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Sony Alpha A7r Gordon Laing, November 2013
 
 

Sony Alpha A7r vs Nikon D800e 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 noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Sony Alpha A7r and Nikon D800e, 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.

The Alpha A7r was fitted with the Zeiss 35mm f2.8 lens and the D800e with the Nikkor AF-S 35mm f1.4G 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 Canon EOS 5D Mark III taken moments earlier - 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.

In my earlier JPEG comparison, the level of detail recorded by both cameras was similar, but the A7r's results were a little crisper and also exhibited lower noise levels at higher sensitivities. By processing the RAW files from each camera using the same settings though, it's apparent both cameras can deliver very similar results at lower sensitivities: similar detail, similar crispness, similar noise. There are certainly some visible differences if you pixel-peep, but these can be balanced by making minor adjustments to the processing settings; I'd say there's little to choose between them here, at least at lower sensitivities.

But interestingly as the ISO is increased and the noise becomes more visible, I'd say the D800e enjoys a slightly finer texture; it's subtle, but the A7r's noise looks a little coarser to me and the chroma arefacts arrive a little sooner too.

The difference however is minor and not enough to describe the D800e as having lower noise levels. Certainly by the time you apply some noise reduction and a little less sharpening, there's effectively nothing between the two.

Ultimately I'd say this proves the Alpha A7r and D800e share essentially the same image quality, so you certainly wouldn't switch from one to the other for an upgrade in this respect. Instead it's all about choosing which form factor and approach works better for you. But it's still a fantastic result for the A7r to match the quality of the highest-performing DSLR, and another respectful nod to Sony's in-camera JPEG processing which using the default settings can out-perform its DSLR rivals.

Want to see more images from the A7r in a variety of conditions? Check out my Sony A7r sample images page!


Sony Alpha A7r RAW
 
Nikon D800e 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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