SLT or DSLR?

Started Feb 3, 2013 | Questions
Kim Flowers
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SLT or DSLR?
Feb 3, 2013

Can anyone explain to me (and I'm not starting an argument here, I truly want to know before I purchase) why many DSLR photographers won't consider the Sony SLT cameras for serious photography? I already know how the technology is different (at least in a broad sense), but does it actually affect the results? I have almost purchased the Sony a57 several times but keep holding back until I've explored this.

Thanks so much.

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Sony SLT-A57
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tkbslc
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Re: SLT or DSLR?
In reply to Kim Flowers, Feb 3, 2013

Mainly it's the viewfinder.  If you've cut your teeth on optical viewfinders, then it can seem strange to go to an electronic one.   The pellicle mirror design in the SLT also cuts about 1/3 a stop of light, so presumably you have slightly less wiggle room in very low light.  But really, a 1/3 a stop is nothing, so it's a non-issue in real life.

The A57 is an excellent camera.

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John1940
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Re: SLT or DSLR?
In reply to tkbslc, Feb 3, 2013

The SLT VF also has some lag so sports photography is more limited. But lag is of little consequence for most people. If Canon comes out with an SLT Rebel I might get one.

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Kim Flowers
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Re: SLT or DSLR?
In reply to John1940, Feb 3, 2013

Thanks for the unbiased responses!  I wanted to make sure it was only a familiarity issue (what you're used to regarding the viewfinder).

Cheers!

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tkbslc
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Re: SLT or DSLR?
In reply to Kim Flowers, Feb 3, 2013

Well it is not "just" familiarity, there are some differences.    The EVF allows for a larger VF with more detail overlay, zoom, video recording from VF, and image playback.  But the OVF has faster response ( speed of light vs speed of processor) and no blackout during continuous shooting.  The EVF plays what you just took in the VF during burst, where the OVF is showing what is happening now.

So again, just know what you are getting.

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MoreorLess
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Re: SLT or DSLR?
In reply to tkbslc, Feb 3, 2013

tkbslc wrote:

Mainly it's the viewfinder. If you've cut your teeth on optical viewfinders, then it can seem strange to go to an electronic one. The pellicle mirror design in the SLT also cuts about 1/3 a stop of light, so presumably you have slightly less wiggle room in very low light. But really, a 1/3 a stop is nothing, so it's a non-issue in real life.

The A57 is an excellent camera.

When you consider how much people obcess over ISO/lens performance I'm say thats questionable.

The A57 to me seems like the best use of SLT design for non videographers, high FPS in relatively cheap bodies as an expensive mirror assembley capable of flipping 10 times a second isnt needed.

I'm guessing for alot of people its also not just the SLT design that puts them off Sony but fears about long term support.

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Ron Poelman
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Re: SLT or DSLR?
In reply to Kim Flowers, Feb 3, 2013

one of the things that keeps being overlooked in DSLR vs SLT
are the innovations SLT brings to the table.

First and foremost, instead of seeing what the camera sees;
with an SLT you see what you get, simply a major breakthrough.
Throw in other handy stuff like the built in level
and focus peaking (so you can utilise manual lenses easily)
and SLT definitely breaks new ground.

These forums are littered with posts by @57 buyers who
adjusted so quickly to a non-EVF they surprised themselves;
there are precious few postings that they couldn't live with an EVF.

The @57 is a great choice, with probably the best ergonomics around for the money,
it's a great home for cheap old Minolta lenses too.

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mgd43
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Re: SLT or DSLR?
In reply to Ron Poelman, Feb 3, 2013

My main objection to EVF's is that they are not as good as OVF's at following moving subjects. EVF's tend to "smear" the image. That said, I believe that someday as EVF's improve EVF's will largely replace OVF's because of EVF's advantages mentioned by others. I just think that that day has not yet come, at least for me.

For me, another concern regarding Sony is that Sony's system of lenses, flashes, and doodads, including those made by third parties, still trails Nikon and Canon. This may or may not be a problem for you.

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Pitbullo
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Re: SLT or DSLR?
In reply to Kim Flowers, Feb 3, 2013

I have a Canon 550D, which is a very good dSLR. However, the high ISO performance can be tricky, and I am really really pushing it now. I do get good results in dim lighting, but it is borderline. I have looked at the Sony SLT, and they do look very interesting. Some say that due to lag sports photography is not possible. Others say you only need to adjust to the way EVF works, and sport/action is no problem at all. What I have learned is that most problems can be overcome with adjusting my technique, therefore I dont think the EVF is any problem.

What I dont like, what I have seen so far, is the poor (ok, "poor") high ISO capabilities compared to dSLR. The translucent mirror really does steal some light, and to me that is an issue when it comes to upgrading later on.

As for now my perfect camera would be a FF DSLR with all the Sony SLT gadgetry and innovation. Some day...

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Ron Poelman
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Re: mirror really does steal some light
In reply to Pitbullo, Feb 3, 2013

Pitbullo wrote:

What I dont like, what I have seen so far, is the poor (ok, "poor") high ISO capabilities compared to dSLR. The translucent mirror really does steal some light, and to me that is an issue when it comes to upgrading later on.

1/3 of a stop is a deal breaker, really ?
In a cam with in-body stabilisation, so you can use cheaper fast lenses ?
Some people still can't see the forest for the trees it seems.

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NowHearThis
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Re: SLT or DSLR?
In reply to mgd43, Feb 3, 2013

mgd43 wrote:

My main objection to EVF's is that they are not as good as OVF's at following moving subjects. EVF's tend to "smear" the image. That said, I believe that someday as EVF's improve EVF's will largely replace OVF's because of EVF's advantages mentioned by others. I just think that that day has not yet come, at least for me.

I'm already there, after having a DSLR with a horrid metering system having a good EVF (NEX 7) makes it so I don't have to worry about exposures anymore, which is far more important than anything else to me.  I can also change settings on the fly and see the changes (e.g. white balance, EV, Picture control, etc.) I've shot some soccer games with my NEX7 (not the best choice for action, I know) and I didn't notice the "smear" - admittedly, If I saw it I might not care, since I know the image is going to come out clear, I just need to know the brightness is correct, and my EVF tells me that info perfectly.

For me, another concern regarding Sony is that Sony's system of lenses, flashes, and doodads, including those made by third parties, still trails Nikon and Canon.

Sony doesn't have a 70-200/4... but that's about the only thing that's really lacking.  I'm not going to ever buy F1.2 primes, or tilt-shift lenses, so the other 60+ lenses currently available for Sony are more than enough for me.  Also I much prefer the HVL-F43AM and HVL-F58AM to the Nikon or Canon offerings, the Sony design is just better IMO, and their speedlights are just as consistent as Nikon and Canon (I've shot all three, so I have some experience in this matter)

This may or may not be a problem for you.

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Pitbullo
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Re: mirror really does steal some light
In reply to Ron Poelman, Feb 3, 2013

Ron Poelman wrote:

Pitbullo wrote:

What I dont like, what I have seen so far, is the poor (ok, "poor") high ISO capabilities compared to dSLR. The translucent mirror really does steal some light, and to me that is an issue when it comes to upgrading later on.

1/3 of a stop is a deal breaker, really ?

When I see comparisons at high ISO (especially FF) I always get the impression that the SLT is performing quite noticeably worse than the Canikons. That is the deal breaker for me. 1/3 of a stop of light... seems so little presented that way.

In a cam with in-body stabilisation, so you can use cheaper fast lenses ?

IS is not worth that much taking pictures of fast moving toddlers. However, in camera IS would be nice in any dSLR/SLT.

Some people still can't see the forest for the trees it seems.

Give me a break!

All cameras has their strong and weak points, you just have to find out which points is the most important to you. To me, high ISO performance is important, and therefore 1/3 stop can be a deal breaker. For some AF is important and they choose thereafter.

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hdr
hdr
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Re: SLT or DSLR?
In reply to Kim Flowers, Feb 3, 2013

There's only one reason why I ditched SLRs - 'mirror bang' or 'mirror slap'.

Being a big fan of continuous and bracketted shots, a camera that doesn't come with that clunky body-shaking contraption of a hinged mirror is a godsend.

Only SLT or EVIL for me please, thank you. Let my grandfather have that brand new SLR.

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NowHearThis
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Re: SLT or DSLR?
In reply to Pitbullo, Feb 3, 2013

Pitbullo wrote:

I have a Canon 550D, which is a very good dSLR. However, the high ISO performance can be tricky, and I am really really pushing it now. I do get good results in dim lighting, but it is borderline. I have looked at the Sony SLT, and they do look very interesting. Some say that due to lag sports photography is not possible. Others say you only need to adjust to the way EVF works, and sport/action is no problem at all. What I have learned is that most problems can be overcome with adjusting my technique, therefore I dont think the EVF is any problem.

What I dont like, what I have seen so far, is the poor (ok, "poor") high ISO capabilities compared to dSLR. The translucent mirror really does steal some light, and to me that is an issue when it comes to upgrading later on.

http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Cameras/Compare-Camera-Sensors/Compare-cameras-side-by-side/(appareil1)/798%7C0/(brand)/Sony/(appareil2)/645%7C0/(brand2)/Canon

Sony A57 vs 550D

  • Overall score 75 vs 66
  • Color: 23.4 bits vs 22.1 bits
  • Dynamic Range: 13EV vs 11.5 EV
  • ISO: 785 vs 784

The A57, might not perform as well at high ISOs as an Pentax K5 or a Sony NEX-5n, but it'll hold up against any Canon APS-C DSLR right now.  I used to have the 550D (T2i), I wished I had waited just one more month and I could have bought the Sony A55 instead.  Ultimately I would have have been more satisfied.

As for now my perfect camera would be a FF DSLR with all the Sony SLT gadgetry and innovation. Some day...

You mean like the A99?

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NowHearThis
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Re: SLT or DSLR?
In reply to hdr, Feb 3, 2013

hdr wrote:

There's only one reason why I ditched SLRs - 'mirror bang' or 'mirror slap'.

Being a big fan of continuous and bracketted shots, a camera that doesn't come with that clunky body-shaking contraption of a hinged mirror is a godsend.

Only SLT or EVIL for me please, thank you. Let my grandfather have that brand new SLR.

One of the reasons why I like my NEX7 too, no mirror, plus the NEX7 adds an electronic first curtain shutter, so 'shutter slap' is eliminated as well.  I nearly bought into the Olympus micro four thirds until I ran into the issue of shutter slap blurring some photos (between 1/80 and 1/200 sec).  Haven't tried the OMD yet, so I don't know if it's still and issue.

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John1940
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Another SLT show-stopper sometimes: existing lenses
In reply to MoreorLess, Feb 3, 2013

MoreorLess wrote:

tkbslc wrote:

Mainly it's the viewfinder. If you've cut your teeth on optical viewfinders, then it can seem strange to go to an electronic one. The pellicle mirror design in the SLT also cuts about 1/3 a stop of light, so presumably you have slightly less wiggle room in very low light. But really, a 1/3 a stop is nothing, so it's a non-issue in real life.

The A57 is an excellent camera.

When you consider how much people obcess over ISO/lens performance I'm say thats questionable.

The A57 to me seems like the best use of SLT design for non videographers, high FPS in relatively cheap bodies as an expensive mirror assembley capable of flipping 10 times a second isnt needed.

I'm guessing for alot of people its also not just the SLT design that puts them off Sony but fears about long term support.

Or, they have a shelf full of Canon or Nikon lenses. In my case, I could justify buying anothe EF-s body but not several new lenses. Sony has a leg up on Canon in the non-pro end of the market but not for the huge base of compatible lenses, all of which can be used on the Rebel series.

John1940

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Pitbullo
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Re: SLT or DSLR?
In reply to NowHearThis, Feb 3, 2013

NowHearThis wrote:

Pitbullo wrote:

I have a Canon 550D, which is a very good dSLR. However, the high ISO performance can be

http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Cameras/Compare-Camera-Sensors/Compare-cameras-side-by-side/(appareil1)/798%7C0/(brand)/Sony/(appareil2)/645%7C0/(brand2)/Canon

Sony A57 vs 550D

  • Overall score 75 vs 66
  • Color: 23.4 bits vs 22.1 bits
  • Dynamic Range: 13EV vs 11.5 EV
  • ISO: 785 vs 784

The A57, might not perform as well at high ISOs as an Pentax K5 or a Sony NEX-5n, but it'll hold up against any Canon APS-C DSLR right now. I used to have the 550D (T2i), I wished I had waited just one more month and I could have bought the Sony A55 instead. Ultimately I would have have been more satisfied.

Compared to APS-C, there is no competition for the A99, it is an awesome camera, very desirable! And due to my need of high ISO performance FF is the only way for me. The A99 is getting high ISO score at DXOMark of 1555. But the Canon 6D is getting 2340. That is a substantial difference! Now, the DXOMark scores is to be taken with a grain or two of salt, but then again the difference is still there. Anyway, you cant go wrong with any system today.

As for now my perfect camera would be a FF DSLR with all the Sony SLT gadgetry and innovation. Some day...

You mean like the A99?

The A99 with an optical VF, and a transparent OLED screen as an overlay to the optical VF would be quite nice! The best of both worlds!

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tkbslc
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Re: SLT or DSLR?
In reply to MoreorLess, Feb 3, 2013

MoreorLess wrote:

tkbslc wrote:

Mainly it's the viewfinder. If you've cut your teeth on optical viewfinders, then it can seem strange to go to an electronic one. The pellicle mirror design in the SLT also cuts about 1/3 a stop of light, so presumably you have slightly less wiggle room in very low light. But really, a 1/3 a stop is nothing, so it's a non-issue in real life.

The A57 is an excellent camera.

When you consider how much people obcess over ISO/lens performance I'm say thats questionable.

Just because people do it, doesn't mean it's rational.

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john farrar
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Re: SLT or DSLR?
In reply to Kim Flowers, Feb 3, 2013

I actually upgraded my old DSLR to the A57 BECAUSE it had an EVF image at least as large as on my old OM2, and also because the implementation of a video feature called 'Focus Peaking' into stills photography made manual focusing as easy as with a split-image rangefinder. For me and my use it's a no-brainer sticking with the traditional clunky arrangement.

OK, so the translucent mirror steals 1/3rd of a stop, but as using high ISO is nowadays so much better than even three years ago, I don't see a real problem. Continuous Autofocus tracks OK too. For commercial Sports Photographers, Nikon and Canon make specialist low noise, low pixel density models and appropriate fast lenses.

Step up to a Sony A65 with a 2.4mp OLED electronic viewfinder and 'wow!' is the reaction most camera users will give if they've never seen one before.  SLT is excellent for photo enthusiasts but slightly limiting for those earning their living from photography where Canon or Nikon badges are 'expected' to be seen on their camera bodies and lenses.

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Kim Flowers
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Re: SLT or DSLR?
In reply to tkbslc, Feb 4, 2013

Thanks for the clarification.  I hadn't really thought of it that way (speed of light vs. speed of the processor), but as fast as processors are these days, I didn't really notice the lag when I checked it out at the local chain store.

As for continous burst shooting, that may be the only time I actually use the LCD screen instead of the VF to keep track of the direction of the subject, so that I don't lose it.  Usually with that type of shooting, I'm not looking for as much detail as I would need to see in a macro shot or landscape (I have to have a VF for those).

I'm relieved these are the only main differences between the technology of the two types of cameras; well, that and the amount of light lost, but high ISO image comparison tests between the a57 and Canon t4i were favorable (for Sony).

As some other folks mentioned, I am, however, a little concerned about Sony's reputation for less than stellar customer service/support and also about continuity of the alpha line/lenses.

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