High ISO Compared: Sony A7S vs. A7R vs. Canon EOS 5D III
1 Introduction | Shootout
Sony's A7-series lineup has garnered quite a lot of interest amongst camera enthusiasts, striking an appealing balance between image quality and size. Both the A7 and A7R bodies, as well as the native FE lenses Sony has recently introduced, are remarkably small and lightweight - especially when you consider the quality of images they're capable of producing.
The A7S is Sony's newest entry in its full-frame mirrorless lineup. But where the 'R' in A7R stood for resolution, the 'S' in the 12MP A7S stands for sensitivity. Furthermore, with its full-sensor readout and 4K video capabilities, the A7S is as much a camera for video as it is a camera for stills. And let's face it: there are very few videographers and photographers who wouldn't be thrilled by a camera offering higher sensitivity and impressive, low noise, high ISO performance.
Now, this purported increase in sensitivity comes at a cost: in the face of cameras with ever-increasing megapixels, the A7S comes in at a rather paltry 12MP. Lower resolution and higher sensitivity are certainly not unheard of - the Canon 1DX and Nikon D4S both top out at relatively modest resolutions of 18 MP and 16MP, respectively (though this is partly done in the name of speed). But is the resolution of a bygone era (Canon EOS 5D anyone?) a worthy tradeoff for the still image and video quality enhancements? Sony certainly seems to think so.
We just got our hands on an A7S, and have been busy putting it up against its competitors to see what advantages it offers and, quite frankly, to see if the claims regarding its low light performance are accurate. Particularly, some of us here have been curious as to whether not the increased ISO performance is significant enough to warrant the resolution tradeoff when the A7S is put up against its older sibling - the A7R.
Why make this resolution trade-off at all? Leaving aside video considerations (such as simplifying full sensor readout) for now, lower resolution sensors can increase pixel-level performance (because bigger pixels capture more light), but it's typically total light gathering area across the entire sensor that is a major determinant of ISO performance, all else being equal. So, to see whether the A7S offers anything beyond the pixel-level benefit its lower resolution would lead you to expect, the higher resolution image is normalized to the resolution of the lower resolution camera. Ultimately, for the A7S to make sense to stills as well as video shooters, Sony's engineers need to have exploited some of the other advantages that well-designed larger pixels can potentially bring *1.
We put the A7S up against the higher resolution A7R to see if the A7S offered any significant high ISO advantages over the A7R when the output of the A7R was downsized to that of the A7S. Furthermore, we pitted the A7S against a professional DSLR not too far outside the price range of the A7S. And so, we bring you this real-world comparison between the Sony A7S, Sony A7R, and Canon EOS 5D Mark III.
We shot a night scene that included a range of tones from deep shadows to bright highlights to get a comprehensive idea of noise performance of these cameras at various ISOs.
We waited until midnight to ensure minimal changes in ambient light during the course of our shoot (summer days are long in Seattle). In order to level the playing field for all three the cameras we did a few things:
- Used the same lens (Canon 24-70 f/4L IS) for all cameras. A Metabones Smart Adapter III was used to fit the Canon lens on to the Sony bodies.
- Aperture and shutter speed were matched across all cameras for any particular ISO setting.
- RAW files were converted in ACR 8.5 to give relatively consistent rendering across cameras. This was done by manually selecting white balance per camera, and adjusting Shadow Tint as necessary at higher ISOs in order to avoid magenta-tinted blacks. Sharpening and noise reduction were left to ACR defaults (Sharpening: 25 | Luminance NR: 0 | Color NR: 25).
Do note, however, that (1) nobody in their right mind would boost high ISO JPEGs in this manner (it's preferable to digitally boost Raws over JPEGs), and (2) when we did boost the high ISO Raw files in ACR, significant noise resulted. This itself speaks to the value of the higher ISO modes on the A7S (if you need them, that is), but also indicates that a more careful balancing act of noise reduction, sharpening, and exposure boosting would be more appropriate to obtain the 'simulated' higher ISO values than by simple (digital) exposure boosting.
Without further ado, let's get to the comparisons. Below and on the next page you'll find a variant of our typical studio scene widget. Have a play with it (further instructions after the widget), then view some of our specific thoughts on the comparison on the next page. By default we've set the widget below to compare the A7S vs A7R, but you can compare either camera to the Canon EOS 5D Mark III as well. And, as always, all files are available for download if you would like to tinker yourself.
Using the Widget
The widget above and on the next page is a variant of our typical studio scene widget. At the top is a drop down menu that allows you to select 'Normalized (12 MP)' or 'Native Resolution'. 'Native Resolution' indicates that images retain the maximum resolution the camera is capable of, whereas for the normalized analysis, images were downsized to 12 MP (using the bicubic resampling method).
As usual, we also have the Full, Print, and Web buttons at the top right of the widget. Full will maintain whatever you've selected in the top, center drop-down menu (12 MP for the normalized analysis, and full sensor resolution for the native resolution analysis). Print will downsize all images to 8 MP, while Web downsizes all images to 5 MP.
*1 For example, lowering cumulative sensor read noise, increasing effective sensor efficiency, and other factors that - to prevent this article sprawling - we won't elaborate upon further here.
|.....the ROYAL LOTUS 2017/08/25-NEW YORK..... by Chiwat|
from Wild flowers
|Coffee and Mango cake by clicker88|
from Another cup of coffee
A Craigslist poster has discovered the worst possible way to photograph a car: taking pictures of pictures displayed on a cracked and scratched up smartphone screen.
With the iPhone X coming out soon, the title probably won't last, but the iPhone 8 Plus is officially the best smartphone camera DxOMark has ever tested, and the iPhone 8 is second.
Kodak's new Facebook Messenger chatbot is trying to bring back the 'Kodak Moment' by digging up your old social media photos and trying to sell you prints and custom coffee mugs.
Affinity Photo for iPad was touted as "the first full blown, truly professional photo editing tool to make its way onto the Apple tablet." This update makes it that much more convenient.
Yashica has released a new teaser video, and this one claims they'll be releasing an "unprecedented camera" in October on Kickstarter. Ready... set... speculate!
Storage solutions company Synology has just released its very first 6-bay NAS tower. Combined with the DX1215 expansion units, it can hold and control up to thirty drives.
We're always expanding our collection of product overview content, and we've just added videos for the Canon EOS 6D Mark II, the EOS Rebel SL2 and EOS M6.
The venerable Canon PowerShot G1 was announced seventeen years ago this week, marking the start of a line of enthusiast-focused compacts that's still alive and kicking.
Super macro photographer Can Tuncer captured these incredible close-ups of a single peacock feather using a special setup and three different microscope lenses.
After successfully crowdfunding the Biotar 75mm F1.5, Oprema Jena is at it again. This time they're bringing back the Biotar 58mm F2: the world's only lens with a 17-blade aperture.
Adobe's move to a subscription model is treating it very well indeed. The company has posted record revenue for the second quarter in a row, hauling in a mind-boggling $1.84 billion.
More details have emerged about the potential sale of Blackstone's 45% stake in iconic camera brand Leica.
Popular mobile editing app Snapseed just got a major update that includes a new interface and 11 new presets for both Android and iOS, as well as adding the Perspective tool to the iOS version.
It might sound like a strange idea, but taking macro photos of boiling water can actually result in some really cool photographs. A good photo experiment for a rainy day.
The database was created to "break with the narrow lens through which history… has been recorded" by equipping those who commission photography with "the resources to discover photographers of color available for assignments.
Lensbaby has released two new optics for their special "optic swap system." The Lensbaby Sweet 80 Optic gives you that trademark sweet spot of focus, while the Creative Bokeh optic gives you 9 different drop in aperture plate options to play with.
TechCrunch has already posted their review of the upcoming iPhone 8 (not yet the iPhone X), and they're calling it "a look into the augmented future of photography."
Affinity Photo is a $50 photo editing software with no subscriptions. That's it – pay for it once and you're done. And we think it's actually pretty darn good.
Instagram is currently testing a major change to the app's profile layout: replacing the 3-photo across grid with a 4-photo grid... and some users are NOT taking the news well.
A report by USSRPhoto is shedding some light on the return of the famed Zenit camera brand. It seems the full-frame mirrorless camera they're working on will be made in part by Leica using components from the Leica SL.
According to a reliable Korean report, Samsung is developing a smartphone sensor that's capable of super slow motion. Translation: Samsung's next batch of Galaxy smartphones may be able to shoot 1,000fps.
This simple photograph of a seahorse and Q-tip has taken the internet by storm. We spoke to photographer Justin Hofman about how it was captured, and what it means to him.
After a massive leak last week, Profoto has officially debuted the Profoto A1: the company's first on-camera flash system that they're calling "the world's smallest studio flash."
"When the first hyperfocal distance charts were designed, someone decided that an acceptably sharp background contained some blur — enough to notice in a medium-sized print [...] After that point, nearly every other hyperfocal chart followed suit."
The Canon EOS Rebel SL2 (also known as the EOS 200D) is the company's impressively compact entry-level DSLR. Packing a 24MP APS-C sensor, DIGIC 7 processor and Dual Pixel AF, it promises a lot of bang for the buck. And while not mind-blowing, it handles most tasks very well.
Correct these four common composition mistakes and your photos will be more balanced, tell a better story, and lead your viewer's eye where you want it to go.
The rugged, compact 360° action camera Kodak unveiled at Photokina in 2016, the Kodak PixPro Orbit 360, is finally available in the United States.
iOS 11 launches tomorrow, and it'll save all of your pictures in a new high efficiency image format called HEIC. Fortunately, there's now a converter that will let you turn those photos back into JPEGs.
Photo protection company ImageRights recently released a new service that lets non-subscribers take advantage of their streamlined copyright registration system that checks for errors and fills out all the required forms for you.
What's the difference between a $200 circular polarizing filter and a $100 circular polarizing filter? Roger Cicala at Lens Rentals put six different filters through a few tests to find out.