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A7R ii Silent Shooting

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Has anyone done any serious testing of image quality in Silent Shooting mode?

 

I'm going to do some testing, but curious if anyone else has done the same.  I know the help guide states that it will go to 12bit in Silent mode, but curious to see the real world ramifications of this, because silent shooting could be extremely useful in some scenarios (for me specifically, theatrical production photography - actors aren't crazy about shutter snaps while performing)

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I was going to post a topic covering this since I like silent shutter so much, here's some info:

 

Negatives:

-RAWs reduced to 12 bit (reduces dynamic range, though not noticeable in the majority of shots)

-Dark banding across the image under artificial light at certain shutter speeds (which are unpredictable, can avoid completely changing shutter speed)

-Expanded ISO modes not available

-No flash triggering

 

Positives:

+Silent

+Reduces shot-taking lag to virtually zero

+Less vibration = potentially sharper shots

+Nice little haptic feedback remains when taking a shot (on A7Rii)

+Presumably uses marginally less battery

+Presumably extends body lifetime

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Has anyone done any serious testing of image quality in Silent Shooting mode?

 

I'm going to do some testing, but curious if anyone else has done the same.  I know the help guide states that it will go to 12bit in Silent mode, but curious to see the real world ramifications of this, because silent shooting could be extremely useful in some scenarios (for me specifically, theatrical production photography - actors aren't crazy about shutter snaps while performing)

Make sure you have the focus assist light off too - Benedict Cumberbatch objected to people's autofocus lights in his run in Hamlet...

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I was going to post a topic covering this since I like silent shutter so much, here's some info:
 
Negatives:
-RAWs reduced to 12 bit (reduces dynamic range, though not noticeable in the majority of shots)
-Dark banding across the image under artificial light at certain shutter speeds (which are unpredictable, can avoid completely changing shutter speed)
-Expanded ISO modes not available
-No flash triggering
 
Positives:
+Silent
+Reduces shot-taking lag to virtually zero
+Less vibration = potentially sharper shots
+Nice little haptic feedback remains when taking a shot (on A7Rii)
+Presumably uses marginally less battery
+Presumably extends body lifetime

 

 

Great info, LeButler!  It might be most information yet existing on the internet. I look forward to your topic discussing even more on this.

 

One question for the A7r ii:  Can you use silent shutter in either continuous mode?  Also, can you use it with continuous bracketing?

 

FYI, I have noticed these aspects (some are +, some -) with A7s's silent shutter that you might want to consider incorporating into the topic you plan to post:

 

+ Many amateur models do better with the silent shutter, for they find it less intimidating or embarrassing.  

-  Other models, presumably all professional models, prefer the feedback of the shutter sound.

+ In my shooting, battery usage with the 55mm Zony (no OSS) is about 1/7 compared to the mechanical shutter!

+ To me, it is nearly certain that silent shutter helps the life of the shutter mechanism.

 

What I would most like to learn is this:  Can I predict which situations the geometric distortions caused by silent shutter (and Jim Kasson's threads demonstrate that the A7r ii has more of this than the A7s) will be objectionable?

 

For example, photographing a stage production takes planning of vantage point, focal length, subject actions to photograph, camera, as well as silent shutter or not.  How large can a face be in my image, say while talking but otherwise holding still, and still look perfectly fine with silent shutter on?  How large can someone be in my image while briskly walking across the stage, perhaps with a 1/250 shutter speed, and still look fine despite the geometric distortion caused by the silent shutter?  Am I better off with a different vantage point in which the shutter noise is not objectionable?

 

The funny thing is, the silent shutter on the A7s (say at 1/250 to stop motion) makes a pedestrian walking to the left look fatter, and walking to the right skinnier.  (This is wow clearest if the pedestrian fills the frame and is walking quickly.)  If you want to reverse that, you would turn the camera upside down.  Remember, the geometric distortion caused by the silent shutter is unrelated to shutter speed.

 

 

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JerryUtah,

I agree with you on the amateur vs professional model observation. It also makes shooting street photography more appealing to me too, though the A7Rii is nowhere near as discreet as my little NEX 5N.
 
Continuous drive not being available was something I had noted but forgot to include. On the plus side Silent enables up to 2.4fps (instead of 2.0fps) when mashing the shutter button manually.
 
Every mode of bracketing remains available: WB & DRO, as well as both Single and Continuous 3-, 5-, and 9-shot with 0.3, 0.5, 0.7, 1, 2 & 3 EV brackets.
 
Accurate distortion results would need something like a controlled speed dolly or vehicle setup. But numbers won't really help us judge the effects, the choice will have to come from experience. I was surprised that A7Rii was found to be worse than the A7S on this, since Cinema 5D’s video rolling shutter tests showed the A7Rii to have 50% less skew than the A7S during fullframe video.
 
 
More info about the “phase” banding
I haven’t managed to make it occur under CFL, LED, nor (surprisingly) Halogen lighting yet but have only tried one of each.
It can definitely occur under incandescent/tungsten, sodium, and fluorescents. The number of bands changes with shutter speed, and they can be eliminated using other shutter speeds. Perhaps someone will get creative and use a band as a built-in graduated filter!

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I'm taking ultra macros with a microscope objective on a bellows on my A7R2 and silent mode is essential to remove shutter vibration.  Unfortunately I need a flash to trigger at the same time and Sony's silent mode won't do that so I use a longish exposure and then manually flash by pushing the pilot light on the flash.  I would like to buy an automated stackshot to take the 50 shots that I need for a focus stack but don't how to trigger the flash automatically on silent shutter.  Any ideas?

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While testing my A7R2's Silent Shooting mode some of the images have a wide band of pixels that look skewed left to right. Other images have subjects compressed or slightly expanded. The images in question were taken while walking toward persons coming toward the camera. Sony FE 24-70mm f4.0 @ 50mm. ISO Auto, Manual Mode, 1/400 sec., f8.0. I was attempting to be stealthy while shooting and avoiding the shutter clunking; a bit of an anachronism since the A7's don't have mechanical mirrors or shutters. If this has subject has been discussed and/or clarified elsewhere, please direct me. Thanks.

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Yes it is discussed elsewhere but I'm too lazy to do the search 

myself ... so can't offer you any quick links.   

   

The essence of the matter is that motion does sometimes cause 

that effect on electronic first curtain and on fully electronic [silent] 

shutter images. It's just not perfect. It's not a global shutter. You 

really should google "Global Shutter" and that will most likely also

explain the shortcomings of non-global electronic shutters. 

   

BTW you said: "a bit of an anachronism since the A7's don't

have mechanical mirrors or shutters" Not true. All alpha ILCs 

have mechanical shutters. When you choose the E-1st Curtain 

or the Silent Shutter you disengage [respectively] one or both of 

the mechanical shutter blade sets ... called "curtains" as a legacy

term, used to actually be cloth a generation ago. Anywho, if there 

were no mechanical shutter blades, then you wouldn't have menu  

choices that provide for bypassing them !  

  

Basically, your electronic shutter extracts the sensor image in a 

"bucket brigade" which risks the effect you're seeing. In a tripod 

shot of a totally motionless scene this will have no unfortunate 

effect. Add motion and what you saw is what you get. It's worse 

as the shutter speed rises. Slow speeds are fairly safe but not

always, but slow speeds are often the correct exposure for many  

subjects and situations that are averse to shutter noise. Thaz why 

the feature has value. A Global Shutter does not involve a bucket 

brigade reading of the sensor. It reads the whole thing at once so 

it demands a huge increase in efficiency ... not currently available 

but soon to be The Next Big Thing :-) 

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I'm taking ultra macros with a microscope objective on a bellows on my A7R2 and silent mode is essential to remove shutter vibration.  Unfortunately I need a flash to trigger at the same time and Sony's silent mode won't do that so I use a longish exposure and then manually flash by pushing the pilot light on the flash.  I would like to buy an automated stackshot to take the 50 shots that I need for a focus stack but don't how to trigger the flash automatically on silent shutter.  Any ideas?

Avoiding silent shutter, what about e-1st curtain ? IIRC that still triggers flash.

Any vibration from the 2nd curtain doesn't matter anyway .... assuming there

is at least a small delay between each stacked exposure. 

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