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Tuesday, 08 March 2016


This is the real deal, have owned Fat Man for years. gb.

I know it won't work for me. My son had turned off IS without me knowing and my images were *terrible*.

Not exactly the yips, but Carson the butler in the last Downton Abbey was extremely frustrated when he could not pour the wine because of his advancing palsy.

Another mediocre "retro look" product expressly designed for 28 year old Hipsters who are spending their parents retirement funds!

Yes, it seems bizarre, but some very clever companies are tapping into this market. You really can't blame them.

The yips, hmmm, I wonder. Probably what’s commonly called “nerves” in music circles. My teacher had them. She could play, say, the Goldberg Variations stone-cold perfect in the studio in the afternoon and melt down on stage the same evening. Insecure in public? Worried about the review? Who knows. I’ve had them and they do play hob with public performance, when there’s only one chance to get it right. Any fully-learned, coordinated activity remains extraordinarily sensitive to small disturbances in thought. Mistakes must be accepted and put aside immediately. Stray thoughts are attention killers. I’ve found the most reliable way around “nerves/yips” is to cultivate the sense that I am engaging in this highly nervous-making activity for the sheer joy of being immersed in the moment while playing and ignoring the outcome. With a camera, I frame the image and then exhale, relax and press the shutter release for the sheer joy of hearing the sound of the shutter. That usually works… IS helps.

Lets take this a step farther, instead of choices for portrait, sports, landscape how about choices for Weston, W. Eugene Smith, etc. Fully programmable of course by sub- menu for a selection of photographers. And maybe, just maybe, a custom setting for your very own photography?

Do surgeons get the yips?

[I believe they quit if they do. I know a guy who was a very high-level heart surgeon at the very top of his game, lots of experience, very well regarded, and he started to get tingling in his little fingers from a pinched nerve in his neck. He essentially quit practicing as a surgeon overnight. He now runs a company that helps large institutions adapt to the new healthcare laws. --Mike]

The weird thing with those fake tube amps is it literally does make the amp sound better to people who are under the placebo effect – their brains actually respond as if it sounded better.

To quote a random person off the head-fi forum, "there’s no direct, unproblematic relationship between perceptual experience (e.g., hearing) and external physical reality (e.g., physical properties of an audio signal)"

Perhaps Leica ownership is the same? If you think you own the best camera then you take better pictures?

How about a real tube amp with fake solid-state circuit boards for show?

And Mike demonstrates again why he's so good at this blog.

I have near zero interest in amplifiers and an even lower one in tubes. I am somewhat hostile to golf ("A good walk spoiled" - Mark Twain) even though intellectually, it is a wonderful game. For me, it just involves too much looking for lost things (the ball) to enjoy.

However, Mike manages to make this all relevant to photography and interesting to read. Well done! May you never be "blocked" or "yipped" in your writing!

I don't think the fake IS would work for me, but practicing good shutter technique might. I'm a little rough and sloppy with my shutter finger and the IS has saved me many times. I noticed this after getting back four rolls of developed and scanned film that I had shot with my Contax G2. I had terrible results with 1/30 and lower. I have to take that little extra time to be mindful of my squeeze. Of course sticking to 1/45 and higher with a 45mm lens would help too. I'm not good enough for it to be the yips.

Remember when cell phones had little extendable/retractable antennas that did nothing?

This does raise the question of how much audiophiles really can hear differences between sound systems. There are huge reinforcement effects due to expectations, price paid, and group effects. Much as there are with other hobbies associated with wealth, taste, and one-upmanship generally. Photography comes to mind as having similar issues (Zeiss vs Leica etc), as does being a wine and spirits connoisseur.

This is vaguely related to the Nobsound news: The Vibrophase is a guitar vibrato/flanger stomp-box that's powered by a candle and Stirling engine: http://www.zvex.com/zvex-candela-vibrophase/

At least the candle-power is real, but I think the appeal of the thing must be that flame, right? Does it get cooler than that?

One of the most important things that distinguishes human beings from other life forms here on Earth is our ability to ideate and live lives based on abstractions. For example, God, money, authenticity, and yes, yips mean nothing to primates, but they are very real to us. That's why it's no help for someone else to say to you, "Yips are all in your mind." Your response would likely be, "I know that. What I don't know is what to do about it."

Just for the sake of discussion though, do you tend to tense up only when shooting certain subjects or with all subjects? I can understand being nervous about photographing people; nervousness around domesticated animals and inanimate objects is puzzling.

FWIW, I view image stabilization more with suspicion than with relief. I feel as if I can never completely trust how effective it will be. If I need a shot that's free of camera motion I use a tripod. If it needs to be free of subject motion I use a fast shutter speed or electronic flash. I also find that some cameras have much smoother shutter releases than others. A hitch in the shutter release action might not cause yips, but it certainly doesn't help.

There is a whole series of Yamaha guitar amps (the THR series) that contain orangish LEDs, so that when you turn them on, you get the tube glow through the speaker cover. There are no tubes in the amps -- the clue that they're not real is that when you turn on the power, the glow is there instantly. Weird thing is, I have six or seven guitar amps, all tube amps, and you can't see the tube glow in any of them, because you look at the front of the amps, and the tubes are all in the back.

Mike, as always your timing is impeccable; your description of "the yips" comes just in time to explain Carson's strange hand tremors in the final episode of Downton Abbey.

This would have made a perfect April Fools posting. It would have been a double gotcha.

I can absolutely attest that optical image stabilization DOES WORK. The most vivid practical demonstration I've had of its effectiveness are when I use my Canon binoculars that feature their optical IS system. Press the IS button and I get an immediately steady image. Release the button and it looks like I'm riding in the back of a a Conestoga wagon on the Chisholm Trail.

My Sony in-body IS systems work extremely well, too. This is most evident to me when hand-holding my A7RII. The higher the resolution the harder it is to hide tremors. So that 40+ mp sensor doesn't leave much room to hide.

But I've learned that you do need to be reasonable with your expectations and to understand what the system's limits are. You have to know when to disable IS for the best results.

I suspect that the average IS-equipped camera / lens owner gives little thought to the system, and mostly afterthought. And that's reasonable, too.

What proportion of my own favorite images have been captured with the aid of IS? Interestingly, a casual survey suggests a tiny percentage, perhaps 5% or less.

There's a disorder suffered by some musicians, particularly guitarists and pianists, known as focal dystonia. This involves a loss of coordination when performing intricate musical passages requiring precise fine motor movement, and typically shows up only after many years or even decades of high-level playing. Focal dystonia differs from "nerves" in that it's a genuine neurological problem but it could be related to some manifestations of "the yips."

Let's not go into high resolution audio. The field is littered with hucksters & fraudsters making outrageous claims that can't be verified scientifically. It seems that audiophiles are more susceptible to deception than enthusiastic photographers - and that's going some.

Those wood side panels call to mind the shapely wood grips of Hassey rebranded Sonys.

Audiophile-land is a veritable asylum where delusional, golden-eared patients merrily spend thousands of dollars on cables (including digital interconnects) and power cords. The only other philedom which comes close is the oenophile. Neither obsession survives the dreaded double blind test. By comparison, photog-philes are a boring, rationalist breed indeed.

Nobsound ?
Really ?

For a British audience, the clue is in the name.

Interesting post. I start a lot of IV's at work and occasionally find myself locked in a negative feedback loop where my normally minor palsy becomes much worse. Not career ruining, re the surgeon comment above, but certainly disconcerting for my patients and person.

I've found there's a strong correlation between the shaking and how recently I've eaten. Maybe it's a blood sugar thing... whatever the cause, I can commiserate.

Thankfully it hasn't intruded on my photography as taking pictures generally puts me in a happy place and unplugs my "critical mind".

Decorative tubes, decorative wood, they should add a couple of zeros to the price and call it the Nobsound Lunar Edition. Can't explain why but I kind of like it anyway. I guess the idea of dressing up a solid state amp just to appeal to people like me is a kind of compliment?

I'm sure the fake IS would work to some extent, probably well enough to fool some people. But IS is so good these days that there's no way the average shooter could get anywhere close as stable as IS with their best hand holding technique.

Incidentally, was just talking about how the electronics revolution has made even many affordable amps good and how problems often lay in different parts of the system. Thus, I'm not surprised that many people would be happy with the fake hybrid amp, especially since tests that are not double blind are notoriously unreliable. I don't see the point in tube amps either, maybe the buyers of the said amp are better off with transistor only :-)

Nearly everything in audio besides speakers is placebo effect. The engineering challenges of decoding and amplifying 20-20 kHz signals with sonic transparency were solved decades ago. All amps with reasonably low distortion and noise sound the same in double-blind testing but very different when subjects can see them.

Speakers (and headphones) are still a work in progress . . .

I've listened to the Nobsound amp. The funny thing is that it actually does sound a bit like a tube amp until really pushed. At normal power levels, it's halfway decent. The sound quality is good, and there is a bit of circuitry to mimic the eq and compression characteristics of tubes without actually using tubes. For $169, there are MUCH better amplifiers out there, but for a good sounding amp with built-in tube emulation, it's acceptable. Personally, I'll stick with my self-powered near-field studio monitors.

When I had an early Pentax (K100d) I might have agreed with this thesis. The IS (OS, VC, whatever) was small enough in effect that it might have been a placebo.

But now I have an Olympus EM1, and have had tack-sharp pictures at 1/2 second exposure, and that is most certainly not a placebo effect.

The perfect device for the age... captures the zeitgeist perfectly. Selfie with that there amp anyone?

His amp is also marketed by Monoprice for $150. And there are reports online that tube rolling the "Nob" branded-one does result in different sound, and that sometimes when just turned on there's a bit of tube roar and other artifacts





That Amazon review mighta been wrong.

"I don't tense up. I relax. And that, I'm pretty convinced, helps me to actually hold the camera steadier". Trying to hold something still is counterproductive. A brief experience at target shooting with a rifle and telescopic sights will show you why.

Most audiophoolery is fraud.

Surgeons don't always quit!!!
Actually I worked as an Anaesthetist in the 80s and there was an old an eminent surgeon who was an Opthalmologist .. Eye Surgeon. He had a terrible shake all day long .. terrifying .. until the second when he started operating. IT ALL WENT. Good results every time. Best not to shake hands with the patient though!!!

I have had a small tremor in my left hand for most of my life. I'm 62, and it's steadily getting worse, but I can usually mentally switch on my own internal IS that works pretty well. My stabilized Canon 16-35 still helps a lot. And my Canon stabilized binoculars work astoundingly well.

Also: This Z.Vex guy knows his stuff. I have one of his tiny stereo amps with tiny ex-military tubes.

Why isn't there a link to buy the Nobsound MS-10D? You might be missing out on some income, Mike!

David Kieltyka beat me to it. Most non-musicians have never heard of focal dystonia, but in classical musicianship it seems to be a well-known and surprisingly common problem, and, at least among pros, shrouded in secrecy, shame and paranoia. It was the first thing I thought of as I read the description of "yips". The big difference is that FD usually isn't as obvious as tremors or jitters. As DK says, it's a loss of control or a seeming loss of connection. And it's as little understood as "yips".

As for IS, what little hand-holding skill I ever had seems to have almost disappeared during my years with an IBIS body. So these days I have to be extra careful when I "go commando". (Of course, I could be blaming IS for what is really an aging-related issue.) I've even thought about quitting coffee... just for a fraction of a second... and yet, more than once. That's how bad it is!

Having been through the "Golden Ears" period of hi-fi, where even the power cords had to be gold plated and cost $1,000, and "skin effect" was made a big part of audio (any technician knows that skin effect applies only at high radio frequencies), I often wonder how those golden eared writers regard Blue Tooth audio connections, wi-fi audio, switch-mode power supplies, mp3 audio and all the other travesties we have today.

This reverence for valves leaves me cold. Any audio signal can be made to sound like anything you want. We have never had such fidelity available with digital amps and processing. People delude themselves. Just enjoy the music.

Since I tend to think of the entire analog audio revival movement as fake, the Nobsound is doubtless the finest such device yet produced.

Subjectivity is freedom.

The yips? I'm more worried about your memory Mike:


[Nobody remembers the past.

Besides, if I had to worry about repeating myself, I'd never write anything. I really mean that, too. When I remember something, I have no idea if it's something I actually wrote, or just thought. --Mike]

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