Studio Comparison (low light)

The low light scene is shot with Auto White Balance, to show how the camera's JPEGs look under artificial light. Any 'keep warm tone' options are left at their default setting.

The low light scene Raws are processed to demonstrate the capability of cameras in low-light shooting situations. Noise reduction is minimized and the white balance is neutralized to reveal blue channel noise. The black level is lifted to prevent noise being hidden by clipping. A standardized amount of sharpening is applied in Photoshop.

Note: this page features our new interactive studio scene. Click here for instructions on the widget.

JPEG performance in low light isn't markedly different from its performance in good light. At ISO 3200 you'll see that the a7R is neck-and-neck with the much larger Canon 5D III and Nikon D800E DSLRs. You can get a feel for how the camera's context-sensitive noise reduction system works in this example. Notice how the low contrast area in the back looks very smooth, while the feather in the foreground retains its detail. At ISO 12,800 you can see the downside of this NR system - note how 'fuzzy' the lines around the square appear. While you can still see it when the image is reduced to 8 megapixel, it's not as obvious as it is on the 24 megapixel a7. One thing you won't find in these JPEGs is chroma (color) noise - Sony has really squashed it in JPEGs.

As with JPEGs, luminance noise is low and detail is high at low-to-middle sensitivities. Just as in good light there is some moiré, though (again), it's not as bad as on the D800E. Color noise starts to pick up at ISO 3200, but it doesn't start eating detail until ISO 6400. At ISO 12800 there's still some detail, but when you hit 25600 there's not much left, even if you downsize to 3 megapixels.