Sony SLT-A65 Review
Raw and raw conversion
The Sony SLT-A65 is provided with the following software:
- Picture Motion Browser 5.2 (Windows) - An easy to use and fast image
cataloging and browsing application with a fairly unique calendar based animated interface and - new with version 5.2 - an interface to display images on Google maps.
- Image Data Lightbox SR 2.2 (Windows / Mac) - An image browsing and workflow
application designed for rating and selecting images from a large collection. Provides synchronized
side-by-side comparison of images.
- Image Data Converter SR 4.0 (Windows / Mac) - A further development of the previously
seen Image Data Converter SR, provides advanced raw conversion capabilities, adjustments
include Creative Style, Sharpness (including overshoot / undershoot tuning), Highlight Color
Distortion reduction and Noise Reduction.
Image Data Converter 4, the raw converter that is bundled with the A65, is relatively simple compared to most third party packages but nevertheless offers all the usual conversion parameters and is easy to use. It provides for the fine-tuning of brightness, color, white balance, sharpness, noise reduction and tone-curve and also lets you choose your preferred Creative Style, reduce the effects of vignetting and change the in-camera setting of the D-Range Optimizer. There are no browsing, tagging or catalogue functions.
As is normal in our reviews we like to compare the supplied raw conversion software, any optional manufacturer raw conversion software and some third party raw converter. As is often the case, the only converters available at the time of writing the review are the manufacturer's software and Adobe Camera raw. Here we compare these two converters to the camera's JPEG engine to see how each of them pulls detail out of the images.
- JPEG - Large/Fine, Default settings
- IDC - Image Data Converter 4
- ACR - Adobe Camera raw 6.6 (Beta)
Sharpness and Detail
Unsurprisingly, Image Data Converter gives almost identical results from raw files as the A65's in-camera JPEG processing, but it does provide a better starting point for further adjustments, including sharpening and white balance fine-tuning. Adobe Camera raw gets more detail out of the A65's raw files at its default settings and as you can see, it does a much better job of the fine detail in the brown feathers.
|Sony Image Data Converter ->JPEG (Default settings)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop
|Adobe ACR 6.6 beta raw ->JPEG (Default settings)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop
|JPEG out of camera, High quality setting (all settings default)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop
Here we can see that, as expected, Sony's supplied Image Data Converter software is extracting similar levels of fine detail to the A65's JPEG engine. At default settings, ACR produces crisper output and manages to extract a fraction more detail from the files than the others, and without the level of moiré patterning which Sony's Image Data Converter has introduced. With careful further sharpening, the ACR conversion gives the best - and most - detail rendition.
|JPEG from camera||Sony Image Data Converter (raw)|
|Adobe Camera raw (raw)|
RAW vs JPEG
If it is maximum image detail that you are after on the SLT-A65, it is worth putting in the extra effort to process your RAW files. The A65's default JPEG rendering delivers smooth, colorful images which will satisfy most people most of the time, but to see anything like the camera's true detail-rendering potential you really should switch to raw mode.
The sample image below was processed in Adobe Camera RAW using some careful sharpening, with maximum detail in mind. As you can see not only are the people in the image better defined and sharper, there is also visibly more low contrast detail in the shrubbery and foliage around them.
We've done a more detailed analysis of raw vs jpeg image quality in our review of the Sony SLT-A77. The A77's image quality is as good as identical as the A65.
|JPEG from camera||Adobe Camera Raw (raw)|
|100% crop||100% crop|
Raw files for download
Don't just take our word for it - take a look at the A65's raw files for yourself, and run them through your own software and preferred conversion settings. Here, we provide you with a selection of raw files of 'real world' scenes, and if you want to take a closer look at the A65's studio scene shots, you can download original raw files from our compared to (raw) page.
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