The Sony a7R III Has No Star Eater Effect

The Sony a7R III Has No Star Eater Effect

In August 2016, Sony made a firmware modification to the a7R II and a7S II cameras. Among the changes was a new algorithm designed to reduce noise during long exposure photography. Unfortunately, the new noise reduction approach was a bit too aggressive and the astrophotographer community quickly realized that the new filtering method was removing minor stars during exposure longer than 3.2 seconds. They named this issue the “star-eater” effect and many specialists called Sony for a change. Photographer and time-lapse expert Drew Geraci is happy to report that the problem has been fixed in the new Sony a7R III.

In case you don’t know Drew Geraci, he is the creator of the “House of Cards” time-lapse opening. His company, District 7 Media specializes in high-end video production. Here is what he announced today on his Facebook page:

“Very Excited to share this side by side comparison of the a7R III (full production model) shooting Astrophotography at 3.2" and 10" at ISO 12,800 utilizing the Sony 16-35mm GM lens. As you can see in the side by side comparison, with ALL noise reduction turned off in the main menu, you can easily see that all stars are present and accounted for when blown up at 100% resolution. The star-eater is no more.”

On the previous "star-eater" firmware, the noise reduction algorithm was removing minor stars at exposure longer than 3.2 seconds. This quick comparison made by Drew Geraci shows the absence of problem on the Sony A7rIII.

Want to check for yourself? The raw images are available for download here, the password is “star.”

You can follow Drew Geraci's work on his corporate website, Instagram, and Facebook page.

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14 Comments

I don't understand why anyone would rely on in-camera noise reduction for astrophotography. The threshold between minor stars and noise is too subtle for automatic solutions.

Oliver Kmia's picture

On the previous firmware, the noise reduction was applied no matter what (even with every NR feature turned off).

Adam Ottke's picture

That's so disheartening to hear. Is this still happening for owners of those cameras? I didn't even know about it, but how terrible...

Oliver Kmia's picture

Hi Adam. Yes that's a real shame. Supposedly the problem has been fixed on the a7sII and a7rII by Sony with the firmware 4.0 & 3.0 but independent reviews show that the problem still persist:
http://blog.kasson.com/the-last-word/sony-a7rii-fw-4-0-star-eating/

https://www.lonelyspeck.com/why-i-no-longer-recommend-sony-cameras-for-a...

There is a petition at
https://www.change.org/p/sony-remove-star-eater-en?recruiter=749374429&u...

Maybe they want to pull an Apple and force customers to upgrade to the latest hardware.

I think that kind of noise reduction is out of the hands of the user and is rooted in what the sensor itself outputs.

I'm not sure I understand your meaning.

That Sony adds noise reduction in the processing of all images that the user has no access to to be able to turn off.

Oh. That sucks but not for me! :-)

Yea! No more Death Star!

Oliver Kmia's picture

#starlivesmatter

Stop discriminating. All celestial matter matters.

If I could use a laughter emoji, I would.

LG BARNES's picture

That's all fine and good but has Sony fixed the Kevin Spacey distortion?