Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?

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MarcoC
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Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?

Unread postby MarcoC » Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:11 am

I have an a57 and an a700. I have read many, many threads about upsampling, downsampling, prior to comparison, until my head will explode. The bottom line is that I yearn for the control laypout of the a77 but I do shoot a lot of action photography and wildlife that sometimes requires ISO1600-3200 when using long lenses.

Has anyone moved up to a77 from a700 and can comment on high ISO ? I don't honestly think I will want to start messing about downsampling, etc, so straight out of camera, what is ISO 1600-3200 like versus the a700? I know I can use the DPR compare tool but I don't like looking at sterile lab test charts - I prefer real world examples where possible.

I have read rather varying reviews and thoughts - some say a77 is miles better IQ than a700 even at high ISO, some say a77 ISO 3200 is very useable, some say a77 needs to be used below ISO 800. It's hard to find any consensus. And I know David K got rid of his a77 because of being unhappy about the noise performance (I'm sure DK will correct me if I am wrong).

Some say they shoot the a77 at 12MP is using high ISO - does that produce better images than a700 ?

There's no way I can afford an a99 by the way, but I guess a D800 might be an option, but I don't honestly want to switch systems. High ISO on my a57 is nice, but I miss having dual control dials a lot, and I think my lenses would benefit from micro AF adjust as offered on the a77.

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Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?

Unread postby agorabasta » Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:07 am

It all depends. There are three basic variables
- the light temperature of 3000K to 4000K is the optimal range for the a700; the 77 works well across 2000K-10000K
- the ambient temperatures about 30C really kill a700 noise properties; the 77 is virtually temperature-independent
- compared at 18% image brightness, a77 has lower noise at ISO3200; then at 5% brightness an a700 is normally less noisy if used at optimal body/light temps

All this means, for example, that a700 may produce better results for typical indoor lighting. And your high-ISO birding has a good chance to work better with a77.

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Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?

Unread postby MarcoC » Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:12 am

Thanks for this.

So what do you think about indoor events like theatre? If we disregard differences in AF performance and just focus on sensor performance, which would you recommend, a700 or a77 ?

And what are your thoughts on a77 vs a57 sensor ?


agorabasta wrote:It all depends. There are three basic variables
- the light temperature of 3000K to 4000K is the optimal range for the a700; the 77 works well across 2000K-10000K
- the ambient temperatures about 30C really kill a700 noise properties; the 77 is virtually temperature-independent
- compared at 18% image brightness, a77 has lower noise at ISO3200; then at 5% brightness an a700 is normally less noisy if used at optimal body/light temps

All this means, for example, that a700 may produce better results for typical indoor lighting. And your high-ISO birding has a good chance to work better with a77.

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Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?

Unread postby bfitzgerald » Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:46 am

Let's put it like this. I would have been happy to try an A77 but for the sensor in low light. There are lots of samples out there raw for you to play with. Yes you can clean up the A77 raw files "ok", they have tons of chroma noise (which you can clean up) and personally I think it's a below par performance v the 16mp sensor.

Anyone who is a low light shooter would be better of with the 16mp CMOS sensor which I've used across a few makers and it's good at high ISO. Of course not everyone shoots high ISO so you might be ok if you don't go there often.

If the A77 has the 16mp CMOS I might have looked at it. The 24mp one for some reason is noisy, more than I would expect even taking the SLT light sucking element into account. Could be first gen 24mp sensor just not as good. It's kinda sad that an £800 camera get's thumped by a budget Nikon costing half the price sensor performance wise. I still think the 16mp is better than the 24mp sensor for high ISO, problem is Sony have by far the worst 24mp sensor performance.

I'd advise downloading some raw files and playing around a bit.
High ISO means different things to various people for some it's ISO 1600, for me it's getting a decent ISO 3200..and with a bit of work a pretty good ISO 6400 if needed. You get that with the 16mp CMOS sensor.

http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/AA77/AA77RAW.HTM

Have a look there
Don't forget though in the real world you might be shooting in low kelvin light and that makes things quite a bit worse for noise v studio shots.

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Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?

Unread postby MarcoC » Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:54 am

Thanks for that.

I feel in a bit of an alpha mount no-man's land to be honest. I want the ergonomics and features of the a77 but the high ISO of the 16MP sensor. I have tons of A mount glass and no desire to leave the a mount. Sounds like the a77 is too much of a compromise for me.

It's also brought into stark contrast because I recently got a good deal on a Panasonic GH3 and the high ISO performance of that camera in raw is even better than my a57 ! As is the EVF...

bfitzgerald wrote:Let's put it like this. I would have been happy to try an A77 but for the sensor in low light. There are lots of samples out there raw for you to play with. Yes you can clean up the A77 raw files "ok", they have tons of chroma noise (which you can clean up) and personally I think it's a below par performance v the 16mp sensor.

Anyone who is a low light shooter would be better of with the 16mp CMOS sensor which I've used across a few makers and it's good at high ISO. Of course not everyone shoots high ISO so you might be ok if you don't go there often.

If the A77 has the 16mp CMOS I might have looked at it. The 24mp one for some reason is noisy, more than I would expect even taking the SLT light sucking element into account. Could be first gen 24mp sensor just not as good. It's kinda sad that an £800 camera get's thumped by a budget Nikon costing half the price sensor performance wise. I still think the 16mp is better than the 24mp sensor for high ISO, problem is Sony have by far the worst 24mp sensor performance.

I'd advise downloading some raw files and playing around a bit.
High ISO means different things to various people for some it's ISO 1600, for me it's getting a decent ISO 3200..and with a bit of work a pretty good ISO 6400 if needed. You get that with the 16mp CMOS sensor.

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Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?

Unread postby agorabasta » Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:24 pm

MarcoC wrote:So what do you think about indoor events like theatre? If we disregard differences in AF performance and just focus on sensor performance, which would you recommend, a700 or a77 ?

And what are your thoughts on a77 vs a57 sensor ?

Modern theatrical performances use rather cold lighting close in K to natural. So if there's no poorly lit parts in scene, the a77 is better.

The sensor in a77 is badly overclocked and undervoltaged at that, and that's why the results are so noisy in the shadows. The 57 is head and shoulders above in its low light performance, even taking into account that the earlier a55 implementation was a tiny bit better there.

The same 24Mp sensor in Nex7 is better in the low light than even the Nex5N/R/6 16Mp.

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Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?

Unread postby bfitzgerald » Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:35 pm

I'd imagine more than a few folks would want the 16mp sensor in the A77, I suppose Sony went for big pixel numbers.
I would still say have a look at raw samples you might find the A77 is ok enough for you.

I've not really looked at the GH3 much I'm sure it's good for lower light with the newer micro 4/3 sensors. There are quite a few factors to bear in mind though. Stated ISO and actual ISO vary from maker to maker, OM-D is a BIG offender here their good looking ISO 6400 is actually a stop overstated more like ISO 3200. Exposure plays a big part too, the Nikon's I used tended (more so with the D7000) to give too much exposure, all the Sony's I've used tend to be the reverse not enough exposure (subjective but an observation). This has a big bearing on high ISO performance so taking that into account I would say the A57 and D7000 are fairly close in high ISO performance, maybe an edge to the D7k but not much. (it's possible the A57 has a new variant of the sensor who knows)

I think Sony have to wrestle with the SLT aspect whilst it brings some nice stuff to the table it's also taking some light away from the sensor. I can see this on the A99 v D600 shots I've seen. The Sony is still good, but not as good as the Nikon for high ISO.

Rumour says that new A mount SLT bodies are due early next year. I would predict they will go to 24mp across the range. But the sensor might be improved well it has to be really. High ISO shooting and big pixel numbers don't really go together. If they sat down and re-made a 10mp CMOS with the latest tech it would probably be as good as any full frame DSLR in low light. But the pixel march goes on..

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Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?

Unread postby Greg Beetham » Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:22 pm

I think what really made my jaw drop with the A99 was the amazing dynamic range it had, compared to any previous Sony camera that is, I thought wow Sony has finally cracked it, I'm still impressed even now.
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Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?

Unread postby MarcoC » Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:35 pm

I agree - mark 2 version of the pretty darn good 16MP sensor would be just the ticket, in an a77 style body. How many of us honestly need more than 16MP?

I wonder if it will ever happen. I'd be the first to pre-order.

bfitzgerald wrote:I'd imagine more than a few folks would want the 16mp sensor in the A77, I suppose Sony went for big pixel numbers.
I would still say have a look at raw samples you might find the A77 is ok enough for you.

I've not really looked at the GH3 much I'm sure it's good for lower light with the newer micro 4/3 sensors. There are quite a few factors to bear in mind though. Stated ISO and actual ISO vary from maker to maker, OM-D is a BIG offender here their good looking ISO 6400 is actually a stop overstated more like ISO 3200. Exposure plays a big part too, the Nikon's I used tended (more so with the D7000) to give too much exposure, all the Sony's I've used tend to be the reverse not enough exposure (subjective but an observation). This has a big bearing on high ISO performance so taking that into account I would say the A57 and D7000 are fairly close in high ISO performance, maybe an edge to the D7k but not much. (it's possible the A57 has a new variant of the sensor who knows)

I think Sony have to wrestle with the SLT aspect whilst it brings some nice stuff to the table it's also taking some light away from the sensor. I can see this on the A99 v D600 shots I've seen. The Sony is still good, but not as good as the Nikon for high ISO.

Rumour says that new A mount SLT bodies are due early next year. I would predict they will go to 24mp across the range. But the sensor might be improved well it has to be really. High ISO shooting and big pixel numbers don't really go together. If they sat down and re-made a 10mp CMOS with the latest tech it would probably be as good as any full frame DSLR in low light. But the pixel march goes on..

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Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?

Unread postby MarcoC » Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:37 pm

Regarding SLT - yes, I agree, it was a gamble that I am not entirely sure has paid off - not sure how many C or N die-hards have been put off versus attracited by the use of SLTs and EVFs in Sony's DSLRs - I'm guessing more have been put off switching but it's a guess.

I'm intrigued by the Sony alpha rumors web page and recent posts where the owner is saying that new Sony things are coming that will make Canon and Nikon owners happy - what could that be? Sony already tinkered with the hot shoe for the a99. Are they going back on their word and re-introducing an OVF I wonder?


MarcoC wrote:I agree - mark 2 version of the pretty darn good 16MP sensor would be just the ticket, in an a77 style body. How many of us honestly need more than 16MP?

I wonder if it will ever happen. I'd be the first to pre-order.

bfitzgerald wrote:I'd imagine more than a few folks would want the 16mp sensor in the A77, I suppose Sony went for big pixel numbers.
I would still say have a look at raw samples you might find the A77 is ok enough for you.

I've not really looked at the GH3 much I'm sure it's good for lower light with the newer micro 4/3 sensors. There are quite a few factors to bear in mind though. Stated ISO and actual ISO vary from maker to maker, OM-D is a BIG offender here their good looking ISO 6400 is actually a stop overstated more like ISO 3200. Exposure plays a big part too, the Nikon's I used tended (more so with the D7000) to give too much exposure, all the Sony's I've used tend to be the reverse not enough exposure (subjective but an observation). This has a big bearing on high ISO performance so taking that into account I would say the A57 and D7000 are fairly close in high ISO performance, maybe an edge to the D7k but not much. (it's possible the A57 has a new variant of the sensor who knows)

I think Sony have to wrestle with the SLT aspect whilst it brings some nice stuff to the table it's also taking some light away from the sensor. I can see this on the A99 v D600 shots I've seen. The Sony is still good, but not as good as the Nikon for high ISO.

Rumour says that new A mount SLT bodies are due early next year. I would predict they will go to 24mp across the range. But the sensor might be improved well it has to be really. High ISO shooting and big pixel numbers don't really go together. If they sat down and re-made a 10mp CMOS with the latest tech it would probably be as good as any full frame DSLR in low light. But the pixel march goes on..

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Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?

Unread postby bfitzgerald » Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:43 pm

I read that on the Alpha rumour site, but it's so vague we have no idea what is going on with Sony.
Evidently they're not going to do a big mp SLT model ie 36mp least not for now.
They say 2 SLT models

I would be amazed if Sony do an OVF one, delighted yes but I don't see them admitting they made a mistake. And I have no idea how the SLT sales are going, I suspect they're not making the impact they expected to, probably ticking along "ok". But their line up is pretty patchy A37 is not well liked, A57 nice enough but you're up against the impossible Canon 650d sure fire big seller that line always will be; A65/77 yes they need better sensors but even with a re-fresh I see little changing for Sony. Neither an EVF or steady shot on it's own is enough to propel Sony to where they want to be, that is quite clear it's just a non issue for most.

Unless they start playing around with odd ball designs, which is this market is extremely dangerous and ill advised. We've seen this before with other makers and they always flop badly!

My best guess is that new sensor tech is on the way that 3 layer film ish emulsion in digital form. Predicted a while back from me..it's going to happen and it could be soon. Paypal donations will be accepted if I'm right :mrgreen:

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Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?

Unread postby waardij » Tue Dec 11, 2012 7:51 pm

I know this is dangerous ground, but still.
Attached are two files. 1891 is a d7k file, witch was exposed with 1/640 at f9. 2820 is an a77 file that is exposed with 1/500e and f8. so the a77 received 2/3 EV more light. it was set at iso 1600 and the d7k was set at iso3200. to me it seems that the a77 file looks better, slightly less noise. so, the difference seems less than 2/3EV. both files where processed in adobe camera raw, with standard settings. the a77 file was re sized to 16MP, the same as the d7k is natively. I only did this to have a fair comparison on screen. when you print this happens by itself (when you print both the same size) and if you scale for the internet, this happens by itself as well. camera raw by default removes most of the chroma noise, something Nikon seems to be doing, less strongly, in camera. The files are the ones DPR shows in there a77 review.
if you take the nex-7 files, which has the same sensor as the a77 (I think. hard to be completely sure), there is hardly any difference with the d7k, not at 1600 and 3200. above that the 24Mp files tend to fall apart more rapidly. I do own the nex-7 and the Nikon d7k. in practice I find there is no so much between them. the d7k has slightly better dynamic range at low iso (14 bits).
the nex-7 files always look a bit more noisy on screen (100%), but to me that is only caused by the difference in resolution, if you equalize that, I see little difference.
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Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?

Unread postby Dr. Harout » Tue Dec 11, 2012 7:53 pm

bfitzgerald wrote:...My best guess is that new sensor tech is on the way that 3 layer film ish emulsion in digital form. Predicted a while back from me..it's going to happen and it could be soon. Paypal donations will be accepted if I'm right :mrgreen:

You mean Foveon-like? If yes, then it's already happening, even for some time.
A99 + a7rII + Sony, Zeiss, Minolta, Rokinon and M42 lenses

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bfitzgerald
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Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?

Unread postby bfitzgerald » Tue Dec 11, 2012 7:59 pm

Foveon is not mainstream that is why it's "not been happening" and has had issues with high ISO performance too.
I'm talking about "bayer sensors gone bye bye" replaced with these new sensors.

Critical difference..a few niche sigma products with Foveon sensors didn't do anything (probably because it's not been developed enough) I define "happening" as across the board, not small player products.

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Re: Is a77 high ISO really as bad as is made out?

Unread postby alphaomega » Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:19 am

My best guess is that new sensor tech is on the way that 3 layer film ish emulsion in digital form. Predicted a while back from me..it's going to happen and it could be soon
If Barry Fitzgerald had stayed with Pentax he could have purchased a K-5 II and achieved DR of 14.1 EVS as well as keeping OVF.
http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Public ... easurement
The K-5 IIs maintains the excellent results of the K-5 II keeping it in an amazing 12th position overall, only behind professional full-frame and medium format cameras from Nikon, Sony and Phase One. The K-5 IIs achieves the same DxOMark Overall Score as Pentax 645D medium format and Nikon D3s professional cameras and is well ahead of its semi-pro rivals, like the Canon 7D, Nikon D7000, and Sony A77.
Excellence continues in the Landscape Score too, with the K-5 IIs achieving a stunning 14.1Evs of Dynamic Range that places it 4th out of all cameras and is only outdone by the Nikon D800, D800E and Sony A99.

As far as I can ascertain all the top performers are fitted with Sony sensors.
I would be quite happy with 14.1 Evs. As I recall, that is better than the Fujifilm S3 Pro Digital SLR Camera.


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