the a900 and a850.

Sony is by far the largest sensor manufacturer in the world. There is a building in Japan where the sensors are designed and manufactured. That building is five stories high and to give you an idea of its dimensions - one floor would house all of Nikon, Canon, Olympus, and Pentax in their entireties – and that structure is only for sensors. If Sony has the staff to manufacture and design the best sensors why do we, the Sony/Minolta lovers, get the ones (for whatever reason) with the worst noise?

Well I think I know why. Let me see if I can convince you.

Sony makes the same sensor for the Nikon D3X as we have all been assured – even from the mouth of Nikon itself. Sony wants to continue selling the sensors to Nikon as there is an enormous profit in that. So if Sony was to make a sensor that outperformed or equaled the unit sold to and made for Nikon, I would think Nikon would be quite upset and find another manufacturer who could provide them with a better sensor. After all how could Nikon justify their $8,000 price for a D3X when a $2,000 item (Sony a850) might outperform it. And just in case you are wondering, Canon (who makes its own sensors for high quality DSLRs) has some very low noise extremely high quality sensors and might be happy to sell some of them to Nikon for a nice profit. But that might only happen if Sony was to upset the artificial balance and restrictions that are in place to favor sensors made for Nikon. Make no mistake this is all about profit.

So I personally feel there is a business agreement between Nikon and Sony. I think the owners all know one another. I believe that Sony has assured Nikon that for whatever reason the noise in Sony comparable high end cameras will be worse than what Nikon implements from Sony made sensors. This is to insure that Nikon will continue to use Sony as their major producer for their sensors and not threaten the loss of Nikon’s business at Sony. After all there might be more profit in selling a 24 MP sensor to Nikon than in the full production of an a900/850 (think about that a while).

Since the inception of the a100 the noise in the Sony DSLRs per pixel has always been terrible and has not become significantly better up to the a900’s sensor. Some on this forum had even recently said the a700 has less noise per pixel than the a900. Remember – I am not just referring to the measured amount of noise - but its subjective quality as well and that is going back several years and several different sensors and processors engines. Why then can’t Sony come out with a sensor with not just as little noise as Nikon but significantly less noise at high iso? I do not believe a giant like Sony is just, well, er - stupid. If Nikon and Canon have no problem in their final production units regarding low noise images at high iso, as well as making that noise visually undisturbing, why is Sony asleep and so very far behind. Think of where the money flows and you will understand. And go and look at the images at the site for your own edification.

The bottom line is if we complain to Sony loudly enough and vehemently enough and expose these possible practices, we will get the quietest and best sensors on the market. Make some noise!!!


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