Sunday, 1 September 2013

Sony A200 re-visted

Went over to Christchurch for PK last weekend (see last post) and had a great time away. Took lots of photos at the event, and will post some of my favorites soon.

On a slightly different note, I had a look around a few camera stores when I was over there - just window shopping, drooling over the latest models etc. What was the camera that I was the most excited/taken by? The Sony a77. Got to play with a Sony a99 too - which was also very nice, but way beyond my price range (mind you, so is the a77).

Of course on the trip home this got me thinking about my gear, and my direction in terms of upgrades or cameras I might afford in the future. Was I excited about possibly one day owning a Canon7D, a Nikon 7100, or a Sony a77 (hey, that's a lot of sevens)? I had held - and briefly used - a Canon 7D, and I must say I was somewhat underwhelmed. The Nikon 7100 looks like a nice camera - might be a possibility, although i saw a few Nikon's in the stores in Christchurch and didn't even bother to pick one up. What I made a bee-line for, and what got my pulse racing just a little bit, was the big Sony cameras.

A couple of years ago I owned a Sony a200, which I blogged about at the time. I really enjoyed using the camera, and raved about the images I got with it and the Minolta 35-70mm f4 that I purchased for it.

Ultimately, I chose to stay with my Canon system, since I had the 5D full frame at that stage and was shooting weddings etc. But a part of me was definitely sad to see the a200 go and I have often wondered whether I shouldn't have decided to change to Sony instead.

Well, last weekend in Christchurch was all the inspiration I needed to make the change, and I've decided to do just that... 'go to Sony'. I have minimal investment in gear at the moment anyway - owning a Canon20D, kit lens and 50mm f1.8, so a switch at this time wouldn't be too daunting. In fact, I might even make on the deal, since Sony a200 bodies are fairly numerous and going reasonably cheaply second hand - and classic Minolta AF lenses have always been amazing value on the used market.

My suspicions were confirmed this weekend when I bid for, and ended up winning, a Minolta Maxxum 7000 film camera with two Minolta AF lenses for $85.00NZ! The first lens is the one I was after, the Minolta 35-70mm f4 macro - the same lens that I used with my last a200. It's such a compact, reasonably fast (constant f4) and insanely sharp piece of glass that, even though it's a bit on the 'long' side as an everyday walkabout lens (52-105mm equivalent), I still wanted to own and use the lens - and it's just so darn cheap! Throw away the Maxxum 7000 film body, just keep the lenses, and I'm still only paying about $45 for each lens! That's amazing.

The second lens that comes with the film camera is another oddball classic Minolta AF lens - the 100-200mm f4.5. This 'mini beercan' also has rave reviews for sharpness, and a constant f4.5 aperture. The range equates to a 150-300mm lens on an a200 - not a bad telephoto zoom range, in such a small and compact lens design. They just don't make lenses like this anymore, and sometimes you've gotta ask yourself - why not?

There are a few a200's that I am watching online at the moment - all come with at least the standard Sony 18-70mm kit lens - quite a good lens by all accounts. So if I can snag one of these (after selling my Canon gear), my journey into the Sony camera system will be complete.

Then the dream of owning one of those sexy a77's Sony cameras can begin to become a reality...

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