Star Eater – Why I No Longer Recommend Sony Cameras for Astrophotography: An Open Letter to Sony

star-eater-why-i-no-longer-recommend-sony-cameras-for-astrophotography

Sony makes excellent cameras. In the last few years, they launched a completely new full frame camera system that has pushed the bounds of digital photography. I switched entirely to Sony gear after first seeing the tremendous low-light capability of their a7S and have enjoyed many outings shooting astrophotography on many different Sony camera bodies since. I have previously recommended Sony gear to countless numbers of fellow photographers looking for the best landscape astrophotography cameras. That is no longer the case. If you want to shoot landscape astrophotography, don’t buy a Sony. If you already have a Sony camera, don’t update the firmware.

Here’s why I no longer recommend Sony cameras and how the latest firmware update made Sony’s a7RII and a7SII terrible for astrophotography.

UPDATE, May 4, 2017: Rob Shelley of Sony Pro Services has responded with the following message:

Ian, your Star Eater post was forwarded to me by a reader. Great insight that I will pass along to Engineers for developmental consideration.

As you noted, replies from Sony are not frequent but are often heard. Feel free to, if you have other comments, forward them along to me and I will get them to the appropriate departments and individuals.
Contact me any time by phone or email.

All the best.
Rob Shelley
Pro Services Support Manager Southwest
Sony North America

UPDATE, May 4, 2017: I received the following reply from Trung Vu of Sony Alpha Pro Support:

We have forwarded your concern to our sustaining engineering group.

Trung Vu
Senior Product Specialist
Sony Alpha Pro Support

UPDATE, May 5, 2017: I spoke with Rob Shelley of Sony Pro Services on the phone. He has informed me that he will try to contact the relevant parties in engineering about the concern. That said, it seems as if he was never previously aware of this issue and is not fully sure of what needs to happen next for a fix. I hoping that he will take this matter seriously and find the right people in order to forward our collective concern. 

UPDATE May 6, 2017: I and several others have received the following generic reply from [email protected]:

We’re sorry to hear that. To best assist you regarding this concern, please call our alpha support team.

Sony support hotline: (800) 222-7669
Sony alpha technical team: 1-239-245-6360
Business Hours:
Monday – Friday 8:00 AM to 12:00 AM ET (Midnight).
Saturday – Sunday 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM ET.

We look forward to your continuous support to Sony products.

Regards,
Anthony
Sony Social Media Team

I’m changing my original recommendation of emailing Sony to calling Sony at the above phone numbers. Please reference this article by directing them to: lonelyspeck.com/stareater

Thanks everyone who has been trying to contact Sony. Keep it up and we might actually see a solution! I’m hoping for the best from Sony. –Ian

–Original Article Below–

In August of 2016, Sony made firmware changes to their two flagship a7 series cameras (the a7RII and a7SII). The update (3.30 on the a7RII and 2.10 on the a7SII) was supposed to include improvements for radio controlled lighting and overall camera stability and temperature control. But hidden in these improvements is a change that affects the image quality when shooting long exposures, particularly astrophotos. The problem has been dubbed “Star Eater” by others in the astro community.

sony-alpha-star-eater-comparison

Full resolution examples of the “Star Eater” issue are available for download here (.zip, 8.4MB).

The “Star Eater” problem is a form of software spatial filtering designed to reduce noise in photos, particularly hot pixels. Unfortunately, the rather rudimentary filtering algorithm that Sony is using easily mistakes sharp pinpoint stars for noise, deleting them from the image or greatly reducing their brightness. The result is an astrophoto with less stars and the appearance of diminished resolution. Sony a7RII and a7SII cameras with the latest firmware exhibit this problem for all exposure times longer than 3.2″. Furthermore, the “Star Eater” issue affects RAW images (whether uncompressed or not) and cannot be disabled by any means. To top it off, it’s impossible to downgrade your firmware to a previous version.

sony-alpha-star-eater-demo

Comparison of an unaffected exposure with a “Star Eater” exposure at 100% crop.

The firmware change was introduced months ago but is only now starting to be noticed as more and more astrophotographers update the firmware of their cameras. I have confirmed the issue myself and it has been discussed and analyzed many times on other places around the online photography community, particularly on the DPReview forums, Cloudy Nights, Jim Kasson’s Last Word, and more recently on Sony Alpha Rumors.

Bad spatial filtering isn’t new to Sony’s Alpha cameras. Even with the older firmware, all recent Sony alpha mirrorless cameras including the a6000, a6300, a6500, a7S, a7R, a7, a7II, a7SII and a7RII exhibit the “Star Eater” issue when using the Bulb exposure mode. Untracked landscape astrophotography rarely requires exposures longer than 30″ so I never found that the issue affected my photography. Now, with the latest firmware updates on the a7RII and a7SII, what was once a problem that only affected the niche case of Bulb exposures now affects all reasonable untracked astrophotography exposure times for common focal lengths. And on their flagship mirrorless cameras to boot.

I’ll admit that it is a problem that requires a fair bit of pixel peeping. Some photographers might never even notice the issue. But as our community shifts more and more towards the enthusiast, to the photographer who really cares about the finest capability of their equipment, an issue like this is tremendously disappointing to many of us.

Personally, learning of this change (and verifying the issue for myself) has led me to question my desire for future Sony camera bodies (it is still unconfirmed if the new Sony a9 is affected).  It has certainly made me very skeptical of future firmware updates from Sony. Mostly, I hate the thought of having recommending a camera to so many people only to learn that something has changed that would have me question my original recommendation. These aren’t cheap tools.

sony-fe-16mm-f35-sel057fec-astrophotography-review-5

It is with great disappointment that I no longer recommend Sony cameras

So, it is with great disappointment that I will no longer recommend Sony cameras, particularly the a7RII and a7SII with the latest firmware, until we see a fix. If you’ve shared the same love of Sony cameras as I have in the past, and you own one of these cameras, help us reach out to Sony directly by calling Sony at:

Sony support hotline: (800) 222-7669
Sony alpha technical team: 1-239-245-6360

Please reference this article at: lonelyspeck.com/stareater

They introduced the problem with firmware. They can fix it with firmware. If enough of us call, maybe we can get them to issue a fix.

 I have already started reaching out to Sony directly as well as writing to several of my contacts close to Sony to see if we can get some action. So far, Sony has not responded to my initial emails and many other photographers have experienced the same lack of response. I think that the only way to get a fix is to keep trying to contact Sony. If you have contacts at Sony, any help reaching out to them would be greatly appreciated by me and many others.
I will update this blog post accordingly if I see any significant progress.
My open letter to Sony is a re-writing of this blog post and is published below:

Hello Sony, 

I am writing with great concern about the so-called “Star Eater” problem affecting Sony Alpha cameras. 

Most of the latest Sony Alpha cameras employ a spatial filtering noise reduction algorithm when using Bulb mode. This noise reduction targets hot pixels. It affects RAW files and cannot be turned off, even when using Uncompressed RAW. The primary issue with the spatial filtering is that it greatly affects astrophotography: dimmer stars that occupy only a few pixels are erased, essentially “mistaken” for noise by the filtering algorithm. The result is an astrophoto with greatly reduced visibility of dim stars and an overall appearance of reduced resolution. 

This issue affects all recent Sony alpha mirrorless cameras including the a6000, a6300, a6500, a7S, a7R, a7, a7II, a7SII and a7RII. It likely affects more models, too. The issue has been thoroughly discussed and analyzed by others in the community, particularly on the DPReview forums and on Jim Kasson’s Last Word blog. References are at the bottom of this email. 

My blog, lonelyspeck.com, focuses specifically on accessible landscape astrophotography for beginners and I’ve personally been a big fan of Sony cameras up until now. While the spatial filtering on Sony Alpha cameras has been documented for a long time, it didn’t really affect the simpler forms of astrophotography that do not require shutter times longer than 30s. If we used these cameras in M mode and let the camera time the exposure up to 30s long, the camera would not apply the problematic spatial filtering. For most cases in landscape astrophotography, night sky exposures almost never exceed 30s in order to reduce star trailing. 

But I’ve recently learned, particularly through some emailing with readers, Sony Alpha Rumors, as well as the DPReview forums and Jim Kasson’s blog, that Sony has issued firmware updates to at least the a7RII and a7SII (3.30 and 2.10, respectively) that now forces the same “Star Eater” spatial filtering on all exposures that exceed 3.2s in shutter time, even when not in Bulb mode. What was once a problem that only affected the niche case of Bulb exposures now affects ALL reasonable untracked astrophotography exposure times for common focal lengths. 

Personally, learning of this change (and verifying the issue for myself) has led me to question my desire for future Sony camera bodies and has made me very skeptical of future firmware updates. I hate the thought of having recommending a camera to someone only to learn that something has changed that would have me question my original recommendation. These aren’t cheap tools. As a result, I’m no longer recommending and will be forced to discourage the use of current and future Sony cameras on my blog, unless we see a fix. 

I’m reaching out because I believe Sony has the capability to fix this issue to win back the support of so many loyal fans. We have already seen Sony make improvements and fixes to the a7 series when DPReview published about the original issues with Sony’s compressed RAW artifact problems. As a result, Sony issued firmware updates for the a7II, a7SII, and a7RII that enabled uncompressed RAW.  It was a fix that was favorably commended by many in the photography community. Now, we need another fix.

Sony, please fix the “Star Eater” spatial filtering issue via a firmware update… the problem was introduced/exacerbated with firmware so it’s obvious it can be fixed with firmware. At the very least, make it a selectable option in the menu such that it can be disabled when desired. Adding the option to disable it for Bulb mode would just be icing on the cake.

This letter is available publicly as a blog post on lonelyspeck.com, documenting the issue for my readers. I’ve recommended the a7SII and a7RII to so many people for landscape astrophotography and it would feel disingenuous to not tell them about this issue. 

For reference, here are a number of online sources that discuss the “Star Eater” problem:

DPReview:

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/58709160
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/55841466

Cloudy Nights:

https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/498339-sony-a7s-star-eater-algorithm/
https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/505754-another-real-world-example-of-sonys-star-eater-problem/
https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/558230-star-eater-in-action-sony-a7rii/

SAR:

http://www.sonyalpharumors.com/specific-a7sii-astrophotography-fix-request/#disqus_thread

Sony Community: 

https://community.sony.com/t5/Alpha-NEX-Cameras/Star-eater-in-bulb-mode/td-p/508740

From Jim Kasson: 

http://blog.kasson.com/the-last-word/spacial-filtering-of-raw-images-by-sony-a7s-a7ii/
http://blog.kasson.com/the-last-word/sony-a7rii-long-exposure-spatial-filtering-with-fw-3-30/
http://blog.kasson.com/the-last-word/16486/
http://blog.kasson.com/the-last-word/lenr-and-sony-a7rii-fw-3-30-lowpass-filteering/
http://blog.kasson.com/the-last-word/reverse-engineering-the-sony-a7rii-long-exposure-spatial-filtering/
http://blog.kasson.com/the-last-word/sony-a7rii-bulb-spatial-filtering/

Sincerely, 

Ian Norman
[email protected]
lonelyspeck.com

lonely-speck-logo-icon-16px



Ian Norman

Creator at Lonely Speck
Ian Norman, co-founder and creator of The Photon Collective and Lonely Speck. Ian is a full time traveler, photographer and entrepreneur. In February 2013, he called it quits on his 9-to-5 to pursue a lifestyle of photography. Follow Ian's photography adventures on Instagram.

127 Responses

  1. Ron West May 23, 2017 / 3:08 am

    I sent an email to Sony in which I was referred to my “regions” Sony representative. After finding it difficult to find the email for Sony cameras I placed my complaint on Sony’s Facebook page along with Ian’s less than complementary article on their recent firmware upgrade.

    This is their response ………. We’ve recently been made aware of this issue.

    Good news! Our engineers are aware of this issue as well and are currently working on a resolution 🙂
    Once a fix is ready/available, we’ll be certain to let you and others know.

    Hope this helps for the moment and thank you for taking the time to let us know of your frustrations. It’s with this feedback, we’ve been able to bring innovation to our cameras.

    • Sony4ever May 23, 2017 / 6:22 am

      Thank you Ron,

      This was an encouraging message. Maybe sony is really doing something … Just interest: what area of the Sony Facebook page you mean?

  2. Marty Knapp May 22, 2017 / 2:11 pm

    A quick update:
    Last week Sony asked me to provide them with test shots I made with my Sony A7S (FW 3.20 factory installed in a brand new camera.) I shot stars testing both 15 and 30 second exposures both with camera-selected time and bulb-selected time. I sent out-of-the-camera, unprocessed Sony ARW files. To my eyes, I can see a softening and diminishment of detail and resolution in the bulb files compared to the camera-selected ones. I now await Sony’s technical department to comment and will post their comments here when I get them.

    • Sony4ever May 23, 2017 / 12:28 am

      This is ridiculous… You have to provide the test images to Sony? Aargh, like they don’t have any idea how their own cameras work?…Now I think it is not worth to wait for miracles, this will be a long process….

  3. Mike May 21, 2017 / 5:21 pm

    Sony is a Japanese company and in my dealings with them their culture cannot admit to or understand what a mistake is. They will resolve the issue but will call it an ‘improvement’ and if you keep pestering them about their mistake – which we all know this is – they will not be as receptive than if you ‘encourage’ them to make an ‘improvement’ to satisfy the many people who have the product.

    I once had a broadcast deck that would not work with certain tapes – seems they had an improper sensor for measuring tape tension. The deck simply did not work with certain tapes which was a serious issue. They fixed it and issued a bulletin that they called an ‘enhancement’ which I felt was very funny. They never admitted their error – it’s just their culture.

    Good luck.

    • John May 23, 2017 / 8:06 am

      Thanks for your feedback, I think it’s the most sensible comment so far and probably one of the reason the many previous complains never found a favorable issue.
      I had a similar experience with Corean people; someone had written a terrible report, full of English mistakes, albeit claiming to be fluent. I made the worst mistake, though, sending the report back with all the errors highlighted..and her chief in copy. I believe there was a reward placed on my head after that.
      Dealing with other cultures is complicated, really.

  4. photosteve 13 May 18, 2017 / 11:47 am

    I just read the “Stareater” article, and called Sony support as recommended. I have a A7Sii, software 2.10,. The Sony rep said that 2.10 does NOT have the stareater issue, but ver 2.20 does. he did not recommend updating until ver 2.30 is out there.

  5. Adam Sarasin May 18, 2017 / 10:19 am

    I’m on hold with the support team now. This is ridiculous. Everyone call and pester them!

    • Bo May 18, 2017 / 11:32 am

      What was their response this week?

    • Adam May 19, 2017 / 1:38 pm

      It won’t let me reply directly to you, but their response was that it doesn’t affect my models (a6000, a7II). I explained that it is being reported that these models ARE affected when in bulb mode and they assured me it wasn’t. Let’s just say I don’t believe them. I will be heading out to Joshua tree next weekend so I will do some testing myself. I will probably just stick with 30 or 20 second exposures though. It is a shame because I would like to do some exposures at 25 seconds with the a6000+rokinon 12mm f2, but I suppose I will just bump up the ISO and shoot at 20.

  6. David May 18, 2017 / 6:15 am

    Is the original A7R v1 affected?
    If so, starting with which firmware version?

  7. Angela May 16, 2017 / 7:40 pm

    Hi I have the A7Rii and it is V 3.30 and have the A6500 V 1.10 so will that be ok for the stars.

    • Peter May 19, 2017 / 12:33 am

      No, version 3.30 has the problem beyond 4 seconds, but I cannot tell you about the A6500

  8. Marty Knapp May 13, 2017 / 6:51 pm

    The following links are to examples from a test I made with a brand new Sony A7s, firmware 3.20, camera. The screen shot in Lightroom compares the resolution and detail of identically-timed exposures, one set with camera, the other timed with Bulb.
    Here’s the comparison in a 1:1 view: http://martyknapp.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/sony-test-1-to-1.png and here’s the link to the 2:1 view: http://martyknapp.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/sony-test-2-to-1.png. These are from raw files, straight out of the camera, with no development adjustments.
    It’s clear to see so many fewer stars and a softening of resolution in the bulb exposure as compared to the menu-selected exposure. Sony says there are no problems, even with bulb in the original A7s. They’re dead wrong and I will send these test files to their technical department as evidence. More information about my discussion with a Sony tech rep is on my webpage here: http://martyknapp.com/sony-a7s-star-eater-test/

    • Matthew May 16, 2017 / 9:55 am

      Marty, I’m done. This seals the deal for me and also the fact that we’ve heard nothing from Sony in over a week after invest thousands of dollars in their equipment? It’s an insult. I’m abandoning their line completely since I really don’t have the time or money to invest to wait for a multi-million dollar company to get around to us astro-photographers. I spend hours out under the stars and this is a complete waste of time. I’m jumping ship while I can get good money out of this equipment and convert back to canon gear. In fact, I will save a little money doing so since Sony’s stuff seems to cary a premium at times. Wow. Those examples are staggering. Thanks for sharing. I’m not going to hold my breath. This corporations done give a rip to what we think.

  9. Alex May 12, 2017 / 8:18 am

    About a week since last update. Any news from Sony?

    • Matthew May 16, 2017 / 9:56 am

      Don’t hold your breath. I’m cutting bait and my loses while I can. Canon here I come. :/

  10. Stephen Agnew May 11, 2017 / 1:57 pm

    I have an A7SII and wondered why my astro photos looked dimmer than I imagined, so a week ago I checked my firmware and it’s the latest firmware with the star eating. I am so mad. I called Sony Alpha Support and the reassured me that they are well aware of the problem and are actively working on a fix for it.

  11. David J McGeachie May 10, 2017 / 2:33 am

    Hi All

    Just had a phone call from Sony Support UK, advising me to send them a Video file regarding Star Eater issue on Bulb Mode on my Sony a6000.

    Davy

    • Matthew May 16, 2017 / 10:00 am

      Did they say WHEN they would have a fix for the a6000?

  12. Chris May 9, 2017 / 11:09 pm

    Does this issue effect the RX100 range?

    • Spy Black May 13, 2017 / 3:24 pm

      I’m not aware of any firmware updates ever for the 100 series. Usually the “updates” are a whole new camera, so if the star eater noise algorithm was imposed in a 100 series camera you’d have to look at it from a camera version to camera version perspective.

  13. Steve May 9, 2017 / 4:55 pm

    I called Sony help line for New Zealand which does go to philipines.

    The guy was helpful. They are well aware of issue and is escalated to Japan and being worked on.(true or not hard too say)

    He said they Know its a software issue but need to do proper testing before can release. (understandable) He could not answer whether

    1) they have and know what the issue is and have the fix and are testing
    2) ETA on this

    They took my details like email……I said do you want serial number of unit he said NO as they know its an issue and he has taken a few calls and passed it on.(progress…hard to say)

  14. Rakshith Appaiah H S May 9, 2017 / 8:40 am

    Omg!! Right when I was about to buy the A7R2….
    But anyways, I shall wait it out till Sony rectifies this because they anyways have a brilliant setup….

  15. Farid May 9, 2017 / 3:35 am

    Hey Ian,

    My biggest concern is astrophotography.
    I bought the A7RII a week ago and just find out about this issue, this is really bad.
    The A7RII came with the latest update. It’s a big disappointment that we can’t go back to previous versions. I didn’t test it yet to see the pictures on my A7RII.
    I really hope Sony will fix this.

    And big thanks to you Ian for your great work at lonelyspeck!

    • Spy Black May 13, 2017 / 3:25 pm

      If you bought it with the intent of doing astro work primarily, I would return it while you still can.

  16. Luis May 8, 2017 / 2:12 pm

    hi, anyone with a6000 having thi problem?

    • David J McGeachie May 8, 2017 / 2:41 pm

      Hi

      I have a Sony a6000, however it looks like we only have the problem in bulb mode, awaiting response from Sony.

      Davy

    • David J McGeachie May 8, 2017 / 2:42 pm

      By the way my firmware version is 3.20

  17. Marty Knapp May 8, 2017 / 10:50 am

    I have just gotten off the phone with a representative of Sony technical support line. Concerning the star eater problem with Sony cameras. Since I have the original models:Sony A7R and A7S, I asked if they were aware of this problem when using Bulb (B). She claimed that there is no problem at all with these models, “including bulb.” However, she said Sony was aware of and working on the known problem with A7RM2 and A7SM2. She documented my call and gave me a case number, even so.

    I will have to re-read the technical data that Jim Kasson and others have posted, as I really thought my original Sony A7 models were good when choosing times from the menu, but would exhibit the problem if I used Bulb? After checking with her engineering dept., she was adamant that there was no problem, including Bulb on my models. I told her I would post her comments online for all to read.

    If anyone out there has conflicting information about issues with the original A7R and S models, please post it here online. I can also be reached via my linked website above in the “Marty Knapp contact and about” area.

    • Ari May 8, 2017 / 2:20 pm

      Hi Marty,

      Thank you for this comment. As A7RII owner, I’m really happy to hear that this “issue” will be solved, at least we obviously have a good chance for that. ..4sec limit is unbearable with A7RM2 and A7SM2 at the moment (firmware v.3.30).

      Ari

    • Mark Shelley May 9, 2017 / 11:20 am

      The Sony A7S was the camera on which the bulb mode star eater issue was first identified. My A7S is running firmware 3.10 and definitely has the problem in bulb mode. An update to firmware 3.20 is available but there is no way I’m installing it. I can’t take that risk because it is my dedicated astrophotography camera.

      Mark (aka sharkmelley)

  18. BillG May 8, 2017 / 8:57 am

    Called Sony (US) support today and added my two bodies to the list. (A7SM2 and A7RM2). Explained the problem to the support technician and interestingly enough she provided me with the category for the issue. “Are you interested in astrophotography?” yes. “We call that issue the star eater and we are aware of the problem and are working to have a solution.” I asked if I could revert the firmware and after checking with tier II support she said that I could not.
    Another interesting point was that she said this was the first complaint that they had heard for the A7SM2.
    She did close by saying that they are actively working the issue and that I should have a solution within 5 to 10 business days – which would be totally awesome. I am going to hold my breath and count… I hope they come through! Looks like your rant (and all the responses from others) is making a difference.

    Cheers,
    -bill

    • Kenny May 22, 2017 / 6:40 am

      At the close of business today, it will have been 10 full business days since your posting (not counting the day you actually posted your comment). it is my hope that new firmware magically appears on their website, but I don’t think anyone is holding their breath. I am really hoping I’m wrong, but if the past is any indicator, we’ll have to buy new cameras or an app for this “enhancement”. Sony needed tremendous badgering to fix it’s compressed RAW issue from a couple years ago. I just don’t see that level of “encouragement” from Sony this time around. Until I hear otherwise, I’m sticking to Nikon for my long astro and the various a6xxx and a7s for anything nto involving BULB mode.

  19. David J McGeachie May 8, 2017 / 2:44 am

    HI Ian

    Have contacted Sony Support in the UK – +44 020 7365 2810, raised a firmware Fault request regarding Star Eater, Ref No – 15700487, I directed them to your article Lonleyspeck.com/stareater, they will escalete the problem and contact me within 24 – 48hrs, Hope this Helps.

    Davy

  20. David J McGeachie May 8, 2017 / 1:58 am

    Hi Ian

    Do you have a number for the UK? and I will try contacting Sony at our part of the Globe, also have you thought of raising it on Social media as this avenue seems to get results when poeple complain.

    Davy

  21. Drew Cole May 7, 2017 / 6:11 pm

    I downloaded the sample images… Am I crazy or can I see more stars on the picture titled “sony-star-eater”? Is this a mistake or am I missing something?

  22. BillG May 7, 2017 / 5:37 pm

    Ian,

    I believe somewhere in this thread you mentioned that the issue is not found in the A7s (the under 3s issue not the bulb). Is that firmware version specific? My local shop has a used A7s for sale and I may pick that up in the mean time. Not giving up on Sony though – I like the bodies too much. Hoping that they will come out with an update or at least an installer that will let us revert to the previous unaffected version.

    Thanks.
    -bill

  23. Steve May 7, 2017 / 5:22 pm

    Hi Ian,

    Great news on Sony actually paying attention.

    I am in new Zealand and emailed sony base don the email link and got the standard reply back that is noted in your update……could you ask Sony from your end…..

    What phone numbers can we ring on from other parts of the world….

    As my Brand new a7r2 I cant use and my a6000 with latest firmware is basically the same…..
    I want to make sure they know this needs fixing

    • John May 8, 2017 / 12:56 am

      In NZ you need to call 0800 7669 69, although it will take you to a call centre in the Phillipines. I’ve opened a case with them, and have forwarded example raw image files for their engineers to check out, but have yet to hear a verdict, or an indication of what remedial action they will offer

  24. Bryan Hansel May 7, 2017 / 3:44 pm

    Ugh. I just picked up a Sony A7II and a A7RII and a truckload of lenses to use on remote commercial shoots and for magazine articles covering expeditions and adventures. Astro images are a must on these trips.

    It’s back to Nikon again.

    P.s. the Fuji XT-2 also eats stars when compared to Nikons. I’m not sure if it is a similar process, but it looks the same as your “star eater” picture, albeit not as bad.

  25. Caleb White May 7, 2017 / 1:57 pm

    I’ll be calling them shortly. In the meantime, I have an a6300 with firmware V1.10…this doesn’t affect me right?

  26. Anna Nguyen May 7, 2017 / 9:10 am

    I’ve received the same generic response as well! Let’s keep trying!

  27. Victor May 7, 2017 / 4:18 am

    I can confirm that I also received the same generic response, which ended with a note of thanks for my “continued support for Sony products”.

    Well, until Sony pledges to fix this problem, they won’t get it.

  28. Ross May 6, 2017 / 5:40 am

    Would it make sense to reach out to Ziess about this? After all their Batis 18mm lens was marketed for astrophotography purposes among others. I suspect Zeiss must have some pull with Sony.
    I have also sent an email to Sony.
    Thanks for the article.

  29. David Finley May 5, 2017 / 8:04 pm

    Hello Ian.

    I’ve read a number of your posts but none hit home like this Star Eater article. As an amateur photographer and owner of both an A7II and A7S, I emailed Sony in relation to this issue just yesterday (5/4/2017) and to my surprise, they emailed back in less than 24 hours asking that I phone them to discuss the issue further!!! Any recommendations as to what I should reply with, outside of the obvious?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Bo May 5, 2017 / 9:48 pm

      I also got a reply from them (much to my surprise) to phone their support. Took them a little over 24 hours. I am happy to phone and talk to them about the issue if we think that will help / keep the pressure on.

    • Lrson May 6, 2017 / 4:18 pm

      Make them fix the bracket mode also while they’re at it. So the user don’t have to press the shutter on every shot. Other brands it makes all the exposures with one click.

      People have been writing them on this topic for a number of years all the way back to the Sony NEX days. Haven’t fixed it yet.

  30. Pedro May 5, 2017 / 4:01 pm

    The first reports about the filtering is about 2 years old. It should never have been implemented even in bulb mode. People have talked about it for 2 years, and instead of fixing it, they made it worse.. so do you really think they’ll change anything.
    The answer will probably be something like “don’t worry, it will all be fixed in the new mark3 model, when it comes out”.

    Sorry for being a pessimist. Lol.

  31. Bill Wood May 5, 2017 / 12:25 pm

    Hi Ian,

    So I can get this straight in my mind. I have an A7SII with version 2.2 and an A7RII with version 3.2. I have never used BULB. My exposures range from 20sec down to 8 sec. Are my images effected?
    I got into Sony in large part because of your recommendation. And I have Rokinon 14mm and 24mm ditto. I in no way feel that you harbor any responsibility for these changes to their software that Sony has made.
    I am sure that Sony will fix the problem if enough of us contact them. they seem hell-bent on being the biggest and best camera company out there, and dark sky photography seems to be growing at leaps and bounds. I am sure that they do not want to lose that market.
    Please tell me I am OK with the software versions I have!

    • Catherine May 16, 2017 / 3:34 pm

      Ian,

      Will this affect timelapse photos in bulb mode? I am disappointed after reading your article and will be sure to email Sony for a fix. I just updated my firmware of my A7sii a few months ago too…so bummed!

  32. Yuri Mohan May 5, 2017 / 10:37 am

    Hello, Ian, this is Yuri I read your article so what you are saying that all the Sony camera’s that have interchangeable Camera lens they aren’t good for astrophotography or just landscaping photo’s or is it just for night landscape photo’s at night with high ISO or low ISO your saying or is it just Sony camera’s in general after reading the really good article.

    Sincerely, Yuri Mohan

    • Matthew May 5, 2017 / 2:59 pm

      Hey Ben,
      Would love to hear what equipment you used to captured this shot and what other specs were used. (I.e. Flat frames, darks, stacking, etc.). I get what you’re saying. I’ve captured several great shots with my Sony a6000. (www.capturingthecosmos.smugmug.com). But wouldn’t we want the most pixels and data since we are investing so much time and money? Especially when this issue is totally avoidable and was needlessly created by Sony? My thought is, bulb mode should be completely RAW and untouched. Most likely, if someone is using bulb mode, they are a pro and know what they’re doing.

    • Ben May 6, 2017 / 1:14 am

      @Matthew

      “But wouldn’t we want the most pixels and data since we are investing so much time and money? Especially when this issue is totally avoidable and was needlessly created by Sony? My thought is, bulb mode should be completely RAW and untouched. Most likely, if someone is using bulb mode, they are a pro and know what they’re doing.”

      I completely agree with you. I already signed online petitions, wrote to sony, and completely support the nature of Ian’s open letter. Just wanted to put some perpective on black and white headlines.

      See https://www.reddit.com/r/astrophotography/comments/66oeuo/ic_1396/ for technical details. Thanks for your interest.

    • Star surfing May 9, 2017 / 2:56 am

      Hi Ben, when you stack images the problem almost go away but it is not the same with single exposure.

  33. Alex May 5, 2017 / 7:59 am

    Ian, coud you share raw files of examples?
    Jpg is useless in this situation.

  34. Star surfing May 5, 2017 / 4:30 am

    Ian thank you for letting others know about this problem. I have little hope that Sony will do something about it. They know this problem for at least two years and they have done nothing. Back then astrophotographers asked to disable this star eater effect to the bulb mode and sony did what? They made a firmware that introduce the problem even in 4″sec exposure. My opinion is that they just dont care. Astrophotographers are a small piece of the pie. They fix problems for videographers that is the main audience of a7s and that is all.

  35. Tuomas Mutanen May 4, 2017 / 10:30 pm

    For those who haven’t yet invested into some expensive full frame system, luckily some great alternatives exist. Because of the star-eater issue, I would currently recommend the Nikon FX system and especially D750. Let’s just hope Nikon does not introduce a stupid algorithm like this any time soom!

  36. Yh May 4, 2017 / 7:23 pm

    I doubt Sony will do anything, especially on the A7s series, as they’re touted to be extremely sensitive and delivers noisefree images under subdued lighting conditions. Who knows, even if star eater function is disabled, their A7s maybe far noisier than the A7(r), and they can no longer market?

    • Carl Devendorf May 4, 2017 / 7:28 pm

      Its probably just built in obsolescence

    • Ian Norman May 4, 2017 / 7:51 pm

      I disagree with this. The camera is still spectacular at low-light in the instances where the Star Eater algorithm does not apply. There are several well known alternative methods for hot pixel reduction that are employed on numerous other cameras on the market. Sony is just using one of the poorest methods of noise reduction and should change it. Disabling the spatial filtering entirely will have nearly no detrimental effects on the image quality of the camera.

  37. Carl Devendorf May 4, 2017 / 7:16 pm

    So I have a RX100 3, a7s, and a7r2, rokinon 14mm and 24 mm , sony 16-35, and 24-240 based on your advice. Also have some nice pictures. What do I do. Is there a work around like setting the iso to 3600. I replaced my a7s with the r2 what version of a7s firmware is less affected?

    • Ian Norman May 4, 2017 / 7:52 pm

      The best thing we can do right now is to reach out to Sony and demand a firmware fix.

  38. Stephen van Vuuren May 4, 2017 / 5:07 pm

    Ian,

    We need some organized method of contacting Sony. Any suggestions from ambassadorson a polite, effective method of letting Sony know from their customer base.

    Thankfully I did my massive astrophotography project in August 2015 when a brand spanking new A7rii, A7s and A7 and not shot much since but have a fall shoot planned and like to see new firmware release by summer.

  39. Marty Knapp May 4, 2017 / 3:00 pm

    Re my previous post. I errantly stated that the new Sony A7S I just purchased had firmware 3.30 installed. Not so! It came with ver 3.20, which according to Sony was released in July 2016. I wonder if this 3.20 version has the same destructive quality (i.e.. star destruction when any exposure over 3.2 secs or bulb is utilized) as the 3.30 ver. for the A7R M2 and the 2.10 ver. for A7S M2. I believe those versions were released the same time, July 2016.

    I am now holding back on return of this camera until I can ascertain if this firmware upgrade is as destructive as the well-known problems we’ve heard about the upgrades on the A7R m2 and A7S m2. Anyone out there no the answer?

    • Ian Norman May 4, 2017 / 7:56 pm

      I have firmware 3.20 on my a7S and it does not exhibit Star Eater in normal camera timed exposures in M and S modes. Your OK on that camera up to 30s.

      However, switching to Bulb exposures on the a7S activates the Star Eater filtering. If you’re not planning to use Bulb, sticking with exposure times of 30s or less should be OK.

  40. Isaac Stocks May 4, 2017 / 2:51 pm

    I have an A7ii. It has the latest firmware update. Does that mean it’s affected in all modes (bulb and normal shutter speed choices) above the 3.2 second threshold? I’m a little confused as to what models/firmwares are affected.

    • Ian Norman May 4, 2017 / 7:58 pm

      I am actually not sure how severely the a7II is affected. I have seen confirmation that it affects the a7RII and a7SII but I’m not sure about the a7II at the moment.

  41. unlo May 4, 2017 / 2:36 pm

    A louder cry for ‘open source’ / SDK / API / community level support hasn’t been heard before now…. this is a grave mistake by the sony Software team. Unfortunately, Sony has been incredibly lame at providing viable updates, and now we have updates that break features (anyone ever have a ps3 with linux on it?)

    I couldn’t agree with you more on how disappoint this is.

    Maybe Sony can save some face and include the community in future development. Make the software open source, provide us an SDK / API to work with. We all know the possibilities of our cameras aren’t fully realized by the software they provide. Custom firmware would be extend the life of our bodies!

    • Bo May 4, 2017 / 3:30 pm

      There already is an Open Source SDK & API for installing firmware & apps and things on Sony cameras. Here is the main link to it: https://github.com/ma1co/Sony-PMCA-RE

      Also here is an app that can be installed that opens up the 15k settings in the camera. I have put in a request to find the one that turns on this idiotic filter and allow us to disable it. https://github.com/ma1co/OpenMemories-Tweak

      BIG WARNING: Do not use this stuff unless you know what you are doing. You can brick your camera. Also note the setting hasn’t been found yet.

  42. David J McGeachie May 4, 2017 / 2:29 pm

    Hi Ian

    Thanks for posting your update on the Star Eater issue, I was in the process of changing from Nikon to Sony, but will now await the outcome before buying another Camera Body for Astrophotography.

    • Ian Norman May 4, 2017 / 8:00 pm

      Thanks David. I’m hoping for the best from Sony on this issue and hope to update this article if they issue a fix. Let’s hope it’s soon.

    • David J McGeachie May 8, 2017 / 1:57 am

      Hi Ian

      Do you have a number for the UK? and I will try contacting Sony at our part of the Globe, also have you thought of raising it on Social media as this avenue seems to get results when poeple complain.

      Davy

  43. Stuart Hume May 4, 2017 / 2:16 pm

    Hello Ian,

    I was saving up for a Sony after getting hooked on astrophotography in nothern Europe this last Christmas using my Fuji x100t to the best of its abilities.

    I’ve Should I now just go with something that is familiar and get a x-T2? Or bite the bullet and venture once again into the DSLR space and get a Nikon (sold my d7000 and gear) with the trade off of the size.

    Thanks,

    Stu

  44. Marty Knapp May 4, 2017 / 12:25 pm

    I just received a brand new Sony A7S and I’m dismayed after reading your email, Norman. The software version installed from the factory is the 3.30 version. I am unclear if you are saying the 3.30 version is only affecting the A7S II as far as camera exposures longer than 3.2 secs on bulb, or if this version is also affecting the A7S and my A7R which also has the 3.30 firmware installed?

    Perhaps I could live with only choosing the camera-based time options instead of bulb, but what about work done with an intervalometer that is choosing other shutter time options?

    I am ready to send this camera back to B&H, but will hold off a little until I’m clear of the limits of this new A7S as far as star-eating goes. I take it you never upgraded your firmware on your A7S, right?

    Thanks,
    Marty

    • Matthew May 4, 2017 / 12:42 pm

      Send back ASAP. It also affects the A7S. I’m in the process of dumping all of my sony gear for this. At these prices and investment, this is absolutely unacceptable. Years ago I was bit by Sony and said I would never give them another chance. However, in recent years, they seemed to be producing great equipment. Sadly, their own developers now get in the way and hobble otherwise amazing gear with algorithms that crippled the performance. I personally would send that back as fast as you can and stay far away until these idiots make a change permanently. This is unacceptable and we as consumers need to make them hear us – with our dollars.

    • Rafaelinux May 5, 2017 / 11:45 am

      Does not affect the original A7s.
      This camera always had this issue in bulb mode, but not in any other.
      Check out my Instagram for a long exposure made with the A7s latest software.

  45. Xavier May 4, 2017 / 11:41 am

    I understand that the original a7S is only affected in Bulb mode. But, if I update the firmware?…

    • Ian Norman May 4, 2017 / 8:26 pm

      As far as I know, the latest a7S firmware 3.20 does not change the behavior of Star Eater. It DOES affect Bulb still but does not affect timed exposures up to 30s in M and S modes.

  46. José Andrade May 4, 2017 / 11:05 am

    Like someone else mentioned before, I think that, although this is a very serious issue, your recommendations still apply, of course within a certain limit now. We are all hoping to see this situation fixed and we all know the sensors they use are probably the best ones in low-light performance and are amazing for landscape astrophotography. This is definitely a set-back for sony and I understand if you would start to consider to go away from sony bodies because of this reason (I myself own an a6000, and have been on the lookout for the next sony FF line (I was hoping for a camera like the a7II, but built like the a7SII and a7RII, with the better moisture and dust resistance, and the improved sensor, which would not be with 12MP, so around 24 MP, but all the goodies of the a7RII and a7SII)).

    Maybe this was not your intention, but as I read your post, towards the end, I had this feeling of outrage and betrayal, and while it’s true that any person that has bought one for this particular purpose, this is a betrayal of our needs, you did not know this before, you took amazing landscapes and astrophotos and this was not an issue for your type of photography (previously). And at the moment you are aware of the issue and you did the right thing in reaching out to all the community you built to try to get even a greater response and movement to make sony acknowledge (and excuse my language now, but I really wanna say it) they f*cked up and that they will work on a fix. However, in your shoes, although this is of course a personal website, you don’t need to bind to those rules, I’d have liked to see a kind of more neutral and diplomatic post. The users here, can rant, show how they hate sony for this, etc. but for me, the image I have of you, as a kind of a leader, in this kind of matter I would just like to see a description of the problem (you did that), that you yourself, like many others are disappointed at the moment (did that), and that we should all team together to voice our disappointment (you did that as well), but not hate the fact that you recommended these cameras before, it was sony’s fault, not yours, and that you don’t want to endorse their bodies (although you specifically stated “…until we see a fix”) or firmware updates (specially if it is going to be through a firmware update that we will get this issue fixed). The feeling I got was more (and again, I guess, from all the posts and videos of you I read and watched that this was not your intention) that you really despised the idea of getting a sony camera with the newest firmware. It’s understandable, but I think somewhere in the lines of “These are still great cameras in low-light, etc. but if you were looking into buying one with astrophotography in mind, please be aware that there is a very serious issue with the way the image is processed and this might be very detrimental to your end results, and there is no foreseeable fix to this issue at the moment. If you need to buy a new body now, with good astrophotography capabilities, refrain from buying a sony body. If this is not an urgent matter, just seat tight for some time and cross your fingers that sony will give us the fix to this problem in a timely manner…”
    This way you show also hope that there will be a fix and that you still keep your faith that in the future these bodies will still kick-ass in astro.
    And although sony really made a big mistake, sometimes these are not intentional, and may be harder to fix than we think. It really is a big mess right now, specially being that this was already included in the BULB mode before and now it extended to such low exposures.

    Like I said, I was looking into sony bodies for the future, specially me liking astro so much, also wanting to do some tracked exposures, but with objectives (wide-field), not with telescopes, and if this issue is not fixed until that time comes, I will have to go for something else…which is a pity because i have been investing in lenses and gear specifically thinking that I would not move from sony.

    Sorry for the long post, with a rant about a rant, I will also send them an email, with all my thoughts and views.

    In the meantime, as this is my first post here, thank you so much for all the time and passion you put into this. It’s a great website, and great youtube videos.

    All the best and good luck, we all have lots of hope on you!

    • Ian Norman May 4, 2017 / 8:29 pm

      Thanks José. This post is certainly one of disappointment but also one of hope and a call to action for Sony. I haven’t sold off all my Sony equipment yet or told anyone else to do so. I merely want to prompt a swift response and fix by Sony.

  47. Matthew May 4, 2017 / 9:01 am

    A couple of questions based on this article:

    1. I have a Sony a6000 and a6300 largely because of the amazing work here at this site and the reviews about those two models. I used the a6000 (modified by Spencer’s Camera) for astrophotography work (bulb mode – i.e. longer than 30 second exposures). Have I wasted my money and time? Do I need to just completely “cut bait” on the Sony route and get a modified canon dslr for long-exposure astrophoto work with my telescope?

    2. I use the Sony a6300 for wide-field work with a Rokinon 12mm and 24mm lens. These exposures stay under the 30 sec. mark. Am I losing quality with this camera since most of my subs are longer than 3.2 sec.?

    Thanks. This can begin to get confusing so I appreciate any help since my budget is limited and this spring and summer I don’t want to be wasting more time and money in this if Sony such crapped the wagon with stupid firmware decisions.

    • Ian Norman May 4, 2017 / 8:31 pm

      As far as I know, the a6000 and a6300 are affected in Bulb mode only. For wide-field work, you should be OK up to 30s exposures.

  48. Ethan Nelson May 4, 2017 / 8:53 am

    I find this very sad because I was seriously thinking about buying a soney A6000 for a compact SLR that was great at low light and astrophotography but now I am not sure. Are the cameras still good at taking other types of pictures they are capable of? Are they still good at low light and night photography? or is it only just bad for stars now?

  49. Herb May 4, 2017 / 8:49 am

    Hi Ian,
    Does this issue affect all exposure times greater than 3.2s on the a7ii, or does it only affect bulb mode?
    I use a7ii with firmware version 3.30 for astrophotography, and would really like to know the answer to this question. Thanks!

    • Isaac Stocks May 4, 2017 / 2:53 pm

      I am in the exact same boat. Any info would help!

    • Herb May 4, 2017 / 7:15 pm

      I shot a black background to experiment with the noise reduction system yesterday, there does seem to be a reduction in noise when the exposure is greater than 3.2s. I managed to turn this off in the settings(Long Exposure NR and High ISO NR in tab 6 of general photography settings), and this does seem to really increase the level of noise.

    • Ian Norman May 4, 2017 / 8:33 pm

      I am actually not sure the exact behavior of the a7II and whether it suffers the same issue as the a7SII or a7RII when using exposures longer than 3.2″. I do, however, know that the a7II is affected when using Bulb exposures.

  50. Tom May 4, 2017 / 8:07 am

    Ian,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to write this up. I switched to a Sony a6000 and I have and A7RII on layaway. I traded in my Nikon D800. I’m wondering what you suggest would be a good alternative instead of Sony? I would like to stay with mirrorless for weight savings. Do you recommened Fuji or something else?

    Thanks!

    Tom

    • Ian Norman May 4, 2017 / 8:34 pm

      Thanks Tom.

      I’m not giving up on Sony just yet but I’m certainly recommending people interested in astro to hold off until we can prompt a fix from Sony. I’m hopeful we’ll see a fix soon.

  51. Kenny X. Le May 4, 2017 / 7:29 am

    I learned of this a couple years ago via DPReview and they were referring to it as a known problem back then. As a result, Sony has DEFINITELY known that it’s been a problem for the astro community for at least as long (since a few of the posters mentioned they had tried to contact Sony with varying levels of success). Sony, in the handful of years it’s known about the issue has not addressed it despite numerous firmware updates to any number of cameras. Therefore, I don’t think Sony will address it especially in older models. They might, but since past performance is a strong indicator of future performance, it’s unlikely. Again, I’m not saying Sony won’t, I’m just saying they’ve had plenty of time and just has not been a priority or they don’t feel it’s affecting them enough to devote resources (however meager that might be) to satisfying the niche astro community. At one time I was considering replacing my a7s with the a7sII, but as soon as I found out about the 3.2″ second “star eater” phenomenon, I put those plans on hold. Furthermore, I also planned to buy a used a7rII, but since I don’t want to go through the hassle of meeting a bunch of people from craigslist and cancelling a transaction if the firmware version isn’t right, I’ve put that on hold as well. As it stands, I use my a6000, a6300, a6500, and a7s only if I have the lenses that allow for up to 30″ of astro landscape. For anything else, I use my Nikon D810 and D7200 for tracked work. I’m glad you broached this topic so at least others are made more aware of it. Some people will ask how people are harmed if they don’t know about it. The fact is that ignorance is bliss, but once you find out, you regret because you wonder if the picture could have been even better. That’s especially true since getting to the conditions that allow for really good astro work involve significant travel, time, and expense for the majority of us. Nobody wants to feel like they went through all that and it was the equipment that limited them.

    P.S. For anyone interested, a number of YouTube photography personalities were flown out to New York recently to try out the new Sony a9. For the most part, they raved about it about as much as they raved about the a7rII at its introduction. I frequent a number of those YouTube sites and NONE of them have mentioned the “star eater” phenomenon in relation to the a9, though some have previously mentioned it with older model Sony cameras so I know they’re aware of the issue. Since none of them had mentioned it, I asked one of the YouTube personalities who also frequents SonyRumors and was flown out by Sony to New York for the a9 unveiling pointedly (and politely) whether or not he knew or if Sony had mentioned the “star eater” phenomenon or if anyone even asked about it. This YouTube personality (whom I think very highly of) never answered my question despite answering a number of other questions from other commenters.

  52. Andre Gerhardt May 4, 2017 / 4:00 am

    I too jumped on the Sony bandwagon (paid a pretty penny for an A7SII) just to later find out that all online reviews managed to have somehow overlooked something so obvious… A couple of companies even sell COOLED (which obviously is designed to be used in BULB mode
    ) A7s online! Really?!? Do these guys even check what they sell/recommend? Never trust online reviews anymore…

    • Catherine May 4, 2017 / 12:50 pm

      yes I am the same way…I have the A7Sii. So disappointed.

  53. tms May 4, 2017 / 12:55 am

    guys, join us on FB, ‘Sony star eater community’ group, where we are discussing strategies on how to solve this issue.

  54. Jon Reade May 3, 2017 / 11:16 pm

    Thank you for posting this Ian, I’ll definitely not be updating my A7S firmware. If Sony had any sense, they’d code the NR to be an option that can be turned on/off through the menus, instead of it being an irreversible default.

    If they don’t fix this problem, I’m sure that come next camera refresh, for a lot of enthusiasts – the very people who often recommend a camera to the much more numerous non-enthusiast masses – they’ll be automatically excluded from the list, which is going to cost them a lot of custom.

    Swapping back to a Canon/Nikon body won’t be an issue for those of us use Sony bodies with our Canon/Nikon lens kits, but I do feel for those who’ve spent a lot of money on Sony lenses.

  55. Adam Graham May 3, 2017 / 10:03 pm

    I noticed a dip in quality in my Astrophotography shots on my a5100 after 3.0… Now I know why…

    • Adam Graham May 3, 2017 / 10:05 pm

      Also the fact that Sony now makes it mandatory on shots over 1 second to have long exposure noise reduction on the a5100…

    • miz May 4, 2017 / 2:15 am

      There’s a homebrew app that at least disables long exposure NR on the 5100.

    • Adam Graham May 7, 2017 / 2:21 pm

      Miz, do you know where I can get this app?

  56. thomas feldman May 3, 2017 / 9:15 pm

    How can I tell if my a6000 will have this issue in Bulb mode (or is it guaranteed?)

    • Ian Norman May 3, 2017 / 10:29 pm

      Hi Thomas, As far as I know, the a6000 definitely has the issue in Bulb mode, regardless of firmware version. You can verify this with testing: try a timed exposure in M mode where the camera shoots an exposure (maybe try 5 seconds) of the stars, then switch to Bulb and manually shoot a 5 second Bulb exposure. Compare the photos directly in post processing and verify the results.

  57. Ramon Borquez May 3, 2017 / 8:59 pm

    Hi!
    I was thinking that if we contact a Sony ambassador maybe you could speed up the solution. I reviewed the page of the ambassadors and there are examples of astrophotography; for example Kwon O-Chul apparently only makes this kind of photography.
    https://imagingambassadors.sony.net/ambassadors/kwon-o-chul

    • Ian Norman May 3, 2017 / 10:30 pm

      I have reached out to several of my friends who are Sony Ambassadors. The latest word as of a few hours ago is that Sony is aware of the problem. We’re just waiting for a reply I suppose. I’ll update this post if I hear more.

  58. Gareth Churchill May 3, 2017 / 7:34 pm

    “I hate the thought of having recommending a camera to so many people only to learn that something has changed that would have me question my original recommendation. ”

    Please don’t question your original recommendation. At the time, based on the information you had, it was correct. I am still going to buy an original A7s based on your experiences, recommendation, and quality or your work!!! *

    It is my understanding that in the A7s Mark 1 the star eater issue only occurs in bulb mode after 30 second exposures. Someone correct me if I’m wrong please, because if I am, and these changes affect the older A7s * then I’ll have to re evaluate my desion.
    That being said yes it is an issue. I will not be looking at buying any of Sonys newest bodies until this issue is corrected.

    Keep up the smashing work, and I look forward to your future images and articles!

    Gareth

    • Ian Norman May 3, 2017 / 8:35 pm

      Thanks Gareth.

      Yes, you are correct, the original a7S is only affected in Bulb mode. Normal timed exposures in M and S mode are OK.

      I’m certainly hoping that Sony will address the issue at the very least for the a7RII and a7SII when using exposures longer than 3.2″.

  59. Wei-Hao Wang May 3, 2017 / 7:11 pm

    Thank you for for blog post. More astrophotographers deserve to know this, and Sony should realize this is a big problem.

  60. Lucas May 3, 2017 / 4:13 pm

    That’s very disappointing! I’ve recently bought A7SII and A7RII.
    What camera are you thinking now for astrophotography?
    Regards,

    • Ian Norman May 3, 2017 / 9:01 pm

      Well I’m hoping very much that Sony will be able to submit a fix for all of us. If they do, I’ll be amending my article and will recommend Sony again. In the meanwhile, most of the other full-frame DSLR options are good comparable considerations. Personally, I’m interested in trying the Penetax K-1 for its astrotracer functionality.

    • Jia May 4, 2017 / 12:57 pm

      As Ian pointed out, Pentax K1 is a very interesting option. The Astrotracer is especially useful with not so wide lenses. I was able to get ~1min exposure with a 50mm lens at ISO 800, with no star trail at all. Pretty amazing!

  61. ian sempowski May 3, 2017 / 3:49 pm

    how is the d5 for astro. it seems good to me but i am astro beginner and dont have a comparison point
    Ian S

  62. Yusuf May 3, 2017 / 2:47 pm

    What is the top of the tree now for AstroPhotos? As Milky way season is upon us.

  63. Matthew Saville May 3, 2017 / 2:27 pm

    Hey Ian,

    Are you SURE that this issue affects both compressed and uncompressed raw files? I only saw it mentioned once, and the test photos are only a two-image comparison, and I’d love to see a 3-way comparison that shows both pre-firmware, and post-firmware with compression on/off.

    I do believe you, though, I just wonder about that one last nail in the coffin.

    The good news is, Sony DOES listen, as is proven by the fact that they updated the A7R II with uncompressed raw at all. So they may very well have a fix for this issue (at least an on/off switch) in the works.

    The bad news is, even though Sony CAN listen, they don’t always listen WELL. (The uncompressed raw update should have been lossless compressed, like Canon and Nikon both offer, and the likelihood of THAT issue ever getting fixed is near-zero…)

    • Ian Norman May 3, 2017 / 8:40 pm

      Yes, I am sure that it affects both compressed and uncompressed raw. I have faith that Sony will come through on this issue and I’m hoping for the best. I just think that it’s important that everyone know about the issue so that we can push for a fix.

  64. Dmitri May 3, 2017 / 2:04 pm

    I wonder if my A99II is affected by this

    • Ian Norman May 3, 2017 / 2:24 pm

      I wonder this as well…

  65. PAUL HEPNER May 3, 2017 / 1:43 pm

    are prior versions of firmware available to revert back ?

    • Ian Norman May 3, 2017 / 1:48 pm

      Hi Paul, as far as I know, they are not.

      Sony says specifically on their firmware update page: “WARNING: This Digital Camera System Software Update and any changes incurred by it are permanent. It is not possible to return to a previous firmware version after updating this firmware. By continuing this update process, downloading and updating this firmware, you acknowledge that you are aware and understand that this update cannot be reversed.”

    • Matthew Saville May 3, 2017 / 2:29 pm

      Honestly? I’d strongly consider selling my camera and buying a mint older version, if I was that bent on using Sony for astro work. (they ARE otherwise phenomenal cameras / sensors, to be fair) You could ask the seller to send you a cell phone pic of the firmware screen, just to verify that you’ve found an un-updated camera.

    • Ian Norman May 3, 2017 / 11:01 pm

      Matthew,

      I’m just hoping that we can get Sony’s attention so they can issue a firmware fix.

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