Sony A77 High ISO Performance

First published on: Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Here’s a quick thought I have on the image noise performance of the Sony A77.

It’s quite poor.

At least when compared to rival cameras such as the Canon 7D, Nikon D7000 and the Canon 5D Mark II.

I’m basing this judgement on DPReview’s studio shot comparison tool which allows us to analyze the image quality from these four cameras side-by-side at ISO 6400.

(Click the image to see it at the original crop size)
Studio shot comparison – Sony A77 vs Canon 7D vs Nikon D7000 vs Canon 5D Mark II

Toggle between JPEG and RAW, and the same conclusion can be arrived at, that the Sony A77 simply isn’t very good at ISO6400. The minute markings and brand of the watch can hardly be discerned in the A77 image.

In another forum discussion on ISO 6400 noise comparisons, the A77 even manages to lose out to the Panasonic G3, and m4/3 camera with a smaller sensor. The A77’s high ISO image quality is also much more inferior to the Pentax K-5 in the RAW comparison.

Studio shot comparison – Sony A77 vs Panasonic G3 vs Pentax K-5 vs Canon 5D Mark II

Personally, ISO 6400 is the minimum ISO level I expect modern DSLR cameras to perform well at. You’d need the camera to be able to grab images with moving subjects (say, indoor sports) in low-light conditions at high ISO values that can clean easily in the post-processing stage.

In this respect, the A77, unfortunately, doesn’t do it for me.

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