The Sony would perform better for noise under dark sky conditions, at high ISOs, rather than the moonlit scene above. Thank you so much! See the previous section above regarding Power Saving. Due to the outcry from the photographic community, Sony released the 14-bit uncompressed, lossless RAW file option in late 2015. See the previous discussion of Back Button Focusing. This is the approach I have taken, and it is one feature of the Sony A7Rii that simplifies and speeds up camera usage considerably. For night photography I always use manual focus mode, but in daytime I switch between auto and manual focus often. Electronic Front Curtain Shutter Eliminate all the variables — except one — you’re just varying the collecting area. Adaptability to Many Lenses  The Nikon had better uniform color but the Sony had noticeably better detail. I saw nothing to the extent Ian showed. Many night photographers are citing Bright Monitoring as a valuable feature that soon becomes indispensable in their work. I feel that in the a7III the Star Eater has been largely vanquished. The button assignments and menu settings I have arranged over the past two years reflect my usage of the Sony A7Rii, which is my night photography workhorse. Additionally, the power hungry Electronic Viewfinders (EVF) in mirrorless systems are a source of power usage that DSLRs do not experience, since they are equipped with optical viewfinders. Or am I missing something obvious? The Sony exhibited good – though not great – “ISO invariant” performance. The other Live View function that works well, but also needs assigning to a C button is the Camera Settings 1 > Focus Magnifier. One supplier of filter-modified cameras, Spencer’s Camera, also refuses to modify Sonys, because this glow renders them poor choices for filter modification, for those wanting cameras with deeper red sensitivity. An alternative would be an LCD screen that was touch sensitive. The main issue I have is that one can never be sure that all camera settings are as expected when switching to a User Memory bank. Its extent varies from camera model to model. I did not see any significant “star eating” in any long exposures even up to the 4 minutes I used for some deep-sky shots. A nice in depth article that answers many questions for me. One battery can get you through a night of shooting, though performance will inevitably decline in winter, as with all cameras. I’ve been looking for a comprehensive review and comparison of this camera for a while now. https://www.dropbox.com/s/5vhcblsvfyvvoqd/NoiseComparisons.zip?dl=0. However, I did not consider “star eating” to be a negative factor, as the Sony showed just as many stars and as well-resolved as did the competitors, and what more could you ask for? The a7 III is Sony’s new entry-level full-frame mirrorless camera. 2 Of that, the native ISO range of the sensor is 100 to 51200. This is wonderful for taking a set of noise-reduced deep-sky images for later stacking. Again, the differences are in images vastly underexposed. They can cost anywhere from $100 to $400. and not hand this over to a jpeg algorithm concocted by my camera’s manufacturer. I’m at a loss for words except that this is one of the best I’ve ever seen for my A7Rii. I can’t speak for other Sonys but in the a7III it is not so much an issue of “star eating” but “star rendering.” But Nikons have similar issues of oddly colored stars. The Sony shows a lot of green stars with or without LENR. But the A7III (as well as the A7RII, A7SII, A7RIII and A9) is still “eating stars”. I leave Auto Review off because much of my night photography involves taking many exposures in quick succession, either for image stacking, star circles, or stitched panoramas. A camera upgrade to a full frame is my next big purchase after I get some more experience with the T5i. In order to see the real situation with the noise you need to compare pictures with a large lack of lighting. The Custom Key Settings can be assigned by navigating to Tab 2 (Custom Settings), Page 7 in the Sony Menu system. What’s going on here is a mystery – it’s a combination of the cameras’ unique Raw file formats, anti-alias filter in front of the sensor (or lack thereof in the Sony), and the de-Bayering routines of all the many Raw developers wrestling with the task of rendering stars that occupy only a few pixels. I change Drive Modes frequently during the course of the night, and since the camera body is labeled with a Drive Mode symbol next to the Left Button, I leave the default setting as is. Dark frame subtraction using Long Exposure Noise Reduction removed most – but not all – hot pixels from thermal noise. When the photographer looks into the EVF, a sensor detects the proximity of the eye (or any other object) and turns off the LCD and turns on the EVF. If you are just getting your feet wet, and are looking to capture a photo of the night sky that includes colorful, sharp stars and maybe a galaxy or nebula - these 7 astrophotography tips will help you get there. 5DIV, SONY a7iii, 7D2, G12, M100, M50, 5 L's & 2 Primes, 25 bags. You’re comparing noise in images where there’s a lot of light(which is equivalent to the fact that your test images don’t have really deep shadows that we encounter in astrophotography). If you have ever looked at the apps on Playmemories site (a selling point when I bought the A7S back in 2014 [no other camera offered and is ground breaking]). Ie. It showed all the same stars to the same limiting magnitude. By assigning Finder/Monitor Select to the [Down] Button, I can control which display I want to use, based on my needs at the moment. The inset image at right in Photoshop shows the scene, the Milky Way above dark trees in my backyard! This might be useful for long shoots, though likely as not that same USB port will be needed for an intervalometer or motion control device. There might be a deBayering issue going on, or something related to the anti-alias filter but I’ve seen that with other cameras (it’s there slightly with the Nikon) and varying from Raw developer to Raw developer. Slightly bigger stars are turned into green blobs or get a green halo. I have found the use of the Digital Filter app really good to capture the Milky Way above Sky Glow. I put your settings on my camera and tested in my living room with no lights but a street light coming in from behind and a dark outside through a half circle window. Since publishing the first results a number of people commented with suggestions for further testing, to check claims that: For the additional tests, I shot all images within a 3-hour span on the night of June 5/6, using the Sony a7III, Nikon D750, and Canon 6D MkII, with the respective lenses: the Laowa 15mm lens at f/2, the Sigma 14mm Art at f/2, and the Rokinon 14mm SP at f/2.5. (See my test at https://amazingsky.net/2017/09/07/testing-the-canon-6d-mkii-for-deep-sky/). OK, let’s try that. Though noise Itself is uniform. An issue that, to me, has a more serious effect on star quality is the propensity of the Sony, and to some extent the Nikon, to render tiny stars as brightly colored points, unrealistically so. Stars are not smoothed out in long exposures. Great review, and impressive for its detail. The disadvantage is that full-time live view draws more power, with mirrorless cameras notorious for being battery hungry. With the 6D it was 4 if it was on Raw+JPG. But there are indeed differences between the various brands and Raw files from various models, because we know every camera has a different Raw format. It is not clear if Sony’s compressed Raws are 12-bit vs. 14-bit for uncompressed files. I like to set the Peaking Level to Low to aid with focus. Hi Alan, Just wondering if you have done a test of the dark frame noise from the a7iii, or for any of your camera reviews. Its a pity, because if it can deliver such good results with the star-eater still present, imagine what it would deliver if Sony would only gives us a menu option to disable it. My Custom Key Settings For Night Photography. Effectiveness of Long Exposure Noise Reduction (LENR), Quality of Raw files, such as sharpness of stars, Brightness of Live View for framing and focusing. The dark frame the camera was taking and subtracting was actually adding some noise, perhaps due to a temperature difference. I did this testing in preparation for the new third edition of my Nightscapes and Time-Lapse eBook, which includes information on Sony mirrorless cameras, as well as many, many other updates and additions! When the EVF is selected, the EVF will only turn on when the eye is in proximity to the eyepiece. Since night photography has become a bigger part of my hobby life, I’ve been considering this as a replacement for my aging a6000. Battery Life Using other Raw converters might affect this. First, the automated eyepiece sensor switching is disabled during LCD use, so that the photographer makes the choice of which display to use. Refer to Bright Monitoring previously discussed for the details of Bright Monitoring. i.e. In the meantime, Sony commands the full-frame mirrorless market. Nor the Sony, as it has no intervalometer at all. This is much more apparent when comparing files of those ISO levels from dpreviews studio tests between the bodies. We will see if your theory proves correct! Landscape Photography. This has been so insightful for me as an amateur. The Sony A7Rii was originally introduced with only one RAW file type – 12-bit compressed RAW files. I would assume not, but not having an a7s (either Mark I or II) to test I can’t say for sure. I just read your evaluation of the Sony A7III in Sky & Telescope. Neither compression nor LENR invoked “star eating.”. This pretty much defeats the purpose of custom User Memory Modes, in my opinion. Turning this ON superimposes a shimmering effect on parts of an image judged in focus. This feature is little known and utilized, and only Canon full-frame cameras offer it. This is good news, as astrophotography requires fast, high-quality lenses, and the Sony allows more choices. Because the LENR process has the camera take a second shot of the scene, this time with the shutter closed, the camera is unavailable for use while the dark frame is taken and the image is processed. But when shooting aurora videos I found, to my surprise, I could “drag” the shutter speeds as slow as 1/4-second, fully 4 stops better than the Nikon’s slowest shutter speed of 1/60 second in Full HD, and 3 stops better than the Canon’s slowest movie shutter of 1/30 second. Of course, you may have correctly realized that photos taken with pop-up flashes look absolutely horrible. Although most of my photography is accomplished using a tripod, where using In-Body Image Stabilization [SteadyShot] can actually degrade an exposure, I still want to be able to shoot off-tripod quickly, without having to wade through menus to turn SteadyShot on or off. first, the stars on your images are extended typically on 3 pixels, so they are not as dramatically reduced as stars extended on a single pixel. The auto focus system on most digital cameras is activated by default with a half-press of the shutter button. What more do you want? They do not perform differently when in a large sensor vs in a small sensor. Forget the verbal arguments from authority — I invite you to do the experiment. ISO Invariance  I’ve read so many good things about the D750 for night photography, which your review corroborated, and seen so many great images taken with it, but I have all Canon-mount lenses, which wouldn’t be compatible, so probably don’t want to go there. Another feature Sony included in the A7Rii is a programmable User Mode [1] and User Mode [2] on the Shooting Mode dial. Astronomy author and photographer Alan Dyer presents amazing sky sights. Coupled with a fast f/1.4 to f/2 lens, the slow shutter speed allows real-time aurora shooting at “only” ISO 6400 to 12,800, for quite acceptable levels of noise. Thanks for the suggestions! I have encountered owners of Sony A7 Series cameras who have shied away from customizing the various buttons and screens of the camera, particularly in the field of night photography. Great for portraits. To the eye, the Sony and Nikon look very similar for noise levels, just as in the moonlit scene. Mirrorless systems are shrinking the size of the camera body, and with that comes smaller batteries with less capacity than their DSLR siblings. This can happen, for instance, by forgetting to switch off the power before placing the camera into the camera bag. There is a way to mitigate the problem of a doubled RAW file size, while still obtaining the benefits of a 14-bit uncompressed, lossless RAW file. Only the latest Canons offer in-camera stacking to average noise, which is not the same as dark-frame subtraction. I have included only those menu settings that have a direct affect on night photography. I am very impressed! Levels of luminance and chrominance noise were excellent and similar to – but surprisingly not better than – the Nikon D750. By assigning the Application List to the [C4] button, I can easily switch to using my tablet device for camera control. In real life images, such as I have shown, it makes very little difference even in deep-sky images which are the most demanding of star quality. It serves the same function as “blinkies” do in image review, but is active in the display prior to taking the exposure. Seeing people head into the field with a passel of batteries just to get thru a night of shooting put me off! But the a7III should do the job for bright auroras, the ones with rapid motion worth recording with video, plus offer 24 megapixels for high-quality stills of all sky subjects. Nevertheless, noise performance of the Sony a7III was still excellent, with both the Sony and Nikon handily outperforming the Canon 6D MkII, with its slightly smaller pixels, by about a stop in noise levels. And this was with equal processing and no application of Shadow Recovery. In testing the Sony a7III I ignored all the auto functions. Hurray! As its name implies, a mirrorless camera lacks the reflex mirror of a digital single lens reflex camera that, in a DSLR, provides the light path for framing the scene though the optical viewfinder. I provide that evidence. Sony A7 III, A7R III, A9 Astro Settings: ISO. However, all will need the right camera control cable, available from suppliers like B&H. While i know how to turn on LENR, does this apply only to jpegs, or to RAW shooting as well? Now I know why I haven’t seen you on my email feed in awhile! Its red sensitivity is not bad, but its lack of a light frame buffer results a less productive imaging cycle when using LENR on deep-sky shooting. And in identically exposed images. The net result is that you can never bring the camera to an exact “known” state by using the User Memory Modes. At 30 fps, 4K videos are cropped with a 1.2x crop factor. Indeed, at slower ISOs and longer exposures, more stars are visible. However, if the collection area is large, the incident “stream”/pixel is larger = less affected by variations. closely match what existed in the scene, since the previews are also jpeg representations of the RAW data, as modified by the white balance set in camera. I have doubts about the noise comparison. I like the fact that the a7III has way better battery life, too. So if I am shooting RAW files, why do I care which Creative Style is set? Most DSLRs do not offer this, but the Sony’s option of an electronic front curtain shutter and the additional Silent Shooting mode completely eliminates vibration, useful for some high-magnification shooting through telephotos and telescopes. My primary use for focus peaking is with focus stacking situations, to visualize which zone is in focus at the moment. I have not had a chance to experiment fully with the ability to use the Live View Display while out in the field, so I can’t say which is ultimately better to use, or what the trade offs might be, but when I know more, I will update this post. Assign it to one of the hardware Custom C buttons. To get the most out of the Sony for deep-sky imaging you would have to have it modified by a third-party, though the amp glow described above makes it a poor choice for modification. The benefit of using back button focus are discussed at length here and here. The top-level tabs are: Under each top-level tab are up to 9 sub-pages of menu choices. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. Most tests focus on its superb auto exposure and auto focus capabilities that rival much more costly cameras, including Sony’s own a7rIII and a9. It controls the Sony through the camera’s Multi USB port. The wider gamut can always be rendered to a narrower gamut, such as sRGB as necessary later on. The resulting values and graph show the Sony actually measured worse for noise than the Nikon at each high ISO speed, 3200 to 12800, though with both performing much better than the Canon. The Sea & Sea Sony A7III and A7R III housing (also known as MDX-A7III housing), has been designed to offer a safe and ergonomic shooting experience. Compared to my Panasonic GH4 for instance, which saves the entire camera state into user memory for instant recall, the Sony system has proven itself ineffective for my needs. of a find!! Instead, I saw a slight shadowing at the top and bottom edges but just at the corners. But it can take the Canon lenses you might already own. I saw none of the extreme effects reported by others with other Sonys, where masses of faint stars disappeared or turned into multi-colored blotches. For nightscapes I would never shoot at a lower ISO than necessary with hopes of boosting exposure later. 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