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Sony's star-eater algorithm not fixed by f/w 4.0
  
 
navmannz
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Sony's star-eater algorithm not fixed by f/w 4.0


Contrary to some initial enthusiasm (including my own), it appears that Sony's v. 4.0 firmware for the Sony A7RII (and SII) has not fixed the spatial filtering that they introduced with f/w v. 3.3. Testing it rigorously in the real world has been difficult, with a full moon holding sway over the southern skies, along with a lot of cloudy weather. However, I managed to shoot some frames during the weekend, targeting part of the Milky Way. With iso set at 6400 I shot four frames in APS-C mode with a ZM Distagon 35, altering the aperture settings to give equivalent exposure, i.e., F/2.8 for the 2.5 second exposures and F/4 for the 5 second exposures - long exposure noise reduction was on for one pair and off for the other.

When I imported them into LR, I had to drop the black slider to around -65 to compensate for the moon illumination of the atmosphere and raise the color temp to 8000 to get a reasonably neutral background, but the difference in star capture was immediately apparent, indicating that significant elimination of stars was still occurring in the longer exposures - see below...

To test this further, I loaded all four files into DeepSkyStacker, and using the debayering option for reading raw files, and using a star detection threshold of 10% I got the following results when registering the photos:

Exposure and numbers of stars detected
2.5 second LENR off - 9761
5.0 second LENR off - 3114
2.5 second LENR on - 9760
5.0 second LENR on - 3003

Similar sky background figures indicate that I was reasonably close to getting equivalent exposures across the four images. Unfortunately the big difference in numbers of stars detected between the 2.5 and 5 second exposures indicates that substantial elimination of stars (70%) is still occurring despite this upgrade.

Others are now reporting similar results, with a post by Mark Shelley (here) indicating that the spatial filtering algorithm has been modified so that the green channel is now unaffected, but overall it is still firmly in play. Others reports documenting the continuation of spatial filtering are also in that thread and in other threads on this site.

I've spoken to a Sony support person, who indicated that the Sony engineers 'are still working on a solution and that a firmware update will be issued in due course'. However, I think that would be ill-advised to slacken off our pressure on Sony to fix what is a significant issue for a number of users.

-John





2.5 sec (left) and 5.0 sec (exposures) at 2:1 - note green cast to stars in longer exposure




Jun 12, 2017 at 01:40 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Sony's star-eater algorithm not fixed by f/w 4.0


Thanks for the update. I didn't have a chance to test this yet.
Do you see any improvement or it's just exactly the same as before regarding this issue?



Jun 12, 2017 at 05:08 AM
navmannz
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Sony's star-eater algorithm not fixed by f/w 4.0


Fred Miranda wrote:
Thanks for the update. I didn't have a chance to test this yet.
Do you see any improvement or it's just exactly the same as before regarding this issue?


The post by Mark Shelley here is the best analysis of it I've seen so far, and shows that the window has been altered in the green band, but remains the same in both the red and blue bands, so only a relatively trivial change at this stage. I've heard that Jim Kasson is going to assess it using his spectral analysis at some stage.

-John



Jun 12, 2017 at 06:02 AM
dgpfotografia
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Sony's star-eater algorithm not fixed by f/w 4.0


Jim Kasson just analized the new FW, it looks like Star Eater algorithm is there: http://blog.kasson.com/the-last-word/sony-a7rii-fw-4-0-star-eating/

He does not mention if he used the camera with LENR Off... I will ask him in the comments



Jun 12, 2017 at 05:18 PM
dgpfotografia
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Sony's star-eater algorithm not fixed by f/w 4.0


Ok, Jim says that LENR was off: http://blog.kasson.com/the-last-word/sony-a7rii-fw-4-0-star-eating/#comment-226184


Jun 12, 2017 at 05:31 PM
realVivek
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Sony's star-eater algorithm not fixed by f/w 4.0


Is there any hope at all that Sony with abandon their Star Eater filtering? Is this going to be a standard in all future SOny cams?


Jun 12, 2017 at 05:59 PM
spoutnicko
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Sony's star-eater algorithm not fixed by f/w 4.0


based on the analysis here:

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/59686724

i sketch the effect of sony star eater on actual camera resolution. i know this is quite oversimplified, as the effect would be much more like a dramatic drop of sensitivity for high spatial frequency details, but it gives the general behavior and where we are standing right now:

sony needs to do something, we cannot suffer such a resolution loss for any application requiring exposure >3.2s: astrophotography, night scape, urban nigh picture, daytime long exposure...





Jun 12, 2017 at 06:52 PM
realVivek
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Sony's star-eater algorithm not fixed by f/w 4.0


I am wondering if the 2015 FW A7rII command a better price in the used markets? Are all the new samples get shipped with the newer FW?


Jun 12, 2017 at 07:38 PM
pdmphoto
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Sony's star-eater algorithm not fixed by f/w 4.0


I'm guessing the spatial filtering was added for the A9. Of course it's been released now but the timing of the firmware changes came at about the time Sony was beta testing the A9. The A7 series doesn't need it but the A9 might be a mess without it.


Jun 12, 2017 at 07:56 PM
JimKasson
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Sony's star-eater algorithm not fixed by f/w 4.0


pdmphoto wrote:
I'm guessing the spatial filtering was added for the A9. Of course it's been released now but the timing of the firmware changes came at about the time Sony was beta testing the A9. The A7 series doesn't need it but the A9 might be a mess without it.


The spatial filtering has been with the a7RII since FCS. The difference with FW 3.30 was that the filtering that had been previously applied in bulb exposures was applied to timed ones longer than 3.2 seconds.

Jim




Jun 12, 2017 at 08:10 PM
 

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dgpfotografia
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Sony's star-eater algorithm not fixed by f/w 4.0


I suppose we still need to make more noise for Sony to give us the option to disable this...


Jun 12, 2017 at 08:34 PM
aikaarska
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Sony's star-eater algorithm not fixed by f/w 4.0


dgpfotografia wrote:
I suppose we still need to make more noise for Sony to give us the option to disable this...


Maybe ... It's going to be tricky & exhausting, I'm not sure I have the strength - or interest to do it and make noise ... anymore - Because after all, it's Sony's job to make good cameras for us ;-)




Jun 13, 2017 at 08:17 AM
MJKoski
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Sony's star-eater algorithm not fixed by f/w 4.0


Now is it? If you ask Sony to make changes to Playstation will they? Company culture may prevent tampering with some fundamental design choices. They are after positive reviews when it comes to minimal noise when doing long exposures.


Jun 13, 2017 at 10:27 AM
dgpfotografia
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Sony's star-eater algorithm not fixed by f/w 4.0


aikaarska wrote:
Maybe ... It's going to be tricky & exhausting, I'm not sure I have the strength - or interest to do it and make noise ... anymore - Because after all, it's Sony's job to make good cameras for us ;-)



Thanks to noise we got uncompressed raw (loseless compresed raw will be the ideal... but it is a start). Yes it is Sony work to do good cameras so people buy them... it does not mean that we can say what we don't like about them, so maybe in the future they update it (look at the polemic of not having s-log in A9... in B&H comments, an official representative of Sony already said it will be added in a future firmware).

The main problem is that this affects less people, not everybody it is in night-photography, Articles like the one of Lonely Speck was a good start: http://www.lonelyspeck.com/why-i-no-longer-recommend-sony-cameras-for-astrophotography-an-open-letter-to-sony/ , this is a very famous site for night photography on the web... but time will say if Sony thinks this could impact on sales of cameras and lenses and they decide to do something about it.



Jun 13, 2017 at 10:57 AM
MJKoski
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Sony's star-eater algorithm not fixed by f/w 4.0


It is not only night photography. Every photo with small detailed content and texture.


Jun 13, 2017 at 11:20 AM
dgpfotografia
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Sony's star-eater algorithm not fixed by f/w 4.0


MJKoski wrote:
It is not only night photography. Every photo with small detailed content and texture.


Yes, you are right... and maybe it is an stronger way to sell this to Sony... instead of just Star Earter




Jun 13, 2017 at 12:05 PM
MJKoski
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Sony's star-eater algorithm not fixed by f/w 4.0


It is not clear what is the organization structure related to Sony camera business. Maybe there are so many units doing their own thing that the message just does not get through to right persons. I worked for Nokia years ago in a small unit among MANY doing their thing to get some phones released. Well, if something was wrong...trying to change things and speak to right individuals...good luck with that


Jun 13, 2017 at 12:38 PM
dgpfotografia
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Sony's star-eater algorithm not fixed by f/w 4.0


MJKoski wrote:
It is not clear what is the organization structure related to Sony camera business. Maybe there are so many units doing their own thing that the message just does not get through to right persons. I worked for Nokia years ago in a small unit among MANY doing their thing to get some phones released. Well, if something was wrong...trying to change things and speak to right individuals...good luck with that


Yep, I know the feeling in the company I work for right now




Jun 13, 2017 at 05:51 PM
chez
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Sony's star-eater algorithm not fixed by f/w 4.0


Well given Sony is releasing FW that addresses many problems people talk about on this forum...I would think the message is getting to the right people at Sony. Sounds to me like they need another iteration on this star-eater issue...but from reading about the other changes in the A72 FW release, it looks like it nails quite a few of the issues that were bothersome.




Jun 13, 2017 at 05:57 PM
realVivek
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Sony's star-eater algorithm not fixed by f/w 4.0


chez wrote:
Well given Sony is releasing FW that addresses many problems people talk about on this forum...I would think the message is getting to the right people at Sony.



They have so many "artisans", most are on the net (it is a requirement). They ought to be looking out for what is lacking in the gear they sell.

Either they (sony) are blind or just don't care.



Jun 13, 2017 at 06:18 PM
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