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Sony Alpha A7 Gordon Laing, November 2013
 
 

Sony Alpha A7 vs Alpha A7r Noise JPEG

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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 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; my RAW results will follow once support is available in ACR.

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.


My first noise comparison is between the Sony Alpha A7 and it's higher resolution counterpart, the A7r. I fitted each camera in turn with the same Zeiss 35mm f2.8 lens set to f8 in Aperture Priority mode, so what you're looking at below is a direct comparison between their sensors and image processing strategies. As a reminder the A7r has a higher resolution 36 Megapixel sensor without an optical low pass filter, whereas the A7 has a lower resolution 24 Megapixel sensor with an optical low pass filter; the A7 also has phase-detect AF points embedded in the sensor which the camera must interpolate around to generate an uninterrupted image.

In theory the higher resolution and lack of low pass filter on the A7r should allow it to deliver crisper, more detailed results at lower sensitivities, but the larger pixel pitch of the A7 could give it an advantage in noise at higher sensitivities.

I'd say at up to 400 ISO, both cameras are fairly evenly matched in terms of noise levels, but the A7r enjoys visibly superior detail - this is particularly apparent in the creases on the central petal, along with the patterns on the vase in the lower left. That's not to say the A7 looks bad at all, on the contrary, it's capturing loads of fine detail, but the A7r is definitely doing better in this regard.

At 800 ISO both cameras exhibit some softening of ultimate detail and viewed at 100% the A7 may be a fraction cleaner, but remember you could always down-sample the A7r image to 24 Megapixels and enjoy much the same result.

1600 ISO is where both cameras begin to visibly suffer from noise artefacts - those nice crisp creases in the petals are being wiped-out along with the fine details in the vase. Again I'd say the A7r is suffering a little more than the A7 at this point, but once down-sampled there's not much in it.

At 3200 ISO there's another noticeable decrease in quality with the A7r exhibiting more noise than the A7, but arguably retaining more detail in the vase. At 6400 ISO up to the maximum 25600 ISO both cameras go steadily downhill with more noise and less detail. You could argue the A7 crops may contain fractionally sharper details, but we're in the realms of serious pixel peeping here and I don't think there's a great deal in it, especially if you down-sample the A7r or output them at the same size.

In my view I'd say the A7r is the winner here, capturing finer details at the lower sensitivities and only barely falling behind at higher ISOs - an advantage which is effectively eroded if you down-sample the A7r images or print them the same size. I hoped the A7 might fight back with decisively lower noise at high ISOs, but it's not obvious in my tests below. So if the highest quality is your priority, the A7r should be your top choice, but for the best results, shoot below 400 ISO.

How much noise is behind the scenes? I'll have to wait for support from Adobe Camera RAW to really be able to say, but for now I can offer you additional JPEG noise comparisons with their two main full-frame rivals. So check out my Sony A7 vs Canon 5D Mark III noise and Sony A7 vs Nikon D800e noise comparisons, or head over to my Sony A7 sample images!


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


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