Sony Alpha SLT-A77 Ken McMahon, April 2012

Sony Alpha SLT-A77 JPEG vs RAW

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To compare real-life performance between RAW and JPEG files on the Sony SLT-A77, I shot this scene in the camera's RAW+JPEG mode.

The sensitivity was set to 100 ISO and the aperture to f5.6.

The JPEG was processed using the in-camera defaults, while the RAW file was processed using Sony's Image Data Converter application for processing raw images.



  Sony SLT-A77 results
1 Sony SLT-A77 Quality
2 Sony SLT-A77 RAW vs JPEG
3 Sony SLT-A77 Noise
4 Sony SLT-A77 Handheld Twilight
5 Sony SLT-A77 Sample images

Before I look at the individual crops just a word about in-camera JPEG compression on the SLT-A77. There are three JPEG quality/compression settings - Standard, Fine and Extra fine. The Fine setting produces files around 5-8MB in size and Extra fine JPEGs are around 10-16MB, so around half the compression is applied to Extra Fine JPEGs as Fine ones.

With the Camera set to RAW+JPEG, the JPEG files are compressed at the Fine quality, the only way to get Extra fine quality JPEGs is to shoot JPEG only. Of course, if you shoot RAW+JPEG you can process the file in Image Data Converter and apply less compression when you export it, which is what I've done for the RAW comparison here. The RAW file was processed using Image Data Converter's default settings and exported at Compression Level 1 (High Quality) producing a JPEG file 20MB in size.

Glancing down the two columns of crops the overall impression is that the in-camera JPEGs are a little more processed than the RAW files. They've got a little bit more contrast, the edges are more sharply defined and it would be fair to describe them as more 'consumer-friendly' than the processed RAW file.

The top row shows much crisper detail from the in-camera JPEG than the crop from the RAW file processed with Image Data Converter using the default settings. And in fact all four crops from the RAW file look softer than the in-camera JPEG, but despite the enhanced sharpness and edge contrast in the JPEG crops they don't look any noisier.

One other interesting thing is the chromatic aberration in the third crop. The in-camera JPEG has very marginal fringing, the processing has done an excellent job of minimising it, but it hasn't eradicated it completely. There's no trace of it in the RAW file though, so on shots where fringing is a problem processing the RAW file is an obvious solution. The second thing to note is there is a just visible halo along the chapel wall and horizon in the first crop. You'd never noitice it ordinarily and the halo is also visible in the Extra fine JPEG on the outdoor results page, but there's no sign on it on the processed RAW file.

In fact it isn't too difficult to match the in-camera results by tweaking the settings - reducing the noise reduction and increasing sharpness. I think Sony has adopted the right approach here, though. As with the NEX-7 it's producing crisp, punchy ready to use out of camera JPEGs (though interestingly, not as crisp and punchy as NEX-7 JPEGs) with the option to go for a less or more processed look with the RAW files if you prefer..

Now let's see how they compare at higher sensitivities in my A77 noise results.


Sony SLT-A77
(JPEG using in-camera defaults)
Sony SLT-A77
(RAW using Image Data converter 4)
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO

Sony Alpha SLT-A77 results : Quality / RAW vs JPEG / Noise
/ Handheld Twilight

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