Sony mirrorless cameras and issues with banding

One of the beauty’s of the Sony mirrorless system is also one of its downfalls. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a issue from Sony. The issue of banding in the photographs is due to the electronic shutter and certain lights . I’ve seen this is other mirrorless cameras too. There have been a handful of people asking how bad is the banding issue? They’re scared to switch over from their traditional canon or nikon dslr because of it. Note* Even traditional dslr can suffer from refresh rate of lights and sync speeds. Here is one example of that. Both images shot on a Canon 7d at 1/500 ~ f2.8. One image is clearly brighter than the next. Main shadow to the back on one, and the front on the next. This is the cycle and refresh rate of lights. 

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As of 2017, the technology of cameras and electronic shutters have banding issues at high shutter speed is just something we have to deal with across the board. Not just from Sony.

You can still shoot the standard mechanical shutter just like in your dslr. If you switch to mechanical shutter and still see banding, remember to also turn off electronic first curtain. Turning off efc also helps if you have issues with highspeed sync and flash. The banding is only an issue when using the electronic shutter with specific lights… I repeat, specific lights and at specific angles. There are other blogs that delve much deeper into the specifics of why this is happening but I just wanted to share my personal experience.

For me, shooting on Sony a7rii, and Sony a9, I have found that 1/80 shutter is the magic number.

First example was shot on an a7rii at f4 ~1/100. You can see faint banding on her arm and dress. I pulled a crop of that section to see it closer. ACP_0034_(05-09-2017)

Here is a photo at f4 at 1/60 shutter. The banding is pretty noticeable on her arm in the foreground and on the back of the girl to the right (click image to see larger). The second shot from that same angle was shot at f4 but at 1/80. All banding in the shadows is gone and you have to look really close to see any banding still on the musician in the yellow dress.
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Shooting at 1/80 gave me the best results during this show. I self edited (deleted in camera) during the show and got rid of the higher shutter images that has really awful banding so I dont’ have examples to show. Here is a final image, again shot at f4 ~ 1/80. I also posted a small gallery of images a while back, Atlanta Chamber PlayersAll images shot at 1/80.

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Continuing to another show, and shot on a different mirrorless camera. This performance was shot on a Sony a9. Again in electronic shutter mode. During the previous show, it was a classical performance so it was important that I make no noise. The next images could have been shot using mechanical shutter because the ‘click’ noise would be drowned out. I shot in electronic shutter 1. for faster burst options and 2. for the primary reason of no black out of the screen (only something on the sony a9).

The top image was shot at f4 ~ 1/125. There is noticeable banding in the background lights. The bottom image though was shot at 1/80. banding2
This image from a similar angle shots at 1/250 again with noticeable banding in the background with the green lights BUT none in the foreground where there were blue lights.
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Same stage, same lights but a different angle and at 1/80. Notice zero banding, beautiful photo. Except of course I had to shoot at 1/80 and end up with a bit of motion blur. 

On a completely different stage. I shot this image at f4 ~ 1/500 on the Sony a9 using the Sony 12-24 lens. Not a single bit of banding anywhere in frame! So like I said, it depends on the lights and what angle they are. A perfect example of this is in the video below. A9_02647

One last example of the banding issue. Here is a short video panning across the stage at a rave. I muted the audio. Sony a7rii, I don’t recall the setting. 24fps 1080p. There are several examples of the banding and these changes depending on the color of the light and the angle it is. Some lights are fine, sometimes its really bad. Watch the curtains in the background too.

NOTE* Girls dancing on stage at rave. No nudity, but still maybe NSFW. 😉

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Canon EOS M review

The price has dropped significantly on this camera and can be found even cheaper online. I found the body with the EF adapter on ebay for $425. You can pick up the body with 22mm pancake lens brand new from B&H for $450. Update NOW only $299

My review:
The fact this camera has an 18 megapixel APS-C sensor in it is amazing. It’s like they took their full size slr camera and crammed it into something almost pocketable.
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It has a large beautiful 3.0 inch 1 million dot touch screen to work from. Though many photographers are use to the slr style physical switch/dials/wheels to control the camera I have found this hasn’t really been much of an issue for me. Three quarters of the time I end up shooting in P mode and roll the dial to compensate my exposure. This is easy with the back wheel on the camera. Even when shooting in Manual mode I found the camera easy to control through the dial, setting the shutter, clicking over once and rolling the same dial to change my aperture. The touch screen is quick and responsive if you choose to go that route but there is also a physical ‘menu’ button that brings up the same menu system your use to seeing on your slr.

Now, I dont think this camera is an slr replacement but I certainly think it should be in your bag. (canon is not paying me to say that). Is this the best mirrorless? No, I would prefer a Sony NEX 7, or maybe the fuji x100 BUT for the price this camera is unbeatable. This camera had horrible reviews out the gate simply because of its autofocus being sluggish. July 27th Canon released a firmware update that made a big difference in its AF performance. Couple things to remember to help with its AF is turning off continuous autofocus, and using a single af point. For me this is a natural thing to do anyhow. I use a single autofocus point to focus, then compose my shot and snap. The updated firmware certainly made a different in its AF performance but I want to mention that even before this update the EOS M was just as quick or quicker at auto focusing than if I used my 5d3 in live view mode. If you ever use your phone to snap pictures while out’n’bout then you’ll find this camera pretty snappy.

Many people complained because the eos m did not have an articulating screen. My slr doesn’t have this, neither does my iPhone… this hasn’t bothered me.

I would say a negative for this camera is the fact it does not have a built in flash. I mean, how hard would it have been to add a tiny led? It does however have a fully functioning hotshoe and Canon has released a small 90ex speedlite that fits nicely with the camera. Personally I would spring for the 270ex since its a bit more functional and can be used to bounce. *smiles* Here’s the EOS M  with a 600ex on it.
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On the subject of using regular slr gear on the M. Canon also released an adapter to use EF and EFS lenses on the M. This was a selling point for me. The ability to use the lenses I already have! Metabones has a great adapter on the market too (but costs as much as the camera). I did opt for the 22mm pancake EFM mount lens to keep on the camera for walk around use though. Here’s a shot of the M with 24-105 on the EF adapter. I put the 22mm pancake in front for size comparison.BN6_04RCIAAQOxf

This camera also shoots amazing video. Full 1080p at 24fps AND with manual controls. This makes it a perfect B camera for interviews. At 22 min recording time, this puts it with my 5d3 and I don’t have to keep going to it every 10-12min like the other slr’s.

The battery is smaller than a matchbox, it can only hold so much juice. I’ve thrown it in my pack and shot randomly throughout a day without replacing the battery, but if you are on vacation I would certainly recommend picking up a couple more of these off amazon.

An interesting question was brought up by a friend of mine @peterly (go follow him on twitter). The question was… should he get a 1.4 extender for his FF, or a second body like a 60d that has a 1.6x crop for a bit more cash? I thought this would be a great post all itself but wanted to hit on that here first. I told him to check out the EOS M because it has the 1.6 crop and is a great travel camera. I think having a smaller camera (not slr) really enables me to get those shots I normally wouldn’t have. It’s not bulky to carry to dinner and people act more natural vs me holding my big slr up to my face. Although the EOS M isn’t exactly pocket size, its certainly more so than my slr. It fits nicely in my backpack, or your wife’s purse. It’s the same size an an iPhone 4s, just 4x as thick (depending on the lens).

All in all this is an amazing little camera! I think the only reason it hasn’t taken off was 1. Canon took their precious time entering the mirrorless game & 2 They priced it at the slr level. Now that its dropped in price and they’ve addressed the AF speed I really don’t see why this shouldn’t be in your camera bag.

Here’s a shot from the M using the 22mm. RAW file, edited, exported at 2000px 72ppi, f9 1/400 iso 800. I should have dropped the iso, but was running around and had left it on Program mode to keep everything simple while snapping shots for fun. IMG_9361

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