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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 10:38 am 
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Thanks for the link. Paying particular attention to high ISO results, they certainly seem to have at least caught up with the others. I'd say at 6400 it's probably even better than the 50D, which starts to suffer from noticeable banding at that point.

On the HDR feature, it looks like they are using it as I suspected as a method to increase dynamic range at low noise, and not to give that ultra-contrast look. The sample given isn't the best test case, but looks natural enough to me. The DRO one looks similar apart from the bucketload of noise, which is within expectation as it is doing some strong shadow recovery at ISO1600. The DRO should work great at lower ISO.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 11:01 am 
Those sample images look quite impressive.

It could be just me but I don't find any example of HDR out of a camera to ever look natural enough. It could be that I'm just used to the much lower DR of the camera that anything else looks fake but I would pick the full blown HDRs (choose not to call them photos if you like) over a half-hearted effort that is neither here nor there.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 1:23 pm 
A very matter-of-fact preview of the A550

http://luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/a550-first.shtml

No mention of image quality, but very unbiased IMO. The conclusion might not be what some want to hear (please read the ENTIRE thing before jumping to conclusions), but it confirms my suspicion that those looking to upgrade from the previous gen A200/A3xx (which I want to do soon), should either go with the A700 or wait for the A700's replacement (2010?) or if they can afford it, the A850 (which the same reviewer is in absolute love with).

So far, nothing really tempts me to want to get the A550 over the A700 (despite its age).


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 1:49 pm 
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That HDR sample at LL looks interesting too. The conclusion is very biased towards what the writer wants, but it is their impressions. To say the A850 is "not a whole lot more money" than the A550 is a bit of a stretch - it's over double the list price and targets a totally different area (big and slow vs small and fast).

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 1:56 pm 
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Even having never done HDR (I don't even like it), nor having used the DRO Optimiser much, that HDR feature looks pretty neat.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 2:17 pm 
You're right, it is what the author wants (but aren't all reviews like this?). Some reviewers think video and live view is essential, and others dont, and will subtract or add points based on their own preference. Its just a fact, but, I meant unbiased in that he reviews all his cameras like this (only distinguishing by segment: entry level, semi-pro and pro), but, he does clearly state that it wasn't a typical review.

My contention is that this might not be the "upgrade" that most people might think it is. I think the A550 is an excellent camera, and Sony will be better for it, but I don't think upgrading from a A300 to this will make much of a difference for me. I think, just like it was a couple of years ago, the A700 is still the best upgrade route, while the A550 is more for someone who wants to buy a Sony, but finds the new entry level too silly :lol: and the A700 too complicated/large/heavy.

Also, his mention of the A850 might sound odd, but, a FF camera is now under $2000.00! That really is unbelievable, and makes it that much more accessible to a lot more people. If you can afford it, and have the will power to save for it, why not just get the A850?

I dunno, might be wrong to generalize like that, but for me, I want my next camera to have a better build, better viewfinder, better noise control, better lcd. The A550 has all of these, but for me, the A700 is more attractive based on my needs.

N.B. The HDR looks fantastic, and sounds well implemented.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 3:20 pm 
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Doing a side by side comparison, while the A5xx is not the A700 replacement that is long overdue, they are close enough to be considered as an upgrade path from the A2xx and A3xx owners. At the minimum you get a bump up in fps and high ISO capability, as well as plugging the weakness of quick AF live view and introducing the HDR function. What advantages does the A700 have? Faster shutter speed of 1/8000, more buttons on the body, a slightly bigger viewfinder image and a couple more AF points. Size wise there isn't much between them.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 3:27 pm 
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I think this statement sums it up, since he’s a professional photographer and could never be happy with anything other than top tear equipment.

If that was the norm in real life, we would all be living in beach houses and driving Bentleys.

“But, looked at through the lens (no pun intended) of a working photographer it's hard for me to fell much love for the A550. Not that it's a bad camera, or an underfeatured camera. It's neither. Indeed I haven't even commented on or tested its image quality”


Other than the obvious, as in, I don’t like the look of grey plastic, or the viewfinder is not 100%, I see this as a “non review”.

Just reading the specs and other bits and pieces on different sites, I think it’s leap frogged lots of issues that make it a serious contender for my $$$.

I am going to wait for some real reviews, and most importantly, the holding it in my hand one.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 3:43 pm 
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We'd best wait for Gordon's review on the A5x0, that will get us the high quality, unbiased review we're all waiting for!

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 7:02 pm 
I have to say, the high ISO results from the sample gallery are quite impressive. The HDR function looks great too, the results really just look like an expanded dynamic range image ( who'd have thought?)

I think sony has a winner on their hands.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 9:37 pm 
Well, we differ, nothing wrong with that. We all have different expectations of our equipment. I think video is a non-issue, and I don't like live view much either (it works well on the A300, but I really don't use it as much as I thought I would), and some will view these as must haves, nothing wrong with that. But, I do think Luminous Landscape is a very reputable site with tones of useful articles, and one of my most favourite sites next to Cameralabs & Strobist (I have over 500 photography bookmarks, so that does say something :lol: ).

I'm not complaining, I think its a very good camera, and Sony needed this, but I just don't think its the upgrade I want, which is why I'm planning on getting an A700 instead. All I ask is that those who plan on upgrading to the A550 should think about the A700 as well, and I am sure Gordon will mention that during his review (assuming the A700 isn't discontinued then).

Overall, Sony looks poised to step up their market share (not only with new camera models and aggressive advertising, but also seminars and meet ups which help to build a community of users and not a pool of consumers.).

One thing though, people can't bag on Sony for poor noise anymore (incidentally, in the A900 review on Luminous Landscape, he does mention that the noise problem is not as bad as some make it up to be, and only needs minor tweaking to be level with the competition).


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 12:45 am 
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primitive wrote:
All I ask is that those who plan on upgrading to the A550 should think about the A700 as well, and I am sure Gordon will mention that during his review (assuming the A700 isn't discontinued then).


Why would you want to recomend the A700 over the A500 series without even seeing the image results.
These have the “new” sensor, which for all we know could be the new standard making previous ones obsolete.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 1:04 am 
New doesn't always mean better, and rather than viewing this negatively, we can just say Sony did such an excellent job with the A700.

I really don't have any issues with the A700 in terms of image quality and I don't anticipate much difference either (may be wrong). As I said, this is what I want, you (and others) are free to want something else entirely, it really won't be a problem :lol:

I am not writing off the A550, or telling anyone to do it either. Just saying if you plan on upgrading, the A700 is an excellent option as well (they cost around the same, have very similar features, etc.), and the A700 still has a place in the market.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 5:24 am 
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Thanks for the link, primitive. It is a fair (short) review on the new α550.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 6:07 am 
primitive wrote:
they cost around the same


They don't cost same. A500 especially is much cheaper. And these are MSRP prices. In three or four months, the prices will drop. When
A700 was launched, it's MSRP was $1,400. A500 is like $749? That's about half.


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