November 15, 2011

Sony Alpha 77 (SLT) vs Canon 5D Mark II (SLR) vs Sony Alpha 580 (SLR) – Raw High ISO Performance Comparison!!

Sony A77 - ISO 400

In this High ISO Performance Comparison I will show you the Sony Alpha 77 (SLT) vs Canon 5D Mark II (SLR) vs Sony Alpha 580 (SLR) using the same lighting conditions, AUTO White Balance, and Maxing out the ISO.

These are all Raw files imported and converted to jpegs using Adobe Lightroom 3.5.

I applied no noise correction on any of these images and all the other settings were left at default. Some might say this is not fair because the Sony software does a better job than lightroom with the raw conversion, or the Canon software can do a better job with the Canon raws etc… That is entirely possible, but I use Lightroom and recommend it to everybody I know that takes pictures, so I think it’s a a pretty fair raw converting program as it supports all 3 cameras and does a good job all around. I find both the Canon and Sony software awfully clunky and slow on my Mac. Who wants to deal with that?

I also used the Sony 16-50mm f/2.8 Lens @ 50mm on both Sony cameras and I used the Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS on the 5D mark II @ 50mm.

Check out the Sony Alpha 77 First:

Be sure to Click the photos for a larger crisp version!!

Sony A77 - ISO 400

Sony A77 – ISO 400

Sony A77 - ISO 400 - Cropped

Sony A77 – ISO 400 – Cropped

Sony A77 - ISO 800

Sony A77 – ISO 800

Sony A77 - ISO 800

Sony A77 – ISO 800

Sony A77 - ISO 1600

Sony A77 – ISO 1600

Sony A77 - ISO 1600

Sony A77 – ISO 1600

Sony A77 - ISO 3200

Sony A77 – ISO 3200

Sony A77 - ISO 3200

Sony A77 – ISO 3200

Sony A77 - ISO 6400

Sony A77 – ISO 6400

Sony A77 - ISO 6400

Sony A77 – ISO 6400

Sony A77 - ISO 12800

Sony A77 – ISO 12800

Sony A77 - ISO 12800

Sony A77 – ISO 12800

Sony A77 - ISO 16000

Sony A77 – ISO 16000

Sony A77 - ISO 16000

Sony A77 – ISO 16000

Sony A77 - ISO 16000 - Lazy Dog

Sony A77 – ISO 16000 – Lazy Dog

Sony A77 - ISO 16000

Sony A77 – ISO 16000

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About the Author

Hello, I'm the owner and operator of Please check out the About page for a full background on myself and the Lab ;) Google+ | Twitter | RSS-feed | Email Updates!!


  1. Frank

    Hey Jay,
    Thank you so much for doing this comparison.
    I guess the Sony A77 is the first camera to fail because it has to many megapixels.
    The Canon is a great camera and excellent customer service something that at Sony if close to not existing firmware updates are so rear that user think is some typo error :)
    About the A580 great camera but not good enough the images tend to be a little soft. and hopes for a firmware update are Zero.
    for now I will Stick to my Sony A200 which never got a firmware update :) thank you sony and my new Canon T3i that should arrive today!!! :)

    Thank you so much my Friend for this great Reviews and the tutorials at this site.

    Have a great Day


    • Hey Frank,

      No problem at all and Congrats on your new purchase!! That is an excellent camera and your sure to love it :) Please keep in touch and don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions!!


  2. Jack

    Thanks for the review. It was obvious before reading that the FF Canon would win above ISO 1600.

    If you haven’t tried the A580 before making the plunge to the t3i, you may be missing out. Not that it matters if you don’t go over ISO 1600. I think the A580 is one of the best overall bodies for its price range. I own it, and yes, I have gotten keepers at ISO 6400 printed to 11 X 14.

    Canon makes great gear, but they have not innovated much in recent years. Try the new SLT’s or the Fuji mirrorless bodies. You might understand what I mean after you look through the EVF/hybrid viewfinder. Maybe they are leaving well enough alone? Anyhow, congrats on your new purchase.

    • Hey Jack,

      First off, thanks for taking the time to comment!! Your right It was very obvious, but I was trying to be optimistic 😉


  3. Dave

    Hi, I’ve read the review u posted and albeit thorough, I can’t help wondering why the A77 has to be compared against an FF camera that costs… more than double the price of the A77? the FF camera would obviously trump the 24mp apsc sensor that A77 sports…

    Wouldn’t it be more fair for the A77 if it’s compared to other brands within its own class? (i.e. for canon, i believe it’s the 7D if not the 60D).


    • Hey Dave,

      Great question and thanks for your comments! The Canon 5d Mark II pretty much set the standard in low noise a few years ago and I personally own the camera so it was easy for me to do the comparison. It would definitely be more fair to put it head to head with something more in it’s price range, but I don’t have anything else at the moment to use unfortunately. The Canon technology is 3 years old however, so…. that does count for something and is interesting to see.

      This test really shows how excellent the Sony a77 actually is considering the pixel density on an APS-C sized sensor. As long as you don’t need ISO 6400 and up the Sony is pretty solid all around. I personally never use above ISO 3200 on my 5D mark II. The few times I have used it at weddings and stuff, I just couldn’t deal with the noise. I’d rather use faster glass like a f/1.8 at least in those conditions so I can keep the ISO down to 3200.


  4. Yu

    The laziness of your dog is highly commendable!

  5. Eric Calabros

    I’m not a Sony user and own none of their cams. Your real world test showed that A77 is not as bad as DPR users say everyday, under every comparison post. as a Nikon user I hope to see this sony sensor in D300s replacement body

  6. Jason

    Just came across your site. I’m new to Sony from Canon where I used a 5D MkII for a few years with nice L glass etc but I thought the smaller cameras had reached a point where I could ditch the big heavy camera and go light.

    So I sold everything and tried 4/3 first and a few others before settling on the 5N with the external EVF and a bunch of Contax G lenses and a few others for now. Very happy with the Contax G – so super sharp.

    Anyhow back on topic – love the site but would like to see the comparisons directly rather than 3 pages of all ISO for each camera it would be great to see each ISO together so we can compare. Bit frustrating the way it is now to flip back and forward. Not to hammer your bandwidth but it would be awesome to download a RAW file of some of the files too eg 1600 ISO across all three cameras. BTW ISO 3200 is missing for two of the cameras?

    Amazing to see the old girl still holds her own against the new cameras but as another poster points out the 5D is double to price and therefore should do better as does the D3s.

    Thanks again for your work with the site I’ll be visiting alot I think :) Roll on the NEX-7!

    • Jason,

      Thanks for the comments and kind words!! Sounds like your headed down the same road as me, but I’m fortunate enough to still have all my L Glass and the 5D Mark II 😉

      Good suggestion you got there with the ISO comparisons and I’ll do that when I get a chance, and will definitely do that on any new tests!

  7. Many thanks for the test. Yes Canon is better in extreme twilight. (0,1 % of my shoots)

    However the many other points (viewfinder, weight, speed, AF videoquality, gps, price! etc.) outweight for my opinion the higher noise by far.

    I moved from Canon (except for the little S100) to Sony and I like the Innovations and the longterm quality of Sony.

    • Hello Holger,

      Thanks a lot for taking the time to comment and share your thoughts! I must agree totally for the innovation side as Sony is clearly the best bang for the buck!! Pro Equipment side, Canon and Nikon still have an edge in a few areas, but not by much these days. Especially with the New A57 that just came out. It’s the best Sony camera I’ve used to date and the AF is excellent!!!

      Thanks again,

  8. I think for the money I spend Sony A580 is the best

  9. Luis


    I’m still split up between getting an A57 vs the A77. Aside from weather sealing, faster shooting, better auto focus in low light, GPS… what would sway you one way or the other? I’ve seen lots of forum posts on why the A57 really does take better shots due to the 16MP sensor, while others swear that the A77 doesn’t suffer at high ISO and low light because of the higher density sensor.

    I want a camera to capture candid family pictures, my children’s school and theater events, my children while at fast play. I would say that there will be many indoor pictures with CFL lights and a few with dim light. I won’t be printing really large pictures, maybe <.5% will be almost letter sized(8×10), but most will be 4×6, 5×7 and 6×8. Will anything of the described types of shooting/printing justify an A77? I was really concerned that the A77 did capture more noise than the A57. Oh, and I will most likely capture RAW+JPEG, but will sporadically process the RAW captures(only when capturing a very special occasion).

    Best Regards,

    • Luis,

      Thanks for the question and giving all the info needed for your type of photography! It makes it easier to answer 😉

      In all honesty Luis, you really can’t go wrong with either if you use the right lenses for the given occasion. For the A77 I would suggest getting some fast prime lenses for the low light stuff as the ISO performance is a little weak due to the density and actual pixel size. The A57 believe it or not is only slightly better by the numbers, but performs noticeable better in the real world high ISO situations. This is where the fast glass comes in.

      As long as you have f/1.8 or f/2.8 glass for the low light situations, you will have plenty of light for either camera, but slightly more so the A57.

      The A77 offers much more resolution, so cropping becomes an option for effective zoom in psot processing. It’s helpful for portrait work in particular and sports!!

      After all this, the fact that you are not printing large says you don’t really need mega-pixel? Well, the A77 still has better focus abilities which may be important to you.

      Personally I would go with the A57, or save and get the A99. Full frame makes much more of a difference in image quality!!

      I hope this helps,

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