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Author Topic: Michael Tapes Sony review  (Read 20330 times)

John Camp

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Michael Tapes Sony review
« on: September 21, 2015, 04:15:06 PM »

About the Michael Tapes Sony review, a couple of comments:

I buy his products, and have a lot of respect for the guy, but he refers to the Sony a couple of times as a game changer -- I got the feeling it's only a game changer in terms of badly underexposing (by four or five stops) extremely high ISO images, and if you don't do that, then there's hardly any difference between it and the Nikon, and not much between it and the 50mp Canon. There may be some circumstances when you do underexpose by four or five stops at ISO 6400 (or 3200), but I'm not sure then that you need the color recovery, because you're basically then shooting in the dark, and you encounter the same questions that you do with the Northern Lights article, that is, do you want to recover color that the eye can't see? Again, there may be some circumstances where you do (as in police surveillance) but for most of us, rather than being a game-changer, it seems to me that in terms of dynamic range, the Sony is roughly equal to the Nikon, but the Nikon might be a slight bit better in the very ISO ranges that are most used. In other words, it really comes down to what you do, and what you like, and how the camera feels, rather than any particular sensor advantage.

I think the test was well-done, but I have to say, I prefer written reviews. I first looked at this at a coffee shop, but the wi-fi going into my MacAir was so slow that the video kept outrunning the buffer, and then everything would stop. I essentially couldn't watch it until I got home, and I think that a  lot of people who are traveling or using a coffee-shop wifi couldn't watch it, either.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2015, 04:16:49 PM by John Camp »
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Hans Kruse

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Re: Michael Tapes Sony review
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2015, 05:03:59 PM »

What can I say? I'm not questioning the results of the comparisons, but they are a bit silly test and not very much related to practical photography. I have been shooting the D810 and the 5Ds R side by side and the D810 wins at any time in DR at low ISO which I shoot for landscape photography. The Canon clearly wins in resolution and does well for moderate shadow pushing with no objectionable noise. Both cameras are well beyond what is needed to medium sized prints anyway like Super A2. For me the sensor itself is not enough for a good camera. The handling is very important to get the results. The Canon does deliver on that as well as the D810. They are both robust and weather sealed cameras. I have not tried the Sony so far.

I would never judge a camera on a test like the one that was presented in this video.

Telecaster

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Re: Michael Tapes Sony review
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2015, 05:29:33 PM »

To me this piece makes clear how little practical difference there is image-quality-wise between these high-performance gizmos. You have to drive them into extreme behavior to see whatever differences there are. This means I can now ignore such testing.   :D

-Dave-
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Tony Jay

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Re: Michael Tapes Sony review
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2015, 05:43:04 PM »

This camera is much more than just its sensor technology.
The fact that there is not a lot to pick between the sensor characteristics of the Nikon versus the Sony - they do share the same sensor manufacturer! The Canon 1DX is also fairly competitive to a point.

However there are several other aspects to the Sony A7R mark II that do, in fact, make it a potential game changer. The IBIS has to be used to be believed. I was shooting this last Sunday on a rocky headland on the northern New South Wales coastline. It was stormy and the light was very dull. I shot with a combination of Canon EF and Sony FE lenses including a Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6. Every single image was tack sharp, apart from one where the wind literally caused me to fall. I shot at ISO 100 despite the low light and have been able to push those images as much as required with no discernable noise penalty and certainly without that muddiness in the shadows that so characterises every Canon camera I have ever used.
I would not hesitate to print my picks to 24"X36" or much larger.

The fact that, mated via an adaptor, this camera could potentially use almost any excellent lens from a large variety of sources allied with its sensor characteristics and resolution and the IBIS does, in fact, make it a potential game-changer.

The biggest issue that I can see, and it is a major pain, in using mirrorless-type cameras is sensor dust - no mirror mechanism to protect the sensor from dust. Meticulous attention to sensor cleaning and changing lenses is crucial. This is a pain for someone like me who does nearly all their shooting outdoors and particularly in inclement weather.

Also, although I have yet to exhaustively test AF with the latest Metabones IV adaptor firmware update I cannot see myself using the this Sony for dedicated action/sports/wildlife/bird photography.
Possibly even today though, I will remount my Canon 500mm f4.0 and see what happens.
For almost everything else though it ticks all the boxes.

Tony Jay
« Last Edit: September 21, 2015, 05:46:31 PM by Tony Jay »
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kers

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Re: Michael Tapes Sony review
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2015, 08:30:21 PM »

The biggest issue that I can see, and it is a major pain, in using mirrorless-type cameras is sensor dust - no mirror mechanism to protect the sensor from dust. Meticulous attention to sensor cleaning and changing lenses is crucial. This is a pain for someone like me who does nearly all their shooting outdoors and particularly in inclement weather.

I used a nikon d3x and had to wet clean it every 2 months; the D810 i have now i hardly have to clean at all. The internal cleaning is appropriate and in some rare cases the blower comes to help. Very welcome if you are need to make photographs with F11...
Ming Thein asked himself if you could safely wet clean the Sony without damaging the IBIS system.. any idea?
« Last Edit: September 21, 2015, 08:32:47 PM by kers »
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Tony Jay

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Re: Michael Tapes Sony review
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2015, 09:19:14 PM »

Check out Brian Smith's website for more about cleaning sensors in Sony cameras.
You can wet-clean the sensor if needed but using a blower is normally sufficient.

BTW that web address used - is that the Beeld newspaper based in RSA?

Tony Jay
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FMueller

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Re: Michael Tapes Sony review
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2015, 10:48:11 PM »

To me this piece makes clear how little practical difference there is image-quality-wise between these high-performance gizmos. You have to drive them into extreme behavior to see whatever differences there are. This means I can now ignore such testing.   :D

-Dave-

I agree! Perhaps we have reached the age again of talking about the pictures!😀👍🏻
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amolitor

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Re: Michael Tapes Sony review
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2015, 11:21:31 PM »

There seemed to be a lot left unsaid, which I suppose we can assume as having "reasonable answers", but still.

Are the various ISOs comparable on the cameras? If ISO3200 doesn't mean the same thing on one camera versus another, then the tests are all wrong.

Why didn't we see highlight recovery and shadow recovery at the same time? Dynamic range is the distance from bottom to top above the noise floor. Telling us that under one set of circumstances I can go 100 feet high, and under anther set of 50 feet deep, does NOT mean the dynamic range is 150 feet. I have to be able to do both at the same time.

I'd have liked to see a more careful test of detail preservation in the shadow recovery tests. Any fool can reduce noise by throwing away detail, and that's what the engineers are likely to try to sneak in there. It's not enough to wave vaguely at some knurls and hair, you've got to actually keep track of the level of detail that's being preserved to be sure the buggers aren't cheating.

It's still a very interested set of real-world tests, I'm just not sure what to call what it's testing, nor how useful it is in practical terms.
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haplo602

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Re: Michael Tapes Sony review
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2015, 03:08:39 AM »

There seemed to be a lot left unsaid, which I suppose we can assume as having "reasonable answers", but still.

Are the various ISOs comparable on the cameras? If ISO3200 doesn't mean the same thing on one camera versus another, then the tests are all wrong.

Why didn't we see highlight recovery and shadow recovery at the same time? Dynamic range is the distance from bottom to top above the noise floor. Telling us that under one set of circumstances I can go 100 feet high, and under anther set of 50 feet deep, does NOT mean the dynamic range is 150 feet. I have to be able to do both at the same time.

I'd have liked to see a more careful test of detail preservation in the shadow recovery tests. Any fool can reduce noise by throwing away detail, and that's what the engineers are likely to try to sneak in there. It's not enough to wave vaguely at some knurls and hair, you've got to actually keep track of the level of detail that's being preserved to be sure the buggers aren't cheating.

It's still a very interested set of real-world tests, I'm just not sure what to call what it's testing, nor how useful it is in practical terms.

Exactly this :-))

While the video was very interesting, I noticed that the highlights on the microphone in the shadow recovery test CHANGED between the cameras (the size of it was the most revealing). That shows either a change of lighting setup between the test (I doubt this given the track record of the reviewer) or the exposure/native iso of the cameras not being equal. Also processing difference can account for this.

Also I lacked highlight recovery comparison in the blue and red channel, could be very revealing. Green is responsible for most of the light intensity recovery, but if red and blue are deficient, you cannot properly recover color (this partly translates into the magenta/green casts in the shadow recovery tests).

Let's hope the next parts go into these questions.
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jeremyrh

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Re: Michael Tapes Sony review
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2015, 05:17:03 AM »

Well, some of the criticism of this review seems a little off target to me. First of all, it is not intended as a full comparison of these cameras, just a comparison of DR.  Second, although we might not often shoot 5 stops underexposed, it does happen that we shoot to preserve a bright sky and still want to see some details in dark foreground. Whether we want to do that at ISO 64000 is another issue, but the test also covers more reasonable ISO
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Hans Kruse

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Re: Michael Tapes Sony review
« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2015, 08:08:51 AM »

Well, some of the criticism of this review seems a little off target to me. First of all, it is not intended as a full comparison of these cameras, just a comparison of DR.  Second, although we might not often shoot 5 stops underexposed, it does happen that we shoot to preserve a bright sky and still want to see some details in dark foreground. Whether we want to do that at ISO 64000 is another issue, but the test also covers more reasonable ISO

To shoot landscapes and preserve a bright sky would only make sense at base ISO og the camera and lifting exposure by 5 stops would hardly ever give good quality for these parts. That's the case for either grad filters or bracketing imho. Why one would ever lift exposure by 5 stops from ISO 6400 I don't know. I would be scratching my head ;)

Edit: I guess what I have a problem with are these constant DR comments on cameras as if this is the only and most important parameter in a modern camera. By now it has become a bit boring and like, yeah, we know that so can we move on?
« Last Edit: September 22, 2015, 08:31:00 AM by Hans Kruse »
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timparkin

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Re: Michael Tapes Sony review
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2015, 08:17:53 AM »

It's great to see another comparison so we have more eyes on these cameras but I do have a couple of methodology improvements

1) Checking highlights in Lightroom probably isn't the best idea. Although it's more "Real World", it would be better to check clipping using Rawdigger so you can actually say for certain that it's the sensor clipping at the same point on each camera.

2) The shadow comparison conflated colour errors in the shadows with lack of dynamic range. If you were to colour correct some of those magenta shadows you would probably notice that the comparisons were different to those shown in the video. I noted this in a test of the A7R2 vs A7R where the A7R2 had better looking shadows but the A7R, despite having magenta shadows, corrected to a point where it had better shadow tonality/SNR etc.

Otherwise excellent work..

Tim
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jeremyrh

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Re: Michael Tapes Sony review
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2015, 08:26:56 AM »

To shoot landscapes and preserve a bright sky would only make sense at base ISO og the camera and lifting exposure by 5 stops would hardly ever give good quality for these parts. That's the case for either grad filters or bracketing imho. Why one would ever lift exposure by 5 stops from ISO 6400 I don't know. I would be scratching my head ;)

I think you are somewhat repeating what the review says. He shows the results of raising the exposure by 5 stops at 6400 and they aren't pretty. Arguably the Sony is less ugly. At 100, well, hard to say - the author is at least presenting the data that one might use to make a choice.
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BartvanderWolf

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Re: Michael Tapes Sony review
« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2015, 08:29:29 AM »

To shoot landscapes and preserve a bright sky would only make sense at base ISO og the camera and lifting exposure by 5 stops would hardly ever give good quality for these parts. That's the case for either grad filters or bracketing imho. Why one would ever lift exposure by 5 stops from ISO 6400 I don't know. I would be scratching my head ;)

But that was not to promote a good practice, but rather to test how the cameras would hold up, and to show differences.

I also saw (and not too much mention was made of it) considerable differences in color quality as the pushed exposures went up, and I don't mean the magenta black point noise (which BTW can be solved with e.g. Topaz Denoise quite well), but rather in the saturated blues and reds. Of course, we are also looking at a specific 'look' as produced by a single Raw converter. Other converters may behave 'a bit' different.

Also, no attention was given to (as it was not the topic under investigation) how good noise reduction would be able to close the gaps in visual appearance. We rarely see any comparions between noise reduction applications anymore, because it is so much less of an issue nowadays, but it's still very useful, and also much cheaper than purchasing this years new 'game changer', every year ...

Cheers,
Bart
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ihv

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Re: Michael Tapes Sony review
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2015, 08:31:23 AM »

To shoot landscapes and preserve a bright sky would only make sense at base ISO og the camera and lifting exposure by 5 stops would hardly ever give good quality for these parts. That's the case for either grad filters or bracketing imho. Why one would ever lift exposure by 5 stops from ISO 6400 I don't know. I would be scratching my head ;)

Handheld night photography?

I think this is the strong point of the Sony: a great overall camera with a high resolution, a high iso, a high dr, a great video capability. All at the same time.

I barely managed to get away at low iso on this one, handheld, and it was back-lit so pushing shadows was important.


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Hans Kruse

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Re: Michael Tapes Sony review
« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2015, 08:37:08 AM »

But that was not to promote a good practice, but rather to test how the cameras would hold up, and to show differences.

I also saw (and not too much mention was made of it) considerable differences in color quality as the pushed exposures went up, and I don't mean the magenta black point noise (which BTW can be solved with e.g. Topaz Denoise quite well), but rather in the saturated blues and reds. Of course, we are also looking at a specific 'look' as produced by a single Raw converter. Other converters may behave 'a bit' different.

Also, no attention was given to (as it was not the topic under investigation) how good noise reduction would be able to close the gaps in visual appearance. We rarely see any comparions between noise reduction applications anymore, because it is so much less of an issue nowadays, but it's still very useful, and also much cheaper than purchasing this years new 'game changer', every year ...

Cheers,
Bart

Hi Bart,

I know it was not to promote good practice, of course. In my view there are tests that are interesting because they match what is needed in situations we personally come across in our photography. This one was not one of these in my view.

You other point of noise reduction, I agree with, if the test was matching a real situation rather than a synthetic test with little real life photography relevance. Especially the pushing from ISO 6400. Shadow pushing from base ISO has relevance for landscape photographers and knowing the limits has merit. But the workarounds are almost trivial these days anyway.

Hans Kruse

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Re: Michael Tapes Sony review
« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2015, 08:40:58 AM »

Handheld night photography?

I think this is the strong point of the Sony: a great overall camera with a high resolution, a high iso, a high dr, a great video capability. All at the same time.

I barely managed to get away at low iso on this one, handheld, and it was back-lit so pushing shadows was important.

Shadow pushing from base ISO make sense to me, but you could have made this picture easily with a lesser DR camera by simply bracketing even at slightly higher ISO. A small photo like this could be done even if there were noise in the shadows. A tripod would be a good investment :)

BartvanderWolf

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Re: Michael Tapes Sony review
« Reply #17 on: September 22, 2015, 08:45:24 AM »

It's great to see another comparison so we have more eyes on these cameras but I do have a couple of methodology improvements

1) Checking highlights in Lightroom probably isn't the best idea. Although it's more "Real World", it would be better to check clipping using Rawdigger so you can actually say for certain that it's the sensor clipping at the same point on each camera.

Tim, I fully agree, it's not very scientific. But to Michael's defense, it's valid enough for those with a Lightroom/ACR centric workflow. A more objective comparison/conclusion would indeed be given based on real highlight ETTR exposure levels.

Quote
2) The shadow comparison conflated colour errors in the shadows with lack of dynamic range. If you were to colour correct some of those magenta shadows you would probably notice that the comparisons were different to those shown in the video. I noted this in a test of the A7R2 vs A7R where the A7R2 had better looking shadows but the A7R, despite having magenta shadows, corrected to a point where it had better shadow tonality/SNR etc.

Yes, absolutely correct. Noise correction, which should also address magenta black points, will reveal the real differences in color response/shifts because it removes a lot of distraction. I found the Red to Magenta shifts in saturated colors quite noticeable (and the desaturation of Blues), but it's hard to say how much of that was noise induced and how much was actual color shift.

Quote
Otherwise excellent work.

Yep.

Cheers,
Bart
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pegelli

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Re: Michael Tapes Sony review
« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2015, 08:48:14 AM »

If you don't need high DR fine but to claim it's a useless test because "you" don't need for your shooting scenario's it is a bit stretched (and selfish) and then further critiquing it didn't test other aspects of the camera is a bit over the top as well. It was just a simple test to test DR, nothing more, nothing less. Depending on the situation tested sometimes the Nikon is better, sometimes a Canon is better and sometimes a Sony is better. So what is all the angst over?
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jeremyrh

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Re: Michael Tapes Sony review
« Reply #19 on: September 22, 2015, 08:50:08 AM »

Shadow pushing from base ISO make sense to me, but you could have made this picture easily with a lesser DR camera by simply bracketing even at slightly higher ISO. A small photo like this could be done even if there were noise in the shadows. A tripod would be a good investment :)

Yes, he could, but as he had the Sony camera he didn't HAVE to; he could go for a stroll with his wife with no tripod and also shoot a single exposure of a vampire leaving the tower if necessary. There are many versions of the "real world"  ;)
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