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 Post subject: Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 7:59 pm 
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Price is usually the sticking point A99 def hold off on I expect it to get a quite significant price cut next year. A77 well again IMO it's £800 body only price puts it in a difficult position as the Canikon rivals are cheaper. With further price cuts it could get more "love" or attention. Looking at how heavily prices fall esp on higher end products I would say it's almost nuts to buy a new model on the market straight away regardless of brand.

I'm starting to see the appeal of buying s/h bodies as even fairly capable cameras are pretty dirt cheap now. Lots of folks buy a 5d MkI/II s/h and it's being sold sub D600 prices now too. Older or not I think that strategy works for Canon


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 Post subject: Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 9:31 pm 
Heirophant

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Apologies for being late into this discussion. I have gone from an A700 to an A77 and I make exhibition prints, so I think that I can give a sensible answer to this. I can categorically state that the A77 does NOT exhibit much chroma noise. In fact it has very little. It has a fair amount of luminance noise. Fortunately luminance noise is both easy to get rid of and more acceptable. In fact you should always leave some in, unless you want your image to look 'digital' rather than film-like.

There is nothing like a real world example, so I hastily set up a target and shot it in raw with my A77 with 16-80 set at 40mm, hand held at 3200 iso. Exposure on the all too familiar dark and wet day was a 60th at f5.6. Then I processed it in Adobe Camera Raw 6.7. The colour (chroma) noise reduction was left at the Adobe default value of 25. The luminance NR was set to 70 and the sharpening was set at 45 with a radius of 1. I did not apply any masking. I sized this image to 6000 pixels wide (50.8 cm at 300 ppi), which is somewhat larger than I would normally use. The image here is a 926 pixel crop from that.

See for yourself.

Bob


Attachments:
A77 3200 iso_crop.jpg
A77 3200 iso_crop.jpg [ 249.2 KiB | Viewed 1125 times ]

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 Post subject: Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 9:36 pm 
Heirophant

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Damn, I attached the wrong file! That one had luminance noise reduction set to 50. This one is set to 70.

Bob


Attachments:
A77 3200 iso.jpg
A77 3200 iso.jpg [ 189.64 KiB | Viewed 1124 times ]

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 Post subject: Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 9:44 pm 
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Bob - from much experience, any luminance NR reduction over 25 will degrade fine detail. Very rarely I'll venture to 30, 35 and in emergencie (only if the file is later to be reduced in size) to 50. Sharpening at 40+ is also very extreme as an attempt to recover what's lost from high NR.

The A77 over 3200 has pretty high chroma noise and also a quite obtrusive pattern. 3200 is the limit for a reasonable performance.

Also - you can't see the damage done on the colour checker - you need things like grass, foliage, animal fur.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 9:49 pm 
Heirophant

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Here is one at 6400 iso, at the same output size. This time using some masking and adjusting to get the best possible result with ACR 6.7.


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A77 6400 iso.jpg
A77 6400 iso.jpg [ 207.81 KiB | Viewed 1124 times ]

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 Post subject: Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 8:23 pm 
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Trying to restrict the luma NR to lower values doesn't deliver the best results with Lr/ACR. The detail in the output greatly depends also on the 'detail' and 'contrast' sliders values.
Below are two variants of the same a65 ISO3200 sample from dpr. One has all NR/sharpening module turned off, the other has sharpening at 35/1.3/100/0 and the luma NR at 50/50/30. I don't think much detail is lost to NR at all (and not too much is present in that raw data anyway).


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DSC02909-2.jpg
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DSC02909.jpg
DSC02909.jpg [ 203.11 KiB | Viewed 946 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:35 am 
Heirophant

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David,

At lower iso's you wouldn't use a luminance noise reduction as high as 50 or 70. 15 would be about right at 100 iso. But of course at 3200 iso you have to trade resolution for less noise. This is true of any camera. The A77 is probably not the best camera to choose for high iso use. The 6400 iso example does show that. However I think the A77 is not nearly as bad as some people claim. The examples I posted are for a 20 inch wide print. I think the 3200 iso image is what you would expect. Are other cameras that sell for roughly the same price any better? I don't very often use anything over 800 iso so it doesn't bother me much. Others can look at these examples and make their own minds up based on what sort of photography they do. Agorabasta's examples are interesting. I have some examples taken recently at Claymills pumping station. It was dark in there so I had to break my rule and use more sensitivity. As soon as I can I will post an image from that.

Bob

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 Post subject: Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2013 12:44 pm 
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I'd use about 20-30 in LR for NR but it depends on the output size too, sometimes I'd use less or nothing depends greatly on the shot.
Being a bit more generous with exposure helps no end too even 2/3 of a stop can tame the noise quite well.

Looking at the raw A77 images I've played with I'd say ISO 3200 is about as far as I'd go with that, for the 16mp CMOS sensors I'd take it to 6400, but not further (least not for serious stuff) With a new batch of SLT models around I'd expect an improved high ISO performance from the 24mp sensor, it probably is a bit of a turn off for buyers with the can't match rivals low light performance. I'd not rule out the A77 entirely, but I wouldn't pay £800 for one either.


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 Post subject: Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2013 2:42 pm 
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bfitzgerald wrote
Quote:
With a new batch of SLT models around I'd expect an improved high ISO performance from the 24mp sensor, it probably is a bit of a turn off for buyers with the can't match rivals low light performance.
Problem is (for Sony camera division) that Nikon and Pentax almost immediately bring out their own cameras with new Sony sensors and then Sony will still be behind in the ISO stakes because of SLT. They can't win as the sensor division make more money selling to Pentax and Nikon. So how good is good enough? Never good enough to be happy with a Sony SLT ISO performance? Buy a NEX with the new sensor and dual Phase and Contrast detection built in?


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 Post subject: Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:41 pm 
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NEX is an entirely different beast though
There is a larger difference in the 24mp SLT performance v rivals then the 16mp SLT v rivals that stood out to me. Maybe it was a first gen sensor, I'm seeing more of a difference than the SLT mirror alone.

Of course it doesn't help to have the mirror in terms of compromises, this is something Sony might have overlooked and been too hasty to go this direction. Potential buyer turn off no question about it, but how much we can't say.


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 Post subject: Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:40 pm 
Heirophant

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I would like to point out that sensor noise at high sensitivities is only one aspect of a cameras performance and, for many photographers, not the most important one at that. Recently I briefly lent my A77 to a friend because he hadn't got a camera with him at the time. His face was a picture when he fired the shutter. He couldn't believe how quiet and smooth it was. He is a Nikon man. Maybe not for much longer. I still think that the A77 is an amazing camera for the price. Unless, of course, shooting at 6400iso is important to you.

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 Post subject: Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 3:01 pm 
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Bob I don't disagree for some it's not a must have important area. I'd not be overly worried about using it to ISO 3200 and the in body IS might help a bit.
But...
As ever the less you pay the less fussy you get. Right now I think the A77 is not really priced in line with it's competitors in the UK market anyway going for around £800 v the £600 mark for it's nearest rivals. One could argue it's got more pixels etc etc, but equally one could say it's not the best deal in this price segment.

With newer Canikon models arriving soon. I would expect a further price reduction on the A77. I cannot say I think Sony's UK pricing policy is going to win it lots of users, rather encourage grey market imports or sales to other makers. I think that's their biggest problem right now.


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 Post subject: Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:00 am 
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Well folks, OP here. I took the plunge and ordered an a77 from Digital Rev at a decent price. Picked up the 16-50 2.8 used from LCE.

All in all I am blown away - what a great camera ! I wish I hadn't waited so long to get one. I had been put off by the high ISO warnings. So what if it is best at ISO 50-1600? I lived with ISO 400 as my max when I shot film, and I have an a57 anyway if I want better high ISO performance.

I have found high ISOs clean up well with NR applied to the raws - I just did an exhausting trial of lots of NR plugins and in the end decided to go with Noiseware - seems to work real well with a77 raws with a little adjustment of the sliders. LR4/3 does a great job on reducing the chroma noise.

I know the a78 is coming but that will be out of my price range. Very happy new a77 owner... :D

bfitzgerald wrote:
Bob I don't disagree for some it's not a must have important area. I'd not be overly worried about using it to ISO 3200 and the in body IS might help a bit.
But...
As ever the less you pay the less fussy you get. Right now I think the A77 is not really priced in line with it's competitors in the UK market anyway going for around £800 v the £600 mark for it's nearest rivals. One could argue it's got more pixels etc etc, but equally one could say it's not the best deal in this price segment.

With newer Canikon models arriving soon. I would expect a further price reduction on the A77. I cannot say I think Sony's UK pricing policy is going to win it lots of users, rather encourage grey market imports or sales to other makers. I think that's their biggest problem right now.


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 Post subject: Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?
Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:01 am 
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I just moved up from the A700 to A77 and can confirm that I am tempted to use stronger NR at lower ISOs to get the same per-pixel IQ that I was used to with the A700. But there are twice as many pixels in a given area, and where a out of focus tree branch might have blurred across ten pixels in the A700, it now blurs across fourteen in the A77. The noise I'm seeing at a pixel level is invisible at any practical viewing size that I can pull up on my 24" 1920x1200 monitor. I find that if I reduce the pixel-level noise with the same aggression that I would have used on A700 files, I lose a lot of low contrast detail that IS visible in practical viewing sizes. So I live with the noise, and the outstanding resolution, and the extra dynamic range.

BTW, I was a harsh critic of the A77 when it came out, but I began to appreciate its qualities enough to make my second Alpha body the A77 after my A700 became a bit quirky. After all, it may not be the relatively clean 16MP sensor present in the "5" series cameras, but it has a faster shutter, better build, and more advanced AF than what's available in the "lesser" models, and its still an incremental improvement in sensitivity over the A700. Now I'm sorry I put it off.

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 Post subject: Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?
Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:48 am 
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KevinBarrett wrote:
I just moved up from the A700 to A77 and can confirm that I am tempted to use stronger NR at lower ISOs to get the same per-pixel IQ that I was used to with the A700. But there are twice as many pixels in a given area, and where a out of focus tree branch might have blurred across ten pixels in the A700, it now blurs across fourteen in the A77. The noise I'm seeing at a pixel level is invisible at any practical viewing size that I can pull up on my 24" 1920x1200 monitor. I find that if I reduce the pixel-level noise with the same aggression that I would have used on A700 files, I lose a lot of low contrast detail that IS visible in practical viewing sizes. So I live with the noise, and the outstanding resolution, and the extra dynamic range.

BTW, I was a harsh critic of the A77 when it came out, but I began to appreciate its qualities enough to make my second Alpha body the A77 after my A700 became a bit quirky. After all, it may not be the relatively clean 16MP sensor present in the "5" series cameras, but it has a faster shutter, better build, and more advanced AF than what's available in the "lesser" models, and its still an incremental improvement in sensitivity over the A700. Now I'm sorry I put it off.


"Now I'm sorry I put it off." - Exactly how I feel !

One thing I have done is adjust my raw sharpening procedure for a77 raws - as 'capturen sharpening' I dial in around 35-40 in LR with a radius of 0.9 but whereas with the a700 I would leave masking at 0 I move the masking slider over a bit to the right depending on the image so that the sharpening is not enhancing any noise present. Just something you might want to try. I then sharpen for screen or print as needed in photoshop using an edge mask,again, so that global sharpening doesn't accentuate any luma noise. Seems to work OK.


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