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Old Jul 23, 2010, 9:02 PM   #1
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Default Unusable a550 Live View in Low Light.

I have had a Sony A550 for little over two weeks. I noticed almost immediately that the live view was not usable in low light. Since the only term I knew to describe the bands of interference and grainy dots that moved across the screen was noise I used that term when describing my problem at the Sony website FAQ. The script there explained that noise was common problem for live view because of the smaller sensor used and so forth. But this seemed more than the grainy noisy images that I have encountered with other digital cameras in low light. You can not see an image for the bands of "noise" or interference. One reviewer referred to a noisy image in low light for the same reasons that the Sony website described. But again I cannot see an image for the noise.


Since I get the same interference by leaving the lens cap on I decided to test another unit at the local Wolfe camera store. They did not have an a550 but they did have an a500. So I asked to see it. I turned the camera on with the lens cap in place and then turned on the live view. What I got was a clear pristine black screen with no noise or moving bands of interference. Consequently I requested permission to send the camera in for evaluation. After having don that what I got per answer phone message form Laredo was essentially the same script about noise being normal in low light. If what I have is normal they should change there FAQ to read Live View is not usable in low light.


I would like to know if everyone one viewing this forum has an a550 with an unusable Live View in low light, specifically if when you turn on Live View with the lens cap on do you get moving bands of noise especially from the middle of the screen upwards.



Thanks for taking the time to read this.
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Old Jul 23, 2010, 10:11 PM   #2
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I have the A300, and do not have that problem. I had to check it out, because I almost never use live view. Sounds like you have a problem with your camera. I would expect the A550 to perform AT LEAST as good in that department as the older A300. If you have a warranty, I would have it checked out, something is wrong.
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Old Jul 23, 2010, 10:18 PM   #3
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I have the a550. There is no "noise" with the lens cap on in Live View. any iso setting, any shutter speed, any aperture, any style, not in D-R level 0 or 2. any other tests you want me to do, happy to help.
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Old Jul 23, 2010, 10:24 PM   #4
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Thanks I suspected as much since the a500 I tried that on had no noise. I don't believe the repair center in Laredo even turned my camera on. When I called they would no let me speak to the technician and the person who called to say that I had not problem that noise was normal in low light was calling from San Diego. I had to tell my story first to a person at the service center, then to two different people at the national customer service center. The only thing they did was attach my case number to the person who had called from San Diego.
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Old Jul 23, 2010, 10:28 PM   #5
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Thanks for the update. Are they listening now?
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Old Jul 23, 2010, 10:30 PM   #6
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I will not be able to contact them with these two helpful replies until Monday.

Thanks
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Old Jul 23, 2010, 10:34 PM   #7
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Thank you, and good luck. I am interested because I have Sony products, other than cameras, and never had to use their tech support. Interesting to know how they treat their customers.
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Old Jul 24, 2010, 9:42 AM   #8
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I have had my A550 for a couple of months. I checked mine and I do not see what you are describing.

Good luck getting it sorted out with Sony

Steve
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Old Jul 24, 2010, 9:46 AM   #9
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I'd reset it to factory defaults (you should find a RESET choice in your setup menus somewhere) as a first step, in case some of your display settings got changed along the way.

But, it is normal to see a display get grainy with a slower refresh rate in very low light (and you'll find the same problem with most cameras).

That's because the signal from the sensor is "gained up" (amplified) as light gets lower, just like what would happen if you increased ISO speed. This makes the display look grainy in low light from more noise.

The other thing camera manufacturers do in lower light is slow down the refresh rate (allowing more time for the "pixel wells" to fill before reading the signal from the sensor. This can cause a delay from real time and make your subjects look smeared, jumpy, etc., because it's not refreshing the display as often.

If they didn't do this in low light, you'd have a very dark display.

Think of how dark a photo would look in very low light if you tried to take it at 1/60 second without a flash. You'd have a very underexposed image with most lenses, even at higher ISO speeds, because not enough light would have struck the sensor to properly expose the image.

So, if manufacturers tried to read the sensor at 60 frames per second in low light to update your live view display, the same thing would happen (you'd have a dark display).

So, in low light, they slow down the refresh rate (how often they're reading and resetting the sensor) to allow more time for photons from the light sources to strike the photosites in the sensor to allow a stronger signal to be built up before reading it again, and amplify the signal (which causes higher noise levels).
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Old Jul 24, 2010, 10:02 AM   #10
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Here's the screen you'll find the reset choice on (Reset default, which resets all settings back to factory defaults).
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