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PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2006 7:41 pm 
A few months ago I was looking into buying a Dynax 5D as a first foray into Digital SLR fotography. Anyway, travelling on business in Taipei and couldn't resist looking at the Sony Alpha A100 in the shops here (it is proving very popular with the locals).

Anyhow, after taking some super looking shots with it from my seat in the shop I was bowled over and decided I just had to do it! So the dealing started...

Basically it seems over here you can't get anyone to do you a better price than list price on the camera packs as Sony are controlling the pricing (although I've since been told some shops may sell you one without a receipt for 5% less with no VAT - Iprefered topay by Credit Card for some protection):

(pricing converted at 61NT$ = 1 pound)

A100 body only: 25980NT$ - 425 pounds
A100 1 lens kit: 29980NT$ - 491 pounds
A100 2 lens kit: 35980NT$ - 589 pounds

But what you can do is get a bit better deal by buying some non-Sony components with it. In the end, I got the dual lens kit, a nice Tenba 107 kit bag, 1GB 80x compact flash, a screen protector cut and fitted and 2 x UV filters (Technodia?? I think they are cheapies?) . Total settled on was 38000NT$ - or 622 pounds. Of course most of the saving is from difference in VAT, but still I figure it is at least 25% less than you would pay in the UK.

Anyhow very pleased with it so far (though I'm no photo buff). Feels great in the hand. Shame flash can't be made to pop up automatically, and USB port is inside compact flash card flap, but other than that, brill. I'll be taking some photos at GF's wedding so I'll be interested to see if people object to the mechanical noise (it seems a little loud when using it, though obviously my head is right on the camera). Also, you can hear the Super SteadyShot in action.

Interestingly, many people in reviews say the image noise is quite high at higher ISO, however my understanding is that having the Super Steady Shot actually allows you to shoot at lower ISO, so this must counteract it to some extent?

Really looking forward to playing around a bit more with it; anyone got any good hints for either an online course or a good book to get me started taking some proper photos?

Regards
James


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2006 9:00 pm 
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Hi James, sounds like you got yourself a bargain!

Try taking some identical test shots with and without your filters though if you suspect they're cheap and nasty - they might slightly reduce the quality or contrast.

As for noise levels, we measured them as higher than cameras like Canon's 350D, especially at higher sensitivities, although to be fair, the Canon has a lower resolution and a sensor that's well-known for low noise. See:

http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/SonyA100/page4c.shtml

http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/SonyA ... e4ca.shtml

But yes, you're right: the benefit of Anti-shake systems are that they let you shoot at slower shutter speeds than normal, which could allow you to use slower sensitivities than normal, thereby reducing the problem of noise.

Do remember though these slower shutter speeds won't of course freeze action, so if your subject's moving, it could suffer from motion blur, even if anti-shake is ensuring the background's pin sharp. So if you're photographing people for instance, do keep an eye on the shutter speed.

I don't think people will object to the mechanical noise at the wedding, unless it's at a silent point and you're the only one taking pictures. I'm glad you mentioned it though as some people have questioned my comments about shutter noise in my review.

The best tips I can give you for the wedding, is to 1st, become familiar with your camera, especially what settings work well with people, and 2nd, try and visit the venue(s) before-hand to work out some good angles.

And even though you traditionally want to avoid noise, do consider taking some people shots without the flash under natural light, with higher ISOs if necessary. They'll make a change from all the harsh flash shots people will be taking, and people may relax more as they won't believe your pictures will work out! Do some tests before hand though with white balance settings, as you'll probably need to manually set this if you're shooting indoors without a flash.

There's soem great books around with tips - I'd advise going into a bookstore and flicking through a few to find one which suits your style. We're also planning more workshops in the near future, so keep an eye on Cameralabs!

Thanks for your message and hope you enjoy using your A100!

Gordon


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2006 1:16 am 
Hi Gordon;

Many thanks for the reply and the superb reviews on your site.

I just about with my feeble brain managed to work out the moving subjects versus anti-shake versus high ISO about 5 minutes after typing the email.

Thanks for the tip on the filter, I'll give it a go. To be honest, I was most worried about the possibility of damaging the lenses due to my inexperience with such a grown up camera, so I figured for the couple of pounds that they were each they'd serve that purpose quite well.

I don't think the noise is that obtrusive, but I can't help but feel maybe Sony have gone and make a "hey everyone listen up, I'm using an SLR" camera!

One of the reasons I wanted to get an SLR is to try to take better photos without flash, and to be able to play with things like the depth of field, so I'll definitely be keen to give it a go. Hopefully can get to the venue a few days before; sounds like a great idea to work out where can get the best shots.

On the subject of filters, what would be a "known good" filter to compare against? I'm still in Taipei so can probably pick something else up if I think these are reducing the quality of the images.

Many thanks again for your reply

James


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2006 4:55 am 
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Hi James, I'm not sure what filter brands will be available in Taipei, but generally you get what you pay for. I found Hoya to be better than many brands in the past, but then again, like various IT components, many filters may be manufacturerd by the same company and just subsequently branded and priced differently! It's often a case of trial and error - I just wanted to warn you a cheapo filter may slightly reduce your potential quality.

In terms of taking photos without a flash, do watch out for your white balance settings, or you could end up with an orange cast on any shots taken indoors under tungsten light.

The trick is to manually set the white balance to indoor / tungsten, or better still, take a manual / custom reading from something nearby that's white or neutral grey. I've found white plates in restaurants can be surprisingly effective for custom white balance readings!

But crucially, remember to switch any manual custom settings back to Auto afterwards, or all your photos will come out with a different colour cast.

Again, the ultimate advice is to practice and be familiar with your camera before attending an important event like a wedding!

Hope you're having a good time in Taipei anyway, and remember to get yourself a bubble tea in a night market - the ones with tapioca balls in them and a big straw. Very tasty!

Gordon

PS - I'm glad you're enjoying the reviews on the site! Spread the word, and let me know if there's anthing you'd like to see more - or less - of.


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