Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Sony Alpha 200

Just bought a new 'toy' - the Sony Alpha 200 DSLR. Couldn't help myself, as it was going for an absolute song, brand-new, at a local electronics store. They were selling it without the lens (body only) so were basically giving it away. Picked up the body for $299NZ (about $200US).

Did a bit of reading up on it before handing over he cash, but for that price it was really a no brainer! And even though the a200 is now a discontinued model, it's got everything I want in a 'back up' system, and then some.

Obviously based on the Minolta DSLR's of old (like the 5D and 7D - yes, Minolta had them before Canon did), the Sony is packed with all the features I like, and none of the features I don't like. For example - no Live View (yeah) and no Movie mode (double yeah). But it does have 10.2 MP (just about right I reckon), image stabilisation - Sony call it 'Steady Shot' - built into the body (yeah), a self cleaning sensor (double yeah), and a very sexy vertical grip that I will get eventually (triple yeah)! It's also compatible with all the Minolta AF lenses as well as the new Sony ones (of course).

Speaking of lenses - because it doesn't come with one, I've purchased an old Minolta 35-70mm f4 macro AF lens off of Trademe just to get me going. The lens has very good reviews on the minolta users sites, and is known as the 'mini beercan'. If you know anything about Minolta lenses, you'll be aware of a 70-210mm f4 lens known affectionately as the 'Beercan' because of its looks and size. It also has great optics. I owned the 70-210mm f4 Beercan for a short time when I had a Minolta 600si film camera (what an amazing film camera that was), and am looking forward to getting another one now that I have the Sony Alpha 200.

Told you the vertical grip was sexy! I like more area to hang on to with any camera, but especially with the lighter, more plastic cameras. And the a200 is a light, plastic camera - but in a good way. Of course, I have to qualify all this by saying I actually haven't shot with it yet :-) The 35-70mm f4 hasn't arrived. But I do have the body in my hands - and I have used its younger sister, the Sony Alpha 100. I reviewed it for D-Photo when it was first released (about 4yrs or so ago), and really enjoyed the experience. Gave it a very positive review (from what I can remember). So I'm expecting as good, if not better things, from the a200.
Yes, I know that the low-light, high ISO capabilities of the Sony could be better (I'll try to leave it on ISO 400 or below), but it's all relative. I still remember shooting film and never daring to go past 400. And for those times when I go over 400, I've got Noise Ninja to deal with it anyway. And RAW - always shoot in RAW for better noise control.

I love the styling of the Sony (Minolta) DSLR's - with clever touches such as eye control AF (bring the camera to your eye and the lens begins to focus), a beautiful lcd display that automatically adjusts its orientation when you switch between portrait or landscape composition, and, of course, the in-built image stabilisation that means every lens you own is now an IS lens. OK, it's debatable as to whether in-lens or in-camera stabilisation is better - but at least with the Sony you get it ALL the time. With Canon and Nikon you pay extra to have it in the lens.

I'm looking forward to using it (this weekend), and posting some images, together with my initial shooting experiences. But as I said right at the start of this post, for $200US you can't really go wrong!?

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