Sony a7R at 10000 iso, photos of drag racing at night

This is what the Sony a7R looks like at 10000 ISO, using only ambient lighting from the floodlights at the drag strip. ISO noise reduction on the RAW files was done with DXO Optics Pro 9, using the PRIME setting. There are some comparison photos of the same cars, shot in perfect light on the same day, at f/8, using HSS fill flash from the Sony HLVF60M. The lens used for all shooting was a Vivitar(Kiron) 28mm f/2.0, shot at f/2.8 for the night pictures. At wide apertures like f/2.8, there is a lot of field curvature in this Vivitar lens. No hood was used, and there were issues with flaring and reflections from floodlights on both sides of the track.

This is a problematic comparison, because it’s roughly 1/1000th vs. 1/2000th shutter speed, 10000 ISO vs. 800 ISO, f/8 vs. f/2.8, etc. At slower shutter speeds, vehicle movement blurs the image significantly. Ultimately, though, the biggest problem was that 10000 ISO really kills the resolution, even after cleaning up the noise with DXO Optics Pro in PRIME mode. The best results came from properly exposing the picture, even when that meant raising the ISO from 8000 ISO to 10000 ISO. Leaving a little bit of clean grain kept the image from looking too overprocessed.

The location was trackside at the drag strip at Barona CA, for the Match Race Madness #5 event. This race pits evenly matched competitors in a heads-up start on the tree, no bracket racing, best two out of three wins the match.

Track info at

To purchase pictures from the event, or to check out more photos of this race, please see

Dan Euritt

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