Low light performance of the Sony a850 DSLR

2 months 1 week ago #738455 by Chaiwallah

I just replaced a stolen Sony a850 with a pristine copy from South Korea. I took it out at night to see if I could get any decent photos in town, hand-held with manual focusing at f4 and autoISO. I had the antishake feature turned on. The samples are attached. The first two were taken with an AF Sigma 28mm f1.8 Aspherical lens and the last with an AF Minolta 50mm f1.7. I was blown away by how the camera and Sigma lens handled the conditions. None of the shots needed any processing. They are straight OOC. I did, however, notice significant noise on the shot taken with the Minolta lens, and I had to do a certain amount of adjusting using Lightroom and Nik Viveza II.  Both lenses are described by owners as very sharp on Dyxum. Can anyone account for the difference in the results obtained? The a850 doesn't have very good high ISO performance and I set the maximum ISO to 800 and two of the three shots were at ISO 800, one from each lens.


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2 months 1 week ago #738503 by TCav
Actually, the A850 is only about a stop worse than Sony's comparable FF, 24MP cameras as far as image noise is concerned. See:

www.dxomark.com/Cameras/Compare/Side-by-...-A7C___604_1236_1356

I can't really tell much from your images since there's no Exif data to be had, and they're reduced resolution hides noise.


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2 months 1 week ago #738507 by Chaiwallah
Thank you for your reply. I posted the largest file size for the images that I could, unaware that the website would reduce their size. You can see larger sizes for the Sigma photos on my Flickr page, www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/with/52091391684/ , where I upload at 1920x1080. You can see that the unprocessed photos are very clean, showing no noise. The photo taken with the Minolta lens, the last one above, was very grainy. I didn't post it on Flickr because I didn't like it. All were shot at f4, hand-held, with ISO set to auto and manually focused. Anti-shake was on for all.


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2 months 1 week ago #738529 by TCav
Ok, first, you shot hand-held with a shutter speed of 1/8 second, and got those images? That's certainly a testament to image stabilization and your skills.

Second, again, reduced resolution images dilute image noise.

Perhaps you could post some 100% crops instead.


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2 months 1 week ago #738542 by Chaiwallah
Again, thank you for your response. Most of the photos posted on my Flickr page are uncropped. The ones that are are only slightly cropped. Last night I went out again to test the camera with a fifty year old manual lens, a Super Takumar 55mm f1.8, shot under the same conditions and with the same settings as the other two. The results were very good much like those I got with the Sigma lens. Depth of field with a 55mm lens is significantly less than that of a 28mm lens (both at f4), so there's that. This photo was minimally cropped but had no other processing done: flic.kr/p/2np29TB The a850 is to me a great camera, but I want to understand what contributes to noise at ISO 800, the highest ISO I'll use it at, and how to avoid it because with two of the three lenses tried thus far there is no perceptible noise while pictures taken with the Minolta AF 50mm f1.7 showed unacceptable image degradation.


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2 months 1 week ago #738554 by Chaiwallah

Here's the Minolta photo. I tried to post a TIFF but again it was reduced to a relatively small JPEG. The noise may not be noticeable at this size, but it should be obvious that the picture lacks the crispness evident in the others.


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2 months 1 week ago #738558 by TCav
I think it's unlikely that using a different lens would result in greater image noise, but since the Minolta 50/1.7 could be close to 40 years old, it's possible what you're seeing is the degradation of the lens' coatings, not necessarily image noise. It might be time to put that old friend out to pasture.


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2 months 6 days ago #738560 by Chaiwallah
I haven't used the Minolta much. I have others in that focal length that I prefer. I suspect its performance in brighter light, like during the day, would be acceptable. And the Takumar lens i used last night may be twenty years older. The Super version predates the later multicoated versions. I'll have to try some other lenses. I have two 35mm f2 vintage lenses, a Super Multi Coated Takumar and a Soligor C/D lens that I wouldn't expect much from photographing at night, but I might be surprised. And I'm curious to see what the Sony 28mm f2 will do.


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2 months 6 days ago #738574 by Chaiwallah

A photo obtained using the SMC Takumar 35mm f2 lens using the same settings as before. This photo required some post processing and shows more graininess than the Sigma and Super Tak 55 but less than the Minolta 50.


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