Also in this issue:
* Monster Adapter Update
* Geeking with Gary - Un-Throttling Unlimited Hotspot Data
[Editor's Note: I'm on the road this week - we're selling our lovely home in Southern California and moving to Boston. We're traveling in a motor home, exiting the vehicle only to refuel because so many are not taking the pandemic seriously. We have to get there before our furniture does so no time for sightseeing or doing vacation-y things. So this blog post will be necessarily short.]
The Camera with the Lowest Noise?
I'm actually writing e-books on both the Sony A7S III and the Sony A7C cameras at the same time. And of course, as I always do when I write books about cameras, I wonder about things. "I wonder if a high ISO shot taken with the 24 megapixel A7C has noticeably more noise compared to the 12 megapixel low-noise king, the Sony A7S III?"
So I took a couple of informal test shots at ISO 10,000, and zoomed into the shadow areas where the noise is most likely to show up. The noise looked the same to me. (Click on any image to view larger). (You can also download the original RAW files from here.)
|Original image, with crop area in yellow.|
|A7C at 70% crop|
|A7S III 100% Crop|
(And I used to laugh at people who shot their DSLRs with their lens caps on and analyzed the noise!) At first glance, the noise looked the same to me. Was I mis-reading the results? Was it a poorly conceived experiment? (Should I just leave this kind of stuff to DxOMark?) I emailed my findings to Mark Galer, Sony Artisan of Imagery in Australia to get his take on this.
As part of the discussion, the conversation drifted to Philip Bloom's seminal youtube video on the A7S III. In it he presents evidence that the A7S III has TWO base ISOs, one at the lowest ISO speed you can set for the Gamma curve (Picture Profile) you've selected, and one starting at five stops higher than that. Does that apply to still images too?
To find out, I shot a bunch of stills starting at the A7S III's base ISO of 80. (Click on any image to make it larger.)
Here's a link to the "enhanced" .jpgs so you can examine the difference for yourself.
So then it would seem reasonable that there should be a visible difference between the cameras at ISO 2500 then, right? Here I amplified the test images so the noise would be more readily visible.
|A7S III 100% Crop|
|A7C 70% Crop|
Still too close to call, despite the theoretical advantage of the larger pixel dimensions and Dual ISO. Download the RAW files yourself.
So if the difference in noise levels is that difficult to detect, is the A7S III still worth the additional cost? It would be if you're a professional videographer, since it has significantly more video features and settings that the A7C lacks. So yes, if you need it, it's for you. Something for y'all to discuss on your favorite online discussion forum while I continue auditioning for the Teamsters. :-)
In the Pipeline
The first part of the Olympus E-M1 III by Tony Phillips will be released on November 28th. Order before then to receive a pre-order discount!
Sony A7C ebook should be finished in late December. (It was delayed due to the move.)
Sony A7S III ebook, which has already been started, will be a few months after that. (See above sentence about moving. Your life just gets put on hold.)
Monster Adapter Update
Back in July I told you about a promising new adapter that would allow A-mount lenses to be used on E-mount bodies, providing your old lenses modern features such as Eye AF, including on the 500mm f/8 mirror lens. Those of you who joined my mailing list had access to lots of test video, insights, and news about firmware updates. But the firmware had not been stable or robust enough, and so I decided not to take the project on.
That was then. Since that time, Sony came out with the LA-EA5 and the Monster Adapter firmware has improved substantially. It seems stable. After we unpack, I'll post a few videos comparing the performance with the Sony LA-EA5 (I should have mine by then). Then I will decide whether to take on this project and become a distributor / retrofitter. Stay tuned! And let me know if you want to be added to the private mailing list (email me at Gary at Friedman Archives dot com).
Geeking with Gary - Un-Throttling Unlimited Hotspot Data
I travel a lot, and have been conducting Zoom lectures to photo clubs all over the world via the hotspot from my android smartphone. (I can do this for your photo club too! Contact me for details.) And up until now it's worked great and the performance has been amazingly good.
Perhaps I've been giving one too many zoom lectures, because this week my carrier (T-mobile) started throttling wireless hotspot data down to hundreds of kilobits per second - barely adequate even for email, and certainly not good enough to upload the images used in this blog post. Check out the image below - a speed test done on my phone (left) yields a native download speed of 85 Mbps. My laptop (right), which is tethered to my phone via Wi-Fi, gets a measily 0.14 Mbps. Surely there must be a way around that and get all the bandwidth my phone is able to get!
I found the answer in the form of an old friend - PdaNet+, Android software I used to use to tether my old HTC phone to my laptop back in the days before smartphones had the hotspot feature built in. Since then PdaNet+ has added Wi-Fi tethering, Bluetooth tethering, and the ability to make the data usage appear to be native to the phone and not tethered at all. And because it's abandonware (it hasn't been updated since 2017), when you go to purchase the permanent license they don't charge anything. And as you can see below it improved my wi-fi tethered speed substantially!
|Not the full speed of the phone, but workable.|
Installation files for Android, Windows Desktop, and Mac OSX Desktop (no app for iPhones unless they're jailbroken).
1) Sequential speed tests can vary wildly. It's best to run tests 5 times and take the average.
2) USB tethering is only slightly faster than Wi-Fi. Convenience wins in this case.
3) If you use PdaNet+ on your PC and then connect to a different Wi-Fi network, you may have to re-install PdaNet+ desktop software if you want to use it again. (Damn technology!)
4) If you want to use PdaNet+ on your android phone to share internet to your iPad, you're out of luck.
Until next time,
Yours Truly, Gary Friedman
|Somewhere in Oklahoma|