Sony R7IV File Size, Processing Power, Storage

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  • Harvey Stearn
    Harvey Stearn
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    Posts: 5
    Sony R7IV File Size, Processing Power, Storage
    on: August 1, 2019 at 11:05 pm

    Jack raises an interesting question, that given a steady march to higher resolution (read more data and larger files), and a parallel objective of higher image quality, at what point do we reach diminishing returns as buyers and users? The diminishing returns probably have less to do with adjusting for increased storage volume, and more to do with whether the cost and effort of achieving “better” images is justified by useable improvement. Companies like Sony can certainly continue to produce technical improvements in sensors and lenses that might continue to motivate us photographers to suffer the brain damage of selling prior models every other year or sooner to buy the latest thing. But, what we gain in useable image size increases may be something that many of us can’t take advantage of except for bragging rights. You almost have to be in the billboard advertising business to justify cameras with 100 and 150 MP sensor outputs.

    Yet, as a longtime landscape photographer, I still tend to feel that 61 MP produced by the Sony A7rM4 camera is not a bridge too far, even though my gallery exhibition days are largely over. In fact, 200 or 300 megabyte files are nothing new to me, as even five years ago, I made many stitched panoramas using a sharp 85mm narrow focus lens to ultimately produce a single image that could have been made by one exposure with a 16mm or a 24mm lens. This has been an effective way to capture more detail as an alternative to more expensive high resolution cameras. But, it’s simpler and quicker to use a higher resolution camera. And so, I was among the very first buyers to order the Sony A7rM4, as I do perceive practical value from this additional resolution which is still very cost-effective.  My objective in capturing landscapes and other content rich subjects is to achieve the greatest sense of reality which corresponds to human vision. Since we see in individual bites of two degrees which our brain stitches together to cover approximately 46 degrees, our reality is based upon substantial resolution. But, there are other aspects of reality besides detail as we well know, which includes color accuracy and contrast control.

    However, if the ultimate objective is duplicating visual reality, then the larger question is where does photography go from here? Do we ultimately wind up making high resolution holistic videos? We won’t know until technology and consumer tastes evolve further. As far as storage space problems go, earlier this year I spent three months reducing my 43,000-image library to 14,000 images and mining older images for un-extracted gold. I found some, and made peace with trashing almost 30,000 failed and duplicate files that I now know were not worth keeping. And, it isn’t to save storage, as that’s cheap as Kevin points out. It’s to save time and effort sorting through my inventory. More about the benefits of this process in another article that I started last month.

    Harvey

    Greg Scott
    Greg Scott
    Participant
    Posts: 16
    Re: Sony R7IV File Size, Processing Power, Storage
    Reply #1 on: August 16, 2019 at 6:42 pm

    I suspect each of has developed preferred methods for conserving disk space. When I travel, I store images on two 2TB SSD’s and sometimes a third copy on my laptop SSD. A few years ago, I took a good many extra images. Switching to a mirrorless format provides a lot of extra information before I take the shot. I should add I almost never use the rear LCD when shooting in daylight. I just can’t see detail clearly like I can from the electronic view finder. So I find that if I take a little extra time in composition, the number of shots I take is usually fairly small. When I am shooting landscapes, I use focus peaking quite often. This only requires sliding the lens setting from autofocus to manual after I have composed. I also use a back button autofocus option so the focus doesn’t change when I take the shot.

    Like Kevin, I use Capture One (aka C1) for all RAW processing. There are two steps I use that help me to eliminate marginal shots. The first is I apply an automatic levels adjustment to all imported images. This helps me to pre-visualize the potential in images. Next I use C1’s focus review option to quickly identify shots out of focus. While this isn’t 100% accurate, 90% of the time I can quickly filter out shots that are out of focus.

    I have ordered the Sony A7R IV chiefly because I am interested in the improvements in continuous autofocus, eye tracking, increase in phase detection points, improved in-body stabalization and a new 5.7 M-dot OLED viewfinder. Over the next 12 months I will be shooting wildlife at least half of the time so the A7R IV and the 200-600mm Sony lens combination will be fairly busy.

    Louis Foubare
    Louis Foubare
    Participant
    Posts: 273
    Re: Sony R7IV File Size, Processing Power, Storage
    Reply #2 on: September 8, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    I am happy to see more pixels on the Sonys, but I think photographers are going to stop seeking more pixels going forward. I own the Fuji GFX 100. To put things in perspective: My Olympus OMD-1E files come in at 14mb. The Fuji files are running 200mb. I use two Promise raid systems (one as backup offsite) to store photographs. Those aren’t cheap. I was coming close to filling mine up, but with the Fuji’s arrival, I got religion. It is easy to go out and shoot 300 images in a day, rate 10 of them 5 star, and forget about the other 290 when you have what seems like infinite disk space. You can’t do that with 200mb files unless you own a hard drive company. I am on a deleting crusade. After I shoot with the Fuji and review the files, I delete immediately. And I have been going back and systematically recovering hard drive space. That will take at least a month of daily deletions.

    As for processing power, I find my basic Mac Pro desktop–the trash can–works fine in terms of moving the sliders in Lightroom or the adjustment layers in Photoshop. I do see signs of bottlenecks elsewhere. With the Fuji files, it takes a good 30 to 45 seconds for the file to open in Photoshop when I select “Edit In” in Lightroom. I have one image that includes 5 Fuji GFX 100 files stitched together. I can’t get it to transfer from Lightroom to Photoshop.

    I use a Canon Prograf 1000 as my printer. When I send files to the printer, things move very slowly in terms of moving the file to the print que.

    I had planned to do this long before the Fuji arrived because some of my Photoshop files use a lot of layers: Today 64GB of RAM arrives. It will replace my 16GB of RAM. We will see if that makes a difference.

    The higher pixel count also has other unexpected ramifications. Last week I posted my first set of GFX 100 issues to my photoblog on Squarespace. I do so as jpgs and in lower quality. Yet, SquareSpace’s system rejected them. Turns out they had to be downsized in terms of the length of the longest side. I also post images to my portfolio on Photoshelter. Those I do as high quality jpegs because I view it as an online backup. I will have to rent more space if I continue that practice, which I will.

    In terms of on-the-road backup. I never found the Cloud to be viable backup solution when faced with hotel WIFI transfer rates. I can’t even get one RAW file to transfer, let along 300. Until 5G is readily available and fully developed in terms of functionality, the largerp Pixel counts will put hotel WIFI further out of reach.

    As for me, I will always be happy to buy better pixels, but in terms of the need, 100 is my upper limit if we are just focused on pixels, and that fact really didn’t drive the Fuji GFX 100 purchase decision. There are people out there a lot smarter than I am when it comes to the science of sensors, but I don’t perceive increasing the number of pixels as the major factor in improving the quality of pixels.

    Jack

    My experience with Fuji 50R files and Phase 100 and 150 files using C1 is terrific with my Mac Pro 2TB SSD master with 64RAM and external TB2 RAID drives. No bottlenecks and even with stitched files it does not bog down like LR.  Give C1 a trial and you might be surprised.

    Lou

    Mike Nelson Pedde
    Mike Nelson Pedde
    Participant
    Posts: 641
    Re: Sony R7IV File Size, Processing Power, Storage
    Reply #3 on: September 8, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    When I am shooting landscapes, I use focus peaking quite often. This only requires sliding the lens setting from autofocus to manual after I have composed.

    Actually, you can set your focus mode to DMF (Direct Manual Focus) and have both autofocus and manual focus/focus peaking w/o having to switch the lens to manual. Simply press the button to focus (I use back button focusing, and reversed the two buttons so that the AEL is for focusing) and it will lock focus for you. I have the C1 button set to zoom, and I can easily reach that with my index finger. Press C1 and move the focus ring on the lens and it will display the focus peaking. It will display focus peaking even if it’s zoomed out, but it’s generally unusable.

    One thing I’ve discovered with the A7RIII that I really like is that focus lock enables IBIS in the viewfinder, even with manual lenses. I have a small motor tremor in my hands, but if I press the AEL button and then the C1 button to zoom in, the image stops bouncing around the screen – again, even with manual lenses.

    Mike.

    _____
    Mike Nelson Pedde
    Victoria, BC
    https://www.wolfnowl.com/

    Kevin Raber
    Kevin Raber
    Keymaster
    Posts: 752
    Re: Sony R7IV File Size, Processing Power, Storage
    Reply #4 on: September 22, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    I spent the day shooting with my a7rIV on Saturday.  Doing a lot of tests. I am really like the file quality and did some tough shots.  One was a high contrast scene with bright skies.  I shot to make sure I had a good histogram.  The file looked kind of blah.  The sky was blown out and the foreground was dark.  After a few adjustments in Capture One, I had a nice image.   More info will follow in an upcoming article on this camera.  I like what i am seeing so far.

    Before . . .

    Before

    After . . .

    After

     

     

    Kevin Raber
    CEO & Publisher of PhotoPXL.com and Rockhopperworkshops.com

    Harvey Stearn
    Harvey Stearn
    Participant
    Posts: 5
    Re: Sony R7IV File Size, Processing Power, Storage
    Reply #5 on: September 22, 2019 at 6:39 pm

    Kevin, I used my new Sony A7rM4 for the first time on Wednesday while I was down in Scottsdale, AZ. Butterfly Wonderland was nearby; and the subject matter was a perfect opportunity to test color reproduction and the reported improved focus tracking as well. What I saw through the viewer blew me away, as the color and detail was outstanding. When I downloaded the files, the unedited images still looked good, but admittedly required basic editing to get to what I feel is top notch reproduction. This experience is a little different from the one you described; and there may be two reasons for this.

    First, I bet you had your camera set on auto-color balance. If so, this would create potential for the sensor to mis-interpret the correct color balance, since it has to take a weighted average of the reflected light from different parts of the image. This is something that is effectively corrected in post-edit, but not without some work. I set my camera to the same color temperature as the incident light based on the reading I got from my color meter, an accessory that I now regularly use. The second factor may be that current editing softwares don’t yet develop the most accurate standard previews for the Sony A7rM4 because they were unprepared for Sony’s surprise announcement and were rushing to get a RAW editor in place. Not so sure about this possibility, but it is logical.

    Regarding the “blown” highlights, it is common, even with the latest cameras, to display a histogram that is somewhat inaccurate. I have noticed a consistent tendency to deliberately err on the underexposure side to avoid over-exposure. For this reason unrecoverable highlights rarely occur. And, yours appear to be just fine and readily fine-tuned in post-edit. In, fact, with 15 stops of dynamic range there is probably a fair amount of leeway for ETTR exposure with this camera, except this can only be reliably determined through actual testing in different light conditions.

    The only negative that I encountered in my first outing with the M4 has to do with more noticeable noise in the darker tones when shooting with an ISO higher than 800. I had to use 1600 to give me a high enough shutter speed to reasonably freeze butterfly motion. Complicating this was the fact that I shot with a Sony 135mm f1.8 GM lens for maximum sharpness, but had to use an f11 opening to get a workable depth of field at the short distances I shot with. In most cases, I could tame the noise in Lightroom, and of course do even better with masking in Photoshop. But, I would say that despite Sony claims, the M4 generates more noise at moderately high ISO’s than does the M3. Of course, I have a lot more shooting and teating to do before I have a right to reach hard and fast conclusions. Attached is one of my butterfly images.

    Harvey

    Attachments:
    Harvey Stearn
    Harvey Stearn
    Participant
    Posts: 5
    Re: Sony R7IV File Size, Processing Power, Storage
    Reply #6 on: September 22, 2019 at 8:47 pm

    Correction to my comments:By auto-color balance I was of course referring to “auto white-balance”. Also, I haven’t yet figured out how to insert a full-sized image into the PhotoPXL texts as Kevin does. But, the reader can click on the partial thumbnail to see a pop-up of the full image.
    HS

    Harvey Stearn
    Harvey Stearn
    Participant
    Posts: 5
    Re: Sony R7IV File Size, Processing Power, Storage
    Reply #7 on: September 22, 2019 at 11:27 pm

    Kevin, For some reason, I keep thinking about your first shooting experience with your A7rM4. At the risk of being a pest, I think that there may be an even more accurate explanation for the unexpected initial drabness of your farm scene images, even allowing for the extremely flat lighting. I wonder if your “Creative” setting was either on standard or neutral. I think that one of those is the default setting for Sony cameras. My setting was on Landscape, as that gives me a little more punch to start with, and I can more easily tone that down if necessary than I can find the right balance starting from what is usually a very drab image. As you know, a number of camera manufacturers offer a balance that they call “neutral” which has little or no adjustment to the RAW image so that some photographers can initiate editing with minimal pre-determination. The “Standard” setting is a little more punchy, but a lot closer to Neutral than to the Landscape setting. I’ve used them all over the years. But, I find the latter choice a more effective starting point. The landscape setting builds in more vibrancy and contrast, though I find that I often add a little more vibrancy in my editing anyway, depending on subject and lighting. I remember now that when I used the neutral setting, I was often shocked by the way the starting image looked. So, I’m curious, what creative setting did you have on your rM4 during that first shoot? By the way, I tend to use the Landscape setting even on some of my wildlife shots because the outdoor environment is often the same.

    OK, I promise to give other subscribers a chance at this one!
    H.

    Kevin Raber
    Kevin Raber
    Keymaster
    Posts: 752
    Re: Sony R7IV File Size, Processing Power, Storage
    Reply #8 on: September 23, 2019 at 12:12 am

    Harvey, On a number of my other shots the images look fine.  The shot I showed here was a shot to see how ell the file could be handled in a very difficult lighting situation.  If I did not make adjustments to the exposure the sky would have blown out and the foreground would have looked fine.  I shot various exposures of this one scene and worked it for a balanced histogram.  This means there was no clipping on either end.  This scene encompassed the whole luminosity range from 0-255 without clipping.  Essentially a peak on the left and right and a valley in between. The purpose was to see if I could hold detail in shadow and highlight without losing anything.  I used Capture One which is tuned for the a7riv.  Phase One works with Sony closely and is one of the first at the time to handle RAW a7riv files.

    Typically a shot like this could be handled by doing an HDR image.  I wanted to see if I could make the image work without HDR using luminosity masking in C1.  It appears darker in the post as I believe I lost a bit of brightness converting from ProPhoto to SRGB.  I’ll go back and check the setting for WB.  Pretty sure everything was set at neutral and standard.

    Other images with light behind me and or without such a wide range of lights and darks are just fine.  I did a number of other images I’ll share on my final report.  I did a portrait type of image in the mill which has no issues. and show good exposure and details.

    I’ll show a more refined image below along with the original histogram. You can see there are no mid-tones when I pull the exposure back to hold the sky.  Once again the challenge was to see if shadow and highlights could be saved without having to do HDR.

    Also, to make up for any issues in color etc. these images will be available as a download in the report.  RAW files too so readers can have their own fun with them.

    The image below I’ll include in my report. Detail etc are fine on this.

    Kevin Raber
    CEO & Publisher of PhotoPXL.com and Rockhopperworkshops.com

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