Remove the Star Eater issue on Sony A7/A7S/R mk I/II, and A9 cameras
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Dear Mr. Kazuo Hirai, president and chief executive officer of Sony,
Dear Mr. Shigeki Ishizuka, executive vice president of Sony, officer in charge of imaging products and solutions business, president of Sony Digital Imaging group.
We, as present or future users of Sony A7 I/II, A7S I/II, A7R I/II and A9 mirrorless ILCE, kindly request Sony to make a firmware update for all these cameras that allows to switch on/off the “star eater” (noise reduction algorithm), whatever the exposure duration, whether it is in Bulb mode or not.
This noise reduction algorithm, also called spatial filtering or “star eater” appeared in the early versions of these cameras for exposures shot in Bulb mode, from 30 seconds and above, and impacts the raw files. The spatial filtering is designed to reduce noise in photos, particularly hot pixels. Unfortunately, the filtering algorithm Sony is using easily mistakes sharp pinpoint stars for noise, deleting them from the image, greatly reducing their brightness and altering their colour, hence its “star eater” nickname.
The result is a photo with less stars and the appearance of diminished resolution as illustrated in the header showing 3.2s and 4.0s exposure photos.
Many nightscapes photographers and amateur astronomers have warned Sony since the first release of these cameras. The situation became even worst when Sony issued a firmware update mid 2016 that extended the spatial filtering for any exposures above 3.2 seconds on all modes. A recent update in may 2017 did not solve the issue either, though the effect of the filtering is a bit less intrusive.
As this is only a software issue, we therefore kindly request Sony to update their firmware:
- Add in the menu an option to switch on/off all the destructive spatial filtering, whatever the mode, whatever the exposure duration.
- Make these firmwares updates available for all versions of the A7 I and II, A7S I and II, A7R I and II, A9 ILCEs and to the A6000, A6300, A6500 that also suffer the issue, i.e. not only to the most recent ones.
In the case such update is not possible, a technical explanation through an official and detailed communiqué will be greatly appreciated.
Sony Pledge of Quality states "Sony employees will always respect our customers' viewpoints in striving to deliver product quality and customer service that exceed their expectations." We are therefore confident that great care will be taken by Sony’s digital and imaging development team to satisfy this reasonable and kind request.
On behalf of all present and future users of Sony cameras, kind regards,
- Laurent Laveder, nightscape photographer
- Thierry Legault, nightscape and astronomy photographer
- Ian Norman, nightscape and astronomy photographer, creator and editor of Lonely Speck
- Damian Peach, planetary and astronomy photographer
- Aaron D. Priest, nightscape timelapser, panographer, and instructor
- Babak A. Tafreshi, The World at Night (TWAN) founder and leader, freelance science journalist and astronomy communicator, photographer for National Geographic and Sky&Telescope
- Frédéric Michaud, amateur astronomer from Société Astronomique du Havre
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