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A General Questions About Noise (Sony a6000) - Image Included


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Hey SonyAlpha -

First time poster...Just found the subreddit and I've spent hours reading previous posts. Life changing!

I have, sort of, general questions about noise reduction that I can't seem to get a simple answer on. I know there are so many variables that come into play when talking about noise, but I'm hoping to get some general guidance. Hopefully, I'm not downvoted into oblivion.

Something I've always struggled with since owning my Sony a6000 (About 3 years now) is noise in my photos. I came from a Canon 60D and never really had a problem with the noise I deal with now. My guess is that's because I went from a full frame sensor to APS-C and that is the tradeoff you get when going mirrorless. But, I've never had anyone confirm this.

Here's a classic example:

It was early morning and in my backyard I saw an owl. Holy Shi%*^&! - So I grab my camera and my SEL18200.

I end up getting roughly 20 feet away and I snap this shot:

https://imgur.com/2A4Q5LA (left is orginal, right is after post)

I pretty much always shoot in auto, especially in situations like this, when time is of the essence.

Exposure: 1/60 at f/6.3

Focal Length: 200mm

ISO: 3200

Lens: E 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS

I was pretty disappointed with this shot because of the noise. It became really problematic when I started to bring out the colors and contrast in Lightroom. I feel like I'm always making this compromise with my photos.

So, my questions:

  1. Do you all think I'm overreacting? In other words, are you saying, "Dude, welcome to the world of mirrorless, get used to it."?

  2. Could it be lenses? I notice many of you rock the Zeiss lenses. I have all Sony (SEL35F18, SEL16F28, SEL18200), but maybe I should add an FE or Zeiss lens to ensure a crisper shot?

  3. Perhaps, as always, it's just lighting?

  4. Are you thinking, "Dude..Learn how to use your camera...I would've never shot that scene with those settings."?

Finally, thanks for the awesome subreddit...This is amazing. If you want to check out my other shots, take a look at my Flickr (most are shot with the a6000) - I've been a hobbyist for over a decade:

 
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Can't tell much about this picture since I'm viewing on a phone, but I can say the following:

 - First of all, none of your complaints has anything to do with shooting mirrorless or not. Shooting mirrorless or not has no effect at all on your final image. It's the sensor and lenses (and the user) that matter.

 - ISO 3200 is borderline useable on the a6000. I only ever use it for poorly lit indoor shots. A fullframe camera would make a big difference here;

 - Your previous Canon 60D was not a fullframe camera though and by the specs should have much worse noise performance than the a6000 https://www.dxomark.com/Cameras/Compare/Side-by-side/Sony-A6000-versus-Canon-EOS-60D___942_663

 - The 18-200 is not really known for sharpness at 200 mm, especially the LE version. This may be somewhat detrimental to your image, combined with the relatively slow shutter speed at that focal length.

Without being able to scrutinize your picture, your sense of getting a mediocre picture seems pretty much in line with what I would expect with this gear and settings. So I guess my answer to question 1 would be "yes", save for the mirrorless part.

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Coming from film days when ASA 400 was "high speed" I look at anything above ISO 1200 as amazing and you are probably just expecting too much from your older model A6000, slow lens, and ISO 3200.  With my A6500 and A7III I can shoot with acceptable results at ISO 6400.  These new cameras can literally see in the dark.

Here is an owl I shot at 3200 using a6500

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Edited by tinplater
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ISO performance of the a6500 isn't all that much better than the a6000 tho and really shouldn't be the primary reason to upgrade. You make it sound like they're worlds apart Tinplater. Having recently upgraded from the a6000 to the a6500 myself I find my ISO 3200 shots have gone from 'borderline acceptable' to 'decent considering these lighting conditions'. From all I can tell ISO 6400 on the a6500 looks slightly worse than ISO 3200 on the a6000. This is in line with DXOmark tests:

https://www.dxomark.com/Cameras/Compare/Side-by-side/Sony-A6500-versus-Sony-A6000___1127_942

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14 hours ago, Kadilavunye said:

Could it be lenses? I notice many of you rock the Zeiss lenses. I have all Sony (SEL35F18, SEL16F28, SEL18200), but maybe I should add an FE or Zeiss lens to ensure a crisper shot?

About lenses: if ISO noise is your problem then you primarily need faster glass. Unfortunately there are no fast native APS-C lenses beyond 60mm focal length so you'd indeed have to resort to FE lenses. In general though, FE lenses don't neccesarily perform better than native APS-C lenses on an a6000.

Your shot would have benefitted a lot if shot with e.g. the Sony FE 70-200 f/4. ISO could have been dropped to 1250 and that lens is a great deal sharper than the 18-200 you have. Up to your own consideration if that's worth the price and weight/bulk you'd have to carry around. To me personally it is not (I love the small a6000 form-factor) so I usually just accept I won't be able to shoot situations like these to my liking and take a mental picture instead.

Edited by Pieter
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8 hours ago, Pieter said:

ISO performance of the a6500 isn't all that much better than the a6000 tho and really shouldn't be the primary reason to upgrade. You make it sound like they're worlds apart Tinplater. Having recently upgraded from the a6000 to the a6500 myself I find my ISO 3200 shots have gone from 'borderline acceptable' to 'decent considering these lighting conditions'. From all I can tell ISO 6400 on the a6500 looks slightly worse than ISO 3200 on the a6000. This is in line with DXOmark tests:

https://www.dxomark.com/Cameras/Compare/Side-by-side/Sony-A6500-versus-Sony-A6000___1127_942

Just comparing from memory concerning my old a6000.  Amount of noise is a very personal matter...I'm quite happy with my owl shot in very dark conditions.

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Acceptability of noise levels is indeed very subjective, and also very much dependent on the viewing medium. On my phone you owl shot indeed looks really nice. Did you postprocess it a lot to isolate it from the surroundings? If you pulled the shadows on the owl a bit then noise levels should be even higher than ISO 3200. If I need to make the shot, a bit higher noise levels is always preferrable over motion blur.

Back to OP: of all 3 camera's discussed here, your old 60D should have by far the worst noise levels. Have to agree with Tinplater here that the a6000 (and all recent APS-C or fullframe camera's for that matter) is already a marvellous piece of engineering when it comes to low-light performance. I guess you are indeed expecting too much of it and have maybe romanticized your old DSLR a bit.

Edited by Pieter
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On 1/12/2019 at 2:55 PM, Pieter said:

About lenses: if ISO noise is your problem then you primarily need faster glass. Unfortunately there are no fast native APS-C lenses beyond 60mm focal length so you'd indeed have to resort to FE lenses. In general though, FE lenses don't neccesarily perform better than native APS-C lenses on an a6000.

Your shot would have movies download movies at forum benefitted a lot if shot with e.g. the Sony FE 70-200 f/4. ISO could have been dropped to 1250 and that lens is a great deal sharper than the 18-200 you have. Up to your own consideration if that's worth the price and weight/bulk you'd have to carry around. To me personally it is not (I love the small a6000 form-factor) so I usually just accept I won't be able to shoot situations like these to my liking and take a mental picture instead.

Thank you my issue has been solved,......

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On 1/11/2019 at 3:24 PM, Kadilavunye said:

Hey SonyAlpha -

First time poster...Just found the subreddit and I've spent hours reading previous posts. Life changing!

I have, sort of, general questions about noise reduction that I can't seem to get a simple answer on. I know there are so many variables that come into play when talking about noise, but I'm hoping to get some general guidance. Hopefully, I'm not downvoted into oblivion.

Something I've always struggled with since owning my Sony a6000 (About 3 years now) is noise in my photos. I came from a Canon 60D and never really had a problem with the noise I deal with now. My guess is that's because I went from a full frame sensor to APS-C and that is the tradeoff you get when going mirrorless. But, I've never had anyone confirm this.

Here's a classic example:

It was early morning and in my backyard I saw an owl. Holy Shi%*^&! - So I grab my camera and my SEL18200.

I end up getting roughly 20 feet away and I snap this shot:

https://imgur.com/2A4Q5LA (left is orginal, right is after post)

I pretty much always shoot in auto, especially in situations like this, when time is of the essence.

Exposure: 1/60 at f/6.3

Focal Length: 200mm

ISO: 3200

Lens: E 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS

I was pretty disappointed with this shot because of the noise. It became really problematic when I started to bring out the colors and contrast in Lightroom. I feel like I'm always making this compromise with my photos.

So, my questions:

  1. Do you all think I'm overreacting? In other words, are you saying, "Dude, welcome to the world of mirrorless, get used to it."?

  2. Could it be lenses? I notice many of you rock the Zeiss lenses. I have all Sony (SEL35F18, SEL16F28, SEL18200), but maybe I should add an FE or Zeiss lens to ensure a crisper shot?

  3. Perhaps, as always, it's just lighting?

  4. Are you thinking, "Dude..Learn how to use your camera...I would've never shot that scene with those settings."?

Finally, thanks for the awesome subreddit...This is amazing. If you want to check out my other shots, take a look at my Flickr (most are shot with the a6000) - I've been a hobbyist for over a decade:

 

I think what you should do is use DXO Photolab 2 for noise reduction (in prime mode 55% then export it as DNG to lightroom... in light room  adjus the proper white balance ( try to find a 15% Gray on the photo and bring the corrector tool to it ...do some further adjustment on the blacks, whites, shadows and highlights, further on  the presence adjust the clarity and vibrance ..just a littlebit ... set sharpening to 39 and adjust masking to taste. set noise reduction to 25 and select the needed lens corrections ... that shound do it for the noise redcution and a solid and crisp image.

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On 1/20/2019 at 12:02 AM, lamontcranston said:

Try using AUTO ISO and increase your speed to at least 1/125 for your handheld shots and see it that doesn't show improvement.

Increasing the shutter speed would increase ISO-noise, not decrease it.

Anyway, stop trying to help this guy, it's a fake question just so this scammer can put some links to his spyware or whatnot. See the links he inserted into the post where he quoted my reply.

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On 1/12/2019 at 2:44 AM, tinplater said:

Coming from film days when ASA 400 was "high speed" I look at anything above ISO 1200 as amazing and you are probably just expecting too much from your older model A6000, slow lens, and ISO 3200.  With my A6500 and A7III I can shoot with acceptable results at ISO 6400.  These new cameras can literally see in the dark.

Here is an owl I shot at 3200 using a6500

Welcome, dear visitor! As registered member you'd see an image here…

Simply register for free here – We are always happy to welcome new members!

Tinplater, as you say, noise is very subjective. Personally I hate noise and hardly ever shoot over iso1600 for that very reason. Your owl is beautiful, I like the bokeh, but it  lacks sharpness and for me there is too much noise. 

If at all possible I shoot from a tripod. Please find a link to a Flickr photo

This was shot with a FE70-300 on an a7r3, from a hide out. Iso800 and noise reduced in post (LR)

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