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Sony A7R III: the Noise Behavior that Has Been Troublesome to Me

Update 28 Dec 2017: I’ve processed the same image with PhaseOne CaptureOne Pro and I have two comments: (1) I like the overall image rendition better, and (2) Even turning of noise reduction C1Pro (it’s on by default) and cranking up sharpening to Amout = 300, the output from C1Pro is still drastically superior on the noise front.. I don’t know where this leaves Lightroom users or Adobe Camera Raw users like me, but there is a world of difference. I’ll have to post a comparison.


I shot the image below as a test of pixel shift, but it turned out to be more useful for showing the noise behavior that has troubled me since the debut of the A7R, with what I term “orange peel” noise.

I don’t run into this issue with the Nikon D810 or Nikon D850 or Fujifilm GFX or other cameras. It has long been an issue during raw conversion for my outdoor images. The smooth surfaces in this image are ideal for demonstrating the issue as I see it, at ISO 100 in direct sunlight with a perfect ETTR exposure.

This page looks at the character of the noise with the Sony A7R III, pointing out what has been the most troublesome aspect of Sony file quality with the A7R, A7R II and now the A7R III, even if sharpening is dialed back to try to avoid it.

Noise in Broad Daylight: the Sony 'Orange Peel' Noise Challenge

Includes images up to full resolution, crops, RawDigger histograms, and two sharpening levels for comparison.

It is my premise that Sony is preprocessing the raw file data more than ought to be done (perhaps for diffraction compensation or acutance enhancement), and that is what results in the noise pattern. In other words raw ≠ raw.

f8 @ 1/1250 sec, ISO 100; 2017-12-06 15:18:11
Sony A7R III + Voigtlander MACRO APO-LANTHAR 65mm F2 Aspherical

[low-res image for bot]
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