Sony a7R III: The Star Eater is No More

Sony’s latest mirrorless cameras have incredible specs and glowing reviews, but astrophotographers have been complaining about a “star eater” issue in which stars are mistaken for noise and removed from long exposure photos. There’s some good news, though: it looks like the new Sony a7R III doesn’t have the “star eater” problem.

In case you haven’t been following along with the “star eater” fiasco, here’s the gist: in August 2016, firmware updates released for the a7R II and a7S II included a spacial filtering feature that removes noise for exposures longer than a few seconds. But photographers discovered that the feature would remove stars in the process, and the problem became known as the “star eater” issue.

Sony finally released firmware updates in June 2017 that were supposed to fix the problem, but photographers subsequently reported that their updated cameras were still “eating” stars.

The new Sony a7R III was announced last month and attracted a considerable amount of attention for its specs and features, but astrophotographers naturally began wondering whether it would have an issue with long exposure astrophotography.

Photographer Drew Geraci just tested the camera (an actual production model) and shot two photos at 3.2 seconds and 10 seconds, respectively, at ISO 12,800.

A 3.2-second exposure.
A crop of the 3.2-second exposure.
A 10 second exposure.
A crop of the 10-second exposure.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the crops, showing the same stars present in both exposure times:

Crops of the 3.2-second exposure (left) and 10-second exposure (right) compared side-by-side.

“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,” writes Geraci. “The star-eater is no more.”

If you’d like to examine Geraci’s RAW photos for yourself, you can download them here (the password is “star”).

(via Drew Geraci via sonyalpharumors)

Update on 11/15/17: Geraci has added Bulb mode photos to the download directory and has created a GIF to show the comparison:

Image credits: Photographs by Drew Geraci and used with permission