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Test Bokeh and shutter mode

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I read somewhere that the shutter mode makes a difference in the amount and kind of background blur, especially with fast lenses. With shutter mode I mean the use of EFCS (electronic front curtain shutter or "e-Front Curtain Shut." in the A7R2 menu) or silent shutter ("Silent Shooting" in the menu). As I use my Voigtländer FE 1.2/40mm more and more at large apertures, I decided to check if this is true or just another one of those urban legends.

Spoiler: it's true. Bokeh is noticeably different between EFCS on or off, and SS looks a lot like EFCS off. I won't use SS a lot because of the rolling shutter effect, which becomes very visible if something moving is photographed, so it comes down to choosing EFCS on or off. From what I've seen, the effect is almost negligible at 1/500 s and shows itself progressively when upping the shutter speed to 1/8000 s. I think I'll start to consider switching EFCS off when I'm at 1/1000 s or faster. A neutral density filter is a very useful addition for such a fast lens, although it's a pain to mount the filter and take it off again when the light changes.

Another remarkable effect is a change in the brightness of the raw files between the various shutter modes, amounting to 1/3 stop at most, so that's not a big deal (to me at least, I only work with raw files).

All photos made with the Sony A7R2 and Voigtländer FE 1.2/40mm at f/1.2.

S01-20190815-005p.jpg
ILCE-7RM2    Voigtlander NOKTON 40mm F1.2 Aspherical    40mm    f/1.2    1/8000s    ISO 250


S02-20190815-006p.jpg
ILCE-7RM2    Voigtlander NOKTON 40mm F1.2 Aspherical    40mm    f/1.2    1/8000s    ISO 250


At the fastest shutter speed the effect of EFCS is readily visible: the blur pattern is more detailed in the lower picture and also the scene looks like it's shifted upwards (watch the upper border). There is some sort of vertical compression with EFCS on.

Another set at 1/8000 s:

S03-20190815-020p.jpg
ILCE-7RM2    Voigtlander NOKTON 40mm F1.2 Aspherical    40mm    f/1.2    1/8000s    ISO 250


S04-20190815-021p.jpg
ILCE-7RM2    Voigtlander NOKTON 40mm F1.2 Aspherical    40mm    f/1.2    1/8000s    ISO 250


Also here the difference in bokeh is visible. In Lightroom I can easily toggle between the two pictures and it's immediately obvious that the object in focus stays put, whereas the out-of-focus area seems to shift upwards.

At 1/500 s the effect is very subtle and I'll consider it irrelevant.

S05-20190815-017p.jpg
ILCE-7RM2    Voigtlander NOKTON 40mm F1.2 Aspherical    40mm    f/1.2    1/500s    ISO 160


S06-20190815-018p.jpg
ILCE-7RM2    Voigtlander NOKTON 40mm F1.2 Aspherical    40mm    f/1.2    1/500s    ISO 160


All test pictures can be viewed here.
 

bdbits

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Thanks, Ad. I saw a similar demo of the effect about a year ago, I think it was a Manny Oritz vlog. I found out there was actually a one-liner in the user manual to leave EFCS off at shutter speeds > 1000. But it is, as you've shown, demonstrable.

EFCS should also always be off when mounted on a tripod. I've read speculation these issues are physics, so I suspect they would occur with a lot of different bodies even from other manufacturers. Perhaps a smaller body would not be so egregious.

Really Sony ought to automatically turn it off based on the shutter speed, why they do not is a mystery to me. Annoyingly, I cannot assign this to a button/FN menu on the A7ii either. Honestly, I don't know why Sony does not allow anything that appears on a menu to be assigned. I think this ability is improved on newer bodies, but I am stuck for now.

Thanks for the informative post, a good reminder, too.
 

WoodWorks

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EFCS should also always be off when mounted on a tripod.
I've read that IBIS should be turned off when using the camera on a tripod. Which makes sense, given that it may introduce sensor shake. But what possible problem could EFCS introduce (other than at very high shutter speeds) when using the camera on a tripod?
 
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Really Sony ought to automatically turn it off based on the shutter speed, why they do not is a mystery to me. Annoyingly, I cannot assign this to a button/FN menu on the A7ii either. Honestly, I don't know why Sony does not allow anything that appears on a menu to be assigned. I think this ability is improved on newer bodies, but I am stuck for now.
Totally agree. I played with a Fuji XT-3 (I think) which offered option in the menu for automatic switching between EFCS on/off and silent shutter. Would love to have that. And it's a real annoyance to have to go into the menu to toggle EFCS. It'll be one of the things I'll check for when the A9 Mark II comes out; until then the A7R2 will have to do.
 

tino84

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Sorry, but I can’t see what you’re seeing.
It seems to me that the first two Sample have a slighty little difference exposure, instead of bokeh quantity.
To me bokeh in those shot is the same.

Maybe something went wrong during the test?
 

bdbits

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In the first two shots, look at the top center area. The first has a mild bokeh ball look. In the second, the same area looks more like a lot of partial bokeh balls. I actually thought it was easier to see in the first couple of shots than the rest.
 

tino84

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To me it’s not a Matter of bokeh, but exposition and contrast. i see the same bokeh, but in the second frame, it’s darker and with more contrast.
For me, the little difference in exposition is what Makes to think there’s something different in the two images
 

bdbits

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I found the Manny Ortiz video I had mentioned earlier.
Interestingly, he notes that the exposure does actually change over 1/1000 with EFCS (which is where Sony recommends you turn it off). Not sure if he was on auto or full manual settings, though.

 

Antonio Correia

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Thank you Ad for this thread ! An old one but steel valid.
The 7III has the possibility to set the change in the menu but not in a custom button !
Bob said "...Really Sony ought to automatically turn it off based on the shutter speed,..." and he is right.
What is happening with your most recent Sony ad ?

Why not EFCS always OFF ? Am I asking something silly ?
 
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Thank you Ad for this thread ! An old one but steel valid.
The 7III has the possibility to set the change in the menu but not in a custom button !
Bob said "...Really Sony ought to automatically turn it off based on the shutter speed,..." and he is right.
What is happening with your most recent Sony ad ?

Why not EFCS always OFF ? Am I asking something silly ?
It's still not possible to assign EFCS on/off to a button on the A7R4 :mad:. And yes, I agree, it should be possible to have the camera switch EFCS on/off automatically depending on the shutter speed. Fuji has done this for ages already on their X-series cameras. I leave EFCS on by default because EFCS off causes extra vibration due to the mechanical shutter moving at the start of the exposure; with EFCS on the mechanical shutter only operates at the end of the exposure.
 

bdbits

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To my way of thinking, anything on a menu should be assignable. If a menu item can do it, why can't a button? :confused:
 

SpecFoto

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Thank you Ad for this thread ! An old one but steel valid.
....
Why not EFCS always OFF ? Am I asking something silly ?
I have done the opposite with my new A7RIV, where I use either Aperture or Manual, and the ECSF is on. The lag is reduced and the shutter is a bit quieter this way. Sony says to turn it back off at > 1,000 ss, but I have shot with it on and yet to see any issue.
 
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SpecFoto

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Shutter slap can cause vibration in the rig and reduce IQ, though I believe this is more a problem with long lenses. Happy to be corrected.
That is what I have read too. But when I shot about 2,000 photos of the Blue Angels in flight 3 weeks ago with the EFCS on with my 100-400 GM, mostly at 1,250ss up to 1,800ss, I did not see an issue. Of course these were all at near infinity, and maybe that makes a difference?
 

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