Nikon D800 and Nikon 14-24 VS. Sony A7R and Sony 16-35 f/4 for night photography

April 23, 2015  •  5 Comments

Just like the rest of the camera world, I've been swept up in the mirrorless craze. The idea of carrying half the weight on my hikes and backpacking trips is quite compelling. The question of course is will I be sacrificing any image quality, especially for night photography? I already knew about the short battery life of the Sony A7 series and the questionable weather-sealing. The shutter slap issue that is often discussed is also something that I don't really think will impact my style of photography. But, would the new Sony FE 16-35 f/4 lens be up to the task of taking night photos? I set out to find out this past Tuesday.

I woke up at 2 AM and drove to the Oregon coast on a rare clear night in April. Granted, these are not the most ideal night conditions, as there is considerable light pollution on the Oregon Coast; however, since there was no moon, I figured it would be a great time to test my new Sony A7R / Sony FE 16-35 f/4 set-up against the tried-and-true Nikon D800 / Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 set-up. Let me just start out by saying this test was by no means comprehensive or scientific in nature. I wasn't even able to get the same exact compositions due to the incoming waves making me move around a lot. I simply pushed both cameras and lenses to their maximum capabilities and processed the files identically in Lightroom.

For the Nikon test shot, I shot at 16mm to make the test at least fair on that regard. I shot at ISO 6400, f/2.8, and left the shutter open for 30 seconds - pretty standard stuff. For the Sony test shot, I shot it at 16mm, ISO 6400, f/4 and 30 seconds as well.

The results were interesting for sure. While the Sony lens falls behind by a stop, it still performed well at night. I will say, focusing at night on the Sony A7R took a minute to get used to, but I figured it out really quickly - I simply slowly moved the focus ring until it hit infinity - but not any further into the infinity area after that. 

I've posted a comparison photo for you to look at. I hope to do more extensive testing in the future; however, I figured I'd show these two side-by-side here for you to see since I was unable to find anything similar online myself when doing research on this lens.


Comments

Matt Payne Photography
Greg- because I don't own that lens.
Greg Rodgers(non-registered)
Why didn't you compare the Nikon 16-35mm f/4?
Matt Payne Photography
Hi FreeFlowin, I personally use the fotodiox wonderpana filter kit for the 14-24 and like it quite a bit.
FreeFlowin(non-registered)
Your website is awesome and you take fantastic photos.

My question is, have you picked up a filter or anything to protect the lens on your 14-24 NIKKOR and if so, do you like it and recommend a particular one?
Steven Price(non-registered)
The details are very similar. I wonder if you'd darkened the Nikon a stop and matched the white balance to similar parts of the sky in Lightroom, if a difference could still be seen. Both seem equally sharp to me.
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