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Testing

November 17, 2011

Sony Nex-5n vs Sony Alpha 77 – High ISO Comparison

A77 - ISO 16000

Being very curious about how the Nex-7 will rate against the Nex-5n in some High ISO testing, I figured a Head to Head with the Sony a77 vs the nex-5n is as close as I can get. Assuming of course the a77 sensor is for the most part identical to the a77 sensor minus the mirror. The pixel density is what my concern is, as the a77’s performance from the other day vs the Canon 5dmark II was nothing short of poor. I didn’t remember the Nex-5n being anywhere near as noisy as the a77 so I had to see for my self the raw data. What is most surprising to me about the a77’s poor performance, was the color shift in the blacks specifically to a purple tinge.  See for your self below. Notice how the Nex-5n doesn’t seem to suffer the color shift until ISO 25600, and it’s minimal in my opinion although the noise is pretty sever.

Both cameras do a good job at ISO 3200, but the a77 is still noticeable nosier. The Nex-5n image here is a tad soft, but that is my fault not the cameras! The camera was resting on the table and it must have slipped a tiny bit. sorry about that as I didn’t notice till I put everything away.

Be sure to click the images for a nice large crisp version!

Nex-5N – ISO 3200

Sony Alpha 77 – ISO 3200

Nex-5n - ISO 3200

Nex-5n – ISO 3200

A77 - ISO 3200

A77 – ISO 3200

Nex-5n - ISO 3200

Nex-5n – ISO 3200

A77 - ISO 3200

A77 – ISO 3200

Nex-5N – ISO 6400

Sony Alpha 77 – ISO 6400

Nex-5n - ISO 6400

Nex-5n – ISO 6400

A77 - ISO 6400

A77 – ISO 6400

Nex-5n - ISO 6400

Nex-5n – ISO 6400

A77 - ISO 6400

A77 – ISO 6400

Below you can see where the A77 starts to lose the blacks a bit and a purple color shift starts to creep it’s way in. The is probably the highest ISO I would ever use with the a77!

Nex-5N – ISO 12800

Sony Alpha 77 – ISO 12800

Nex-5n - ISO 12800

Nex-5n – ISO 12800

A77 - ISO 12800

A77 – ISO 12800

Nex-5n - ISO 12800

Nex-5n – ISO 12800

A77 - ISO 12800

A77 – ISO 12800

Notice here with both cameras at maximum ISO. Even though the a77 is at 16000 compared to the Nex-5n topping out at 25600, the a77 starts to fall apart big time. The Nex-5n however maintains color pretty well, and although pretty noisy it’s still a usable image in my opinion.

Nex-5N – ISO 25600 (Max)

Sony Alpha 77 – ISO 16000 (Max)

Nex-5n - ISO 25600

Nex-5n – ISO 25600

A77 - ISO 16000

A77 – ISO 16000

Nex-5n - ISO 25600

Nex-5n – ISO 25600

A77 - ISO 16000

A77 – ISO 16000

So what did we learn here? The A77 is really only good at ISO 3200 and below for serious work in my opinion. Definitely not a favorite or recommendation for the “low Noise” camera crowd. The Nex-5n however is another story entirely. It’s High ISO performance is excellent and it makes sense if you think about it as 16mp vs 24mp on the same size sensor chip has to have some kind of negative associated with it or Canon and Nikon would have jumped on board a long time ago.

Now, this confirms much better my concern about how the Nex-7 will perform in comparison to the Nex-5n, minus the mirror influence of course that the a77 has. Seems to me the Nex-7 is probably not going to be the best choice for low light and I’m honestly surprised Sony still went forward with the 24pm in and ASP-C sized sensor chip. Even on a Full Frame sensor that is a ton of pixels!!

I think the best idea for Sony coming from my perspective of course would be to “tweak” the Nex-5n sensor and put that in the Nex-7 body and slap on a Nex-6 tag 😉

Thoughts??

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Thanks,
Jay



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Jay

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10 Comments


  1. mikmok

    I agree that the NEX 5N sets a very high standard for high-ISO with an APS-C sensor. Actually, I think that the Lightroom RAW-conversions are fabulous! But that said, I’m actually positively surprised at how well the A77 fares in comparison. It shows a little (but to my mind negligible) increase in noise at ISO 3200 and 6400, but it also has more shadow detail. I’d say that the A77 files are quite usable at both of these ISO settings. At 12800 and 16000, however, the results are different… But for many it will be a good deal to have a vast increase in resolution at lower ISO values (100-1600) at the expense of usability at ultra-high ISO (12800 and above).


    • Where the 5n really shines is not in ISO performance—it is only slightly better than the Canon 7D.

      Where it shines is in color depth and dynamic range.


      • Jay

        Good call 😉 It’s still good in low light though as far as ISO performance, but AF Is not that good at all.


      • Jake

        agreed , Joseph well said , I have all 3 compared here and after getting my NEX5n , I seldom use my bigger cameras A900 and 5DMK2.

        at base ISO , I think the NEX5n has the edge over the 5Dmk2 and A900 in terms of DR and color deapth, and possibly better read noise in shadow.

        but I dont think its high ISO is as good as DXO says.

        btw, for Sony bodies , I think DXO7 works better , definitely better noise reduction tech than that of Adobe CS5 or LR3.6.

        for Canon and Nikon I prefer Adobe.

        any way, thanks for your hard work , Jay.


      • Jay

        He Jake,

        Thanks for your comments and kind words!! I really must admit that I love the highlight detail on the nex-5n over the 5d mark II. The 3d look that the Full Frame 5d mark II puts out cannot be touched by the Nex-5n though. Images just have a “look” to them that I cannot explain with words. Perhaps your a900 has the same thing? I have not tried another Full Frame Camera yet. The raw files on the 5D mark II are sharper than the as well, but I have not used killer glass yet so that will change I’m sure 🙂 Michele got me this awesome Fotodiox Pro Lens Mount Adapter with Built-in Aperture iris for the Nex E-mount so I can use my Canon EF-lenses. I cannot wait to try the 15mm fisheye, 135mm f/2, and the 70-200mm f/2.8 on the Nex-7!! I should have it by the end of the week hopefully.

        Also, Thanks for the tip about DXO, I will check it out for sure!

        Have a great day,
        Jay


  2. Jay

    Mikmok,

    Thanks for your comments and great points you raise! The a77 does appear to have more detail in the shadows, but the way it exposed the scene slightly different than the Nex-5n. So the slightly brighter exposure is why there is more shadow detail in the a77 image samples.


    • Jake

      well, I personally think you are right on here and I think the A77V also has a bit warmer color AWB than older Sony bodies, I have A850, A900 and a77V and NEX5n, the A77V does not share the same AWB of other sony bodies and it is quite disappointing to me because I loved old Sony AWB(a bit cold colors).


  3. Hi Jay
    Would you say that the a77 steadyshot would have an effect here (i.e. you can use a lower ISO hand held? That seems to be something that may be in the favour of the A77 over the Nex 5 (and 7) for low light hand held work.


    • Jay

      Hi ShamB,

      That feature does help in Low light situations allowing for lower ISO use. Shooting with Fast glass is another great way to get that ISO down. The 24mm f/1.8 Lens or the 50mm f/1.8 Lens would be good E-Mount choices for Low light in particular.


  4. nice test,
    my advice — add A580, A33, A55 to this test…



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