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Sony A7 ii photos not sharp as expected (compared to, for example, Sony A3000)


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Hello, I know that this may not be the first time the issue is being mentioned, but, still, it was not definitely clarified.

I have the A7 ii for about 1 year; made number of landscape images, including variety of distances to the "objects" at nature. Using wide different settings, aperture 3.5 - 7.1; shutter speed 1/100+; ISO 100 - 800; many, many possible combinations. Using 28 - 70mm kit lens in Auto focus (different settings) and Manual focus modes. Using Peaking and Magnify with Manual focus.

For more years I had and still have A3000 with it's kit lens. With exactly the same settings mentioned above when the A7 ii is being used, seems that the A3000 creates better photos, sharpness related. 

Again, talking about the kit lenses only (I got another lens with A7 ii, when I bought it, now I am just trying to simplify this, I am not including that other lens to this; also I have and use more different Manual vintage lenses with adapters for A3000).

I did not expect miracles from the full frame, I expected at least some improvement, anyway, I manage to create hundreds of photos with both cameras during previous weekend and must say, there are no improvements, even, seems that  A3000 is making very, very good, sharp photos, sometimes even with better sharpness than A7 ii with it's kit lens.

Difference in MPixels is not huge, there are differences in sensor ISO sensitivity, which cannot be crucial in this case. For similar scenes I am using similar or same Aperture, Shutter speed and ISO for both cameras.

Must say, even when using Manual focus with magnifying (first and second magnifying included), getting the best possible sharpness at the screen / viewfinder; the photos are still not as expected, cannot say those are blurred, but definitely not better than at A3000.

Also, worth saying, both cameras have JPEG and RAW capabilities, of course, here I am talking about JPEGs. Specifications are saying that A7 ii has better processor.

The A3000 is having better inside conversion from RAW to JPEG? So the JPEG being created (inside camera itself) is more sharp?

Someone may say - simply use the RAW, yes, but the question is - why the 3-4 times more expensive bundle - camera + kit lens; does not have at least equal sharpness as the cheaper one?

 

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5 hours ago, Aldowski said:

I have the A7 ii for about 1 year; made number of landscape images, including variety of distances to the "objects" at nature. Using wide different settings, aperture 3.5 - 7.1; shutter speed 1/100+; ISO 100 - 800; many, many possible combinations. Using 28 - 70mm kit lens in Auto focus (different settings) and Manual focus modes. Using Peaking and Magnify with Manual focus.

For more years I had and still have A3000 with it's kit lens. With exactly the same settings mentioned above when the A7 ii is being used, seems that the A3000 creates better photos, sharpness related. 

Again, talking about the kit lenses only (I got another lens with A7 ii, when I bought it, now I am just trying to simplify this, I am not including that other lens to this; also I have and use more different Manual vintage lenses with adapters for A3000).

Might it be that the difference (or lack of difference in sharpness) you say you noticed, could be related to the lenses you have been using? A full frame camera with a high resolution is particularly dependent on the quality of the lens being used.
If I haven’t misunderstood, you are comparing the images that you get from both cameras, using their respective kit lenses.

I have just googled a bit and found some good reviews of the E 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. One says that it delivers excellent sharpness at the centre of images, and good sharpness at the edges, particularly from a focal-length of 35mm and upwards and from f/5.6 up to f/11.
On the other hand, except for the sharpness measurements at DxO Marks, all the reviews I have read about the Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 are not very favourable.

Perhaps you ought to try your Sony a7ii using a better regarded lens.
Or maybe, this has nothing to do with what you are saying. Anyway, sharpness is crucial and important, but not absolutely all there is to it.

5 hours ago, Aldowski said:

The A3000 is having better inside conversion from RAW to JPEG? So the JPEG being created (inside camera itself) is more sharp?

Someone may say - simply use the RAW, yes, but the question is - why the 3-4 times more expensive bundle - camera + kit lens; does not have at least equal sharpness as the cheaper one?

On the other hand, if you might be getting better/sharper images with the A7ii if shooting raw and developing off camera, than the ones you are getting with the A3000, then, that would be a different reason to explain what you say you noticed. From the last two paragraphs you wrote, I might infer you are saying this. If that were the case, I’d say as you say someone may say 🙂 : “Simply use the Raw” 

Anyway, I don’t really have the right answer, and I’m just trying to make a guess.

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Thanks for reply.

Point is, as mentioned already, related to bundles, the Sony A7 ii should be improvement in most fields, including sharpness.

As it's sensor is bigger and has better sensitivity, that may be the main reason why the auto Handheld Twilight mode is making 4 sequential photos rather than 6 being created by the same feature at the A3000.

I checked DRO and AutoHDR modes as well, must say those modes are same on both cameras.

At the other side, resolution of display and EVF is much, much better at the A7 ii. Also it has more possible photo corrections for post-processing in it's software (I did not use those options).

Still, checking (JPEG) images (A7 ii), directly from camera, not being processed further, there are artifacts, not noise, not blur, not foggy, at those places which must have best sharpness as I used focus magnifying on both cameras during weekend.

Probably, I'll try to use the A3000 18 - 55 kit lens on A7 ii (with APS-C cropping mode) for testing. But, have to say, if that will work good, that would definitely change my opinion about 28 - 70.

 

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1 hour ago, Aldowski said:

Probably, I'll try to use the A3000 18 - 55 kit lens on A7 ii (with APS-C cropping mode) for testing.

I think that would give you even a worst result. The cropped area of the sensor (to APS-C size) of the a7ii, will result on an image of about 10 Mega Pixels (against the MPs of the A3000).

Edited by Alejandro
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When shooting in broad daylight at ISO 100, there won't be a discernible difference between APS-C and FF-sensors (except some extra headroom in FF when lifting shadows in post). The only discernible difference is in the lens used and the megapixels. It may well be that a good copy of the 18-55 gives better results than a bad copy of the 28-70.

Try shooting at ISO 3200+, that's where FF starts to shine.

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@Alejandro; even changing focal length at lens may be used instead of setting APS-C cropping at Sony A7 ii (to avoid vignetting); I'll try multiple possibilities.

@Pieter; understand your point, but that should be done in low light conditions and it's probably some way to find the excuse for not so good camera - lens pair. There should not be so bad copy of lens being bundled with this camera. I used many old, classic lenses with adapters on A3000, including Canon, Olympus, Tokina, Pentacon, Nikon and - yes, there were sometimes those not so good results (manual focusing - of course, all of those are with adapters), most of the time results are really good, but this one (28-70) is being produced by Sony, for Sony. No adapter. Not vintage.

 

 

 

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The flaw here is in your presumption that a FF camera with kit lens should produce better (sharper) images than an APS-C camera with kit lens. This is not the case by default. FF has some distinct benefits over APS-C, but sharper images with kit lenses in good lighting conditions is not among them.

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@Pieter, thanks for reply, yes, that may be related to logic that investment in camera and lens should result in better image quality. I have to admit that my expectations related to A7 ii were high. I completely agree when you mentioned FF benefits, only have to add, I am considering the image quality single most important benefit. 

Today, late afternoon and evening I made some photos with A7 ii and 28 - 70, some of them in low light, in forest and city. I did not use any filter today (GND or CPL), no tripod, Soon, I'll try kit lens from A3000, 18 - 55, at Sony A7 ii.  I would not be surprised if results will be great.

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Your complaint seems to be a general impression and not the product of careful comparison. I’d suggest setting up a tripod in a controlled setting and taking photos with each lens on each body with identical settings, manually focusing on the same point. Of course, you’ll be limited to APS-C mode and you can only use settings where the lenses overlap.

If you shoot jpeg when you do this, the camera’s corrections will be included in your comparisons. If you want to compare the uncorrected optics of each lens you can turn off corrections or shoot RAW. Compare the four combinations of lens and body.

I guess you could do a similar between the A3000 and its kit lens to the A7ii with its kit lens in full frame mode. In that case, for each pair of photos the focal length on the A7ii lens should be set to 1.5x the focal length used on the A3000 lens to keep the same  field of view. I suspect you won’t see a huge difference in optical sharpness between the two, except near the extremes of their zoom ranges and corners. The A7ii will obviously have more pixels.

 

Edited by Nextguitar
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'm no expert, but is there an element of thruth in this: when talking about sharpness in photos, how much can we detect if we use only a display and not a high quality paper print, where we can print each dot? When using a normal display with ie. 1920x1080 pixels, we convert a higher number of pixels down to something that can be showen on a display, and what does that conversion make of compromises? If we zoom-in in order to evaluate sharpness, then we get closer to real or better judgement, but that is not how we look at a picture.

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Hello Friends,

May I offer a few comments?

"Point is, as mentioned already, related to bundles, the Sony A7 ii should be improvement in most fields, including sharpness."

I see this as the central criticism and it is valid. The tests you performed are pretty good, I would offer using the exact same lens and crop factor mode in the A7 for a comparison would be better (similar to suggestions above).  Bottom line, that kit lens has never been very good, but the goal of a kit lens is to get someone shooting without obliging them to purchase a $1,000 lens on top of $1,000 body. We do not have to buy the kit lens with the body, we can buy anything. 

I bought my A7ii in late 2013 with the kit lens, but...in (2013), there was very little alternative in the Sony FE ecosystem. Since the A7ii had IBIS, I figured I would start using my old manual glass and see what I thought. I was not satisfied with the kit lens or the 24-240 in terms of sharpness or FStop, but they were relatively inexpensive and light.  I was delighted with the results I got from my early 80s vintage manual Canon 50mm1.4.  Beautiful and sharp.  I also bought the Zeiss 33mm2.8 pancake.  Horrible CA.  I sold all three over time and have moved to much better glass.

No matter how good the camera is, a bad lens will produce bad results.

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Since the first photograph was taken, most shutterbugs think that the camera determines the quality of the pictures.  The camera is just a light tight box to hold the film or sensor.  It's the lens that forms the image. 

Eons ago, I would go out and take pictures with my brother-in-law.  He had a very expensive Nikon but could only afford "Soligor" lenses.  I had a Minolta SRT with Rokkor lenses.  He could not figure out why my photos were so much better than his.

FYI, I'm not trashing Soligor lenses.  They made some very good ones -- that's what the "Soligor" means.  Even Nikon and Minolta made some so-so lenses!

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On 9/20/2021 at 7:15 AM, Aldowski said:

Also, worth saying, both cameras have JPEG and RAW capabilities, of course, here I am talking about JPEGs. Specifications are saying that A7 ii has better processor. The A3000 is having better inside conversion from RAW to JPEG? So the JPEG being created (inside camera itself) is more sharp?

Aldowski- Have you verified the JPEG quality setting is the same in both cameras? I believe the default is "Fine" rather than "Extra Fine," so if you have previously set the A3000 to Extra Fine but left the A7ii at the default Fine then you will presumably see a difference in the JPEGs.

 

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I must be one of the very few owners of both a 3000 and a 7ii! Aside from the deliberate cheapness of the 3000 I understand that the noise-reduction, etc. in the software is taken from the A99ii.  The IQ is noticeably better than my Nex 6 and A35. When I got the A7ii I was disappointed with the results with the kit lens. But I usually use Minolta lenses (why I bought the A7 in the first place) and when I got a Minolta 24-85 on it I was astounded how much better it was than the Sony kit lens. VERY noticeable improvements in contrast and sharpness.  So  I'd use the same lens to test, but look around for Minolta lenses (you will need an adapter). I paid under $100 for my 24-85.

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7 hours ago, Autocord said:

I usually use Minolta lenses (why I bought the A7 in the first place) and when I got a Minolta 24-85 on it I was astounded how much better it was than the Sony kit lens. VERY noticeable improvements in contrast and sharpness.  So  I'd use the same lens to test, but look around for Minolta lenses (you will need an adapter). I paid under $100 for my 24-85.

When Minolta created the MAXXUM line of cameras, they basically just added auto-focusing to their highly-regarded, manual-focusing lenses.  The optics are usually the same, although newer lenses might have some newer features.  And depending on your camera, you may or may not need an adapter, but you can find some great glass -- even with the manual-focusing lenses -- at bargain prices!  But you already known that Autocord.

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Thanks a lot for comments.

I spent some time previous days having more tests wit the A7 ii and A3000. I tried Sony A3000 kit lens 18-55 on A7 ii; of course, as camera APS-C was on Auto mode, it changed 24M to 10M, when trying Manual settings (disabling Auto mode, forcing 24M) it looks like tunnel, so - unusable. Image sharpness is good for 10MP, but, again, not as good as on the A3000 (there is still 20MP and seems not only because of that pixels difference), somehow that 18-55 is having really great communication with the A3000 body. I tried FE1.8 50mm (the noisy one) which I bought together with the basic bundle, not very impressed with the sharpness as well. It can make good photos with lots of details, but still not better than A3000 with it's 18-55. Photos were created at sunny day, forests, more or less shadows.

During the weekend, I made lots of photos at cities using the A7 ii and 28-70, it was sunny, clear, perfect for doing photography. 

I used manual focus, also different settings of autofocus. Autofocus (sometimes) surprises with good choice of what really needs to be the main object in some complex photos and sharpness results are really good. Of course, not all the time. I used Auto ISO with range 100-400 or just ISO 100. Aperture 3.5 to 7.1. Shutter speed 1/1000 to 1/8000. Manual mode, no priority.

My expectations were high as those two cameras are not at the same class. Yes, it looks that the Sony A7 ii is asking for lens investment, anyway, bundle lens must not be bad, it should be close or the same level of quality as camera, as it significantly changes the value of bundle itself. Even if the kit lens is just for testing, it's creating opinion about the camera capabilities.

Must say that I used few different old lenses with adapters at A3000, Canon FD 50 1.8 (not as good as 1.4, of course), for example, with very good results (when used with F5.6 or F8) having in mind it's made many years ago to be used with completely different camera.

Again, thanks for comments - I'll try to test some old manual primes, zooms and telephoto lenses with A7 ii soon.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I put few photos to forum's gallery, I did use A3000. 3 of those, from forest, sunset, kit lens, postprocessed, from 2020, 1 is at "waving fields", made today, telephoto lens 200mm, postprocessed. First 3 are showing good sharpness, as already mentioned in this discussion thread. Telephoto lens, Pentacon with adapter, may create really good results.

I'll try to create gallery with few examples of A7II at similar environment.

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I have a Sony A7ii and Sony A3500 (similar to A3000) and I also noticed that A3500 sometimes give better resolution than the A7ii. I came to the conclusion that A3500 has 20MP in APSC size, which means that it has higher pixel density compared to A7ii's 24MP in full frame. 

Pixel density for A3000 = 5.49 MP/cm2 compared to A7ii's 2.84 MP/cm2.

To get same pixel density, A7ii has to have 46MP.

Sony Alpha a3000 Sensor Info & Specs (digicamdb.com)

 

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When 28-70 is being used with wide aperture,  on sunny day and the ISO is ~100, shutter speed, more than 1/1000, tripod may not play role, as the sharpness at photos is lost very specific, strange way.  That is the sharpness problem I mentioned.  Using tripod at low(er) light or with telephoto lenses (200+mm, for example) is sometimes (of course not every single  time) a must. On bright, sunny day, it's different.

Density? In this case not related. Bigger sensor may get more light, per pixel. The difference is visible at sensor sensitivity charts. At the other side, if, theoretically there will be  sensor 16inchesX9inches; 6000X4000 pixels, for example, it will be able to collect incredible amount of light and probably, shutter speed may be 1/100000, aperture F100 and ISO 1, But, most important: photo as result will still have the same number of pixels as FF Sony A7II. 

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21 minutes ago, Aldowski said:

At the other side, if, theoretically there will be  sensor 16inchesX9inches; 6000X4000 pixels, for example, it will be able to collect incredible amount of light and probably, shutter speed may be 1/100000, aperture F100 and ISO 1

Ehm no, that is not how photographic exposure works: exposure is not determined by total light per pixel but light per surface area. If you get a correct exposure at ISO100, 1/100 sec f/16, this is unaffected by sensor size or pixel density. Be it a hypothetical 12MP medium format camera or a 50MP smartphone: exposure parameters are the same for correct exposure.

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Of course it is. There are multiple factors affecting the results. Not a single one.

Rain example. Rainy day, Light rain. 1000 vessels with surface of 1squarefoot each and 1000 vessels with surface of 1squareinch each. 10 seconds vessels opened then closed.  Bigger total surface reflects bigger vessels. And number of vessels is the same. Can the total amount of water captured in first and second group of vessels be the same for the same time?

I am emphasizing huge (theoretical) sensor I mentioned, 16inchesX9inches. I mentioned pixels and bigger sensor surface as well. And, where did I mention that the total surface is not important?

Different example. A7S has 12MP. A7 has 24MP. Both FF. Sony had the reason to "use" bigger pixels, to allow sensor to take more light per pixel at A7S.

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29 minutes ago, Aldowski said:

Rain example. Rainy day, Light rain. 1000 vessels with surface of 1squarefoot each and 1000 vessels with surface of 1squareinch each. 10 seconds vessels opened then closed.  Bigger total surface reflects bigger vessels. And number of vessels is the same. Can the total amount of water captured in first and second group of vessels be the same for the same time?

Yet the water level in the vessels of the first and second group would be exactly the same (on average). This is exactly what defines exposure: light (or water) captured per unit area in a given amount of time, resulting in a certain 'fill level' of the vessel.

To continue on your analogy: due to uneven distribution of rainfall (or photons), the benefit of larger vessels is that there will be much less variance in the fill level of each vessel, whereas with small vessels some will be filled much more than others. The smaller vessels will therefore give more 'noise' in the readout and show a poorer representation of actual local rain intensity per unit area. Even more so if you multiply the contents of each vessel (amplify exposure by raising ISO).

Why don't you try it yourself? Grab a 24MP A6#00-camera and put it side by side to a 12MP A7S. The pixels of the A7S will be almost 5 times the surface area of those from the A6#00, but if you dial in the same exposure parameters (ISO, aperture, shutter speed), the resulting image will have the same histogram. Yet the image from the A7S will look much cleaner on high ISO-values.

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Somehow, I did aggressively waste time trying to explain, then getting conclusion points I tried to represent.

Recent hours I spent using the A7II together with Sony FE 1.8 50mm, exclusively in Manual focus mode, As the optical design is being very similar (or more than just a similar) to the Canon FD 50mm 1.8, results are similar as well. Sharpness is really descent. Must say, colors well defined. Tried to compare those with photos when 28-70 was used, in similar conditions, with Manual focus, it's so different. Even when using Manual focus (with magnifier, of course) 28-70 photos are bad. Again, I was trying to make more exposures of the same outdoor scene, trying to find the best focus more times, did not help a lot. Sharpness not existing on the list of the 28-70 kit lens features at all, unfortunately.

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