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Testing

December 10, 2013

Sony A7 VS Sony Nex-6 – Raw Quality High ISO Lab Testing w/ 100% Crops!

100% Crop - Sony A7 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 25600

In this article I will show you how the Sony A7 Vs Sony Nex-6 compare in the Lab using Raw Quality and ISO 100-25600. I used the kit lenses on both cameras for this test and used custom white balance to take the color cast issues out of the equation. I also used f/5.6 on both cameras from the same exact tri-pod location via my quick re-lease plate.

What you see is what you get. No adjustments at all were made to these files in Lightroom 5.3. I exported them with the same exact settings as I always use for raw files. 70% quality and ~1000px in size for the 100% crops.

I’m honestly not that surprised at the results based off the jpegs we saw the other day. Clearly the jpegs are way over processed to death at the super high iso settings, but you could still see the better color and overall detail retention of the Full Frame Sony A7 was better. The Nex-6 is really not that far behind though in performance, but the auto wb and color shift was noticeable.

Now lets check out the raw quality files and see what the deal really is 😉


 sony-a7-front-sensor
 

Sony A7 VS Sony Nex-6 – Raw Quality ISO Test

Here is the full scene @ ISO 25600 first, then the 100% crops below that.

Sony A7 @ ISO 25600 @ f/5.6

Sony A7 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 25600

Sony A7 – ISO Testing – Raw Quality – ISO 25600

Sony Nex-6 @ ISO 25600 @ f/5.6

Sony Nex-6 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 25600

Sony Nex-6 – ISO Testing – Raw Quality – ISO 25600

100% Crops – Raw Quality – Click Photos!

Sony A7 @ w/ ~1000px crop Sony Nex-6 @ w/ ~1000px crop
ISO 100
Sony A7 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 100 Sony Nex-6 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 100
Sony A7 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 100 Sony Nex-6 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 100
ISO 200
Sony A7 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 200 Sony Nex-6 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 200
Sony A7 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 200 Sony Nex-6 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 200
ISO 400
Sony A7 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 400 Sony Nex-6 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 400
Sony A7 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 400 Sony Nex-6 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 400
ISO 800
Sony A7 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 800 Sony Nex-6 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 800
Sony A7 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 800 Sony Nex-6 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 800
ISO 1600
Sony A7 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 1600 Sony Nex-6 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 1600
Sony A7 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 1600 Sony Nex-6 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 1600
ISO 3200
Sony A7 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 3200 Sony Nex-6 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 3200
Sony A7 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 3200 Sony Nex-6 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Sony A7 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 6400 Sony Nex-6 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 6400
Sony A7 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 6400 Sony Nex-6 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 6400
ISO 12800
Sony A7 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 12800 Sony Nex-6 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 12800
Sony A7 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 12800 Sony Nex-6 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 12800
ISO 25600
Sony A7 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 25600 Sony Nex-6 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 25600
Sony A7 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 25600 Sony Nex-6 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 25600
ISO 25600 100% Crop of Coin
Sony A7 - ISO Testing - Raw Qaulity - ISO 25600 Sony Nex-6 - ISO Testing - Raw Quality - ISO 25600


 

Closing Remarks:

As you can see from these wb calibrated raw files that the Sony A7 performs better in the High ISO department. Not only because of the increased resolution, but even on a per pixel bases it does a significantly better job in my opinion. ISO 12800 is really the threshold of usable, and then ISO 25600 really goes to crap fast. Same for the Nex-6 pretty much.

Overall I must say the High ISO performance of both cameras is outstanding in the end, and one of the reasons I got my Nex-6 in the first place 😉

Thanks again for checking in and please feel free to comment, ask questions, or submit requests. More to come asap!

Jay

 

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Thanks,
Jay

 


About the Author

Jay

Hello, I’m the owner and operator of SonyAlphaLab.com. Please check out the About page for a full background on myself and the Lab ;)
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15 Comments


  1. Gerard Kuzawa

    Very interesting results in so much that the results seemingly are not so different. The only quibble I have so far is that it may be all the same scene, but the sensors are not being filled compositionally the same. Would that make a difference in the comparative results as far as not only the iso testing but all-other-factors being generally the same testing?

    What I do have to constantly remind Me of reality is a Mixbook photo-book that My Figlia had composed and printed that is from pictures going back thirty-ish years. Though the photos are detail/quality atrocious for where they were garnered from, it is the images that are the most important, not some almighty photography detail.

    Tests as You are doing are good in keeping things in a healthy perspective. One type of photography needs 50 or 80 or 100 megapixels. Some only need 16 or so.

    Anyway… keep up the good work.


    • Jay

      Hi Gerard and thanks for the comments 😉

      I agree they are not as different as I expected either, but the A7 is still clearly superior in color retention and overall detail. That being said, the Nex-6 performs phenomenal in contrast. The Nex-7 would be pretty bad beyond ISO 3200 I would think.

      I hear ya about the composition not being exactly the same, but it’s not really possible without zooming one lens in, or moving the tri-pod. Even still, the perspective would be slightly different from the sensor size anyway. I did originally have the Nex-6 @ 20mm to try and make it more the same, but decided to go with the 18mm instead. Point taken though and I will try that with my next test!

      Best,
      Jay


      • Jay,

        First, thanks for the comparison shots.

        I think you are right about the NEX7. It has been my primary camera for about 6 months now after moving up from the 5N. The 5N, had noticeably cleaner images at higher ISO and was pretty useable up to about 6400. The 7 can produce good useable images at 3200 if you are careful with composition, but really breaks up over 3200.

        That said, the primary reasons I went with the 7 even this far into its life cycle was the extra detail and pop from the hi-resolution sensor. I do most of my shooting in good available light with the Zeiss 24. There is a considerable difference between the images I was getting from the 5N and what I’m getting now.

        I also really like the magnesium build quality, and the tri-navi and didn’t want to wait for the rumored NEX 7 successor which never came.

        I’m looking forward to upgrading a little further into the A7 system’s development, specificaly Lenses. Can’t wait for the detail in the files and the crazy low-light performance!


  2. diz

    Hey Jay,
    Been lurking for a bit. Always appreciate your reviews. This study supports my decision to stay with my NEX-6, and alleviates my GAS issues!

    -diz


  3. john

    thanks for the nice comparison Jay – very helpful – yes there is visible difference but not nearly as much as I expected. So the NEX6 sensor is still a really nice sensor – just pair with nice glass – and advantage is that the glass is much smaller and lighter


    • Angelus

      Well i see allot of visible difference, the color shifting on the Nex-6 looks horrible compared to the A7 if u aks me. And i’m a Nex-6 user, yes the aps-c haves his advantage over the Full-frame in sizes.
      My point is that i probably wont buy a A7 because it’s not in my budget yet, but the differences is there and i’m not going to denied it. Where the A7 is still usable at 6400 the NEX aint and with the Full-frame where u already get better low-light results with a big aperture is something that’s not possible with the nex-6, or u need too higher your iso even more, but we all see that’s not an option 🙂

      But don’t get me wrong, the Nex-6 is a great camera, which will be my buddy for a long time , 1 of the reasons is like u said, lens size which is a big plus, other reason is budget 🙁

      Great tests, still love the lab 🙂


    • Jay

      The Nex-6 has the smaller size and weight advantage for sure, but you can’t compete with that full frame depth of field advantage. The camera itself is so much nicer, although a lot more money for sure..

      Jay


  4. Un Lo

    can’t wait to see your shots with the Minolta 50mm Rokkor. 🙂 thanks for the in-depth lab coverage as always Jay


  5. Bill Burton

    It’s been a long day. I could be totally wrong but using the worst lenses available will invalidate sensor tests. I’m no guru but this seems to be basic.

    It explains why the results are near identical when there should be a very noticeable spread. And both should show better at ISO 100 too.

    Ideal for sensor results would be the same sweet lens on both.

    Thoughts?

    Thank you,

    Bill

    PS I’m cross-posting as the mirror test would have the same flaw.


    • Jay

      Hi Bill Burton, and that is an excellent point. What I try to do on the Lab is real world scenario tests for the average photographer enthusiast as I am one myself. Kit vs kit was the goal of the test (Sony A7 w/kit vs Nex-6 w/ kit) I also wanted to drive home the point about how the depth of field is different at the same equivalent focal lengths.

      My next set of Lab test will be using the Metabones III electronic lens adapter on both cameras w/ some Canon EF L lenses for comparison. Those images are going to be much sharper and have way better detail, but both cameras will have the same advantage. I can adjust the zoom on my 24-105mm lens to make the composition the same, and f/4 should provide a good enough depth of field. I also have primes I could use. In the end the Nex-6 sensor is still going to be awesome in the real world, the A7 sensor will be noticeable better and has the resolution advantage. It’s not really going to be that drastic of a difference though in the end Bill. Sensor technology did not advance that much just yet.

      All this being said, I use DXOMark.com for sensor score information and usually include some screen caps with links in my review like the one below. Note how much better the A7 sensor actually is in their lab!

      a7 vs nex-6 sensor

      I also recommend checking out dpreview.com for their awesome image comparison tool.

      I have no way to compete with the amazing work these folks do and don’t try and compete with these guys or duplicate their tests, as it’s a waste of time in my opinion when. The real world angle and trying to teach is much more my goal here on SonyAlphaLab.com.

      Thanks again Bill for the comments and feedback. I really appreciate it and your points are well taken 😉

      Jay


  6. Ray Harris

    Interesting article, thanks.

    As a Nex6 owner I found myself wondering why on earth anyone would make such an apparently unfair comparison between a little APS-C £500 odd camera and a new FF monster (up to £2000 inc a decent lens) – and then conclude amazingly that the FF monster is better.

    50% of a great picture is the photographer, 40% is lens quality, and only 10% is the camera, ok I made that up, but it must be partly true. I will agree that as long as you don’t shoot at more than 3200 ISO and blow up your prints to more than say 20 by 30ins at ISO 100-200, and you don’t need lightning fast AF for sports etc, you will be happy with the Nex6. Perhaps the fact anyone bothered to write such a comparison is a tribute to how good the Nex 6 is.

    The A7R may outperform the D800 on paper, but real world results I have seen from the A7 so far made me glad I didn’t spend £2000 on one, and that I did spend £500 odd on a Nex6. (I’m not knocking the A7 – horses for courses.I guess).

    What is remarkable is how good the Nex 6 performs with really good glass. I have some Contax T* and Canon legacy glass and the results are very very good. I do not miss having an A7!

    All I need to do now is to become a really good photographer, so then people will think I have a very expensive camera 🙂

    Cheers

    Ray


    • Jay

      Hi Ray and thanks for the comments 😉

      It’s not the camera is the oldest saying in the book, but in reality the base hardware does make noticeable difference. Post processing also makes a huge difference to the final product, and can even mean more than the camera these days in a lot of cases. Especially with HDR Photography and layer blending techniques. Quality optics and fast accurate focus are always going to cost money. I think high speed pdaf DSLR mirror cameras are going to be very expensive and rarer by the week. The DSLR Mirror and PDAF focus system is faster and more accurate than the hybrid on sensor pdaf solution these days. The hybrid af is good enough for 95% of photography though, so I think it will win in the end knowing it’s not quite as good in the af department. The LA-EA4 lens adapter which adds the translucent mirror and advanced pdaf system to the A7 is available for a reason.

      I remember getting my first canon L lens back in the day. It was then I realized the lens means more than the camera! It was night and day in color, contrast, and sharpness. Changing to the full frame was not as drastic as the quality lens difference, but the depth of field added a 3d look to the images. Also dynamic range and a little detail do to resolution. It’s hard to explain with words, but Michele and I both saw it in our portraits immediately. The larger format adds a slightly different perspective. The lenses also work like they were designed. F/2.8 is so narrow on a full frame with the 70-200mm lens.

      The lab testing is more to show how the format effects the image quality and yes, how good the Nex-6 sensor really is!

      Bottom line, if you know how to take good pictures, the Nex-6 is more than good enough! The A7 is a upgrade with better build quality and a different format sensor offering more depth of field control. Great photography can be had with any camera, but if your going to pixel peep, or print large as you said, the focus needs to be accurate and quality optics insure detail and “look”.

      Catch up with you later and thanks again for sharing your thoughts,
      Jay



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