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Which current Sony is best for High ISO/Low Light photography?

  
 
syrcular
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Which current Sony is best for High ISO/Low Light photography?


For low light high iso photography; from the current Alpha line is it safe to say that the A7 IV performs the best as far as photography for low light? I shoot events and documentary where most of my work calls for available light and Iím not able to use flash very often. I currently have the A1 and the A7rV but Iím afraid they tend to have a noise pattern thatís not great once you get past 4000 ISO, especially the A7rV. And Iím finding myself shooting more and more high ISO situations. I was hoping the A9 III would be that camera, but it seems due to its global shutter, itís not currently the best performing. I know that the A7sIII performs well in low light for video but I donít think it translates to photography so is it the A7 IV or A7C II that currently are the best at low light on the Sony cameras?


Feb 12, 2024 at 06:44 AM
murthyksk
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Which current Sony is best for High ISO/Low Light photography?


I agree, A7R5 is noisy to my taste at even ISO 3000. I have just bought a a7c2 for this reason. Will know, in time, if the resolution trade off has been worth it. My requirement for events photography is a medium tele, but there is no compact lens for c2; I plan to use Batis 135. On R5, Sigma 90 mm serves reasonably well due to cropping latitude. It would be great if Sigma could bring out an I series 135 in f3.5 or f4


Feb 25, 2024 at 02:25 AM
Viramati
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Which current Sony is best for High ISO/Low Light photography?


I will happily shoot up to 12800 (RAW files) for event work with the A1 which I find gives a good film-like grain as long as you expose correctly (having started my career way back in the film only days I have no problem with this) . The new Denoise feature in lightroom also works well if you don't overdo it though generally I prefer a bit of 'grain'. I have the A7r5 set to a iso 6400 ceiling.

Edited on Feb 25, 2024 at 02:52 AM · View previous versions



Feb 25, 2024 at 02:38 AM
GHarris
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Which current Sony is best for High ISO/Low Light photography?


There are two aspects here, worth emphasising - low-light "image quality" - pure image quality - and low light "performance".

I'm not sure there has been any low-light image quality improvement since the A7iii. Indeed, it's possible that the A7iv is just slightly worse for it than the iii. I'm not sure whether the iv sensor gave up anything with its slight resolution increase. Others will have to comment more on that. Though I would hope that the A7iv's image character in low light is better than the R series.

But of course the autofocus functions and confidence in low-light may have improved since the A7iii. Giving a "real world" image quality improvement - the photo is more frequently in focus, and focussing happened quickly enough, despite the poor light, not to miss the shot... each pixel could "see in the dark" enough for the camera to get a good read of the scene and pick the right white-balance, etc... (that was a noticeable difference between the old S and R models, back in the day, in my experience)... but not a "when I have plenty of time, and focussing is easy, I want the best image-quality I can get" improvement.

The Siii's low-light performance may not be as great as you expect. I'm not sure whether it's anywhere as good as the original A7S (or its low-light image quality competitor/successor, the A7iii) - it isn't a pure, low-light-oriented 12MP sensor like the original A7S was, it's a 48MP sensor with binning to 12, and a design aimed at video performance. But I haven't paid close attention to the S3 so I may be mistaken and I apologise if I am.

Another low-light option that's reasonably strong is the older A9 - the not-3 versions. But the A9/A9ii's image quality itself is probably also a little below the A7iii - it's just the real-world speed/confidence of focussing, again.

I think the A1 you already have is probably still your best bet (no better in end-result image quality than the A7iii, but more sure-footed from modernity in its software and processing power, and the stacked sensor). I agree that the A7RV is probably pushing its tiny pixels a bit too hard in low light, each one doesn't get enough light to see by.

When your A1's images are sized down to the same scale as those from an A7iii or A7iv, they may come out about the same, or not much worse, in character and appearance (because part of the problem is that we've just hit an inherent physical wall in terms of what an image sensor can see/detect with very little light available - the tech has gotten about "as good as it gets"). I'm not sure that can be entirely said of truly tiny-pixel cameras like the A7RV, which in my view pushes things a little too far - too often those tiny pixels just each never get enough light to work with.

This is all a little vague and vibes-y, happy for anyone to criticise!



Feb 25, 2024 at 02:43 AM
Viramati
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Which current Sony is best for High ISO/Low Light photography?


Having just tried a few test shots with the A7r5 at 12800 I have to say it's still pretty damn good. There is a a little chroma noise in light coloured areas but nothing really objectionable for event work and 20% in denoise cleans the file up well. There is a loss in DR and pulling detail from a shadow area is problematic. all the same usable in a pinch. I do remember buying the original A7s when it was released basically for it's high iso and it behaved a little better with some Leica RF lenses, it gave lovely film like files. Anyway I can understand that some wouldn't be happy with the IQ at higher iso but for me for documentary work it is more about the image photographically than ultimate IQ

Edited on Feb 25, 2024 at 04:13 AM · View previous versions



Feb 25, 2024 at 03:17 AM
ingekj
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Which current Sony is best for High ISO/Low Light photography?





Feb 25, 2024 at 03:23 AM
Viramati
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Which current Sony is best for High ISO/Low Light photography?


ingekj wrote:



Looking at the large prints really says it all. Thanks




Feb 25, 2024 at 04:10 AM
altrisy
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Which current Sony is best for High ISO/Low Light photography?


As @GHarris said: I think the A1 you already have is probably still your best bet.


Feb 25, 2024 at 04:27 AM
GHarris
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Which current Sony is best for High ISO/Low Light photography?


ingekj wrote:



There are many good points in this video. It covers the many subtleties and nuances in a helpful way, by and large.

However.

I remember facepalming when it came out, all the same.

Because they compared the A7RIV to... the A7Siii. With the intention of testing the image-quality implications of low vs high-megapixel sensors.

But both of them are high-megapixel sensors!

The A7Siii is a 48 megapixel sensor, with its output downscaled to 12MP.

It is not like the A7S and A7Sii. If they wanted to test and demonstrate this principle, they should have used one of those as the comparison model against the A7Riv.

It kind of made their whole test a wasted effort. The discussions before it, of the principles and caveats involved, are of value, but the test itself was a missed opportunity.

Years back, when I tried out the A7Sii vs the A7Rii in simple ways in low light, there was a clear subjective performance advantage to the A7Sii. It read the scene better. Its pixels weren't too small, each too small and light-starved from just each not catching enough photons at all, to work out what was going on and pick a good white balance, for example. The A7Rii shot looked murkier, despite all being equal.

And the A7Rii is an excellent sensor.

There were many disadvantages to the A7S, as well. I don't deny it. Contrast-detect AF being an enormous one in lifestyle/practicality terms. There's a lot going on here and discussing it is often messy.



Feb 25, 2024 at 04:44 AM
QuietOC
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Which current Sony is best for High ISO/Low Light photography?


According to Jim Kasson's test the A7III always does some amount of digital low pass filtering to its raw files. It should also be noted that that sensor is slightly smaller than other Sony full-frame sensors.


Feb 25, 2024 at 07:22 AM
 


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syrcular
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Which current Sony is best for High ISO/Low Light photography?




GHarris wrote:
There are many good points in this video. It covers the many subtleties and nuances in a helpful way, by and large.

However.

I remember facepalming when it came out, all the same.

Because they compared the A7RIV to... the A7Siii. With the intention of testing the image-quality implications of low vs high-megapixel sensors.

But both of them are high-megapixel sensors!

The A7Siii is a 48 megapixel sensor, with its output downscaled to 12MP.

It is not like the A7S and A7Sii. If they wanted to test and demonstrate this principle, they should have used one of those as the comparison model against the A7Riv.

It kind
...Show more

I had no idea that the A7S III was a downscaled 48mp sensor but that totally makes sensor. I always wondered despite it being a 12mp output that it produced some of the sharpest images Iíve ever seen for such a small sensor. I guess this explains it.

After much research on this topic I agree with your previous comment which is that I also think my best shot is with the A1. In my last event gig I could see a visible difference between my A1 and A7rV when it came to high iso performance and I think to your point it strikes a balance between high res/high iso performance with modern technology. The big win with this camera is silent shutter with minimal to no rolling shutter and downscaled it performs similarly to lower light performant cameras. So I think Iím gonna spring for a second A1 body when the next gig calls for it. Iím the meantime Iíll probably just rent a second body a few times to see how it fares compared to my current A7rV/A1 combo.



Feb 25, 2024 at 08:11 AM
BillD208
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Which current Sony is best for High ISO/Low Light photography?


The AF performance of the A7CII in low light settings is pretty good in my book. Here's a few photos I took last night.

A7CII + Tamron 70-180 f/2.8 1/400 iso 6400 (no noise reduction)
DSC09512 by Bill Dyke, on Flickr

A7CII + Sony 35GM F/1.4 1/400 iso 6400 (no noise reduction)

DSC09599 by Bill Dyke, on Flickr

A7CII + Tamron 70-180 F/2.8 1/400 iso 6400 + DXO Pure Raw 3

DSC09671-ARW_DxO_DeepPRIMEXD by Bill Dyke, on Flickr



Feb 25, 2024 at 08:30 AM
chiron
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Which current Sony is best for High ISO/Low Light photography?


murthyksk wrote:
I agree, A7R5 is noisy to my taste at even ISO 3000. I have just bought a a7c2 for this reason. Will know, in time, if the resolution trade off has been worth it. My requirement for events photography is a medium tele, but there is no compact lens for c2; I plan to use Batis 135. On R5, Sigma 90 mm serves reasonably well due to cropping latitude. It would be great if Sigma could bring out an I series 135 in f3.5 or f4


The A7CII has larger pixels than the A7RV or A7Cr, which should give it advantages in low light and with regard to noise.

It also has better AF coverage than the A7RV or the A7Cr--94% coverage with 759 AF points for the A7CII vs 79% coverage and 693 autofocus points for the A7RV and A7Cr.



Feb 25, 2024 at 08:39 AM
GMPhotography
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Which current Sony is best for High ISO/Low Light photography?


Up to ISO 2000 I have seen very little or no noise issues with mostly all models after that I really never get that high in the ISO range, so im of no help here


Feb 25, 2024 at 08:56 AM
Knut.
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Which current Sony is best for High ISO/Low Light photography?


So, if sou had to number the best low light bodies from1 to five, what would your sequence be?


Feb 25, 2024 at 04:57 PM
AZHeaven
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Which current Sony is best for High ISO/Low Light photography?


The ISO on my A7IV is set to 100-12,800. There is some noise at the higher end but nothing to get to excited about. And with noise reduction software nowadays it helps.


Feb 25, 2024 at 05:06 PM
patotts
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Which current Sony is best for High ISO/Low Light photography?


I think the a7IV would be a good choice in terms of the files, but the AF isn't as good a1 or a7RV, thus perhaps the a7CII might be the answer?

I had one for a short while, but I didn't like the handling and UI of it. It was great around the shoulder with a prime, but not as great in the hands - too small actually - but the IQ is fantastic.



Feb 25, 2024 at 05:08 PM
timgangloff
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Which current Sony is best for High ISO/Low Light photography?


Here's one from the other night with the a1 at iso 8000 captured in raw. Can't imagine how much cleaner it needs to be. Lightroom adjustment for noise removal.








Feb 26, 2024 at 01:17 PM
murthyksk
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Which current Sony is best for High ISO/Low Light photography?


Tony Northrup also has a YouTube video on "The truth about high megapixel noise", wherein he speaks of the signal-to-noise ratio and the superiority of a higher megapixel camera in terms of detail.


Feb 27, 2024 at 06:05 AM
chiron
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Which current Sony is best for High ISO/Low Light photography?



Of course it's clean--he's been swimming in crystal clear water!

More seriously, I think the OP would find either the A1 or the A7CII, at two very different price points, very satisfactory for autofocus and noise in low light at high ISO.



Feb 27, 2024 at 06:21 AM
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