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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 11:26 pm 
Now, before I go any further in this user review, I would like to make it known that I'm pretty much a newbie when it comes to photography. I have owned a Fujifilm 6900Zoom superzoom type camera for a while, but in use it was pretty much in the "Auto" mode. Nonetheless it is a good camera which has served me well, despite it's slow autofocus speed. So I will probably exasperate some of the more experienced photographers here as I type this review...;)

Nonetheless, I have decided to write up a review on my new photographic weapon of choice, the Sony Alpha DSLR-A100 (Which I will refer to as A100 for brevity). It is my intention to make this something of a long term topic and post my experience with this beast (To me) of a camera as I go along. I will not go into too much detail regarding the stats of the A100. Those are available from Gordon Laing's more professional review on this site. What I will do is post my impressions of the camera as time goes along. Updates will be sporadic but I'll do my best to keep everyone informed.

Below are pictures of my actual model.
Image Image Image Image

As you can see, unlike most A100s this one is pretty unusual in that it came in silver rather than black. I bought this example from the local branch of Argos after seeing it listed on sale for around £379.99. This is compared to the black coloured model which is exactly the same except for the colour and the inflated price of £499.99. I am unsure as to why black paint would hike the price so much. However it would seem the silver variant is no longer available from Argos at the time of writing.

Despite the different colour, it is still an A100 and still works as such. Although I think that the black colouring suits an SLR better, this silver A100 still looks quite smart. Build quality is nice and sturdy overall although compared to my old Fuji 6900Zoom it does feel a bit flimsy in places. The supplied kit lens snaps on with a satisfying click and feels solid enough. It even comes supplied with a hood although fitting and removing it is a bit fiddly. One disappointment is the built-in flash. Although it is quite a bit more powerful than my Fuji 6900's flash (At least to me!), to use it requires you manually raise it by grasping the sides and pulling up on it. I prefered the 6900s flash which is spring loaded and is raised by pressing a latch button on the side. So Sony loses some points for that. Also, I do not like the finger dial as it is a bit stiff to turn and is in a slightly akward position for me. I would prefer either the finger dial to be placed behind the shutter release as in the Canon EOS 400D/Rebel XTi or for it to be replaced with a thumbwheel, like on my 6900Zoom. Apart from that, the controls are in comfortable positions and the grip fits my hands well. Holding it is still a bit hard as I'm used to lighter cameras, however.

The screen is nice and bright and does the job well. It is amazing how much difference an extra inch makes. One of the big improvements compared to my old camera is the viewfinder. In the A100, it is optical as opposed to electronic, so the difference is startling. The 6900Zoom's viewfinder can be somewhat dark, fuzzy and lag a bit under certain conditions. Also manual focusing was a near impossibility in my opinion due to the above. With the A100, this is not a problem. Changes appear instantly and I can better judge manual focusing adjustments.

I haven't had much of a chance to use the camera "in anger" so to speak. So I'm not sure how it will handle in the long run. However, for now, the initial feel of the camera is that it is a capable tool. The question now is "Am I capable enough to take advantage of this camera?" Only time will tell.

Finally, I will look at the anti-shake. Initially I wasn't too sure if it was working or not. So I decided to conduct a simple test. With the A100 in Shutter priority and the speed set to half a second (0.5s, I think). The subject was my laptop while showing a screen from this very forum. ISO was in Auto, autofocus was set to Auto and Wide area. The lens was zoomed in at 75mm, D-Range optimizer was off. Flash was not used. Crops of the test shots are shown below. To the left is before I switched on the anti-shake, to the right is after I switched it on.

Image Image

As you can see, the anti-shake isn't a miracle worker but it does improve the visibility of the text under low light conditions. At the very least, it can make an improvement in situations where flash is undesirable or banned.

Overall, my first impressions are very good. I think the ultimate problem with the camera is the person who is wielding it right now. I hope to improve as time goes on and take advantage of the creative freedom the A100 provides over my old 6900Zoom.


Last edited by Dean Smith on Sat Aug 11, 2007 6:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2007 1:17 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2005 3:32 pm
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Location: Queenstown, New Zealand
Thanks for your report Dean - and that's really interesting about the silver colour being so much cheaper! You got yourself a bargain...

Gordon

PS - we're just completing our review of the Carl Zeiss 16-80mm zoom for the Alpha fit, so look out for that soon...


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 5:39 pm 
As a further note, if anyone wants the full test photos of the anti-shake test for any reason, I still have them. If anyone wants to see them, PM me or reply here and I'll try to come up with something.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 7:08 pm 
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Yessss, Dean! That would be very interesting if you have them as they came out of the cam (no postprocessing, all EXIF-data intact).
I could put them in my flickr account, as imageshack is not really the place to present them.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2007 1:05 pm 
tombomba2 wrote:
Yessss, Dean! That would be very interesting if you have them as they came out of the cam (no postprocessing, all EXIF-data intact).
I could put them in my flickr account, as imageshack is not really the place to present them.


I'll get back to you shortly on that one.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 4:44 pm 
As requested, I uploaded the full images, complete with (I hope!) full EXIF data, for your pleasure. I will probably upload any other review related photos later to this album.

http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd21 ... C00001.jpg
http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd21 ... C00002.jpg

EDIT: On closer examination it seems Photobucket shrinked them a bit though the EXIF data is still there. Oh well.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2007 2:58 pm 
Continuing this thread, while I was out and about in Glasgow doing other activities, I decided to take my A100 along to use it in an actual outdoors setting and see how it works in practice. Being a DSLR it is certainly bulkier than a compact or a superzoom so there is no hiding this camera unless you are very careful! Bear that in mind if you are into candid shots!

Since noise is often seen in large flat areas of colour, I decided to take a series of test photographs to see how bad the noise was. The pictures where taken in the car park I was at. Subject was a small block of flats being built at the area in the High Street area. Below are some crops of the photos. EXIF data should still be preserved in the crops but again I have the full set incase anyone wants to examine the full photographs.

http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd21 ... 00crop.jpg
http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd21 ... 00crop.jpg
http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd21 ... 00crop.jpg
http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd21 ... 00crop.jpg
http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd21 ... 00crop.jpg

Obviously, the noise gets worse the higher the ISO with this camera. To me personally it's not really noticable up to 400 ISO then you start getting those horrible artifacts. With this in mind I retook the 400 to 1600 ISO shots with Noise Reduction switched on to see if there is any difference.

http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd21 ... nrcrop.jpg
http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd21 ... nrcrop.jpg
http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd21 ... nrcrop.jpg

I'm not really sure if NR made a difference. You be the judge.

For completeness, I also took two shots using the "Lo80" and "Hi200" ISO modes.

http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd21 ... 80crop.jpg
http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd21 ... 00crop.jpg

Again, not so sure if they look much different. The Lo80 looks a bit paler in my opinion. Again, you be the judge.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 7:23 pm 
I am a totaly newbie

But is it just me or is the camera really struggling where the cream building meets the blue sky on the verticle. I can see a pink line in between (rubs eyes)

PS: Is that near cally Uni?


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 8:30 pm 
Thoes photo's dont look as crisp as I would have hoped. Im getting an A100 for xmas.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 2:04 pm 
tyrant wrote:
I am a totaly newbie

But is it just me or is the camera really struggling where the cream building meets the blue sky on the verticle. I can see a pink line in between (rubs eyes)

PS: Is that near cally Uni?


I was near Strathclyde Uni, actually, where I used to study. :D

As for the pink line, I didn't notice it before but now you point it out. It seems OK in my other snapshots around Glasgow and not noticeable on smaller zoom levels.

tobywuk wrote:
Thoes photo's dont look as crisp as I would have hoped. Im getting an A100 for xmas.


To be fair, it's the kit lens and the camera is in the hands of a rubbish photographer (i.e. me...;)) so someone with better experience could probably do better.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 2:06 pm 
I have an A100 now and all the photo's i have taken with it are very crisp and clear :)


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 1:33 am 
tobywuk wrote:
I have an A100 now and all the photo's i have taken with it are very crisp and clear :)


Only proves my point then. In the hands of a better photographer, the A100 is a good camera. I do have some other snapshots taken around Glasgow I may post here later.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 8:34 am 
I would hardly call myself a good photographer though! lol Maby it was just the light conditions and setting on the camera dident match very well on the day.


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