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Sony A7 III sensor testing.

There has been a lot chatter about the A7 mark 3. Both the previous models were excellent low light performers, although there was some discussion in the Astro community they were eating stars. With the introduction of a BSI sensor could this be the camera for you?

Having recently tested the Panasonic S1 I was very interested to see how the A7 III performs, as most people are saying it’s currently a 2 horse race between these two cameras.

Well I happy to say the A7 performs very well, It’s clear that the BSI sensor is much more uniform than previous models and it has significantly less noise.

When comparing it to it’s competition it stacks up very well. It performs very close to the S1, and surprisingly at 5 minutes there is almost nothing in it. The EOS R is the worst of the pack and the A7III is significantly better right across the exposures tested.

I am not sure if the Z6 and the A7III share the same sensor. Getting 100% confirmation on this is very hard, some articles are saying they are the same, while in others the number of raw pixels is slightly different, so maybe they are not. If they are then the 5 minute exposure time could show aggressive NR from Sony. However there have reports that the A7III is not suffering from the star eating problem that previous models had, well not completely it depends on what you read, but it’s better. So you can draw your own conclusions about the Z6 and the A7III sharing the same sensor.

It would be more consistent to conclude the S1 and A7III share the same sensor than the Z6. With many saying this is the case less with only the phase detection pixels removed in the S1. The difference in noise could easily come down to RAW images algorithms, and sensor production variation. It will be interesting to see how the A7RIII and S1R compare.

In my opinion if you currently own Sony gear the upgrade path is a no brainer, the A7III. if you don’t other factors such as cost, lens availability and other camera features are more likely to be a factor if you are leaning to the S1.

It’s also worth noting that ensuring testing temperature is very difficult and this or a future firmware upgrade could easily tip the scales to either the A7III or the S1 or even the Z6. What can be done with a firmware upgrade is amazing. Either way both the A7III and the S1 are excellent long exposure performers and should perform very well.

If you would like to find out more about the Sensor DBclick here.


Canon Consistent with EOS-R & RP

Canon have improved the sensors in the EOS R and RP. The R sensor is based on the same sensor we see in the 5D mark 4, and the RP is based on the same sensor in the 6Dm2 and Canon have managed to squeeze a little more out of both for some good results.

EOS-RP v’s 6D mark II

As you can see the EOS-RP sensor performs much better than the 6Dm2 sensor over the whole range of long exposure times. Canon have possibly continued to improve the manufacturing process or the new DIGIC processing is really working some extra magic. The RP is where I expected the 6Dm2 sensor to be after the fantastic long exposure performance of the original mark I. Better late then never.

EOS-R v’s 5D Mark IV

The EOS-R is also better than the 5D mark IV. It’s not the same jump in sensor improvement as the RP, but it’s still a big improvement of almost 20% less noise at 1 second. Again there is consistent gains over the long exposure testing range.

So it’s a good gain for Canon, but I do feel disappointed again, just like I did when testing the 6D mark II. Canon are making consistent gains with each new model, but the long exposure sensor noise is where the competition was years ago.

Mirrorless, Nikon and Canon

When comparing the R and RP to the Z6 and Z7 based on long exposure base noise alone It would be difficult to recommend Canon, especially if you are not gear biased. The R/RP may do better for extreme long exposures of 5 mins or more, but how these models would compare with dark frames added to remove noise for extreme long exposure I don’t know.

Conclusion:
If you are currently using Canon then the R and RP are a good step up from the 5D mark 4 and 6D mark 2 in regards to sensor noise. If your thinking of upgrading to mirrorless I think both these would perform well and give good results. It’s possibly the most sensible path to go down if you have a lot of EF glass and just want to expand your kit.

The EOS-R has the best long exposure low noise sensor from Canon over 20MP, so if you are after Canon, this is the one to buy. The EOS-RP is also very respectable and not far behind. Will they be the cleanest images money can buy for long exposure?, No I expect not.

If you would like to compare the EOS-R and EOS-RP to more models, or learn more about the sensor database click here.

Again, a big thanks for Alex @Stallards in Hobart for access to these cameras for testing.

Canon 5D Mark 4 (IV) Sensor Results.

…….Drum Roll…….

And the winner is…. Well not Canon, sorry but the 5D mark 4 is still behind a few of it’s peers. The results show that it is better than the 5D mark 3, the D610 and D810 as well as the 6D. But it’s still behind not only the 1Dx models, but numerous models from other companies such as the D750, K1, D4, Df and the A7S.

Considering the MP count and the fact that the sensor is dual pixel requiring a lot more wiring it’s probably a very good result. With this in mind there are possibly only two camera models than can currently rival it*, the Nikon D750 and the Pentax K1.

You can check out the results here.

*That I have tested to date.

The Flagship, Canon 1DX Mark II, No. 50!

The Canon 1DX Mark II results are now in the Sensor DB, and it’s our 50th camera to be added. WOW 50. It’s taken a few years, but the list is now becoming quite substantial, giving the community some good insight into the level and treatment of noise.

The results are good and there is a significant improvement at 5 mins compared with the 1Dx, which, I think is reflective of the new ISO range, allowing up to 409600 ISO. There has obviously been a sensor change from 17.9MP in the old model compared to 20.2MP in the new model, with the original 1DX slightly better with noise at 1 and 30 seconds. However the 1DXm2 gives very respectable results, and the difference could easily be attributed to the additional megapixels.

Of course the 1D series of cameras is not intended for astrophotography, and it would be hardly the camera to recommend for that task. But it’s nice to see it’s a solid performer none the less.

Again, a big thank you to Walch Optics for providing access to many of the models we test.

More Models Tested: Canon 1300D, 760D & 80D. + Olympus PEN-F

We have added 4 more models to the Sensor DB today. Including the Canon 80D and Olympus PEN-F.

Some interesting results, and worth a look if you are considering one of these models for long exposure low light work.

The move…. to Nikon….

D750
D750, ‘Stacks of DR’

A few years ago when I had a Canon 5D mark II, Nikon’s current go to model was the D800; it was the bees knees and I considered making the move. After some testing and comparisons I determined that the D800 still did not have enough to lure me away from Canon, and consequently I purchased a 6D. Primarily because it out performed the 5D mark III in low light, which I still consider to be significantly over priced for what you are getting.

 

Fast forward Dec 2014. I’ve been sensor testing for quite a while now, watching all the new models arrive, the new Sony A7, the A7R, the Nikon Df, the D4, and most recently the D750. The D750, touted to be successor to the D700 had a lot to live up to, and since I had used a D700 on a number of occasions in the past and being suitably impressed I was keen to see how it performed.

 

The D750 blew every other model out of the water for long exposures I had tested. From ISO 3200 the detail that could be pulled from out of the shadows was nothing short of outstanding.

 

“Could I have finally found a replacement for my 6D?”

 

I’d been patiently waiting for any sign from Canon that a new affordable model was in the works. All the banter at the usual suspects indicated that a new model would likely be a high mega pixel body, and any replacement for the 6D or 5D was a long way off, and most likely expensive for the latter.

 

D750, 'Shadow Pool'
D750, ‘Shadow Pull’

So after some extensive research, I jumped, and this time I can safely say all of my previous concerns have been addressed. Using the D750 so far does feel like a true D700 upgrade, Combined with a good prime (20mm f1.8) it takes truly outstanding shots. (Maybe I’m getting better to).

 

So far I have only ‘tested’ it for night work, as I’m still waiting on the right conditions for an Aurora (Australis), but based on the samples I have produced so far I have a strong feeling some fantastic shots will come out the other end of my normal workflow. I’m a firm believer in ‘Garbage in, Garbage out’ (GIGO), and although the 6D was not garbage, the D750 will have less issues to deal with going into my workflow, allowing me to push images harder to recover more detail without having to deal with a lot of noise.

And of course… the more to the dark sid…err Nikon was not too bad because ‘they have got cookies’ 🙂

Early Starts

Lauderdale Beach Tasmania
Lauderdale Beach Tasmania

Ever had one of those mornings when you could not sleep? Decided to grab the camera and go somewhere local for a few shots?

Well that’s what I did this morning, not much of a sunrise, so I decided to change over to the 50mm f1.4 and shoot some portrait shots of some local pillars on Lauderdale Beach. I really need to get a 58mm to 77mm step up ring so I can use my filters on my 50mm, better exposure in the sky would have been nice. However the washed out sky does work well with the glamor filter in post. I’m hoping to capture the same shot soon with a good sunrise in the background.

Canon 5D Mark 2

After being without a camera for over a month I thought I’d never get a 5D mark 2. Trying to track one down was a nightmare. In the end I found one locally at Walch Optics, thanks guys. 🙂

So how does it go? Well so far I could only test in overcast poor lighting, but I must say that the color reproduced is amazing. That coupled with the full use of EF lenses like the 16-35L makes for awsome sharp shots that are actually “wide” with fantastic color and higher ISO’s including ISO 3200 is perfectly usable.

More shots to come over the weekend with some good weather predicted…. 🙂

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