MereNoise Xmas Party

When you’ve got a new camera to test out for the first time, there has to be no better place to take it into battle than the original scene of the crime, every Brisbane photographer’s favourite venue, the black hole that sucks all the light out of the universe, The Troubadour, where MereNoise were holding their Xmas Party, featuring The Horrortones, The DZ annd Butcher Birds.  There was also an advantage in that it wasn’t an assigned shoot and knowing most of the bands and having photographed them plenty of times previously, there was no pressure whatsoever, allowing me to play around with settings and try to get used to using my new toy. 

Having bought the camera, the first thing I did as soon as the battery was charged was download and install the v4 firmware which was released by Sony on September 2008.  Amongst other things, this is supposed to have improved the high ISO quality and also allows the in-camera noise redcution to be turned off (as opposed to the ‘low’ setting that was the minimum in the previous versions of the camera’s software) meaning that the much criticised ‘watercolour’ effects at higher ISOs can be avoided. 

In addition to getting used to physically using a new camera and its settings, I found that the learning curve has also extended to post-production.  The Sony a700 has a different noise structure and saturation compared to my old Minolta 5D, so most of the playing around in post was trying different ways of processing the photos to try to optimise a modified workflow to get the best out of the camera.  I was also keen to try and maintain shots in colour, as previously I would have just coverted everything taken at The Troubadour to mototone. As I worked through the photos I think the quality of the final images improved, so by the end I was tempted to go back and re-do most of the photos.

Overall I was pretty happy with the first run-out, especially as the gig followed my work Xmas lunch and an afternoon spent in the pub…  I started at my usual ISO800 setting, but was soon playing around with taking photos at 1600, 3200 and 6400.  Image quality at 1600 is very good, 3200 is more than usable, and although 6400 isn’t great, it’s more than comparable to ISO1600 on the old Minolta.  Still some work to be done I think, as JPEG quality is probably even smoother than the processed RAW files but hopefully we’ll get there soon.  Looking forward to testing it out at a venue that isn’t The Troubadour, and has a bit more light, to see how it handles at my typical ISO800 setting.

Some more photos on flickr.

Butcher Birds at ISO6400 on the Sony a700 

For comparison – Jeremy Jay at ISO1600 on the Minolta 5D

ISO 3200

The DZ (all DZ photos at ISO 1600)

The Horrortones (at ISO 1600)

2 Responses to “MereNoise Xmas Party”

  1. Stephen says:

    Only the last of those looks a touch rough. Horrotones @ 1600 is quite excellent, I think. Looks as though you were getting decent shutter speeds, and there’s not even that much red colouration. Excellent buy, I reckon.

    Personally, I don’t think my 400d is much chop at 1600. Generally I try to stick to 800 or 400.

    Hope you have a top time down at Mt Buller.

  2. Justin says:

    Mostly happy so far, although was looking forward to trying it out at The Zoo for Stars last week and they played in the dark, with lighting worse than the Troubadour. Black Keys and Gomez at The Arena on Monday was better though. Thing I’m struggling most with at the moment is the weight and the size of the thing as it’s so much bigger than the old camera. Means I’m getting nowhere near the shutter speeds I used to be able to get down to and still get a sharp image. Gotta start doing some weights or something… Yep, v. excited about Mt Buller. Also going to the Riverstage show so maybe see you there.

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