Sony A9 viewfinder not really higher resolution than A7rii

Started Sep 2, 2017 | Discussions
Ayoh Regular Member • Posts: 388
Sony A9 viewfinder not really higher resolution than A7rii
12

The viewfinder OLED panel resolution has increased from ~2.4 MP on the A7rii to ~3.7 MP on the A9.

However, this resolution is never available on the A9 for still image composition. In all still shooting modes, the viewfinder image is rendered significantly below the maximum panel resolution leading to effectively the same viewfinder image resolution as on the A7rii. This results in obvious aliasing and pixelation in the viewfinder image.

The only times the viewfinder image is rendered in the higher resolution enabled by the upgraded viewfinder panel include:

- 4K movie mode. However, this is rendered with a very low refresh rate (seems like 24Hz or lower) which causes the image preview to be very jittery and frustrating to use with even very slow panning.

- S&Q movie setting. Strangely enough as far as visually discernable the viewfinder resolution appears to be as high as in 4K movie, however, the refresh rate is much higher (>=50Hz?).

- Image playback mode.

As it is, the upgrade viewfinder resolution is essentially useless for still shooting modes and the associated Sony marketing material suggesting and improved still shooting viewfinder experience is misleading. I understand the renderable viewfinder resolution is limited by the camera processing constraints and that this may result in having to compromise on either the resolution, or the refresh rate of the viewfinder panel (this can be observed when enabling the high-speed 120Hz viewfinder mode where the rendered resolution drops significantly). However, the A9 seems to be capable of rendering both a high-resolution and a high refresh rate viewfinder image as evidenced by the S&Q mode setting. If so then why is this performance not available in still image shooting modes? this could be that in S&Q the camera is running in a permanently sub-sampled sensor mode and it can't switch to full sensor readout mode quickly enough to give a good shooting experience. Or maybe it draws significantly more power.

Whatever the reason I think Sony should specify the limitations around when a user could use the higher resolution of the upgraded viewfinder, and not mislead the customer with false marketing material. If there are certain trade offs, they could allow the user to make the decision themselves, For example, if the rendering the viewfinder image in a high-resolution, high refresh rate mode means that the AF processing is slower due to slower sensor readout, then this mode could be an available option in the menu for single image AF-S mode.

Despite these limitations, the A9 is still a very high performing camera and the standard still viewfinder resolution mode is acceptable. It is just that it could be better and Sony have marketed the camera as having a generally improved viewfinder resolution and have not documented any of the limitations found in practice. This is disappointing.

Also disappointing is the fact that none of the major review sites (including Dpreview) have commented on these limitations in their reviews, but have instead just repeated the same misleading marketing claims made by Sony.

Sony a9
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Jude 101 Contributing Member • Posts: 523
Re: Sony A9 viewfinder not really higher resolution than A7rii
3

Ayoh wrote:

The viewfinder OLED panel resolution has increased from ~2.4 MP on the A7rii to ~3.7 MP on the A9.

However, this resolution is never available on the A9 for still image composition. In all still shooting modes, the viewfinder image is rendered significantly below the maximum panel resolution leading to effectively the same viewfinder image resolution as on the A7rii. This results in obvious aliasing and pixelation in the viewfinder image.

The only times the viewfinder image is rendered in the higher resolution enabled by the upgraded viewfinder panel include:

- 4K movie mode. However, this is rendered with a very low refresh rate (seems like 24Hz or lower) which causes the image preview to be very jittery and frustrating to use with even very slow panning.

- S&Q movie setting. Strangely enough as far as visually discernable the viewfinder resolution appears to be as high as in 4K movie, however, the refresh rate is much higher (>=50Hz?).

- Image playback mode.

As it is, the upgrade viewfinder resolution is essentially useless for still shooting modes and the associated Sony marketing material suggesting and improved still shooting viewfinder experience is misleading. I understand the renderable viewfinder resolution is limited by the camera processing constraints and that this may result in having to compromise on either the resolution, or the refresh rate of the viewfinder panel (this can be observed when enabling the high-speed 120Hz viewfinder mode where the rendered resolution drops significantly). However, the A9 seems to be capable of rendering both a high-resolution and a high refresh rate viewfinder image as evidenced by the S&Q mode setting. If so then why is this performance not available in still image shooting modes? this could be that in S&Q the camera is running in a permanently sub-sampled sensor mode and it can't switch to full sensor readout mode quickly enough to give a good shooting experience. Or maybe it draws significantly more power.

Whatever the reason I think Sony should specify the limitations around when a user could use the higher resolution of the upgraded viewfinder, and not mislead the customer with false marketing material. If there are certain trade offs, they could allow the user to make the decision themselves, For example, if the rendering the viewfinder image in a high-resolution, high refresh rate mode means that the AF processing is slower due to slower sensor readout, then this mode could be an available option in the menu for single image AF-S mode.

Despite these limitations, the A9 is still a very high performing camera and the standard still viewfinder resolution mode is acceptable. It is just that it could be better and Sony have marketed the camera as having a generally improved viewfinder resolution and have not documented any of the limitations found in practice. This is disappointing.

Also disappointing is the fact that none of the major review sites (including Dpreview) have commented on these limitations in their reviews, but have instead just repeated the same misleading marketing claims made by Sony.

My eyes are so bad it does not matter.

osv Veteran Member • Posts: 9,970
Re: Sony A9 viewfinder not really higher resolution than A7rii

Ayoh wrote:

The viewfinder OLED panel resolution has increased from ~2.4 MP on the A7rii to ~3.7 MP on the A9.

However, this resolution is never available on the A9 for still image composition.

do you have a source that proves that claim? maybe a link to a page in the a9 manual?

In all still shooting modes, the viewfinder image is rendered significantly below the maximum panel resolution leading to effectively the same viewfinder image resolution as on the A7rii. This results in obvious aliasing and pixelation in the viewfinder image.

the level indicator looks a bit more jagged than it does on my a7r, when the camera is tilted, but i haven't noticed any issues with image p.q. in the evf.

if they were uprezzing a7/a7r/a7rii graphics overlays to the higher resolution of the a9 evf, i wonder if it could account for the jagged appearance in the level indicator.

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dan

mcslsk Veteran Member • Posts: 5,634
Re: Sony A9 viewfinder not really higher resolution than A7rii

It is one of the biggest issues I have with the a7r2. Can't (or don't) use it with MF lenses. Thought the lower resolution sensor in the A9 would solve that issue because the a7 EVF works just fine.

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OP Ayoh Regular Member • Posts: 388
Re: Sony A9 viewfinder not really higher resolution than A7rii
1

osv wrote:

Ayoh wrote:

The viewfinder OLED panel resolution has increased from ~2.4 MP on the A7rii to ~3.7 MP on the A9.

However, this resolution is never available on the A9 for still image composition.

do you have a source that proves that claim? maybe a link to a page in the a9 manual?

The source is my own observations. The point of my post is that the viewfinder render resolution is not explicitly stated by Sony.

In all still shooting modes, the viewfinder image is rendered significantly below the maximum panel resolution leading to effectively the same viewfinder image resolution as on the A7rii. This results in obvious aliasing and pixelation in the viewfinder image.

the level indicator looks a bit more jagged than it does on my a7r, when the camera is tilted, but i haven't noticed any issues with image p.q. in the evf.

if they were uprezzing a7/a7r/a7rii graphics overlays to the higher resolution of the a9 evf, i wonder if it could account for the jagged appearance in the level indicator.

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dan

Look through the viewfinder while composing the image, then take a photo and compare that to the live image. Or look at the viewfinder while in a still photo mode (P,A,S,M etc.) then switch to S&Q or movie mode. In both cases the difference in viewfinder resolution becomes apparent. The difference is easier to see if there are diagonal lines in the image as stair-stepping effects are reduced when in higher resolution viewfinder modes.

OP Ayoh Regular Member • Posts: 388
Re: Sony A9 viewfinder not really higher resolution than A7rii
3

mcslsk wrote:

It is one of the biggest issues I have with the a7r2. Can't (or don't) use it with MF lenses. Thought the lower resolution sensor in the A9 would solve that issue because the a7 EVF works just fine.

The A7s and A7sii seem to be the only Sony cameras from the ones I have used (a6000,a6500, A7ii, A7rii, A7si&ii and A9) which always render a full resolution viewfinder image. The a7Rii and a9 viewfinder render resolution is noticeably lower than the a7si&ii in still shooting modes.

(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 8,068
Re: Sony A9 viewfinder not really higher resolution than A7rii
13

mcslsk wrote:

It is one of the biggest issues I have with the a7r2. Can't (or don't) use it with MF lenses.

Really??? That is very surprising. Of all cameras I ever owned (including DSLR and range finder cameras) I find the A7rii the easiest to use with MF lenses. So easy and accurate in fact, that I often use my native Sony lenses in MF mode instead AF.

mcslsk Veteran Member • Posts: 5,634
Re: Sony A9 viewfinder not really higher resolution than A7rii
2

Really. It is all but unusable in MF. Unless at the first maginifaction level you want to judge focus by interference patter. Usable at second mag step, but that becomes difficult with longer lenses. Day and night compared to a6300 and a7. If you add in the much too heavy focus peaking even at "low" setting, the camera is for AF, not MF. Even bought the a7 again to work with my Minolta, CZJ and MG lenses.

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(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 8,068
Re: Sony A9 viewfinder not really higher resolution than A7rii
1

mcslsk wrote:

Really. It is all but unusable in MF. Unless at the first maginifaction level you want to judge focus by interference patter. Usable at second mag step, but that becomes difficult with longer lenses. Day and night compared to a6300 and a7. If you add in the much too heavy focus peaking even at "low" setting, the camera is for AF, not MF. Even bought the a7 again to work with my Minolta, CZJ and MG lenses.

Not my experience. Have you set your EVF to high quality? I had A6300, A7 and A7ii and now A7rii and find the A7rii the easiest to use for MF. For long lenses, A7 is really hard because of lack of IBIS: the longest I could reliably MF with my A7 was around 100mm. On my A7rii I have zero problem to MF my adapted Nikkor 180/2.8 lens.

I am using mostly the first mag step and find it accurate enough. Focus peaking has never worked for me, I believe that is more for video usage and "follow focus".

Of course, I am not questioning your experience, just wanting to share my own. Some works for some folks, others don't...

PS: there is also the PAL versus NTSC issue. EVF refresh rate is faster if camera is set to NTSC mode, thus gives a smoother EVF image.

Jeff2013
Jeff2013 Senior Member • Posts: 2,942
Re: Sony A9 viewfinder not really higher resolution than A7rii
12

Thanks for posting.  I have alternately viewed through my A7RII and A9 viewfinders and could never detect any difference, which was perplexing, given the Sony marketing claims.  They should clarify this.

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mcslsk Veteran Member • Posts: 5,634
Re: Sony A9 viewfinder not really higher resolution than A7rii

I am very seriouis about this. In fact , this was one of my first (of only a very few complaints) about the camera. And it has been confirmed by others that the a7r2 EVF does nto render a sharp image at first mag step. It is like as if there is mesh over it. You can see jaggies and edges. Some suggest it is a feature - just set focus to see the interference. No setting has changed that. And it doesn't have to do with the refresh rate. That is also why I have suggested that Sony gives us an option to jump directly to the second mag step. There, the image is okay. It is a world of a difference with the a7 and a6300. I have a large collection of vintage glas and in order to keep enjoying it with MF, I bought the a7 again. That's how serious the issues is. Just hope it is not me, my head, or my vision.

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Magnar W
Magnar W Veteran Member • Posts: 4,889
Re: Sony A9 viewfinder not really higher resolution than A7rii
5

Fine tuned the eye ocular diopter?

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mcslsk Veteran Member • Posts: 5,634
Re: Sony A9 viewfinder not really higher resolution than A7rii
2

I was hoping for a serious discussion ...

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mcslsk Veteran Member • Posts: 5,634
Re: Sony A9 viewfinder not really higher resolution than A7rii

So let's try: Are you saying, that you see a sharp and clear image at the first mag step in the a7r2 EFV? No interference. As sharp as on the a7 or a6300? No difference, or even better?

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Magnar W
Magnar W Veteran Member • Posts: 4,889
Re: Sony A9 viewfinder not really higher resolution than A7rii
3

Ocular dipoter setting: This is a real world problem, I can assure you, from having students and aslo running a lot of workshops.

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(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 8,068
Re: Sony A9 viewfinder not really higher resolution than A7rii
1

mcslsk wrote:

So let's try: Are you saying, that you see a sharp and clear image at the first mag step in the a7r2 EFV? No interference. As sharp as on the a7 or a6300? No difference, or even better?

Well, your post inspired me to take another look and YOU ARE RIGHT. On first mag step there is a little bit of interference or flickering on high contrast edges. I had never noticed this and it has never prevented me to obtain a sharp image with my Olympus and Zeiss Contax legacy lenses.

I doubt this is a "feature" - but since this flickering does indeed occur on the point of sharpest focus, one may as well use it that way.

I also agree that Sony should give us the option to jump directly to second mag step (and do away with the initial display of the magnifier box).

Learned something new today! THANKS!

mcslsk Veteran Member • Posts: 5,634
Re: Sony A9 viewfinder not really higher resolution than A7rii

What a relief! I cancel my doctor's appointment on Monday . It certainly depends, but for me, I would expect the a7r2 to provide an EVF image that is as good or better than that of the a7. Don't know what's causing this. Thought it might just be an unfavourable magnification ratio (because at the second mag step, it is a lot better).

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mcslsk Veteran Member • Posts: 5,634
Re: Sony A9 viewfinder not really higher resolution than A7rii

You have a lot of experience - but so do I. Diopter adjustment is very basic.

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Magnar W
Magnar W Veteran Member • Posts: 4,889
Re: Sony A9 viewfinder not really higher resolution than A7rii
3

mcslsk wrote:

You have a lot of experience - but so do I. Diopter adjustment is very basic.

I thought so too, until I met a lot of others who were not aware of this adjustment. Obvious for you, maybe not for many others.

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Abrak Veteran Member • Posts: 4,179
Re: Sony A9 viewfinder not really higher resolution than A7rii
1

To give some context to this post. There is quite a bit of 'b*****cks written about viewfinder by camera companies.

The cold reality is that something like 90% of all viewfinders (as in EVFs) made for higher end mirrorless companies are in fact manufactured by Epson. In fact, they virtually all use exactly the same chipset enhanced by some magnification and some glass often with some fancy named coatings.

For a period of about 4 years starting with the Olympus EM1 (original) pretty much all of the higher end mirrorless cameras all used pretty much the same 2.36m pixel Epson chipset. The number could vary a bit with the aspect ratio.

So realistically if you bought the EM1, Em1ii, A7R, A7rii, XT-2, A6500 etc... while you could read endless posts about how one viewfinder was far superior to another, they were essentially the same EVF.

Epson have obviously been working on an upgraded EVF. I believe we saw this first in the Leica sl which had a 4.41m dot EVF. Epson announced mass production of the chip over a year ago...

http://global.epson.com/newsroom/2015/news_20151209.html

To the best of my knowledge the only subsequent cameras that this chip has likely been used in is the Fuji medium format and the Sony A9. They show lower pixel dot counts but presumably they have a 3:2 aspect ratio (hence 3.69m).

I have played around with an A9 and I felt that I could see a big difference - but then again I was looking for it and the mind can play marvelous tricks.

But, as I understand it, the A9 has a much improved Epson EVF chip in it compared to the A7 bodies - whether it has been well implemented or not is a different matter.

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