Sony DSLR-A500 Review

 
Camera Reviews / Sony Cameras / Sony Alpha i Initial Test

Sony A500 High ISO Noise Reduction

The Sony A500 offers only two high ISO noise reduction settings: Normal and High with Normal being the default. The Sony A500 user manual says high ISO noise reduction kicks in at ISO 1,600, but we've included crops starting from the base ISO of 200 since the effects of noise reduction are clearly visible at lower ISOs.

See for yourself how the noise reduction works under daylight-balanced lighting. Click on any of the crops below to see the corresponding full-sized image.

High ISO Noise Reduction Comparison
Daylight-balanced illumination
Normal
High
I
S
O

2
0
0
Normal
High
I
S
O

4
0
0
Normal
High
I
S
O

8
0
0
Normal
High
I
S
O

1
6
0
0
Normal
High
I
S
O

3
2
0
0
Normal
High
I
S
O

6
4
0
0
Normal
High
I
S
O

1
2
8
0

0

The above crops show the effects of the two levels of high ISO noise reduction, under our studio HMI lighting we use to simulate daylight. As mentioned elsewhere in this review, the Normal setting smudges the red leave pattern in our Still Life target setting more than the High setting at ISO 1,600 and above. The High setting does reduce chroma noise compared to the Normal setting though (lower crops), and we confirmed the filenames are correct. You may want to leave the A500 high ISO NR setting at High for this reason.


How does the Sony A500 compare to competing models? See the crops below.

High ISO Comparison with Canon T1i,
Nikon D5000 and Olympus E-620
(In-camera JPEGs, all default NR)
Daylight-balanced illumination
Sony A500
Canon T1i
Nikon D5000
Olympus E-620
I
S
O

8
0
0
Sony A500
Canon T1i
Nikon D5000
Olympus E-620
I
S
O

1
6
0
0
Sony A500
Canon T1i
Nikon D5000
Olympus E-620
I
S
O

3
2
0
0
Sony A500
Canon T1i
Nikon D5000
Olympus E-620
I
S
O

6
4
0
0
N/A
ISO 6400
Not
Supported
N/A
ISO 6400
Not
Supported
N/A
ISO 6400
Not
Supported
Sony A500
Canon T1i
Nikon D5000
Olympus E-620
I
S
O

1
2
8
0
0
N/A
ISO 12800
Not
Supported
N/A
ISO 12800
Not
Supported
N/A
ISO 12800
Not
Supported
N/A
ISO 12800
Not
Supported
N/A
ISO 12800
Not
Supported
N/A
ISO 12800
Not
Supported

The Sony A500 has arguably the cleanest looking images of this group, however as you can see from the crops above, its default noise reduction obliterates fine detail in areas of low contrast, such as the read-leaf fabric at ISOs above 800. The Nikon D5000 is the clear winner in terms of high ISO noise performance here, with perhaps the Sony A550 edging out the Canon T1i, though at the expense of fine detail. All of the APS-C models perform better than the Olympus E-620, a Four Thirds camera, though the Olympus is leaving more detail intact at its default noise reduction setting.  See our High ISO RAW crops page to see how the sensors perform.

 

Sony DSLR-A500

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