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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Using the Canon 50mm 1.8 for video can be tricky.

So, video? Eveyone says this is a great lens but near impossible to use for video. The focus ring is right on the front on the lens and makes it very difficult to pull focus in video and not end up with your fingers in the shot. Here’s a simple, affective solution. A $4 rubber hood. It works as a sun shade but also prevent your fingers from accidentally being in frame!
Works like a charm. HERE is one on amazon.

Everyone knows the ‘nifty fifty’ and probably just as many own one. This is a great little lens! It actually took me several years to actually get one myself though. I never could bring myself to use this super cheap plastic lens. No image stabilizer, no USM. Wow, I can’t believe what I was missing out on! I had to admit its focus is pretty snappy. If your shooting in a real quite place then the buzz of the autofocus does stand out because its not USM. If you are anywhere with the least bit of noise then you won’t hear it. There are a ton of reviews out there on this lens, field tests, and examples so Im not going into specifics or comparing it to its big brothers that cost X many times more than this one. I can say that I love shooting with this lens which is kind of funny because I shoot a 5d mark III lol and have this little plastic lens on it. I don’t care, it creates beautiful images.

Here’s a shot I grabbed last weekend using this lens. Fun Times!

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A few notes on Follow Focus units for my Canon DSLR.
Of course there are a ton of follow focus units out there, from geared to friction base. You can spend more than a grand on a nice unit, and even the lower cost $350 focus units are super nice to have. I’m not going into big specifics between cinevate, cavision, redrock and so on. Today I wanted to point out two interesting finds that have a different take.

Ok, first lets take a quick look at a typical follow focus and then move on to the two interesting finds. To use one of these your camera has to be on a set of rails. Personally I own a Cavision RFD15BM Basic Mini Single Wheel Follow Focus and I really love it. Mainly I bought this because it fit my budget and have never looked back, its been a GREAT follow focus unit.
Here is a shot of what it looks like.

On to the cool stuff. This seems like a great little unit thats relatively inexpensive. The motor seems a little loud though, so that could mess with your audio. First off is Jag35.com electric follow focus.

Here is the newest find that I CAN”T WAIT to get my hands on. It’s from a group Im not familiar with but called Okii Systems. This looks like such a sweet little idea. You have to use a USM Canon lens for this to work, but it is based off of Canons EOS Utility plugged into the usb of the camera. Check out the site for more specifics on it. As of today its not been released yet, but has a price of $400. THATS AMAZING! Anyways, here a shot of what it looks like. There are a couple videos on their site.

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