Sony A350 - brilliant for film grain effect

Discussion in 'Sony' started by David Kilpatrick, Jun 13, 2008.

  1. I use the A350 for very high res stock shots, and contrary to whatever
    any reports based on JPEG processing in-camera may say, it's a useful
    tool in this context. Relative to a 6 megapixel DSLR (I don't use one
    any more except in the studio for magazine product shots) it is almost
    exactly the same as the difference between using 35mm and using 6 x 4.5,
    as long as the lens is up to it. That does mean taking care with lenses
    and the Sony kit lens most often sold with the A350 is not adequate.

    I don't shoot JPEG and generally use Lightroom or ACR for raw
    conversion, despite some failings in both (colour quality and NR effects).

    Generally, I don't use high ISOs except in extreme circumstances where a
    Nikon D3 would be more useful, but following a lot of negativity based
    almost entirely on noise/ISO with the A350, I messed around a bit tonight.

    Result - I've found a new tool for large prints! At 3200, with NR
    disabled, using ACR for conversion with just some colour NR (no
    luminance) and a bit of sharpening to keep the 'grain' crisp, the result
    is just like a classic Kodak VR1000 neg.

    I used the Minolta 100mm f2.8 soft focus on maximum Soft setting (3) for
    this shot:

    Have a look at it full size (original). The noise is very even, without
    any of the individual bright speckles which come from some makes with
    better overall noise performance. It looks almost like film grain, and
    works better than noise-addition filters. I'm sure NIK software have
    something which will do the same, but it's quite fun to get it straight
    from the camera.

    I've written a new review of the A350 which deals with the problems
    conventional reviews have in placing the camera. It has many faults, the
    design could have been better, but the price-point is often ignored in
    final conclusions. Also, it simply suits a different kind of
    photographer (it suits me quite well).

    David Kilpatrick, Jun 13, 2008
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  2. David Kilpatrick

    Alan Browne Guest

    Oh David! What have you DONE! People will refer to this as the
    "standard result" for the A350!!!
    I would have liked to see that with more colors and perhaps a portrait.
    (Gorgeous lass in fine lingerie is acceptable).

    Alan Browne, Jun 13, 2008
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  3. David Kilpatrick

    Alan Browne Guest

    Very good review and worth reading. It proves two things that I already

    -the -350 is a better camera than most appreciate
    -the -350 is not for me!

    Alan Browne, Jun 13, 2008
  4. My first thought as well.....
    It's amusing to see how film grain has gone out of fashion for effects.
    Perhaps David's shot will restore interest? I do agree with you about
    subject choice.

    David J Taylor, Jun 13, 2008
  5. David Kilpatrick

    Focus Guest

    This seems to be the perfect DSLR for David Hamilton!

    Congratulations on the first good review of the A350.
    I think it's the best written I have seen so far and clearly states for
    which people this camera is intended.
    If all reviewers wrote so well, there'd be a lot less questions in forums
    and newsgroups about which camera to buy!

    Now a question:
    Which lens, that's reasonable in price (say under $500.-) do you feel would
    be noticeable better then the kitlens?
    Focus, Jun 13, 2008
  6. Under $500 is a difficult call - I have owned and used a range of
    alternatives. The Sigma 18-125mm isn't really much better (you would not
    like the distortion as you often shoot buildings and street scenes); the
    Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4 is a possible option, the close focus is great fun,
    but actually it's not that much better than the 18-70mm Sony for regular
    subjects. The 18-200mm Sony/Tamron is not all that good; the 18-250mm is
    far better, and in fact, we use the 18-250mm as a 'kit lens' - it was in
    use alongside the 70-300mm SSM last weekend, and on many subjects when
    used around f8 in the 100-150mm range it looks sharper, not less so -
    very good resolution. But $500 may not be possible.

    Personally, I use the CZ 16-80mm and that remains my unshiftable choice
    - it is so much better than any other lens in its class, though it has
    predictable and correctable CA especially at 16mm. I also have the
    16-105mm Sony, it's nearly as good but has a slightly softer look.

    I do not know how the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 works (they have been unable
    to supply a loan lens in Alpha mount) but I would avoid the Sigma
    18-50mm f2.8 as the focus tends to be all over the place.

    If you asked which one, single lens I would want to have it would be the
    Sony 18-250mm. My daughter shares that view, she uses Canon
    (18-55+75-300 IS) but borrowed a Sony kit for a recent road trip, with
    the 18-250mm - she is now having withdrawal problems and doesn't like
    the Canon kit any more, wants an 18-250mm, and of course you can't get
    it with stabilisation and the Canon has to use IS lenses.

    Take a look at:

    That's my edit for stock sale of the snaps she and her boyfriend took
    using Sony A100 and A200 plus the 18-250 and an 11-18mm (easy to spot -
    the extreme wide angle New York pix etc!). The sheer range of subjects,
    scales and distances tackled by the 18-250mm is great.

    We just swapped this lens (Tamron version) for a Sony version which is
    better - it focuses faster and quieter, and seems slightly better
    centered with less aberration at the tele end, probably 'clean' half a
    stop wider open.

    David Kilpatrick, Jun 13, 2008
  7. David Kilpatrick

    Focus Guest

    Thanks a lot for that David.
    I think I'll go for the Tamron 17-50 2.8 I've read some good reviews about
    The bigger zooms are more heavy and I'd prefer a separate lens for tele.
    In Sigma I don't have so much trust ;-)
    Focus, Jun 13, 2008
  8. It's bit limiting and much bigger than the 180-250mm:

    Maximum Magnification Ratio 1:4.5 (at f=50mm MFD 0.27m)
    Filter Diameter 67mm
    Overall Length 81.7mm
    Maximum Diameter 74mm
    Weight 434 grams *

    that's for the 17-50mm - it can only manage less than quarter life size
    close ups, like an old 50mm standard lens

    Max Magnification Ratio 1:3.5 (at f=250mm, MFD 0.45m)
    FIlter Diameter 62mm
    Overall Length 84.3mm
    Maximum Diameter 74.4mm
    Weight 430g

    that's for the 18-250 - just under 1/3rd life size, and from a greater
    working distance. And it is 4 grams lighter :)

    David Kilpatrick, Jun 13, 2008
  9. David Kilpatrick

    Focus Guest

    Sounds tempting ;-)
    But with the range of 18-50, what sharpness can you expect compared to the
    18-70 or the 16-80 CZ?
    Focus, Jun 13, 2008
  10. Within the range 18-50, the 18-250 Sony/Tamron is much sharper than the
    18-70mm, and can actually beat the CZ at 45-55mm - the CZ has a bit of a
    weak spot there, while the 18-250mm is very good.

    I've commented on this before. The main advantage of the CZ is that it
    is about half a stop faster in this range. The 18-250mm is a VERY
    surprising lens, especially for anyon who has owned the 28-300mm XR or
    the 18-200mm model. They fixed a lot of problems and created a lens
    which should not really be possible.

    David Kilpatrick, Jun 13, 2008
  11. Something often ignored is that there's nice noise and nasty
    noise. Much higher levels of nice noise are tolerable than of nasty
    noise. This appears to be nice noise. Another often ignored point is
    that the signal processing capabilities of the human eye (and ear too)
    can extract significant detail from below noise threshold levels,
    especially if it's nice noise. Just as in audio, those who filter out
    or avoid noise in images as an inherent evil will often in doing that
    remove some of the detail that would be perceptible with less
    stringent noise filtering.

    In other words, not only is noise not always bad, and sometimes an
    aesthetically useful effect, allowing some noise through also in some
    cases will allow more high detail of the image through. So for
    definitions of of image quality which includes fine detail, removing
    noise can reduce image quality.
    Chris Malcolm, Jun 14, 2008
  12. Chris Malcolm wrote:
    Yes, indeed. Another example of where noise can be helpful is in hiding
    the effects of quantisation. I like to think of that as noise which is
    decorrleated from the signal being much more tolerable. Not quite the
    same, I appreciate.

    David J Taylor, Jun 14, 2008
  13. Hm. The Sony Alpha 350 with the Sony version of the 18-250 zoom looks
    like an interesting complementary upgrade for a Sony R1 enthusiast who
    has the Sony R1 wide-angle extension.

    (google google)

    Wow, someone is offering the pair as a package deal in the UK! What
    was it Oscar Wilde said about temptation? :)
    Chris Malcolm, Jun 17, 2008
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