Jul 9 2011

Sony a900/Lightroom Shadow Detail Test

Dave Anderson

Back in May of this year I ran an experiment with the Sony a900 and Lightroom, looking at shadow details to see what sort of results I would get at different ISOs. There is a lot of discussion around what is the “best” ISO with these cameras, and since it seems to depend on how the photographer exposes and what RAW conversion software is used I decided to perform some tests starting with the test of shadow noise handling described in this article.

Not long after buying this camera I found some information from Iliah Borg indicating that ISO 320 offered the greatest dynamic range. Although this is well above base ISO Iliah had stated that ISO 320 was required “to unstop the shadows”. I shot thousands of pictures at ISO 320 with good results but finally decided to test for myself a bit more in-depth, as I had heard photographers whose work I respect and admire suggesting ISO 160 as a cleaner setting to use.

I shot the following set of pictures in my garage, careful to avoid blocking up shadows. The blown-out side window is not relevant for this test, later I will do some testing around midtones and highlights.

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