The interesting thing about modern cameras is the wealth of hidden features. Most you think you'll never be interested in. I remember when Nikon stuck video in the D90. All the stodgy photographers groused about having "to pay extra for a feature no one will ever use." Fast forward to today and now contemporary photographers are switching back and forth between video and still imaging with reckless abandon. People laughed about "eye-selection" auto focus in the Olympus EP3 until they experienced perfect portrait focus with their 45mm 1.8 lenses. The most recent burst of exuberant extras came to me in the form of a Sony a77 camera. It has lots and lots of "extras."
I played with one of them today. It's called Multi-Frame Noise Reduction. It does something that Kodak introduced in their SLR/n full frame digital camera in 2004 (go Kodak !!!). You switch the ISO to MFNR, set the ISO you want to use, and then hold the camera still and point it at a non-moving subject. The camera shoots a fast burst of images and then electronically stacks and merges them to kick out anomalous noise. Being an old fashion, conservative, stuck in the mud, photographer I presumed that I'd need a tripod to make this work which would confine the feature to studio shoots or low light landscapes, with the camera held rigid on a heavy perch.
But I was feeling all saucy and Hipsteramic and I set the camera's ISO menu to MFNB @ 3200 and I pointed it at my friend, Will, and blazed away. Handheld. The camera banged through a bunch of frames in a fraction of a second and then went into "processing" mode. When it finished I pressed the review button expecting to see a mess of frames (I had been drinking strong coffee...) but what I got was a perfect exposure of Will's face with no grain or noise. None. I converted the image to black and white in Lightroom, just for fun.
Now, here's the kicker: I shot the image with an 80mm 2.8 Zeiss Planar. I took it off the front of my Hasselblad. I used an adapter to put it on the Sony. I like the focal length and the way it renders stuff so much I might have it spot welded to one of the a77 bodies (hyperbole alert for those with Asperger's Syndrome. I won't have it spot welded to the camera. I was using an extreme statement for emphasis about my positive feelings for the lens in question ).
Where the image is in focus the sharpness on Will's image is high and the contrast is good.
And that led me on a shooting frenzy so the close by coffee cup and wine glass were easy targets....
The neat thing about "extras" on cameras is that they are mostly just firmware that someone in the camera company has come up with. The manufacturers don't need to add complexity in production or add more parts. It doesn't really add cost the product but for some people it adds a valuable tool. You can even use MFNR at low ISO's for potential absolutely noise free still life work. How nice.
But if you fall profoundly into the gear curmudgeon, "you'll pry my eye from the optical viewfinder when I'm cold and dead" camp you can just ignore the feature and pretend that it doesn't exist.
I like it and it rocks. I also like putting those MF lenses on the a77's. They are cool to look at and they make a cool look.
There's more stuff to try. Bye.