Sony has just given me a reason to stick around...

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by steviem, Aug 19, 2010.

  1. steviem macrumors 68020

    steviem

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    #1
    I have a Sony a300 at the moment, without much else invested in the system, and was having thoughts of changing system to Nikon or Canon whilst I don't have much equipment.

    But I just saw this: http://www.engadget.com/2010/08/18/sony-alpha-a55-makes-articulating-cameo-a33-and-some-rumored-sp/ and to be fair, it looks pretty damn good.

    I like the feel of the Sony, I'm used to the interface and the Live View (with the display being flexible) I can get some got shots with the camera at angles to which I'd have to guess more if I couldn't have a clear view of the display.

    Of course, the new models, with the pellicle mirror, look to be much smaller so I'll have to see how they feel if they really are released on the 24th August, but with the addition of video capture, and being able to use SD Cards, I'm seeing a really compelling reason to start buying into an alpha system.
     
  2. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #2
    If you're happy with the system, then there's no reason to switch. The biggest current issue for me with Sony is the lens line, followed by their high-ISO performance, which they may have fixed in this rev. Longer-term though, I still question their willingness to stick with a DSLR line. If they source larger sensors externally, then that would alleviate those concerns.

    However, if the rumored demise of Sony Semiconductor's full-frame sensors comes to pass and they don't source elsewhere, then I think there's a bigger likelihood that the non-Alpha line will give way to the E-mount system, which is likely to be a bigger and better market for them vs Canon and Nikon who will compete there but won't be in the same value proposition boat for quite some time.

    In other words, I'd stick with the Sony stuff if you're not going to make a large investment in lenses, but if you're looking at expensive glass, I'd seriously consider renting until we see how the semiconductor thing runs its course.

    Paul
     
  3. BeachChair macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    If anything, the new alphas show Sony's commitment to the A-mount. These new cameras are so awesome that they will cannibalize E-mount sales. Why would Sony do that if they really were going all in E-mount.
     
  4. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #4
    The DSLR development cycles are generally around two years. What Sony thought about Alpha in 2008 may not be the same as what they think now.

    If Sony doesn't fab FF sensors, then the question becomes does Alpha go all APS-C or does Sony purchase elsewhere? Going elsewhere leaves a lot of room for political infighting- they'll essentially be paying a direct competitor of one of their divisions. Large companies don't like to to this. What Sony does if it closes its FF sensor fab will show us how the strategic wind is blowing. If the FF sensor fab can't stay in business without Nikon's volume, then that's not good news. If closing it down is the option, then Sony's saying they can't sell enough FF cameras in the near future to float it.

    The Alpha in particular hasn't made any of the annual reports I've seen other than when Sony bought Minolta's stuff. That's likely because Sony's so big that it's not enough of a strategic product line for them to report on separately. While the $400M loss was less than expected, Sony's been known to shut down whole product lines in the last few years, so that's why I'd look to the FF sensor sourcing or lack thereof as tea leaves.

    I also don't believe Sony's met it's own DLSR sales goals (which were totally unrealistic to start with and even the "stack the countries we report on to make the numbers work" game looked dumb to me.) I do think they're doing reasonably well, but I think the E Series is going to do even better- so the question is, if you're Sony do you pour your R&D money into Alpha or E Mount or both? While I don't think Alpha is going to disappear in the next 3-4 years, I'm not sure that the long-term answer is both. That's why I think the FF sensor thing is key- if Alpha is just another APS-C offering, then sooner or later consolidation make sense- I think if Sony doesn't either continue to produce or source FF sensors Alpha won't last beyond the next 6 or so years. Not because I think FF is necessary, but because I just can't see producing two incompatible lines with the same sensor as a long-term strategy.

    Paul
     
  5. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #5
    Nikon and Canon had a clear advantage when Sony first entered the market. Sony aimed for 3rd place, and perhaps they got it. I haven't been following, but it wouldn't surprise me. Having said that, it doesn't mean they're doing well. Plus, it's nearly impossible to do better than 3rd place in DSLR sales, and how frustrating would it be for any company to put resources into an area where they could never do better than 3rd place?

    Going with their NEX cameras means they get to enter a new field dominated by nobody, and to an electronics company like Sony, this is a field worth playing on.

    I think compuwar is right with regards to Sony backing out of their Alpha cameras, and I doubt Sony will be producing their own FF sensors. They're essentially producing them for themselves and Nikon, but if Nikon decides to make more of their own sensors, then Sony is SOL.
     
  6. steviem thread starter macrumors 68020

    steviem

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    #6
    Well, I'd like to start getting lenses, I've had the Sony for around 18 months, and have taken enough photos to know what lenses in terms of length and speed that I'd like to have. I'd also like to become more serious in my photography and experiment with using lighting.

    The ISO performance of the a300 is, to be honest, poor. I rarely shoot above ISO 800 (which gives noise even here) and I do find this a big negative. Apparently their ISO performance has improved in newer bodies.

    I have noticed the sensor is slightly misaligned to what is viewed in the OVF/Live View, and this sometimes puts me off of staying with in body stabilisation, it isn't a killer for the camera right now, but can be annoying and I have to consider this constantly whilst composing my photos.

    The problem is, if I were to change to Canon, for instance, the best body I would be able to afford at the moment is a Rebel XTi or maybe an XSi.

    I guess that's my question, do I keep with the Sony for the short term, buying a f1.8 50mm lens for it, or do I see how much I can get from it and get a comparable used Canon body?
     
  7. carlgo macrumors 68000

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    #7
    Why do I think FF sensors are only fractionally more expensive to make than smaller sizes, that they all come clattering out of automated production lines? And that they aren't horribly expensive to make anyway once the machinery is in place?
     
  8. Full of Win macrumors 68030

    Full of Win

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    #8
    Making a system switch is always painful and expensive. Sony, like many companies, tends to pull support or offer weak support when they do not dominate. Better to make a clean break now than to slowly pull the knife out over the next year or two.

    Bigger size means more of the silicone has to be perfect. Said another way, the rejection rate for full frame sensors, I've been told, is higher simply because there is more area for something to go wrong. The other reason is that users will pay the premium for membership to the full frame club, and they (Canon, Sony Nikon) know it.
     
  9. steviem thread starter macrumors 68020

    steviem

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    #9
    Exactly, I'm afraid that I'll end up with a full on system in 10 years time and have no body to use it on.

    At the moment, with a kit lens, the telephoto and an old sigma off of ebay, it isn't quite as painful to switch.
     
  10. toxic macrumors 68000

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    #10
    they aren't "fractionally" more.

    post #4 has most of the info. note that APS-H is the largest sensor Canon can make without stitching (he says 1.5x, but that's incorrect), which is one reason why they like it so much. http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=916003

    Canon CMOS white paper that came out with the 5D, if you care to read it: http://www.usa.canon.com/uploadedimages/FCK/Image/White Papers/Canon_CMOS_WP.pdf
     
  11. pcconvert macrumors member

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    #11
    With A33 and A55 Sony actually made a breakthrough which Canon and Nikon will follow. They married speed of phase AF with the convenience of fulltime EVF and managed to get rid of the mirror along the way. This is HUGE. (Next huge is global shutter but that's a sensor matter).

    Sony have shown real creative thinking. Forget about Nex5 for prosumer. No viewfinder no prosumer. So to me Nex5 is the end of the road and no Nex7 is to follow because A33/55 is the way forward.

    At least until the processing power (and battery consumption which come with it) would make contrast based AF as fast as phased based AF.

    I currently own GH1 and no matter how awesome camera it is the AF is nowhere as fast as traditional phase based systems. Plus the m4/3 system lacks fast lenses (and I mean FAST for small DOF) so if these A33/55 cams will be any good I am going to switch. Painful decision (bought $2k of lenses) but necessary.
     
  12. toxic macrumors 68000

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    #12
    ...the A33 and A55 are still rumors, actually.

    the mirror is still there. what Sony did is re-introduce pellicle mirrors, which haven't been used since the Canon 1N RS from 1995. they also defeated the point of the cameras (fast action) by using a laggy EVF instead of an optical VF.

    how can the NEX5 be the "end of the road" if it's one of the first E-mount cameras? Sony didn't go through the trouble of making a new lens mount just to make two cameras.

    processing power isn't the problem with contrast AF.
     
  13. pcconvert macrumors member

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    #13
    Yes, until tomorrow...


    Sorry I wasn't clear to everyone. By the 'mirror' I meant MOVEABLE mirror. That's gone and that's huge improvement over the camera speed and size. Making mirror jumping 10x per second does require some know how and space in the camera.

    As far as 'laggy EVF' - have you used a good EVF lately? Can you see a histogram in optical VF as you shoot? Although the truth is that optical VF married with a translucent EVF overlay for controls would be an ultimate solution from some reason they are not available nor rumored...

    There is no reason going beyond a simple point and shoot concept with NEX cameras. So consumers who want to point and shoot in higher quality will have that choice from sony. But as EVERY photographer would confirm without the EVF, fast AF and fast lenses this thing is kinda stuck at half way... Plus look at the size of this NEX thing with standard zoom or telezoom.... not quite a pocket rocket...

    I see NEX future as a current bodystyle with a set of various fixed pancake lenses in 20-60mm range, that would make sense. A33/55 is not that bigger... NEX is definitely going to be a dumbed APSC sensor utilization for consumers. Having said that I am planning on getting one with wide pancake for hiking scenery shooting.

    I would say it is. Plus those who've implemented it today don't have the fastest lenses around which magnify the issue. Although with 1GHz processors in phones today this issue might be behind us soon :)
     
  14. toxic macrumors 68000

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    #14
    two problems with the pellicle mirror:

    1. it has no practical framerate advantage over a "normal" mirror system. theoretically, you'd think (or I did) a pellicle camera would be able to do much faster than 10 fps...but none of them do. Canon abandoned the pellicle mirror after they introduced the EOS 1v, which did 10 fps with a moving mirror. my point? pellicle mirrors aren't as perfect as they seem to be. I don't know what all the compromises are, but Canon didn't find enough reason to continue, and you have to wonder why.

    2. light loss to the sensor. the Canon EOS RT and 1N RS lost about 2/3 light going to the film, and the viewfinder was darker. I haven't seen anything about how much light is lost in the A55, but I'm guessing 1/3 stop because that's usually how much light goes to the AF sensor. Sony got around Canon's 2/3-stop compromise by using an EVF instead of a pathetically dark, APS-C viewfinder...which brings us to the next point

    admittedly, I haven't used a "good" EVF lately...frankly I don't what camera has a good one, so you'll have to help me out there.

    I don't know what the histogram has to do with anything.

    the A33/55 were obviously designed for fast action, like sports. this is why the pellicle mirror is attractive in the first place - no VF blackout, shorter shutter lag, and theoretically faster framerate. with an EVF, now there's a shutter blackout, but that's still much faster than VF blackout for action-stopping shutter speeds. the problem with the EVF is now there's a lag between what's happening on the field and what's happening in the viewfinder. I would much rather have no lag at the VF and some lag between shutter press and image capture, than less lag between shutter press and shutter capture plus some lag at the VF.

    lag in the VF means the photographer has to "predict" what has already happened, plus what is going to happen in the next split second, and time the shutter press accordingly. that's not an improvement over just timing what's going to happen in the next split second.

    another theoretical advantage for the pellicle mirror is a continuous "feed" for the AF sensor. normally the "feed" is interrupted when the mirror flips up, which means more guesswork for the AF...but again, Canon had a similar implementation in their cameras, and if it was that advantageous, why did they stop?

    - saying "EVERY" photographer is a very bold statement.
    - considering how new E-mount and m4/3 are, this is no time to write off the lens lineup
    - I'm pretty sure it's been made clear that the NEX3/5 are marketed more towards consumers coming from P&S's, and Sony is working on other cameras that are designed more for photographers
    - rangefinders have had their place in photography for a long time. they're not exactly tiny, either. they're still tiny compared to modern SLRs, though, and that's the point.

    yes, it is that much bigger.

    the problem with contrast AF is that the lens has to rack back and forth. phase detect makes a calculation and moves the lens directly to the correct position. I don't see where processing comes in.
     
  15. pcconvert macrumors member

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    #15
    Nothing is perfect. However, the elimination of moving parts, in case you don't have know how how to make them, may increase your chances to produce high frame rate camera. Plus it makes the production cheaper and - perhaps - even doable. Elimination of moving parts makes the camera more reliable. Mechanical know how can't be - unfortunately - gained overnight. A great example of this is US auto industry vs. Japanese/Germans. The US being the laggard here...

    Very true with the light. That's is why A55 might be targeted to prosumers and not the pros'. For a very limited number of users 1/3 stop will be a deal breaker. Afterall, now I have awesome Lumix 20/1.7 and I think, with better sensor, I might do with 20/2.4 just fine. 1.7 for DOF on APSC sensor is insanely small anyway. I think there are some comparison table which might show that 1.7 on m4/3 ~ 2.4 on APSC or so.


    GH1 for one and Oly's EVF2 for second... These actually best opticals in low light as you can see the details actually.

    The ability to see the histogram in real time before you press the shutter greatly increases your chances of not under/over exposing images under challenging light conditions. Especially when shooting raw you could push the limits in your favor for PP purposes.

    Truth truth but sort of. It depends on the EVF implementation and the speed of your card. We will know with the first reviews whether Sony deployed the brain and A55 shows real time view even if it saves to the card and if they perhaps stuffed A55 with some RAM to store images/movies before their write to flash - or not. Panny's GH-1 doesn't do this - which is a pain sometimes, especially when recording video (the lags are longer) - but we have to wait and see. Still - for me - GH1/EP2's EVF wins big over current optical VFs.
    [/quote]

    They didn't have digital sensors back then and now - well - when you abandon one technology it takes a courage and investments $ to bring it back. Try to justify this with corporate people when there is no threat from m4/3 or NEX and Canon is known NOT to be the innovator here.... (except of introducing CMOS with D30 I bought 10 years ago and which was so great it blew others out of the water)

    "Every" means a group analysis. Personally I don't know of the photographer which would be delighted taking pictures in daylight or with tele without VF. I don't. It's not even a pleasure to take pictures like that. For anyone.

    I see Nex5 as a great foray into EVIL market but as all new ideas crystalize my take is that someone will eventually realize that shooting @ 150mm without a VF is pointless and that - perhaps - range of dedicated small and light pancakes would be a great addition to such small body as the Nex is.

    you just answered your question... contrast based calculates the contrast on the matrix, right? so you have number of pixels to calculate and compare avery fraction of the second to judge whether you go the right or wrong direction... Compare it with the phase based AF which was available, fast and precise before digital... it's an algorithm and processor speed and sensor-processor comm issue...
     
  16. pcconvert macrumors member

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    #16
    real deal

    New Sony Alpha 55 and Alpha 33 EVF DSLRs to feature fixed Translucent Mirror
    Tuesday 24th August 2010
    Richard Sibley
    Sony is set to introduce shooting speeds of up to 10fps, as well as video, in its latest Alpha DSLR cameras, the Alpha 55 and Alpha 33, by using a new non-moving 'translucent' mirror. Echoing the technology of the pellicle mirror in Canon's EOS RT of 1989, Sony's new semi-transparent mirror allows light to be fed simultaneously to a camera's imaging sensor and AF system, removing the need for a moving mirror and providing the potential for much improved focus tracking as well as active AF in Live View and video modes.
    The Sony Alpha 33 and Alpha 55 will be the first Sony DSLR cameras to offer a video capture facility. By using what Sony calls 'Translucent Mirror Technology', phase detection autofocus during video recording becomes possible for the first time in a DSLR camera. The company says this new technology will significantly out-perform the contrast detection AF systems currently used by other manufacturers for focusing during video capture.
    Eliminating the requirement for mirror movement between frames has enabled Sony engineers to achieve high frame rates in these two new cameras: the Alpha 55 will be capable of 10fps in Continuous Priority mode with tracking AF, and the Alpha 33 up to 7fps in the same mode.
    In another unusual move Sony has equipped its new DSLR models with electronic viewfinders instead of optical finders. The 1.15 million-dot 'Tru-Finders' will provide 100% image coverage, a digital level gauge and grid line display options.
    The 3D Sweep Panorama mode that was first seen in the DSC-WX5 and the company's NEX micro system cameras is also to be incorporated into the new Alpha bodies, as will SteadyShot, an anti-dust system and auto-HDR modes.
    Of the two cameras the Alpha 55 is the higher specified, featuring a Sony Exmor HD APS-C size 16.2 million-pixel CMOS sensor, whilst the Alpha 33 has a 14.2 million-pixel CMOS sensor. Each camera will have a sensitivity range of ISO 100-12,800, which can be extended to ISO 25,600 by using multi-frame noise reduction mode.
    The tilting screens of previous Sony Alpha cameras have also been upgraded and the 3in 921,000-dot screens now have both a tilt and swivel action.
    The two new models will be available in the UK from September. Sony has yet to confirm pricing. *
     
  17. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #17
    I think another issue with the pellicle mirror on previous SLRs was that they eventually got dirty when you changed lenses, and since it's so thin and delicate (I think the old pellicle mirrors were only about 20 microns thick), it is very difficult (if not impossible) to clean yourself. Perhaps with the ultrasonic vibration sensor cleaning technology already been developed, they can adapt a similar system on the pellicle mirror to help combat this.

    Ruahrc
     
  18. toxic macrumors 68000

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    #18
    annd...Sony fails completely.

    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sonyslta55/page8.asp
    more problems detailed in the DPReview link. on the plus side, it has GPS...
     
  19. El Cabong macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    They gave it their highest award with "no hesitation". And yet, [FAIL]
     
  20. BeachChair macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    lol toxic. the whole review reads like a praise and they actually give it the Gold Award

    I don't think the professional high FPS shooters would really be looking at a APS-C camera any way...
     
  21. BeachChair macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    I see no reason A and E mount can't coexist and I think Sony's long term plan is for these two mounts to cover the whole market for APS-C or FF sensors.

    They both offer distinct tradeoffs that doesn't make one inherently superior to the other.

    - A mount has longer registration distance, which allows for optical viewfinders, phase detection AF, better corner sharpness
    - A mount has a huge lens catalogue, with both cheap lenses and top of the line stuff from Zeiss
    - Supports Full Frame sensors

    - E mount has short registration distance which allows for smaller bodies, compatibility with rangefinder glass like Leica's, but worse corner sharpness

    The main difference is the E mount bodies will always be able to be smaller while A mount bodies will always have those other advantages
     
  22. pcconvert macrumors member

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    #22
    +1

    I also read an interview as an a praise. The words 'let down' etc. were used rather as a sigh, because there was so much expectation into the design delivery. However, the camera was a pre-production model and there may be quite improvements delivered with software optimization and upgrade.

    Sony - after all - is a pioneer in this. It always takes time for all ideas to settle in engineers minds.
     
  23. toxic macrumors 68000

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    #23
    they give it an award for its ease of use and image quality, not its AF.

    "professional high fps shooters" is irrelevant. let's say you want to shoot sports. you have $1500 or so for a lens and camera. you look at the A55 and you think "hey, that's perfect!"...and it's not. period.

    Sony is not a "pioneer in this." Canon's done this already, Sony just took out the VF and put in a EVF.

    my point is that Sony completely failed to make use of the pellicle mirror. they could have just used a normal mirror assembly and stuck in an EVF.
     
  24. andiwm2003 macrumors 601

    andiwm2003

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    #24
    I have a sony and I like it mostly for the handling. Any other camera I ever tried felt somehow wrong to me. The image quality and the high ISO quality is great and about the same in all consumer DSLR's (same price range, same age). It may be different in the high price market. But for consumers in the $700-1000 it's all the same IMHO. Featurewise the Sony's are very interesting to me. Although I would wait for the second generation Pellicle cameras.

    Lenses are an issue. There are simply a lot more lenses for CANIKON and a lot more used lenses if you want cheap good glass. If you have lenses and if you buy only a few mid-price lenses and if you are a consumer then I would stick with Sony.

    If I were to build up a system and would plan on dropping $5000 on lenses i would switch to CANIKON. More choices.
     
  25. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #25
    Because you don't know anything about sensor manufacturing? The economics of sensors fall into two categories, pure number of sensors per wafer (1.5x the size, just over 1.5x the price (sensors are rectangles, wafers are round) and the one that's the killer, yields- which is the number of usable sensors per wafer after taking into account defects.

    Wafers start out perfect. That "clattering" in the process produces the defects, and it's the biggest issue in manufacturing. As it currently stands, FF sensors are significantly more expensive than APS-C ones because the yields drop quite a bit. At this juncture, an APS-C sensor is probably roughly 4.5x cheaper than a full frame sensor, and the sensor is still the single-most expensive component in the camera.

    *Ouch*

    Based upon what? High FPS shooters are sports shooters, many of the are addicted to the smaller file sizes and crop.

    That would require Sony to outsource FF sensors once they stop their line. Personally, I'd wait to see the commitment prior to buying in. I also don't see the point of an APS-C sensor in two mounts if that's your strategy- the economics of running two production lines can't be that good.

    Paul
     

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