Sony “Clear Image Zoom” Gets 2X Zoom With No Image Quality Loss.

December 21, 201517 Comments

A lesser known function on the new alpha cameras is called Clear Image Zoom. It’s a digital zoom feature that gives you a maximum of 2 times zoom. This is great but just how good is it? Well it’s pretty dang good! From my testing I can’t see any image quality loss when using Clear Image Zoom on the a7s II. It’s a little mind boggling really. I know it’s a digital zoom in but it’s not pixelizing or creating strange edges. Oh and it’s also on the original a7s too!

As for the zoom itself I don’t like it very much. I wish I could slow it down for nice slow pushes but you can’t. I don’t see myself using the actual zoom effect really but maybe it can be slowed down a little in post. Try it out.

Check out the video and how to find the setting in the a7s II menu. Unfortunately it’s a setting that requires two changes in the menu in order to use it. I recommend using one of the custom settings options on the camera.

To tun the Clear Image Zoom on.

Menu:
Go to the GEAR icon
Scroll down to ZOOM SETTING
Select – ON:ClearImageZoom
Then go to the CAMERA icon
page 6 – Select ZOOM

Clear Image Zoom was developed for stills and later added to the video function. I don’t know when Sony added this in video mode but the original a7s II also has the option in video mode. The new cameras like the a7r II and FS5 also have it. Even the FS7 has it.

This is what Sony says about Clear Image Zoom.

Clear Image Zoom is a function that uses the Sony® exclusive By Pixel Super Resolution Technology. It allows you to enlarge the image with close to the original image quality when shooting still images. The camera first zooms optically to the maximum optical magnification, then uses Clear Image Zoom technology to enlarge the image an additional 2x, producing sharp, clear images despite the increased zoom ratio.

It’s a very cool feature and I can see myself using it a lot. Just don’t shoot at high ISO levels because the noise is more noticeable when the image is 2x bigger. It doesn’t add more noise but makes the noise in the image 2x bigger. Get it? So slap a 100mm on and make it 200mm. Wildlife shooting with a 300mm or now 600mm will be huge! Literally 😀

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About the Author ()

I'm a broadcast DP In San Diego. I enjoy sharing what I'm working on and testing new equipment. This blog is also part of giving back. I've learned so much from so many people.

Comments (17)

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  1. Noah says:

    Absolutely brilliant.

  2. VanWeddings says:

    my first digital camera back in the 90s had a digital zoom. it was so terrible i never used it again. this looks much better though and i’ll be checking it out! thanks

  3. Erik,

    Thanks for the digital zoom video. I shoot with a GH4 and would appreciate your thoughts on renting the Sony A7S ll for a project.

    Is learning to shoot with the A7S ll a steep learning curve coming from the GH4 or reasonably straightforward ?

    What lenses would you recommend to use, Speedbooster or Sony lenses ?

    What camera settings do you recommend ?

    Thank you.

    Thanks for your insight, Dale

    • Erik Naso says:

      Hi Dale.
      It’s not a steep learning curve. Once you get to know the somewhat strange menu order it’s easy.

      I don’t do settings tweaks for the a7s II because the color science is much better. Slog2 and CINE are great. I like the stills color mode in CINE but thats just me.

      You will need a adapter but not a SpeedBooster. The a7s II is full frame.
      For video basically any lens with an adapter will work and native lenses are best for stills.

  4. Rocco says:

    Hi, great video, thank you!

    I have a question, can you zoom while recording, your sample video seem to suggest that. Only, I don’t know how to do that? Any tips would greatly be appreciated!

  5. One thing to note regarding ClearImage zoom on the A7s and A7sII, is that it will not function properly in any 50p or 60p modes. For some strange reason, the ClearImage is rendered as ugly as full 4x digital zoom, and is not usable unless your focus magnification function becomes disabled somehow. I am actually ditching my 28-135 cine lens for a Zeiss 35mm f1.4, specifically to utilize it in 4K for video with up to 4x digital zooming. The ability to operate at night at 3 stops less ISO vs the ENG lens at f4.0, begins to allow sweet 720p output for broadcast, pretty usable in fact for my purposes, which is overnight news.

  6. Ian Cameron says:

    I can’t seem to enable this feature in video mode (or Digital Zoom for that matter) on the A7S since I’ve upgraded to FW 3.10. Getting a “This function is currently disabled”. Are there any ideas what settings might be conflicting?

  7. VanWeddings says:

    I’ve been using the Clear Image Zoom in video mode for a while now. Yesterday I upgraded my Metabones EF adapter to v0.5 and now for some reason I can no longer use CIZ, it gives a “This function is currently disabled” message. This is in video mode. In the menus CIZ is enabled and the “zoom” item is greyed out… Weird.

    • Erik Naso says:

      Did you try it without the adapter to see if it’s related. I’m hearing other issues with IS on the FS5. Seems like a half baked update.

      • VanWeddings says:

        Ok, after removing the adapter and attaching a native Sony lens, CIZ came back. I then re-attached the adapter and now everything works fine… even other minor issues like loud aperture change noises have gone away. I’ll be testing more, but for now it looks like re-attaching the adapter has solved the problems 🙂

  8. Howard Ritter says:

    I just got a new a7R II and tried out the Clear Image Zoom feature. I used the 24-70 f/4 Zeiss zoom at 24 mm with and without CIZ, and at 48 mm to image a test scene at ISO 1600 at highest-quality JPEG (the function doe not work with raw). I compared four images at high magnification in Photoshop (high enough to begin to see the pixellation of edges in the native 24 mm image), all at the same image size: 24 mm native, 24 mm upsampled by a factor of 2 in PS, 24 mm with CIZ at a factor of 2, and 48 mm native. This was under rather low interior lighting, without a tripod, and at undoubtedly higher than optimal ISO, but I was eager to get a quick test done.

    The best image, naturally, was the native 48 mm. The worst, surprisingly, was a tossup between the CIZ and the blown-up native 24 mm image; the CIZ was smoother but had noticeable artifacts. The PS-upsampled image was clearly superior to the CIZ image in all respects. This is extremely disappointing and quite puzzling, since Sony engineers presumably know the characteristics of their imaging chain better than anyone else, and yet the generic upsampling algorithm of PS blew away Sony’s proprietary one. If this is representative of the CIZ feature, it’s worse than pointless; just use PS for superior results.

    I’ll repeat this test in full daylight at optimal ISO, but I don’t expect that to make a lot of difference. I’ll post results in a day or two.

    • Erik Naso says:

      I can see your point in stills however in video it’s not the same and this test was for video. The only issue I see with CIZ is the noise also gets bigger as you use it, but if you have a low noise setting then you get great results.

  9. Nay Linn says:

    My camera have clear zoom. In video recording but doesn’t have auto, p,a,s,m and have only optical zoom.

  10. abc says:

    CIZ for stills is NOT meant for pixel peeping.
    It is meant to give better image when photo is looked at normal sizes (e.g. blown to normal monitor screen size).
    It’s Sony’s artificial intelligence machine learning to extrapolate pixels to make normal-size images look as natural as possible.
    It probably compares machine trial and error results of different objects at normal viewing sizes to see how close the CIZ can get to optical-zoom type results and improves the neural “algorithm” this way.
    It gets better and better over time as the CPU power improves and it has more trail-and-error lessons learnt from its machine learning.

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