Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digital SLR and Interchangeable Lens Cameras > Sony Alpha dSLR / Konica Minolta dSLR, Sony SLT

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Sep 16, 2010, 8:05 PM   #1
Senior Member
 
TCav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Washington, DC, Metro Area, Maryland
Posts: 13,572
Default Questions about the SLTs Answered

This was copied from another discussion group I participate in. Members of the group were asked to submit questions about the new Sony A33 & A55, and the product development team would answer them. These are the questions posed by members of the Group, together with responses from Sony:

Thanks for your patience and I've begun to get some answers/information from various members of our product team on our new Alpha Camera line. I am still working on getting answers for some of your questions (which I noted below) so thanks for your patience. Please note that some questions ask for information we don't publicly provide but I note this on those specific questions.

These questions are great and the product team reads each and every comment here and takes feedback. Though many of these questions referenced some expectations of these cameras, this new line is truly a first in its class with with an entirely new translucent camera technology - - revolutionary to the industry. And what is really cool is that the A33 and A55 have a ton of great features and is offered at a price point which give camera enthusiasts of many ranges an opportunity to experience the benefits of an an entirely new technology.

Translucent Mirror technology is extremely exciting and Sony is always committed to continuous innovation and developing products that create the ultimate customer experience. Your feedback are great assets to this process and the team is excited about this group and the dialogue.

And now onto the questions :-)


Why was a bottom-hinged LCD design chosen for these cameras, rather than the more popular side-hinge?
Although there are some cameras that articulate the LCD with a hinge on the side, we chose the bottom hinge to keep the LCD in line with the optical axis of the lens. It also helps maintain a more compact body, and properly support the large, 3” LCD.


Are the sensitivity (ISO) settings calibrated so that they account for the light-loss from the transparent mirror? (That is to say, if the a55 and a580 each took a picture at ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/30 sec, would they be the same exposure?)
Only a very small amount of light is directed to the AF sensor by the Translucent Mirror. However, the sensitivity is calibrated so that equivalent exposure values are realized.


I noticed that the mirror flip-up operation (for cleaning) is accomplished manually--can the camera record an exposure in this state?
The shutter can be released with the mirror raised; however, a lens cannot be attached in the mirror up position as the translucent mirror is larger than a traditional instant-return mirror. Hope this helps clarify.

Were there any technological roadblocks that make it an impossibility to use manual exposure control for video in these new cameras?
It’s not impossible to include Manual Exposure control for video, however we chose not to include it in these models because of some basic limitations to Aperture and Shutter speed adjustment when any camera is recording video. Specifically, there is a limit to the range of shutter speeds that are appropriate for 30P capture – practically, it can’t be much longer than 1/60 sec or much shorter than 1/250 – so we chose not to include Shutter priority. There’s much more creative freedom in Aperture Priority, which the cameras do provide. However, Phase Detect AF has certain minimum aperture requirements (typically f/5.6), so Aperture Priority defaults to Manual AF to allow a wide range of aperture adjustment.

Will auto-exposure work with third-party, "unchipped" lenses? What about video capture or the other features, such as Sweep Panorama and Auto HDR?
Hi Everyone, I am still working on getting this one answered for you. Thanks for your patience.

I would like to know what the light loss is. A full stop (half the light)? 2/3 stop (1/3 the light)? 1/2 stop (1/4 the light)?
This is a question we often get asked but it is not information we disclose publicly.


From what I understand the a55 can't maintain live view in 10 fps mode but what about the EVF then, can you still track whatever you shoot through the EVF?
To support the a55’s 10fps continuous shooting, we rely on a rapid display of the most recently captured image rather than trying to create a Live preview. Some have suggested that this limits the ability to track fast action, but it actually works very well and makes a lot of sense. As for Live View operation, It would be very difficult to change the Image Sensor from capture to Live View display at 10 times/sec with current devices. If we consider optical preview, the handful of pro-level DSLRs that can reach 10fps have to cope with mirror black-out – the time during which the scene view is interrupted by the moving mirror and image capture. Even the shortest black-out time significantly reduces the view of the scene, so we think rapid display of captured images is a novel and quite workable solution.


50 seconds wait time between bursts will not be functional for my type of sport shooting. Is that only when the buffer is completely full?
Slow cards combined with lots of shots will create long writing times but we have shot with Class 10 SD card and were always able to continue shooting (at a reduced rate). The camera never locked up while clearing its buffer and could continue shooting. It’s true that it takes a long time to for the writing activity to finish, but nearly 40 16MP frames at 10fps is a lot of data! Hope this info is helpful.


this true? When using a 85/1.4 (just an example) you can only use it at F1.4 in video mode with AF? If that's so, why not allowing the F value to be picked by the user between 1.4 and 6.3 (or say F4 or F5.6 may be)?
That's a fair question however in this camera, there's always an aperture priority option (though in manual focus). Because phase detect AF relies on a fairly wide max aperture (in all DSLRs), these cameras’ exposure control system defaults to the lens’ max aperture during video recording with AF. We understand that this might be a challenge when using very wide aperture lenses under very bright conditions, but the typical use of these models will be variable aperture zoom lenses.


I have seen some videos made with A55, and the AF is impressive when changing focus point. But I have to admit it may be too fast if you want a slow and smooth transition between the subject and the background for example. Anything can be done in that area (besides using MF I guess) ?
The responsiveness of Phase Defect AF is extremely fast but unfortunately, there's no way to regulate the responsiveness of the phase defect AF in-movie, it will always be quick. But like you mentioned, a good work around for this is that we recommend manual focus to give you total control of the artistic effect.


In addition to the 15 AF points, has anything more fundamental about the AF system been changed? ... as in, does it work at smaller apertures?
Phase detect AF systems always work at max aperture (largest iris opening, smallest F #) in still photography. The lens aperture is always open all the way until the moment of exposure so AF system is always using the widest aperture. The new AF sensor uses f/5.6 line sensors (15 of them actually, three of which are cross-type) which provide a nice range for this priced camera however it does not have the higher precision f/2.8 line sensors found in enthusiast class cameras such as the a700/a850/a900.

What I am really very worried about is that the A580 has not been introduced in the US and is not listed on SonyStyle USA. Why? Can we expect a later introduction of this model in the US?
Actually, although it was not included in the initial announcements, we have decided to introduce DSLR-a580 in the US. It will reach stores in early November, and be available in body only (a580) and a bundle with SAL1855 lens (a580L).

The A33 & A55 use the same batteries as the NEX-3 & NEX-5.The 14MP A33 can create 270 images in 'Live View' and 340 with the viewfinder, on a single battery.The 14MP A560 can create 560 images in 'Live View' and 1050 with the viewfinder, on a single battery.According to the Sony A550 Instruction Manual (Like the A33 and A560, the A550 also creates 14MP images.), 319 Large Fine JPEG images take up about 2GB.Therefore, an A33 will require 2 fully charged batteries to fill a 4GB SDHC Card. And there's no vertical grip/battery pack for it. That's pretty bad for a camera that's supposed to be able to take photos at the rate of 7 per second! THAT'S LESS THAN 40 SECONDS OF SHOOTING TIME ON A SINGLE BATTERY!And the 16MP A55 is worse! (There's no word yet about how much video you can record before the battery runs out.)On the other hand, the A560 can almost fill a 4GB card on a single battery, when using 'Live View', and can create more than 6.5GB of images when using the viewfinder. And there's a vertical grip/battery pack for it! Why was this done this way?

In this case it’s definitely an apples and oranges thing. For some, battery life to the above extent is a priority and for that need, larger bodied DSLRs are our recommended choice as bigger cameras can often accommodate larger batteries/more batteries resulting in longer battery life. We offer a variety of cameras which meet this battery need and can recommend some models for you based on the need. These cameras were designed to be light and compact. In that case, having a vertical grip which can accommodate an additional battery or incorporate a larger battery would have created a larger camera body which would be heavier in weight which wasn't the intent of this design.


Why is there no option for manual control?
Both cameras have an option of manual control.

Why is AVCHD set at 1080i (interlaced wrapper)? Thats low 17Mbit (same as SONY's compacts)
The sensor outputs 30P and the data is recorded in 1920x1080 60i so as to be compatible with the AVCHD codec. However, 30P recording in MP4 is available as well. The max data rate of 24Mbps (theoretical limit of AVCHD) is not offered, as these models are primarily still cameras.

Why does the NTSC version records in 30p off the sensor and gets put into interlaced wrapper?, and Why not allow PAL to capture for the Cine standard at 24p ?
I’m still working on getting this one answered for ya. Thanks for your patience.


Why does the ultra fast phase detect AF only works in video mode when the aperture is wide open?
Phase detect AF relies on a certain minimum aperture from the lens. If you consider still photography, the lens is always at max aperture until the moment of exposure, and AF is always set while the lens is at max aperture. The same is true for video – the AF system depends on the lens aperture being at least f/5.6. Although there are several lenses of wide max (or constant) aperture, mainstream zoom lenses are almost always variable aperture, and max aperture can fall to f/5.6 when they are set to telephoto. Although it may not be the best solution for wide aperture lenses, AF in movie recording defaults to max aperture to insure high performance with a wide variety of lenses.

Why the limit to 1080/25p MP4 on the PAL camera (30p on NTSC models) is 1440x1080 and just 12Mbit?
Our focus with these models was to provide the best quality Full HD video playback on HDTVs (with AVCHD codec) while maintaining good versatility with MP4 for web applications. We realize that some users would appreciate even more versatility (higher bit rates, variable frame rates, etc) for professional applications, but this requires system resources which are beyond the design intentions for these models. We are aware of the demand for greater versatility and thanks for sharing the feedback.

Is there a means or plans for the Vertical Grip that could accommodate an extra battery and possibly allow the use of Compact Flash Cards?This could address several issues. Lack of proper power, faster media storage, provide more protection to the swerving 3 inch display.
It's good feedback. Similar to TCav's question, these specific cameras were designed to be light and compact. In that case, having a vertical grip which can accommodate an additional battery or incorporate a larger battery would have created a larger camera body which would be heavier in weight which wasn't the intent of this design. Again, great feedback and hopefully this info provided some context around these models.

Was it ever a consideration to reverse the way the transparent mirror works, so that the main sensor sees a reflection and the AF sensor sees what light passes through? It seems to me that this would minimize any distortions in the exposure that might have been introduced by the light passing through an extra pane of glass.
Reflection has some limitations of its own, but always good feedback.
__________________
  • The lens is the thing.
  • 'Full Frame' is the new 'Medium Format'.
  • "One good test is worth a thousand expert opinions." - Tex Johnston, Boeing 707 test pilot.

Last edited by TCav; Sep 16, 2010 at 8:07 PM.
TCav is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Sep 16, 2010, 8:24 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
TCav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Washington, DC, Metro Area, Maryland
Posts: 13,572
Default

The above is posted here with Sony's permission.
__________________
  • The lens is the thing.
  • 'Full Frame' is the new 'Medium Format'.
  • "One good test is worth a thousand expert opinions." - Tex Johnston, Boeing 707 test pilot.
TCav is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 16, 2010, 9:40 PM   #3
Super Moderator
 
Hards80's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Cleveland, OH
Posts: 9,046
Default

Thanks TCAV for posting and getting permission. I am sure that many ppl will find this valuable. Thus I will sticky it.
__________________
MyFlickr
Hards80 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 17, 2010, 10:48 AM   #4
Senior Member
 
TCav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Washington, DC, Metro Area, Maryland
Posts: 13,572
Default

Kevin Barrett, another member of that same discussion group, posted the same info on PhotoClubAlpha.com.

Note: If posting links to other discussion groups is inappropriate here, please delete this post.
__________________
  • The lens is the thing.
  • 'Full Frame' is the new 'Medium Format'.
  • "One good test is worth a thousand expert opinions." - Tex Johnston, Boeing 707 test pilot.
TCav is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 17, 2010, 7:28 PM   #5
Senior Member
 
mrpete's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 282
Default

Well, most of my questions are answered. But my two primary ones are still unanswered, which are:
How much light is lost with an SLT? The dpreview said it has decent low light capabilities so I'm not super worried about this. Still a concern though.
Also, what will it be like keeping the mirror clean? And will we also have to keep cleaning the sensor? I don't like the idea of double duty.
mrpete is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 17, 2010, 7:49 PM   #6
Senior Member
 
TCav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Washington, DC, Metro Area, Maryland
Posts: 13,572
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrpete View Post
How much light is lost with an SLT? ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by TCav View Post
... I would like to know what the light loss is. A full stop (half the light)? 2/3 stop (1/3 the light)? 1/2 stop (1/4 the light)?
This is a question we often get asked but it is not information we disclose publicly. ...
They're not saying, but DPReview said it was 30%, which makes sense, and JimC figured that out to be 1/2 stop.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrpete View Post
Also, what will it be like keeping the mirror clean? And will we also have to keep cleaning the sensor? I don't like the idea of double duty.
I can't imagine that it would be any tougher than cleaning the mirror and sensor in a dSLR.
__________________
  • The lens is the thing.
  • 'Full Frame' is the new 'Medium Format'.
  • "One good test is worth a thousand expert opinions." - Tex Johnston, Boeing 707 test pilot.
TCav is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 17, 2010, 8:06 PM   #7
Senior Member
 
mrpete's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 282
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by TCav View Post
I can't imagine that it would be any tougher than cleaning the mirror and sensor in a dSLR.
Well, the problem, as far as my very limited knowledge goes,is that the pellix has to be as clean, or nearly as clean, as the sensor itself. Normally I'm not too worried about the mirror since it's just for the viewfinder.

I wonder how Sony was able to pull off decent low light whilst losing 1/3 to 1/2 of the light to the sensor..... Maybe they did some ISO magic or something.

All in all, I'm going to wait until this is a tested machine, and then maybe wait till the a56 or whatever when they fix all the bugs.
mrpete is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 17, 2010, 8:17 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
TCav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Washington, DC, Metro Area, Maryland
Posts: 13,572
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrpete View Post
Well, the problem, as far as my very limited knowledge goes,is that the pellix has to be as clean, or nearly as clean, as the sensor itself. Normally I'm not too worried about the mirror since it's just for the viewfinder.
Actually, in a dSLR, the main mirror is semi-silvered so some of the light goes through to a second mirror that reflects light down to the AF system in the base of the camera body. I can't imagine that the pellicle mirror in an A33/A55 needs to be any cleaner than the dSLR's main mirror (that you can clean) plus the secondary mirror (that you can't.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrpete View Post
I wonder how Sony was able to pull off decent low light whilst losing 1/3 to 1/2 of the light to the sensor..... Maybe they did some ISO magic or something.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TCav View Post
... Are the sensitivity (ISO) settings calibrated so that they account for the light-loss from the transparent mirror? (That is to say, if the a55 and a580 each took a picture at ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/30 sec, would they be the same exposure?)
Only a very small amount of light is directed to the AF sensor by the Translucent Mirror. However, the sensitivity is calibrated so that equivalent exposure values are realized. ...
So, yeah, ISO magic.
__________________
  • The lens is the thing.
  • 'Full Frame' is the new 'Medium Format'.
  • "One good test is worth a thousand expert opinions." - Tex Johnston, Boeing 707 test pilot.
TCav is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 17, 2010, 8:19 PM   #9
Senior Member
 
TCav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Washington, DC, Metro Area, Maryland
Posts: 13,572
Default

I really wish they'd stop calling it a "Translucent" Mirror, though.
__________________
  • The lens is the thing.
  • 'Full Frame' is the new 'Medium Format'.
  • "One good test is worth a thousand expert opinions." - Tex Johnston, Boeing 707 test pilot.
TCav is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 17, 2010, 8:21 PM   #10
Senior Member
 
mrpete's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 282
Default

Well, it sounds pretty good. And I guess I didnt see the comparison. So thanks for allaying the fears of newbie.
mrpete is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:35 PM.