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Making the jump to Full Frame


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I've been acquiring Full Frame lenses for a few years now, and only have two more to satisfy my thirst. But I'm still shooting on an a6500. I saw a YouTube video of the noise comparison between the a6500 and the a7iii, and the Full Frame sensor handled the dynamic range and noise SO MUCH better. I assume autofocus and tracking will be improved over the crop sensor, as well. And now I'm saving up for either an a7iii, a7iii, a7iv or a7rv.

The larger pixels of the a7iii would probably be the best choice without sacrificing too much resolution. I considered the a7siii but I might not have the ability to crop much in post. So looking at the four models listed above, which one would be the best step up for handelling noise and dynamic range in low light settings, or just over all?

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Posted (edited)

All perform pretty much the same when viewed/printed at the same size. The A7iii and A7iv will likely perform slightly better but noone will ever see a significant difference in real life.

The A7Siii does not have any benefit over the others when viewed/printed at the same size.

Edited by Pieter
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Thanks, I appreciate the insight. I saw a video comparing the noise on a Sony a6500 and an a7iii. The a7iii was phenomenal. If the r series does as good in comparison to the a6500 then I may choose either the a7riii or just go with the a7iv.

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On pixel level the a6500 will be pretty similar to the A7Riv, so you'll be disappointed by the ISO performance of the R-series cameras when pixel peeping. However, it has 2.5 times as many pixels so when printed/viewed at the same size, the noise in the picture from the R series camera is averaged over 2.5 times as many pixels, much reducing the 'perceived noise' on image level. This is the reason why all same generation fullframe cameras provide similar 'perceived noise' when viewing an image at a fixed size, whether the camera has 12, 33 or 62 MP: the pixels from the higher MP camera are noisier but the noise is averaged over a larger number of pixels in the eye (actually, brain) of the beholder. Only buy the higher MP camera if you actually need all those pixels (e.g. print larger, crop more).

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Cropping is what I was thinking. Mainly for wildlife or sports. So it's really coming down to the a7iii, a7riii, or a7iv. All those have larger pixels than the Sony a6500 which as I understand, will provide better dynamic range and less noise. The Sony a7riv and a7rv both have smaller pixels than the a6500, although the sensor is backlit. Not sure what difference that makes over the a6500. Anyway, thanks for the input again!

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3 minutes ago, Paradox.db.3 said:

So it's really coming down to the a7iii, a7riii, or a7iv. All those have larger pixels than the Sony a6500 which as I understand, will provide better dynamic range and less noise. The Sony a7riv and a7rv both have smaller pixels than the a6500, although the sensor is backlit. Not sure what difference that makes over the a6500.

You're falling for the pixel level noise fallacy there. Noone who watches a photo ever pixel peeps so if you're concerned about photographic dynamic range, pixel size doesn't matter at all! What really matters is sensor size and total light gathered. Again, for the dynamic range of the final image it really doesn't matter much whether you have an A7Siii (extremely large pixels) or A7Riv (extremely small pixels). What matters is that you have a fullframe sensor rather than an APS-C sensor. For what it's worth, have a look here:

https://www.photonstophotos.net/Charts/PDR.htm

 

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I'll take a look, thank you. I definitely need to learn more. My logic comes from looking at side by side examples, and trying to reason. The a7rv and the a6700 for example, have the same size pixels, so one might reason that the a7rv in crop mode will yield the exact same results as the a6700. And if using the entire a7rv sensor, but framing to achieve the same FOV as the a6700, then I suppose I can see that the larger sensor size will affect how much noise (or lack of) will be visible across the entire frame.

But of course, pixel size must have some impact as well. After all, if the a7siii is marketed for low light, then is it not because of the larger micron size, and not sensor size? Is not the a7siii a better performer in low light than the a7iii? And if sensor size IS the difference, and not pixel size (which again only makes sense if keeping the frame the same size) then when taking panoramic images on the a6700 and stitching three or four images together, I can achieve the same FOV with the same settings and should then have the same outcome as the a7rv. My brain is a squirrel cage as you can see... Lol

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Paradox.db.3 said:

The a7rv and the a6700 for example, have the same size pixels, so one might reason that the a7rv in crop mode will yield the exact same results as the a6700

Correct

1 hour ago, Paradox.db.3 said:

And if using the entire a7rv sensor, but framing to achieve the same FOV as the a6700, then I suppose I can see that the larger sensor size will affect how much noise (or lack of) will be visible across the entire frame.

Only when viewed / printed at the same size will the A7Rv image look cleaner. If the image from the A7Rv is printed to a size 1.5x wider and taller than the a6700 image, both images will look equally noisy when viewed from the same distance.

1 hour ago, Paradox.db.3 said:

But of course, pixel size must have some impact as well. After all, if the a7siii is marketed for low light, then is it not because of the larger micron size, and not sensor size? Is not the a7siii a better performer in low light than the a7iii?

This benefit is largely overrated, especially for stills photography. Yes, the pixels from the A7Siii are a lot cleaner than those from the A7iii, but if you downsample the 24 MP image from the A7iii to 12 MP, you'll find that the noise in both images will be the same. For video, the A7Siii shoots native 4k with full sensor readout. This is an advantage compared to higher MP cameras which have to crop or bin to get 4k footage. This is why the A7Siii is mostly video centric.

1 hour ago, Paradox.db.3 said:

And if sensor size IS the difference, and not pixel size (which again only makes sense if keeping the frame the same size) then when taking panoramic images on the a6700 and stitching three or four images together, I can achieve the same FOV with the same settings and should then have the same outcome as the a7rv.

Correct: if you stitch 3 vertical images from the a6700 together you pretty much mimic an A7Riv sensor, with identical dynamic range.

1 hour ago, Paradox.db.3 said:

My brain is a squirrel cage as you can see... Lol

Hope I freed the squirrel a bit there.

Edited by Pieter
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Yes, that helps a lot, thank you! I feel like I have a relatively good grasp on how the cameras perform. And in the end, the jump to FF is more about how much of a scene I can capture. I'm finding that some shots are a bit tight, and having that extra wiggle room, even if it means cropping a bit in post, is an attractive option. That and a shallower DOF when framing the subject the same on a FF sensor.

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On 5/29/2024 at 12:23 AM, Paradox.db.3 said:

Cropping is what I was thinking. Mainly for wildlife or sports. So it's really coming down to the a7iii, a7riii, or a7iv. All those have larger pixels than the Sony a6500 which as I understand, will provide better dynamic range and less noise. The Sony a7riv and a7rv both have smaller pixels than the a6500, although the sensor is backlit. Not sure what difference that makes over the a6500. Anyway, thanks for the input again!

Sensors aren’t backlit - people are 🙂

A BSI sensor is Back Side Illuminated, which means that it is manufactured in a different way to put all the wiring behind the actual sensing elements https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Back-illuminated_sensor

BSI is a good thing.

There are some serious advantages to having more pixels (like the A7RV). Random noise gets averaged out when you scale your image from 9000 pixels wide down to 1000 or 2000. Don’t get obsessed with bigger pixels - they really don’t make as much difference as you might think.

Also bear in mind that many of the cameras you are talking about are old generations tech - that does make them cheaper, but it also means missing out on advances in auto focus, stabilisation, and speed.

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38 minutes ago, FunWithCameras said:

There are some serious advantages to having more pixels (like the A7RV). Random noise gets averaged out when you scale your image from 9000 pixels wide down to 1000 or 2000. Don’t get obsessed with bigger pixels - they really don’t make as much difference as you might think.

Now you make it sound as if more pixels gives less noise and cleaner images than less pixels, which is also not the case. The amount / size of pixels simply doesn't matter when it comes to photographic dynamic range.

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7 hours ago, FunWithCameras said:

Also bear mind that many of the cameras you are talking about are old generations tech - that does make them cheaper, but it also means missing out on advances in auto focus, stabilisation, and speed.

I'm probably in the minority here, but when it comes to new tech, I'm the guy who waits a few years after everyone else has already jumped on the wagon. I'm not the tech chaser so much. And you know the saying... "date the camera, marry the lenses". I'm confident that an a7riii is still a significant upgrade over my a6500 in almost every way. And if it was good enough when it first came out, then it should still be good enough now. The only factor is that something better came along. And who would compare a good thing then to a better thing now? Oh wait... I got a divorce for that reason... 😂 [I may or may not be joking]

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On 5/31/2024 at 3:13 PM, Pieter said:

Now you make it sound as if more pixels gives less noise and cleaner images than less pixels, which is also not the case. The amount / size of pixels simply doesn't matter when it comes to photographic dynamic range.

 

I didn't say that more pixlels means less noise. What I was talking about was the visibility of the noise when you scale the image down to the size you might post on a website.

A lot (not all) of noise is random, and when you merge pixels together during scaling the randomness (some values high, some values low) averages out, giving a closer approximation to perfect. Scale a 60Mpixel image to 24Mpixel and compare it to a natively 24Mpixel image, and see the result. Of course, your more like to be scaling both to something like 400 x 600 - which is just 1.2Mpixel, and both images will have a lot of averaging going on.

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, FunWithCameras said:

Scale a 60Mpixel image to 24Mpixel and compare it to a natively 24Mpixel image, and see the result.

That's my whole point: the result will be exactly the same. The individual pixels from the 60MP image are a lot noisier than those from the native 24MP image. Downsampling the 60MP image to 24MP indeed averages the noise, but the resulting image will have exactly the same amount of noise per pixel as the native 24MP one. There's no gain here, or as you said it:

On 5/31/2024 at 6:28 AM, FunWithCameras said:

There are some serious advantages to having more pixels (like the A7RV). Random noise gets averaged out

There are advantages to having more pixels, but this is not one of them (nor is it a disadvantage).

Edited by Pieter
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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Pieter said:

That's my whole point: the result will be exactly the same. The individual pixels from the 60MP image are a lot noisier than those from the native 24MP image. Downsampling the 60MP image to 24MP indeed averages the noise, but the resulting image will have exactly the same amount of noise per pixel as the native 24MP one.

...

There are advantages to having more pixels, but this is not one of them (nor is it a disadvantage).

One of the reasons I've considered a larger MP FF camera is so that I can get a wider shot from the larger sensor, but also the ability to crop in post, as is often necessary for fast action sports photography. I really need to know if the higher MP camera is a benefit for this or not, considering all things. The extra resolution is beneficial, but does it result is a noisier looking image? And I don't really understand the computer side of photography much. Downsampling, for example. What is that? Is that just resizing a photo? Thanks!

Edited by Paradox.db.3
Fixed typo
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Paradox.db.3 said:

I really need to know if the higher MP camera is a benefit for this or not, 

It is: higher MP allows you to crop while retaining enough resolution for big prints.

1 hour ago, Paradox.db.3 said:

but does it result is a noisier looking image?

Only if you crop a lot. If you don't crop, the image will look as good as any fullframe camera photo (apart from generational advantages like improving tech and noise suppression techniques).

1 hour ago, Paradox.db.3 said:

Downsampling, for example. What is that? Is that just resizing a photo?

Yes, but it's more specific to the technology applied when resizing. In it's simplest form, you could resize an image to 50% by just throwing away every other line and column of pixels. In this process a lot of information is lost. Downsampling however means combining all data from adjacent pixels to interpolate one larger pixel. This is what @FunWithCameras meant by avaraging out the random nature of noise.

Edited by Pieter
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