Why all the fuss about A77 high ISO noise?

Started Feb 14, 2014 | Discussions thread
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Chris Malcolm Senior Member • Posts: 1,965
Why all the fuss about A77 high ISO noise?

You get best image quality and detail resolution from any camera at its native ISO, usually ISO 100. Raising the ISO with any camera degrades IQ. The A77 IQ at ISO is very good indeed. So what if some other cameras get a stop more high ISO performance? That's a pretty trivial difference. You can easily get two stops improvement from improving camera support, from using a good dedicated noise reducer, from downsizing the image MP. Of course if you want gallery sized prints of fast sports action then you need every bit of high ISO image quality you can get. But most photographers don't have such a requirement.

If you're a pixel peeping high detail resolution hound (as I am) then you'll already be using a specialised noise reducer in dim light photographic emergencies. And you will already have noticed that if you try to remove all noise then you lose more detail. Leaving some noise in improves detail resolution and reduces unpleasant noise reduction artefacts.

I get the impression that a lot of complainers about noise object to it on principle if they can see it. It's one of the easiest aspects of poor image quality to see on a displayed computer imahe. Just zoom in. But it's not the most important aspect of image quality. And why consider pixel peeping noise a disadvantage if you rarely if ever print larger than A4?

I think colour fidelity, dynamic range, burst rate, EVF which can show you the effects of camera settings, in-camera hand held panorama stitching, in-camera hand held HDR, any one of those worth trading a stop of high ISO performance for.

When comparing my A77 performance against my previous cameras I find much the biggest improvement to be both unexpected and difficult to pin down to any particular easily categorised feature. It's that on a typical photographic expedition or studio shoot I find myself shooting far less images in total than I used to, and after careful scrutiny and post processing ending up with far more keepers. It's the total package of features, and how they all fit together in practice (with practice ).

Reading all the reviews before purchase I thought I knew what kind of specific performance upgrades I was going to see. But much fewer images and much more keepers after an hour of shooting was an unexpected and real treat of an extra.

But I digress from the noise "problem". I think it's an artefact of the numbers war. People are status conscious. They want to be able to score status points against the owners of inferior cameras. That means they need very easily measurable or visible features or numbers to be able to show the superiority of their camera. It reminds me of my childhood days when we'd peer through the windows of sports cars to see how high the speedometer went up to.

Chris Malcolm

 Chris Malcolm's gear list:Chris Malcolm's gear list
Sony Alpha DSLR-A550 Sony SLT-A77 Sony 50mm F1.4 Sony DT 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 Sony 500mm F8 Reflex +7 more
Sony SLT-A77
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