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