Comparing Sony a7s vs Canon 6d Shutter Lag for Light Painting

Jul 14, 2015

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

Comparing Sony a7s vs Canon 6d Shutter Lag for Light Painting

Jul 14, 2015

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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Eric Paré is famous for his light painting photos (here and here), most notably his process is very accurate and almost repeatable. So when he put up a post comparing Canon’s EOS 6D and Sony ‘s a7S I thought the results were quite interesting and worth sharing.

Eric uses a process where he shoots in the dark for 1 second and ‘light paints’ during that second. This process is so fine tuned that it serves as quite a good basis for comparing the camera in a real world scenario.

Obviously both cameras produce a very good image but they are not identical and the differences are quite interesting, especially on shutter lag. I was expecting the Sony to win hands down, but the Canon took an obvious lead there.

Comparing noise was pretty obvious. The Sony won, which was not big surprise (Sony on the left, click for full image).

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The bigger surprise came when Eric compared the photos. Sony was lagging…

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To understand this, let’s look at the test settings:

Every setting was set to manual on both cameras (iso, mode, wb) and I was using 2 manual prime lenses: Zeiss 18mm and Voigtlander 20mm.

Here are the initial observations:

  • Colors were extremely different on some pictures (at same white balance temperature). But this could be a lens issue
  • Once on “silent shooting mode”, you can not shoot in Bulb mode anymore. It limits exposure time to 30 seconds
  • Battery life is obviously ridiculous low compared to the Canon DSLR (nothing new here)
  • I still need to test the video mode. This is where I get the nastiest noise on my 6d and 5d3.
  • Both cameras are delivering extremely good results. The only problem I have with the Sony, is the random shutter delay.

Focusing on the last item led Eric and I to some research on shutter lag. I expected the Sony to be faster, as it does not have a mirror to worry about, but looking at the left side of the photos above shows that the Sony was missing a bit of exposure every single time.

It was surprising but looking at the reviews for both the Canon and the Sony on imaging-resource revealed a different story. The a7s lags about 0.1-0.2 seconds on manual focus where the 6D only lags 0.074 of a second.  If all you have is a second, then 0.2 is a lot of time – fifth actually.

The good news is that you can overcome this if you prefocus the Sony (which you can using a Yongnuo remote), but it does add an extra step to the process and you have to remember to pre-focus before every single image.  (I do wonder why shooting the A7S in manual focus is not enough)…

 

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Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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10 responses to “Comparing Sony a7s vs Canon 6d Shutter Lag for Light Painting”

  1. Eric Paré Avatar
    Eric Paré

    :D

  2. Paul Menard Avatar
    Paul Menard

    did he have electronic first curtain on or off?

    1. Eric Pare Avatar
      Eric Pare

      I tried both. The only clear way of getting ultra precise response was by half pressing the shutter for EVERY shot.

      1. ɯɐן ǝɔuɐɹɹǝʇ Avatar
        ɯɐן ǝɔuɐɹɹǝʇ

        Eric did you update the firmware to the latest? There was a significant speed improvement on shutter release on the most recent updates to them all. I also agree with the difference in colour. The Sony series of cameras have a very unusual gamma and colour that sometimes is tricky to calibrate against.

        1. Eric Pare Avatar
          Eric Pare

          that was the thing I was about to do right before Udi pointed me to that trick with the half-press. So no. But on the firmware page, nothing was about the shutter. It was more about the startup time of the camera. I’ll do more test eventually, and hopefully with other mirrorless cameras.

          1. There_Is_No_Spoon Avatar
            There_Is_No_Spoon

            Shutter lag is the one super annoying issue that I have with the A7ii. I can’t f-ing stand it. Despite the numbers looking insignificant (to unaware users milliseconds seems silly) on paper, in real life that’s a huge difference and user experience. I shoot with A99 and A77ii also and the A7ii feels like a turtle compared to them, especially the A77ii which as virtually no perceptible shutter lag to me. This is regardless of AF of Manual shooting on any of my glass.

  3. Taz Ma Avatar
    Taz Ma

    Interesting comparison

  4. JR Avatar
    JR

    Why can’t Sony make the A7 series as fast and responsive as their A-Mount counterparts? Shutter, AF, FPS & lag etc. Bring out the A99II already. Mirrorless line makes good backup or secondary cameras.

    1. GunnarK Avatar
      GunnarK

      As I have written above, a separate AF system operating independent of the image sensor will mean faster operation, particularly when increasing FPS. Also, larger sensor areas and more pixels will always take longer time to read out.

      Smaller sensors will make it possible to increase FPS. Sony RX100 IV can do 16 FPS, faster than any “fat camera”. The smallest sensors have the fastest AF, as Nikon Series 1. They are faster than Micro FourThirds, which are faster than APS-C, and FF mirrorless cameras are the slowest. We may expect that all of these will be faster, but also that these fundamental relations will remain.

  5. GunnarK Avatar
    GunnarK

    I assume there is an option in the menu to chose between different shutter priorities:
    1) Release
    2) AF
    3) Balanced
    There should be less shutter lag when Release priority is chosen, while in AF mode. When in manual focusing mode this SHOULD not matter, but there might be technical reasons for it. SLT and DSLR cameras have e separate AF system, which is “decoupled” from the image sensor. When using on sensor CDAF or PDAF, the image sensor has some more work to do. Perhaps it isn’t possible to completely “decouple” it from some extra pre-occupation even in manual focusing mode.

    I have no A7 camera, but my A77 II is, what I can see, instant with Shutter Release Priority chosen. With either mechanical and particularly with electronic first curtain chosen, A77 II has less shutter lag than any OVF/DSLR I have used.