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Sony Alpha A7 Gordon Laing, November 2013
 
 

Sony Alpha A7 vs Alpha A7r Noise RAW

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  Sony Alpha A7 results
1 Sony A7 vs A7r quality
2 Sony A7 vs A7r noise
3 Sony A7 vs Canon 5D Mark III noise
4 Sony A7 vs Nikon D800e noise
5 Sony A7 vs A7r RAW
6 Sony A7 Sample images

To compare RAW noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Sony Alpha A7 and Alpha A7r, within a few moments of each other using their RAW+JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

Both cameras were fitted in turn with the same Zeiss 35mm f2.8 lens, set to f8 in Aperture Priority mode. DRO was disabled as it can introduce noise. The White Balance was set manually.

I also have comparisons with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and Nikon D800e taken moments later - see the index above left.


I processed the RAW files from both cameras in Adobe Camera RAW using identical settings: Sharpening at 70 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, and the Process to 2012 with the Adobe Standard profile. These settings were chosen to reveal the differences in sensor quality and isolate them from in-camera processing. The high degree of sharpening with a small radius enhances the finest details without causing undesirable artefacts, while the zero noise reduction unveils what's really going on behind the scenes - as such the visible noise levels at higher ISOs will be much greater than you're used to seeing in many comparisons, but again it's an approach that's designed to show the actual detail that's being recorded before you start work on processing and cleaning it up if desired.

If you're comparing the RAW results with those from my earlier JPEG comparison, the first thing you'll notice is how well Sony's JPEG engine is working on the A7 and A7r. Some cameras seem to put little effort into their JPEGs, but Sony's engine clearly understands the capabilities of each sensor, applying enough sharpening and noise reduction for clean and crisp results without artefacts from either.

Look closely and you'll see the high degree of sharpening on my processed RAW files below has definitely unveiled additional fine detail, particularly visible in the creases on the petals. The A7r is still recording finer details, but the A7 RAW crops reveal a visible improvement over their JPEG versions.

But the boost in sharpening and zero noise reduction understandably means noise speckles appear sooner rather than later. There's the faintest sign of them at 100 ISO, and most will see them at 200 and 400 ISO. Beyond here there's a decent sprinking of noise speckles to contend with, although as you'll discover on the following pages, they're in a similar ball park to the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and Nikon D800e when both are processed using the same settings.

As for whether the A7 has less noise to start with, I'd say it enjoys a small benefit at 6400 ISO and above, but as noted on my JPEG comparison, much of that is eroded by simply down-sampling the A7r files to the same resolution. I certainly wouldn't say the A7 offers decisively lower noise levels and is the one to go for if you want better high ISO performance.

Ultimately I'd say careful processing of the A7 and A7r RAW files will definitely unveil some finer details and is well worth doing if you want to coax the best out of each model, but unless you're shooting at the lowest sensitivities, you'll want to combine it with careful noise reduction. In the meantime, this page again illustrates how good the Sony JPEGs are using their default settings.

Now let's see how the A7 compares against one of the most popular full-frame DSLRs around, the Canon EOS 5D Mark III - find out in my Sony A7 vs Canon EOS 5D Mark III noise results. Alternatively check out my Sony A7 vs Nikon D800e noise comparisons, or head over to my Sony A7 sample images!


Sony Alpha A7 RAW
 
Sony Alpha A7r RAW
f8 50 ISO
f8 50 ISO
f8 100 ISO
f8 100 ISO
f8 200 ISO
f8 200 ISO
f8 400 ISO
f8 400 ISO
f8 800 ISO
f8 800 ISO
     
f8 1600 ISO
f8 1600 ISO
     
f8 3200 ISO
f8 3200 ISO
     
f8 6400 ISO
f8 6400 ISO
     
f8 12800 ISO
f8 12800 ISO
     
f8 25600 ISO
f8 25600 ISO
 

Sony Alpha A7r results : A7r vs A7 quality / A7r vs A7 noise / A7r vs 5D3 noise/ A7r vs D800e noise


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