Sony DSLR-A550 Review

 
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Sony A550 High ISO Noise Reduction

The Sony A550 offers only two high ISO noise reduction settings: Normal and High with Normal being the default. The Sony A550 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 A550 high ISO NR setting at High for this reason.


How does the Sony A550 compare to competing models? See the crops below.

High ISO Comparison with Canon T2i,
Nikon D90 and Pentax K-7
(In-camera JPEGs, all default NR)
Daylight-balanced illumination
Sony A550
Canon T2i
Nikon D90
Pentax K-7
I
S
O

8
0
0
Sony A550
Canon T2i
Nikon D90
Pentax K-7
I
S
O

1
6
0
0
Sony A550
Canon T2i
Nikon D90
Pentax K-7
I
S
O

3
2
0
0
Sony A550
Canon T2i
Nikon D90
Pentax K-7
I
S
O

6
4
0
0
Sony A550
Canon T2i
Nikon D90
Pentax K-7
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

Here, the Sony A550's default noise reduction is producing fairly clean looking images up to ISO 3,200, however detail in the red-leaf fabric is already obliterated at ISO 800. Overall, the Nikon D90 comes out on top, but the Canon T2i is a close second. Considering the Canon is 18-megapixels vs 12.3 for the Nikon, the Rebel T2i does amazingly well. The Pentax K-7 produces the noisiest images of the group, but its default noise reduction is also the weakest. Visit our High ISO RAW crop page to see how RAW file output from the sensors compare.

 

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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