3.23.2012

What's up with this rumor about "Sony Slide Show Syndrome" with the SLT Cameras?

Just seconds after I bought my new Sony stuff and threw away the warranty cards and tore up the receipts I started hearing about the dreaded, "Sony SLT Slide Show Syndrome."  Scared the crap out of me.  It goes something like this:  "When you try to shoot sports or pan the camera for any reason the finder is so primitive that it's always ages behind the actual action.  You'll get confused and you'll always point your camera in the wrong place.  In fact, you'll be flying blind as the finder slowly projects previous image after previous image."  That would make the camera unusable for....anything that moves.  Oh dear God! What have I done.  Now I have a camera that's unusable for sports.  I was beside myself with terror and doubt.  Nothing this severe had occurred in my cozy little world since.........the Olympus EPL2 "Red Dot Scare !!!!!"

So I blindly believed all the pundits on the web and trucked the gear out to the city dump and.....Now wait a minute.  Why don't I test this for myself before I throw it all away and see what really happens?  Wouldn't that be a novel way to test your camera equipment?

My boss gave me most of the day off today.  Well, after shooting some portraits in the studio and promising to write some blogs in the early evening...  

So I did what good fathers all over the country do all the time.  I went to my child's athletic event.  In this case an invitational track meet.  Ben is the kid in the red shirt that says, "Westlake" across the front. He ran in the junior varsity 3200 meter race.  I think he did well because of two things:  First, I'm his dad and I'm supposed to think he's great (cause he is).  And secondly, because there's no way I could run two miles back to back as fast as he can.  No way at all.

And as I was sitting there getting ready for the race to start I suddenly remembered that I'd brought along a camera.  And a lens.  Sadly, I'd mistakenly brought the Sony a77 along so I started to put it away.  I'd been warned about "SSSS" from many quarters.  But then, in a moment of plucky intellectual independence,  I stepped outside the box and decided that fate had dropped into my lap the perfect opportunity to try the whole Shebang for myself.  So I put on a cheap kit lens (the 55-200mm) and set the camera to no review,  ISO 400, Manual Exposure, C-AF, and Zone AF.  Then I prepared myself for abject disappointment.  I could see myself on Monday at the water cooler hanging my head in shame as the meaner photographers from the Nikon and Canon camp taunted me and said hurtful things about my camera choice.

But then a miracle happened.  I started shooting the fast moving track guys as they whipped by.  The finder  was a little contrasty but it had none of the horrifying effects that I expected to see.  The camera and cheap lens dutifully locked onto Ben and held on while I shot frame after frame at 8fps.

And I can prove it.  See below.

                          






It was a miracle.  I had the one Sony a77 body that could shoot sports.  And if I could shoot runners with a kit lens and get every frame comped correctly and in focus I knew that a slower sport, like swimming would be a breeze.  But now I'm in a quandary.  Why were all those people on the forums spreading these disquieting suggestions about the a77?  What did they possible have to gain by misleading me?

The moral of the story?  Convention wisdom is conventional.  If you can't vet the source it isn't a fact.  If you want to know what YOU can do with a camera you need to test it yourself. Two pluses for the Sony today.  And a good race for Ben.  Well done, both.

19 comments:

Robert Roaldi said...

Haven't they been using EVFs in TV cameras for years? Those cameramen seem to be able to follow all kinds of sports. The refresh rate was slow on the Sony R1 (I had one), but there was no reason to think that wouldn't change.

kirk tuck said...

Exactly. FUD all over the place.

Unknown said...

Sounds like everybody is locked into shooting the same way they did with an OVF, and the camera isn't able to keep up with showing review images while updating the EVF. Since you've taken to "pre-chimping" (something I discovered the joys of a few weeks ago on my E-PM1 - totally transformative), you don't need the review images, and the camera magically works just fine.

Unknown said...

Wednesday everyone was waiting for the "Internet Gurus" to publish their Canon 5D Mk III test results. Not me, I had rented a 5D3 and was conducting my own tests.

I trust my results, same as you do yours. HD-DSLR Gurus and fora folk, not so much.

c.d.embrey

Dennis said...

Well, in defense of some of the FUDders, the shots you show above show your son crossing a small area of the frame and your own angle didn't change much, whereas those who complain about it (the few who have actually had a problem, not those echoing it) complain about erratic subjects, birds in flight, subjects that can be out of the frame within a couple shots if your panning isn't keeping up. I'm sure there's more FUD than the issue deserves, but I don't think it's fair to dismiss it based on this test, either.

kirk tuck said...

What is the sudden fascination with "birds in flight"? I guess I'll have to go test that next...

walkerwg said...

How did those normal studio shots look?

kirk tuck said...

Perfect. With tons of dynamic range. Thanks for asking.

Bill Beebe said...

When people are looking for an excuse to trash something they've decided not to like, they will seize on anything negative, whether it's something they do or not, and echo it into the great echo chamber known as the Internet. And if you show an example where it works for you, you'll get a counter-example that supposedly really illuminates the problem. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Kirk, if it works for you under the conditions you work in then it works. Don't let them call the shots.

sey said...

Ben is built like a distance runner with sprinter's legs, an excellent combination.......

as for the camera, I never doubted that you would have the only one that works as it should ;-)

Craig Yuill said...

Well, I've really enjoyed taking pictures of birds for the last 12 or so years. Until recently I had to focus my lenses manually. As a result, almost all of my decent bird photos were of birds that were mostly stationary or moving slowly. I now have a DSLR with a good AF system and a decent AF telephoto zoom lens. I am now able to get decent shots of birds engaged in various types of action (including flight) more frequently than before. And it seems that bird photos being posted these days seem to be more dynamic and interesting than in the past. I don't believe that the fascination with birds in flight came on suddenly. It's just a capability that photographers expect to see in today's interchangeable-lens cameras.

That said, I'm not sure why anyone would put down the a77 for birds in flight. I thought the whole purpose of the SLT cameras was to allow phase detect AF, which is supposedly still the best system for continuous AF, in cameras that are essentially mirrorless. I have seen some very good work done by bird photographers using a77s. I think those shots of Ben are a perfectly-fine demonstration of the a77's focusing and tracking capabilities.

Bert said...

Sounds like a firmware bug to me, and I've written/debugged my fair share of that. It is very possible that, under some specific conditions yet to be identified, the camera's software goes berserk and starts lagging behind. Could also be intermittent comms with the memory card. Who knows. The one thing that I know for sure is that, if indeed it is firmware, the issue will be identified and resolved quickly. No worries there.

Frank Grygier said...

It is that new "Back to the future Feature" that Sony was touting. I think Canon improved on this with their "Pan into the future" feature.

Dennis said...

I agree that issues like these are overstated by people with agendas (in this case, there's a vocal crowd who are put off by Sony's discontinuous of the SLR and express their discontent by trashing the EVF). Disclaimer: I've shot Minolta since 1991, and Sony since the A700 and recently switched to Nikon after waiting for the A77 and trying it out. It wasn't just the EVF (which I liked and disliked all at once); it wasn't the slideshow concern (though I would have wanted to try it at my daughters hockey training sessions to know for myself); it was a variety of little things ending in a tough decision full of compromises. Anyway, I think that in the $1400 high end APS-C DSLR market, a camera advertising features like 12fps is going to be expected to be capable and while the number of people who should be concerned by the possible slide show issue is small; it pays for them to be aware of it and to try before they buy (or try before the return window is up). My only point was that based on what I've read about it, this test doesn't disprove it. OTOH, this test certainly shows that if it is an issue, it's an issue that ONLY affects a very limited type of shooting. (My action shooting is mostly my daughter at hockey training - it requires good AF tracking as sometimes she's moving toward or away from me quickly, but it doesn't require tracking unpredictable movements across the frame).

Raianerastha said...

It's amazing how badly cameras perform for those who don't read the manual. Equally amazing (at least to the first group) is how well the same cameras perform for those who do read the manual.

ohnostudio said...

It's just like the Canon 5D black spot syndrome. As an editor I look at thousands of images per week. I've seen it maybe twice. And it was a photo that shouldn't have been submitted in the first place. So there you go. Oddities do occur, some gear can be quirky.

Bold Photography said...

A Sony that can shoot sports? Who knew?

:-)

Bold Photography said...

Try it - why not?

I took my 5DII and hooked it to a rented 500mm and did some BIF shots...

takeaway: it's not 'birding' camera, but it takes some really nice bird shots...

Scott said...

Wish you'd written this earlier. When I learned that Olympus cameras couldn't take pictures of the sun, I threw mine away.