I hate to admit this in public, but I think I get the yips from time to time.
Before we get into that, though, I have to show you an absolutely delightful fraud. There's a point to this, don't worry. Bear with me.
This fetching little thing is a "Nobsound MS-10D Hybird [sic] Tube Amplifier." It's extremely cheap for a tube amp at $169.
It has only one little problem. According to reliable sources, it's fake. The tubes are there purely for show. It's not a "hybird" tube amp or a hybrid tube amp—it's not any kind of tube amp. It's not a solid-state amp with a "tube preamp section." The tubes are wired to...glow. That's all they do. Oh, and they're connected to the circuit so that if you remove them, the amp doesn't work (think of how it would look if that weren't so). That's the extent of it. There's no transformer and no rectifier. The tubes are decor.
But here's the fascinating part—it doesn't seem to matter to a lot of people. If you read reviews around the Web for this thing, various amateur reviewers wax poetical about the Nobsound's sound; some do comparos with other cheap tube amps; some appear to know it's a fake but give it "five stars" or other similarly lavish praise anyway. One guy—I love this—"strongly recommends" replacing the Chinese "Peking" tubes with Russian or Bulgarian tubes! (Okay, that "review" smells strongly of being a plant, but it's still funny.)
So back to the yips. The condition is most often encountered by older golfers in putting. I believe the term was coined by Tommy Armour, a golfer whose career was distorted by the affliction. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about the mysterious malady:
The yips is the loss of fine motor skills in athletes. The condition occurs suddenly and without apparent explanation, usually in mature athletes with years of experience. It is poorly understood and has no known treatment or therapy. Athletes affected by the yips sometimes recover their ability, which may require a changing technique. Many are forced to abandon their sport at the highest level.
The yips manifest themselves as twitches, staggers, jitters and jerks. The condition occurs most often in sports which athletes are required to perform a single precise and well timed action such as golf and darts. The condition is also experienced by bowlers in cricket and pitchers in baseball.
Although the exact cause of the yips has yet to be determined, one possibility is that the condition may result from biochemical changes in the brain that accompany aging. Excessive use of the involved muscles and intense demands of coordination and concentration may make the problem worse.
It affects different people different ways. Sometimes it's temporary, sometimes permanent. With some golfers it manifests as an inability to draw the club back to commence the stroke—the great Ben Hogan was afflicted by this, and would stand at address over a putt for embarrassing lengths of time, unable to swing the putter back to initiate the stroke. Korean-American golfer Kevin Na had the same problem with his full swing in 2012. "I'm having some issues taking the club back," he said at the time. He was pilloried by the fans and the press, but his problem was psychological and involuntary—he wasn't doing it on purpose and he had no control over it. With most people, it manifests as involuntary twitching movements that happen either when you're most under pressure or when you're concentrating the hardest...i.e., exactly when you least want it to happen.
So here's my thought: what if a camera had fake image stabilization? Would it work anyway for some people, thanks to the placebo effect?
Good image stabilization has always had great appeal to me, but I've long realized that it's not entirely a technical issue. It's also psychological. Knowing that IS is there to protect me, I don't tense up. I relax. And that, I'm pretty convinced, helps me to actually hold the camera steadier. IS works very well for me, and I'm pretty convinced that part of what makes it work is the technical mechanism. I'm also pretty convinced that part of what makes it work so well for me is in my head.
So maybe I shouldn't be so critical of the Nobsound's fans. Yes, maybe it's a fraud, but maybe it makes its owners feel better about owning a cheap, low-powered amp. And maybe the presence of the glowing tubes actually makes it sound better to them, thanks to the placebo effect. Heck, what do I know? If a camera had a fake IS switch, I can't even say for sure that I might not be able to hold the camera steadier when the switch was turned to "on." Makes me laugh. I guess I shouldn't criticize!
(Thanks to Luke)
Original contents copyright 2016 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Chris Stump: "Hey Mike, this post reminds me to ask. I read some pundit's opinion that turning IS on degrades IQ...that all things being equal [adequately high shutter speed, etc.] an image taken with IS on will be slightly degraded compared to the same image taken with IS off. Wondering what your thoughts are on this? For my money, I've decided the stabilization is worth having on."
Mike replies: The baseline is that if you're using a shutter speed where you'd get obvious camera shake 100% of the time and stabilization allows you to get a more usable shot, then it's an improvement. How things work from there on out is a judgment call that you'll have to make yourself; experience helps.
It's not necessarily "testable," either. I made repeated attempts in the '80s when I was writing for Darkroom Photography to test my ability to handhold slow shutter speeds, and all I learned was that the test conditions couldn't replicate normal shooting conditions well enough to yield any useful information.
Technically, different IS systems are different. Some have been tested to degrade IQ very slightly at higher shutter speeds and on a tripod, and it's recommended to turn those off and on according to need. Others don't seem to have any deleterious effect when not needed, and can be left on all (or most) of the time unless it drains the battery more quickly and that's an issue.
Generally the best advice is to learn about your specific camera, both from an overview of others' comments about it online and through experience of using it yourself. Gradually a protocol will develop which will guide your use of that feature (as with any other feature). More than most things, this isn't a good time to place trust in a sweeping general do-or-don't rule—your equipment, your chosen focal lengths,the conditions under which you shoot, your ability to handhold, even the types of motion you yourself typically introduce when you move the camera—all these things will have an effect, so you just have to do the work to learn what works and what doesn't...for you.
David Boyce: "Well, having built a couple of their kits for friends, and pulled apart a couple of 'Nobsound' amps to upgrade caps and resistors, I can say that the ones I have been near have either been point-to-point-wired tubes or hybrids with a tube buffer or tube preamp section. Haven't seen this one, so can't say yea or nay, but their amps are actually pretty reasonable and with a few upgrades can be really good."
Jonas Yip: "'The Yips manifest themselves as twitches, staggers, jitters and jerks.' Perhaps this will be our new family motto."
Mike replies: :-)
Foo TS: "Mike, I am the one who, according to you, 'planted' the review on Amazon. As a photographer myself (by the way, I am a RIT graduate), I don't see the relevancy to use Nobsound as your example. Nobsound is all about good sound and good value (have you even heard one yourself? At least I own three sets). Yes, you may think it is a fake but don't impose your opinions on another person. Of course, you are subjected to freedom of speech and others have their freedom to speak too, including me. And I am here to tell you, order a set and listen to it yourself. If you are curious, remove the tubes and see if it still works. Then 'roll' some Russian and Bulgarian tubes. After this, write a follow up. Tell everybody in your absolute honestly, what you think."
Mike replies: How about if I just admit that I could be wrong? Unfortunately I don't have time to take you up on your quite reasonable challenge. Thanks for being courteous in your reply.