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Noise and JPEG processing

High ISO sensitivity JPEGs

Bright, saturated reds

ISO 80 JPEG

ISO 100 JPEG

ISO 200 JPEG

ISO 400 JPEG

ISO 800 JPEG

ISO 1600 JPEG

ISO 1600, no noise reduction

ISO 1600, raw vs. JPEG

ISO 3200, raw vs. JPEG

ISO 12800 JPEG

Color

Creative Styles

Highlight and shadow recovery

The A99 has excellent JPEG processing and noise reduction, at least up through ISO 1600. Photos are extremely clean through ISO 400, and you can start to see some slight edge artifacts appearing at ISO 800. There's a noticeable jump in noise suppression between ISO 1600 and ISO 3200, regardless of how bright the scene is.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
Although Sony treats it as a native ISO sensitivity, ISO 25,600 looks like what other cameras would classify as an expanded range.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
The camera seems to handle saturated reds well, although I couldn't find a test shot situation in perpetually cloudy NYC to produce intense highlight areas.

(1/100 sec, f4.5, ISO 100, multisegment metering, AWB, 24-70mm lens at 70mm)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
At low and medium ISO sensitivities (and with a good lens), the A99 produces well-resolved detail and smooth tonality even into out-of-focus areas.

(1/100 sec, f4.5, ISO 80, spot metering, AWB, 24-70mm lens at 70mm)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
Just an example of the low-ISO sensitivity quality.

(1/60 sec, f4.5, ISO 100, multisegment metering, AWB, 135mm STF lens)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
Like most neutral camera profiles, Sony pulls back the in-camera sharpening as well as the saturation and contrast.

(1/100 sec, f5.6, ISO 200, multisegment metering, Cloudy WB, 135mm STF lens)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
Images still look clean at ISO 400, as you'd expect from a full-frame camera.

(1/100 sec, f5.6, ISO 400, multisegment metering, AWB, 135mm STF lens)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
This shot usually starts to show some softness on the edges, but the A99 acquits itself well.

(1/50 sec, f2.8, ISO 800, spot metering, AWB, 24-70mm lens at 70mm)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
You can see some noise-reduction artifacts in dark areas starting at ISO 1600, but bright areas still look pretty good.

(1/50 sec, f3.2, ISO 1600, spot metering, AWB, 24-70mm lens at 45mm)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
While the color noise at ISO 1600 isn't bad it's a little more prevalent than in images from the D800. It's about the same as the 5D Mark III.

(1/40 sec, f2.8, ISO 1600, spot metering, AWB, 24-70mm lens at 55mm)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
Sony's JPEG processing is very good; I couldn't obtain less noisy results by processing the raw.

(1/40 sec, f2.8, ISO 1600, spot metering, AWB, 24-70mm lens at 50mm)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
At ISO 3200 you can start trading off grain for mushiness by processing the raw files rather than shooting JPEG.

(1/80 sec, f2.8, ISO 3200, spot metering, AWB, 24-70mm lens at 35mm)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
I wouldn't shoot ISO 12,800 for print or full-size display, but it's fine for scaled-down sizes.

(1/50 sec, f8, ISO 12800, spot metering, AWB, 24-70mm lens at 24mm)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
Shooting with the Neutral Creative Style (these shots) yields pretty accurate color; the default is Standard, though.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
The Standard (default) Color Style increases contrast and saturation to a point where hues shift a little, though I didn't see a notable loss of shadow detail.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
The A99 does a very good job of preserving detail in raw files of blown-out highlight areas. Underexposed or deep shadow areas can't seem to be recovered without introducing more color noise than competing cameras, though.

(1/250 sec, f2.8, ISO 200, spot metering, AWB, 24-70mm lens at 70mm)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
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