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Old Aug 6, 2012, 2:02 AM   #1
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Default Alpha 350 loud, in more ways than one...

My 350's shutter is pretty loud... (it wakes sleeping babies) and I am pretty unhappy with the level of noise at higher ISO's. Even at ISO400. I've read that a lot of people have problems with this.

So I wondered if anyone has owned/used a 350, and then upgraded to a full frame Sony - and what improvement they saw in these areas?

My dilemma is that I am looking to upgrade (for these reasons, primarily), but also because I've had this camera for a long time and want to go full frame if possible. I am trying to weigh out if I should switch brands/makes, or should I go FF Sony and keep my lenses, etc. I don't have anything that spectacular, but I do have some, which is better than none! :-)

What are the best camera makes and models for low shutter sound, and low noise/ good quality in low lighting/high ISO's?

Thanks!!!
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Old Aug 6, 2012, 5:16 AM   #2
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The A350 is a fine camera. I'm sorry to read that you're not happy with it.

Sony has made advancements in sensor technology, and it's newest Alphas have lower noise and greater dynamic range, but it's also gone off in a slightly different direction. Instead of reflex cameras, Sony now only makes cameras that look like reflex cameras, but instead of an optical viewfinder, it uses an electronic viewfinder. This helps you in one significant way, and that is that the mirror doesn't move, thereby reducing the noise the camera makes when you press the sutter button. Whrn you press the shutter button on your A350, several things happen: the mirror flips up out of the way, the two curtains of the focal plane shutter expose and then cover the image sensor, and the mirror returns to block the image sensor and reflect light up to the viewfinder. So since the mirror in Sony's new cameras doesn't move, a major source of the sound you object to, is gone.

Sony's current product line inclused the A57 and A37, which use a 16MP image sensor, and the A77 and A65, which use a 24MP sensor. These will all outperform your current A350 in terms of noise and image quality. The A37 uses a smaller battery than the one(s) you already have, but the others can use the batteries you've got now.

Sony doesn't currently have a 'Full Frame' dSLR. It's A900 and A850 have been discontinued (though they may still be available at some retailers), but the rumored replacement is rumored to be available in the comming months.

You seem to have some interest in a 'Full Frame' camera. For the most part, a 'Full Frame' camera body only increases the potential for shallow Depths of Field, but is bigger, heavise, and more expensive. Can you go into more detail about what you expect to be able to do with your next camera?
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Old Aug 6, 2012, 8:32 AM   #3
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Thanks for your response, and the explanation. Now that I know what it is, it seems like I can hear that mirror flop down!

Well, I think a lot of what I am looking for is to lose the effect of crop factor with my lenses, and to increase quality. (Like, I would prefer my 20mm to stay that way, instead of settling for it being a 30mm.)

I am looking to use my camera to shoot birth photography in birth center's, and hospitals, and at people's homes. Typically, in labor and delivery (especially in a BC or at a persons home) there is VERY minimal lighting, maybe a couple of candles, and the windows are often blocked off. So, things are moving along at certain points, and I don't have time to worry about readjusting things or miss something due to blur or not be able to lock on in an auto focus. Obviously, there are no re-do's!!! :-)

I felt like with moving up to the A900 (buying online), that I could retain the live view, lose crop factor and have an increase in quality at higher ISO's as well as a higher quality image in general... But, since I thought that Sony's were known for not having the best quality in lower lighting and higher ISO's, I thought maybe it was time for me to move on to another brand, and see what they had to offer. (Maybe other cameras AREN'T really better at higher ISO's)?

I guess another thing I really don't understand is determining the "speed" of my lenses. I buy older Minolta lenses online and locally, and my latest is a 20mm 2.8. So a 30mm with the CF... I felt like the 2.8 would not really be a large enough aperture for the lighting I expect to encounter, but then I lose quality when I have it wide open anyway, so I'm not sure what settings to expect to use. I would also like to get an 85mm as soon as I can afford one, but again I don't really know what difference the aperture capabilities make, or how to determine speed. What does the 'speed' effect?

Sorry, I realize this is a lot of questions rolled into one!!
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Old Aug 6, 2012, 9:02 AM   #4
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You also mentioned that the 900 doesn't have optical viewfinder, and I'm not sure I am comfortable with that... I like having the ability to do live view, and use the view finder. What exactly does it mean that the camera is no longer a single reflex, aside from that change? Do I compromise on anything else?
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Old Aug 6, 2012, 10:54 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blonde in disguise View Post
Well, I think a lot of what I am looking for is to lose the effect of crop factor with my lenses, and to increase quality. (Like, I would prefer my 20mm to stay that way, instead of settling for it being a 30mm.)
The focal length of a lens doesn't actually change based on the size of the image sensor. What changes is the angle of view. Sony's 'Full Frame' 50mm f/1.4 lens has the same angle of view on an APS-C dSLR as its 50mm f/1.8 'DT" ('DT' means APS-C only) lens. The difference between them (aside from their maximum apertures) is the size of the image they project. The 'Full Frame' lens projects an image that will cover the entire sensor of either the A900 or the A850, but the 'DT' lens will project an image that only covers the center portion of the 'Full Frame" sensor.

One of the things that happens when using a 'Full Frame' lens on an APS-C dSLR is that the outer edges of the projected image, the portion that often includes the soft edges and corners, the vignetting, and the extremes in chromatic aberration, don't get on the sensor and so don't get in the image. The result is that you often get better image quality using 'Full Frame' lenses on APS-C bodies than when they're on 'Full Frame' bodies.

In addition, lenses designed specifically for APS-C bodies (Sony's 'DT', Sigma's 'DC', and Tamron's 'Di II' lenses) are smaller, lighter, and less expensive than the 'Full Frame' equivalents.

There are definitely some significant advantages to using a 'Full Frame' dSLR, but I don't think you'd benefit from any of them.

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Originally Posted by blonde in disguise View Post
I am looking to use my camera to shoot birth photography in birth center's, and hospitals, and at people's homes. Typically, in labor and delivery (especially in a BC or at a persons home) there is VERY minimal lighting, maybe a couple of candles, and the windows are often blocked off. So, things are moving along at certain points, and I don't have time to worry about readjusting things or miss something due to blur or not be able to lock on in an auto focus. Obviously, there are no re-do's!!! :-)
Shooting in candlelight will always be a problem. You can use lenses with larger maximum apertures of f/1.8 or f/1.4, use slower shutter speeds, and higher ISOs, but if there's no light, all you can do is bring your own. If the room has light color walls and ceiling, a distant light can provide indirect light for you that won't interfere with the atmosphere that the mother wants. But if she wants it to be dark, then you can't take photos. There are lots of things you can do to make the light less objectionable, and you need to explore those options as much as anything else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by blonde in disguise View Post
I felt like with moving up to the A900 (buying online), that I could retain the live view, lose crop factor and have an increase in quality at higher ISO's as well as a higher quality image in general... But, since I thought that Sony's were known for not having the best quality in lower lighting and higher ISO's, I thought maybe it was time for me to move on to another brand, and see what they had to offer. (Maybe other cameras AREN'T really better at higher ISO's)?
Actually, Sony's image sensors are used in Nikon and Pentax dSLRs as well as Sony's own cameras. If someone told you that Sony cameras were not known for their low light performance, they were mistaken.

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Originally Posted by blonde in disguise View Post
I guess another thing I really don't understand is determining the "speed" of my lenses. I buy older Minolta lenses online and locally, and my latest is a 20mm 2.8. So a 30mm with the CF... I felt like the 2.8 would not really be a large enough aperture for the lighting I expect to encounter, but then I lose quality when I have it wide open anyway, so I'm not sure what settings to expect to use. I would also like to get an 85mm as soon as I can afford one, but again I don't really know what difference the aperture capabilities make, or how to determine speed. What does the 'speed' effect?

Exposure is determined by three factors:
  • Shutter Speed - The length of time the image sensor is exposed to light. Doubling the exposure time (halving the shutter speed) doubles the amount of light that gets to the sensor.
  • Aperture - The amount of light that gets through the lens to the image sensor. Increasing the size of the aperture by a single f-number, doubles the light that gets through the lens.
  • ISO - The sensitivity of the sensor to light. Doubling the ISO doubles the sensitivity of the image sensor to light, but an unfortunate side-effect is that it also increases image noise.
Using a larger aperture allows you to let more light through the lens, so you can increase the shutter speed (ot prevent motion blur) or decrease the SIO (to reduce image noise.) The size of an aperture doesn't actually make the light any faster, but it lets you use a faster shutter speed, so a larger aperture is said to be faster.

Quote:
Originally Posted by blonde in disguise View Post
You also mentioned that the 900 doesn't have optical viewfinder, and I'm not sure I am comfortable with that... I like having the ability to do live view, and use the view finder. What exactly does it mean that the camera is no longer a single reflex, aside from that change? Do I compromise on anything else?
No, the A900 does have an optical viewfinder. But Sony's newer camera bodies all use an electronic viewfinder in place of the optical viewfinder. The electronic viewfinder is in addition to the 'Live View' that you get from the LCD Display on the rear of the camera body that you're accustomed to on your A350, but it's brighter (in low light contitions) than an optical viewfinder would be. The electronic viewfinder can be a tremendous benefit whan shooting in low light.
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Old Aug 7, 2012, 11:02 PM   #6
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The A900 is a giant step up from the A350. I have used many Sony / Minolta cameras and the shutter on the A900/850 will in all likeliness be louder then the shutter on your A350.

Depending on how many FF lenses you have, I would suggest looking for a used A850 they cost less (same loud shutter) unless you must have 5 frames per second then get the A900.
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Old Aug 8, 2012, 1:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lomitamike View Post
The A900 is a giant step up from the A350.
... but so are the A77, A65, A57 and A37.

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I have used many Sony / Minolta cameras and the shutter on the A900/850 will in all likeliness be louder then the shutter on your A350.
... but SLTs like the A77, A65, A57 and A37 are likely to be quieter.
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Old Aug 8, 2012, 1:28 PM   #8
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Years ago, I worked for Sprint Long Distance in Atlanta, and I decided to rent an apartment right around the corner from their [very large] office complex there.

I thought I got a super deal on the apartment at the time, because other coworkers were telling me how much more they were paying.

Then, the first night after I moved in, the windows starting rattling and I heard screeching noises startling me; and after running outside to figure out what was going on, it became clear that I had rented an apartment right next to a train track (you could see the tracks through some trees from my second floor balcony, on almost the exact same level). LOL

It didn't take me too long to adjust to it. But, when I had friends over and the train went by, they'd become startled like I was for a while, exclaiming "what is that" or something similar. Sometimes I'd have to think about what they were asking about for a minute, before realizing they were just hearing the train (as I had "tuned out" the noise after a while, and didn't even notice it).

IOW, you get used to it. ;-)

Now, of course, the shutter noise from a camera is very minimal compared to a train going by. But, it's not something I pay much attention to, unless a camera is too quiet.

About the only time I've paid much attention to shutter noise in years is when I bought a little Konica KD-510Z pocket camera. With that one, it was *too* quiet. But, fortunately, you could turn on a shutter sound in the menus, so that it played the shutter sound of a Konica Hexar Rangefinder when taking photos.

That way, you had some "feedback" when takng a photo, since the silence without it turned on would have made it's use unacceptable (at least to me, since I'd want to know that it was taking a photo and ready for me to take another one, and the feedback from the shutter sound is a good thing from my perspective).

I'd suggest just trying out some camera models in a store if a louder shutter bothers you. Personally, I prefer a camera with a shutter sound I can hear above louder background noise, since the shutter sound provides me feedback on what the camera is doing. For example, I listen very carefully when taking a photo at slower shutter speeds, making sure I don't release the shutter button until I'm sure the shutter has closed to reduce vibration (versus "poking" at the shutter button which can cause blur from camera movement at slower shutter speeds, I smoothly depress it, hold it down until I hear the shutter open and close, then release it).
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Old Aug 9, 2012, 11:11 AM   #9
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If you are hearing the mirror return when taking a shot you must be using a very slow shutter speed. If you are hand-holding the camera you are not getting image noise but blur. Is your flash inoperable? If not, it's there for a purpose.
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Old Aug 9, 2012, 1:49 PM   #10
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I'm pretty certain she's determined to shoot in available light. That's why I suggested that she look for ways to increase the indirect light.
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