Sony Alpha A7r Gordon Laing, November 2013
 
 

Sony Alpha A7r vs Canon EOS 5D Mark III Noise RAW

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

To compare RAW noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Sony Alpha A7r and Canon EOS 5D Mark III, within a few moments of each other using their RAW+JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

The Alpha A7r was fitted with the Zeiss 35mm f2.8 lens and the Canon 5D Mark III with the EF 35mm f1.4 lens, both set to f8 in Aperture Priority mode. DRO and other contrast enhancers were disabled as they can introduce noise. The White Balance was set manually.

I also have JPEG and RAW comparisons with the Nikon D800e taken moments later - see the index above left.


I rented the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and Nikon D800e from BorrowLenses.com - a great service for evaluating gear in the US!

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.

As I noted on my previous comparison, Canon's default approach to in-camera JPEGs results in soft-looking images out of the EOS 5D Mark III. So in that comparison it was no surprise to find the higher resolution and crisp processing of the Sony A7r comfortably beating it. But like most photographers I know you can unlock a great deal of fine detail from the 5D Mark III's RAW files, so on this page we'll get to see how they compare when both share the same processing settings.

As we've seen on previous comparisons, the EOS 5D Mark III jumps into life when you sharpen its RAW files. The softness of the in-camera JPEG processing is lifted and a wealth of fine detail unveiled. The resulting crisp images look great, but the Alpha A7r still manages to out-resolve them as you'd expect. Again the giveaways are in the petals and the vase, where the Sony is recording finer detail, although it may be closer than you'd think given the 50% higher pixel count of the A7r.

As the ISO is increased, the noise levels become ever-visible, but I'd say the Canon's noise patterns are finer than the Sonys, particularly at higher sensitivities. You can of course down-sample the A7r files to the same size and reduce the impact of its noise, but to my eyes the EOS 5D Mark III's noise remains a little finer and allows it to enjoy a small advantage at 6400 ISO and above, which gradually becomes as much as a stop - even after downsampling. This is however pixel-peeping.

So I'd say the Canon EOS 5D Mark III greatly benefits from sharpening in RAW and enjoys a minor lead in noise levels above 6400 ISO, but the Sony A7r resolves finer details at 800 ISO and below. As always, buy the camera which best suits your needs.

But what about the Nikon D800e which shares the same 36 Megapixel resolution and absence of an optical low pass filter? Find out how they compare for both JPEG and RAW files in my Sony A7r vs Nikon D800e JPEG and Sony A7r vs Nikon D800e RAW results pages, or if you've seen enough, skip to my Sony A7r sample images.


Sony Alpha A7r RAW
 
Canon EOS 5D Mark III 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
     
51200 ISO not available
f8 51200 ISO
     
102400 ISO not available
f8 102400 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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