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PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2008 11:19 am 
Hi everyone!
I've been on the forums for a while now so i though i would post something useful to our members. Warning, take this review with a pinch of salt, it is based on a beginners opinion. Also, i took time to fully understand and utilize every feature of the camera before writing a review.



Introduction

Coming from a point and shoot, i didn't know much about DSLR so i opted for the easiest camera to use. I tested each camera in the store and decided the A300/A350 is the easiest to use(with its awesome live view) and not only that, it is also the most comfortable to hold(Not everyone will agree with me but its just my opinion).

After comparing the features i also concluded that it is has the best price to features ratio. Now all i had to do was pick either the A350 or the A300. I went for the latter for several reasons.

Firstly, the extra megapixels don't mean anything to me. The biggest prints i am going to make is A4 size and i don't pixel peep(very often :roll: ).

Secondly, every other feature is exactly the same from the menus, bracketing, spot metering, right down to the tilt-able screen.
Because of that i saved some money and bought a telephoto zoom lens and i get slightly better performance at high sensitivities.




Ergonomics, Handling and features

The A300 feels great in my hands. Its well sized grip gives a feeling of confidence when in use. But in the same time, i would like to see Sony include the A200 and A700's extra little hump(i don't know what to call it. lol) on the grip onto the A300.
It is very solidly build. I only have a slight complain. To me, the A300 "appear" to have a cheap looking outer shell. Maybe its just me (i've been using a canon ixus with its full metal body for a while mind you).

There are many buttons on the A300's body and all(well almost all) are easily in reach. The only button i find a bit hard to reach is the drive mode(which selects single shot, burst, timer and bracketing). Its almost impossible to reach without moving your grip a lil.
These buttons are convenient for changing settings without going through the menus. One thing i would love is to customise the direction pad to access certain funtions more quickly(such as metering mode, white balance) like the canon but i'm just being too picky. xD

There is also a liveview switch on top of the camera to switch from liveview to the optical viewfinder. The liveview is the easiest one to use yet and its great for macro and landscape or when you mounted the camera on a tripod. The screen can also tilt, which further increase the usefulness of the liveview.

Its viewfinder, however, is smaller than the other DSLRs i've tried. Its not an issue unless you're coming from a full frame SLR(film). You wouldn't even notice it after a short while.

As for the menus, they are great! For a beginner its really easy to figure out all the features. Also, it take no time at all to master the menus .With the addition of its liveview, you can see the changes taking place such as the white balance. This way you don't need to do the trial and error method.

To access all the funtions, all you have to do is press the Fn button(funtion) and you will see a 2 by 3 grid of the funtion that doesn't have its own button.
To show its efficientcy and ease of use, i'll compare it with the Nikon D60. With the D60, you have to use your left hand to press the funtion button(which is on the bottom left of the camera) to change the setting and all its functions are there. To me, all that takes too many button presses just to change the ISO or metering mode.( Again this is up to preference)

Another cool feature is the eye sensor. It detects when your face it coming up the the camera's viewfinder and automaticly turns off the LCD screen and focus beforehand. I think Canons has this feature too but for nikon, you have to press the info button everytime you want to see the settings.

Its metering has been spot on. I rarely use spot metering because i don't have to. As for bracketing, you have a choice of -0.7, 0, +0.7 and -0.3, 0, +0.3. For HDR the maximum of 0.7 is not enough. Sony should release a firmware to fix this. For white balance though, its not very good indoors. This is where its liveview comes in. You can change the white balance and see the results instantly.




Image Quality

This camera is a real step up from a Point N Shoot. I mostly shoot macro, landscape, people and events. It does a very good job so far and i have yet to find fault with its low-mid iso pictures(Iso 100-400). Its detail is amazing! Plus its kit lens has an extra reach at the long end.

Image
Sample of landscape HDR shot...

Image
Sample of Fast paced action shot(thanks to its 3 frame per second burst rate and fast autofocus). This one is taken with a 70-300mm.

Image
Sample of a macro shot (with kit lens)

Image
Also taken with the kit lens

Image
Sample of Tamron 70-300mm 1:2 macro

Image
Taken with the same telephoto-zoom lens with macro

Image
Another one with a telephoto-zoom with macro functions

As you can see, alot can be achieved with this relatively inexpensive kit + telephoto zoom set up. If you are still not pleased with the results, you can always buy a dedicated macro lens or a wide-angle lens. There are lots of Sony and Third party lenses available.

As for the occasional high ISO indoor events, noise can be annoying at 800 and above(1600). But its still a big step forward compared to a Point N Shoot which i can only use up to 400 due to noise. When i need important pictures to be noise free, i just shoot RAW and remove the noise with Photoshop CS4. That way i retain most of the detail available so its not really an issue. And by the way, its high iso performance is not as bad as some put it. I've seen some people talk as if its noise performance is going to be the end of the world(sony's world).

Image
Sample of a photo taken at ISO 800! As you can see, there is barely any noise visible(unless you pixel peep!)
Here is the EXIF data to prove its at ISO 800
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nigelchuah ... 8934/meta/

Conclusion

Sony has come up with a real winner. I really like the A300. And Sony already has a compelling lens lineup that will please amateurs to keen enthusiast(Thats you Bjorn! xD) alike. All the issues with this camera are very minor and before long, you will even forget that they are there.

Pros

Great handling, great ergonomics, Superb liveview, lots of external buttons, great image quality, longer-than-average kit lens (18-70mm compared to 18-55mm), very easy to use, best price to feature ratio, and Solid build.

Cons

Flash a bit low(can cause shadowing) but its common on all DSLRs, its plastic appearance(coming from a full metal point and shoot), a slightly noisier high iso than some(still very very good), and a smaller viewfinder(liveview makes up for it).

Thanks for reading. Remember, take this with a pinch of salt.


Last edited by Gold_Fish! on Fri Dec 12, 2008 6:50 am, edited 6 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2008 11:51 am 
Good review! I was thinking about the A300 myself before I ended up trying the 40D and getting in love for it... :D
You can attach images using Flickr.... there's an explanation HERE
:wink:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2008 12:01 pm 
Thanks! I'll be posting samples now....


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2008 4:50 pm 
Wow! That's some really beautiful pictures you got there! :shock:
Did you do any PP on them or are they right out of the camera? Any possibility for 100% crops of edges so we can evaluate sharpness?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2008 7:25 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 08, 2007 6:30 pm
Posts: 6953
Location: The Netherlands, Ridderkerk
Gold_Fish! wrote:
keen enthusiast(Thats you Bjorn! xD)

:D Yep, that's me. Although I'd love to move up to semi-pro soon...

Good review, illustrated with some wonderful photos! Well done!
I love the photo of the yellow, what do you call 'em, daisies right?

- Bjorn -

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2008 6:48 am 
Thanks! Glad you guys like it!
Yes they are photoshopped. The picture of the rose was injected with a dose of saturation and the bunch of flowers were desaturated to give a warm effect. Others are just minor touch ups. Only the parrot in flight picture is not pp-ed, only the watermark is added.
The kit lens corner sharpness is somewhat lacking. Center sharpness is fine though. The Sony's kit lens will never be able to compete with the Canon lenses that you have though. xD

I'll be posting non-pp samples with 100% crop soon. Hang tight.

Bjorn,
Forgive me, i love flowers but i never knew what their called. :oops:
I think they are indeed daisies...

:lol:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 2:35 am 
Thank you for this review!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 5:59 am 
You're welcome! 8)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 8:23 am 
Nice review mate, very informative.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2008 4:28 pm 
Thanks! :D


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:04 pm 
Great review, awesome photo, thanks very much!

I'm currently in the proccess of buying my 1st DSLR and I'm torn between the a300 and the Canon 450D.

Due to a good deal at my local shop I can actually pick up a D450 for just £50 more than the A300. My head tells me I should go for the Canon but for some inexplicable reason my heart won't let go of the Sony. I've handled and played with both models, really liked them both and still can't make up my mind!

I'm an absolute beginer when it comes to DSLR so thinking that the less technical Sony may be the better option. I just wonder if I'll kick myself if I pass up what seems to be a really good deal on the canon (£450 for the canon body, kit lens and Tameron 75 -300, £400 for the sony, kit + tameron lens and 2gb memory card).

Does anyone have any opinions? Any advice will be most welcome as I'm finding it impossible to choose!


Cheers

ps great website, really glad I found it!


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 Post subject: GET Sony!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 2:54 pm 
spagettilegs
Does anyone have any opinions? Any advice will be most welcome as I'm finding it impossible to choose!


8) GET Sony! as a sony lover Said 8) (get what you want! indeed) we are just same in position but i will stick to Sony!!!
[/quote]


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 3:29 pm 
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Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 12:59 pm
Posts: 6009
Location: The Netherlands
Spaghettilegs, head over to the store, and try both out. The 450 and A300 are both highly capable camera's with a great featureset.

But holding them both in your hands is the most important step. This is a camera you will be holding a lot, and using a lot. This means it's gotta feel good in your hands.

Some like canon better, some like sony better, but in the end you need to make the choice.

Image quality and features come later (they are pretty similar anyhow). :)

EDIT: Great review BTW, nothing to add!

_________________
I take pictures so quickly, my highschool was "Continuous High".


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 11:46 am 
Nice review. I have also just picked up this camera a couple days ago, and much like you I've come from a P&S background. In the little time I've had to play so far, I've found the camera to be very easy to get used to.

I'm hoping to get out and put some time into learning it this weekend.

Kudos to Gordon for investing so much time into putting together a great informative site. I've learned a lot already browsing the forums, watching the tutorials, etc.


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 Post subject: SONY A 300
PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 11:39 pm 
I have had the A200 since Jan. 2009 and love it. Great improvement over my point and shoots in the high ISO department and the shallow DOF I can attain when desired!


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