Sanity Check

I just discovered that my last few posts I accidentally saved as drafts instead of publishing. And admittedly I dropped the ball by not posting yesterday. Game on...

After spending time reading various articles about how cameras and lenses perform, I have been trying to do little tests to see what the real world differences are. When returning from a trip some my favorite images I have brought back were night shots, often with the milky way in them. So theory and objective scientific testing aside I wanted to know how much of a difference the sensor size really makes. Currently I have in my possession a Sony A7 and a Sony a6000.  The main reason I purchased the A7 was the full frame sensor allowed for wider shots with the available glass, and the a6000 with zoom was half the price of a full frame telephoto. Since most of my tele shots are just for fun I am not too concerned with obtaining the highest IQ, from what I have seen it is more than good enough. 

My night shots on the other hand have at times left me disappointed in regards to the image quality. My last camera, a Nikon D7000, was noisy and the zoom lens I used was soft enough to visibly affect the prints I made from them. I tried all the tricks I could, and that confetti noise, and some of the aberrations were still a nuisance even after processing. So with the A7 and a6000 I was curious how much of a difference it really made, so I came up with a star simulator. Taking both of the cameras with the same lens on an old enlarger stand I took an image of a black board with sea salt on it at night, only lit by window light. It has been overcast and cold, and I wanted to keep the variables to a minimum. These are the results:

The left is the a6000, the right is the A7 at 1:1 mag

There is a difference, the sharpness on the a6000 is noticeably affected by the noise, and there are more blue noise flecks in the dark areas. I tried to keep the processing, and exposure identical between the two images. I did have to bump up the exposure on the A7 photo a little to match exposures, for whatever reason it was a touch darker. In a real world setting this is something I could see having a noticeable affect, unlike what I saw with my lenses. Between the wider field of view, and the noise I feel the A7 is worth the little bit extra it costs and weighs. If I am not planning any night shots, and do not plan on shooting any ultra-wide angle shots the a6000 would be all I would want. 

The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.
— Nikola Tesla