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I was using someone else's Sony ILCE-6000 with an E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS lens attached. It had shutter lag in excess of a second. Half-press felt non-existent in that the camera did not appear to respond and I did not feel the typical resistance before a full press. The LCD did not show any change in focus, and I did not hear any auto focus motors. Multiple times, the camera shutter fired while I was lowering the camera to examine it.

The owner of the camera said this lag is normal when using that lens. With the E PZ 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS kit lens was attached to the same body, the camera performed as expected. Half-press worked as expected. Lag was no more than expected from most digital cameras.

The environment was indoors with incandescent spotlights. Exposure with a FujiFilm camera in the same environment and similar lens was 1/40 sec at F5.6 with ISO 5000.

It seems strange that changing lenses would so noticeably affect camera function because I have not noticed anything similar while (briefly) using DSLRs (Canon, Nikon) or two FujiFilm cameras with long lenses, such as XC 50-230mm F4.5-6.7 OIS II. With the FujiFilm cameras, I can hear OIS and autofocus working, as well as see focus changing on the LCD.

I know modern lenses and bodies communicate with each other, but it's not like the lens is saying, "Let's lag really badly to give the user a really bad experience." Rather, the lens or body is saying, "Hold on a second (literally)." If it can be deduced, what is the technical cause of this lag? Is anything technologically useful happening?

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Yes, cameras and lenses these days 'talk' to one another, and so indeed the camera can behave very differently when combined with different lenses.

I've had opportunities to try out many different lens and camera combinations in the last several months, and it continues to surprise me just how extreme the differences can be in camera behavior while shooting. Even more surprisingly, sometimes the resulting jpg images differ in features that are derived from the in-camera processing of the image (e.g firmware) and not directly from the 'glass' (which of course will also affect the image).


Just have seen your refined question. If you were using autofocus, I suspect the lense was saying more like, 'ah, hang on, give me another chance to focus better'. An increase in delay in shutter release with a different lens, is likely something in the lens-to-camera communication, and autofocus is the one that springs to mind. Does this match your experience?

  • I used that camera on only one occasion. The first thing I tried to determine was autofocus, but the LCD did not show any focus change, and I did not hear the autofocus motor. – xiota Jun 27 '18 at 5:36
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I only have this problem if shooting inside with little lighting, otherwise the 55-210 works fine. My Nikons are exactly the same with similar lenses attached. Fine outside lagging inside.

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Insufficient Processing Power

The most likely cause of problems with this particular camera-lens combination is insufficient processing power while the camera attempted to compensate for low-light conditions, as identified by taxineil. The E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS is quite slow, especially zoomed in. Although the E PZ 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS kit lens is only a 2/3-stop faster, the difference is enough to significantly affect performance.

Poor low-light camera performance likely affected camera-lens communication, causing the autofocus motor to appear unresponsive, as noted by Alexandra. As you noticed, the LCD was non-responsive while attempting to autofocus. It was likely also generally glitchy while being used in low light.

DSLR Performance

DSLRs generally do not have this problem because they use a technology that is able to update the viewfinder at the speed of light without requiring any additional processing power for the task. This means they can spend more processor time performing other tasks, such as body-lens communication or phase-detect autofocus. The exception is "Live View", in which you will likely see similar performance problems.

Auto Focus Performance

There are different autofocus mechanisms: phase detect vs contrast detect, which behave differently in different lighting conditions and require different amounts of processing power and energy.  According to specs, the Sony ILCE-6000 has a "hybrid" system.

Cameras may also respond to autofocus failure differently. Some will repeatedly attempt to refocus. Some quit and just refuse to fire the shutter. Some will fire the shutter even though the camera "knows" the image is not in focus. In the last case, some cameras focus at the hyperfocal distance.

These different behaviors affect the cameras' apparent responsiveness.

Sony

Regarding MichaelClark's answer, his point is likely that Sony tends to release glitchy products because they have an accelerated development cycle (which is a business decision) that limits pre-release testing of their products.

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Assuming Sony is making the best cameras and lenses they can manage...

What would lead you to make such an assumption? The leadership at Sony is most likely concerned with selling the most cameras and lenses they can manage to sell at the highest price they can sell them.

If they calculate they can make more money introducing beta level products using a very fast new product cycle and then touting those products as "years ahead" of everyone else instead of taking the time to thoroughly test and revise their products to guarantee reliability and interoperability, then that's probably what they'll do.

What is preventing the ILCE-6000 from performing at its full capabilities when paired with the 55-210mm lens?

Since the E mount camera is made by Sony, and the E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS is also made by Sony, the best party to answer this question would be those at Sony with the knowledge about what decisions were made during the design process for this lens and those made for this body. They may or may not know what the problem is or how it may be fixed. But if they don't know, for sure no one else does. At most, only a few people at Sony know the technical explanation, and none of them are talking (because they have signed NDAs and and wish to remain employable).

Absent of any real information forthcoming from Sony, for which I wouldn't hold my breath, we can only assume it is a result of poor design and implementation on the part of the lens if not poor design and implementation of the entire camera body/lens communication protocol developed by Sony. That's not to say that they made an intentional decision to make this lens slow with this camera. They just didn't test and develop the new product to be sure the combination wasn't that slow before they placed the products on the market.

This isn't the first time Sony's photographic products division has released "half baked" products and let their customers be the beta testers. Sometimes they can solve the issue after the fact with a software/firmware update.

Some secondary questions: Is this behavior characteristic of Sony's other cameras and lenses?

Sony had demonstrated the same strategy over the past 5 years or so since they abandoned the SLR/SLT 'A-mount' that has a heritage way back to Minolta to concentrate on their shorter mirrorless E-mount system. 'Rush products to market as soon as possible and worry about discovering and fixing bugs after the fact' seems to be their current strategy.

Do other manufacturer's cameras exhibit similar behaviors?

At times, but not nearly as often as Sony has in the past few years.

On the flip side, others take several years to introduce updated versions of specific camera models whereas Sony seems to churn out a new model for just about every market segment on an annual basis.

  • Although Sony are the folks who brought us Betamax, MiniDisc, and Memory Stick, I'm hoping for an explanation that doesn't apply to every problem with technology. – xiota Jun 15 '18 at 0:01
  • The problem is you are seeing this as a technology problem. It isn't. It is a business strategy. As the answer states, only a few people at Sony know the technical explanation, and none of them are talking (because they have signed NDAs and and wish to remain employable). – Michael C Jun 15 '18 at 0:05
  • No one said anything about intentionally crippling products (although camera makers sometimes do intentionally disable some capability in some lower models that might use some of the same hardware components as models higher in the chain). What the answer says is that they introduce models to the market before they have been thoroughly tested and evaluated with all possible things that product is supposed to be compatible with under all possible scenarios. They decide getting the product to market ASAP is more important than debugging the product is. – Michael C Jun 15 '18 at 3:11
  • Strategy implies intent. If the product is unintentionally crippled, it may be best we could do given (business or whatever) constraints, but it does not qualify as strategy. That would mean there is some other reason for the limitation, which may be indiscernible to outsiders, but still not strategy. – xiota Jun 15 '18 at 3:27
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    This is more of a rant than an actual answer – HTDutchy Aug 5 '18 at 8:44

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