Noise, Resolution and Sensitivity

At the lowest sensitivity of ISO 200, the NEX-C3 is capable of resolving up to 26 in our resolution chart test, which is on a par with other sensors of 16 million pixels plus. With ISO 200 being the lowest sensitivity setting, using apertures larger than f/2.8 in bright sunlight may cause overexposure.

A high resolution is still visible at ISO 800, and even at ISO 12,800 the resolution is still high at around 20. Noise is well controlled, which is typical of what we have seen previously from the various incarnations of this sensor. However, noise reduction starts to cause a softening of JPEG images at around ISO 800. Mild colour noise is visible in dark areas at ISO 3200, and is prominent at the highest ISO 12,800. This maximum sensitivity should really be treated as an extended mode.

What is particularly gratifying is that when shooting at ISO 200 and 400, images can be underexposed in-camera to preserve highlight details, and then the dynamic range optimiser set to its highest setting to brighten shadow detail, without introducing image noise. When doing this, colours are accurate and an impressive amount of detail can be recovered.

Using Sony’s Image Data Converter raw conversion software to improve sharpening and reduce noise is a cumbersome affair, and results aren’t much better than produced in-camera. However, this is something we have noted before and I expect that it will be easier to get better results with third-party converters.

Image: An impressive amount of shadow detail can be recovered, even in JPEG images


Resolution, noise & and dynamic range:  These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart, captured using the kit lens set to 50mm (75mm equivalent). We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately. The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution at the specified sensitivity setting.

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