Friday, September 1, 2006
How Sony changes the playing field for the D-SLR market
Outdoor photographers have had a strong interest in digital SLRs because of their versatility and access to varied focal lengths. Plus, high megapixels provide the digital data to make large prints with lots of detail, so when Sony announced a new 10.2-megapixel D-SLR, everyone in the industry paid attention. Whatever brand D-SLR you shoot, Sony’s new entry into the market affects you as it puts a very strong camera into the competitive fray.
Recently, I had a chance to shoot with the Sony DSLR-A100 in Alaska. Having shot with a lot of cameras over the years, I can honestly say I liked this camera. It’s a well-thought-out and well-engineered camera with excellent features, and with a 10.2-megapixel CCD sensor on a camera priced at less than $1,000, it offers a lot for the photographer.
Many of you may have heard that the sensor is basically the same sensor as the one used in the Nikon D200. That’s true—Sony makes them both. However, both cameras will give unique results because of the internal processing circuits, including the A/D (analog/digital) converter, which affects both RAW and JPEG files, and special processing chips for JPEG images. Sony has done its homework and is very competitive in these areas, too.
The camera produced excellent color and tonality in its images, due in part, no doubt, to the newly developed Bionz processor. Related to this, Sony introduced its D-Range Optimizer with the A100, a selectable control designed to bring more detail out of contrasty scenes. I used it continuously and got a terrific dynamic range for images.
Sony’s anti-shake sensor technology (upgraded from Minolta’s original work in this area) is built into the camera so you don’t need a special lens to gain its benefits, and it really does work. I shot from a moving boat with a telephoto lens and was surprised to find nearly all images were sharp.
The A100 uses a Sony mount based on the Minolta Maxxum lens mount. Sony has reengineered many Minolta lenses and created new lenses of its own so that the camera starts out with an impressive system of 19 lenses available for it. In addition, a series of high-quality Carl Zeiss lenses will be offered later this year. Estimated Street Price: $899 (body only); $999 (body, plus kit lens).
Contact: Sony, www.sony.net/dslr.
Specs Of Note
Sensor Size: 10.2-megapixel APS-C
Image Stabilization: Built in
Lens Equivalent Factor: 1.5x
Shutter Speed: 30 to 1⁄4000 sec., and Bulb
Flash Sync: Up to 1⁄160 sec.
Built-In Flash: Yes
Shooting Speed: 3 fps
Size: 5.2x3.7x2.8 inches
Weight: 19.2 ounces
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