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94 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine DSLR that's good to use as well as having competitive functionality and excellent technical performance
I've used a film SLR for most of my photographic life. Then a few years ago I got into digital, and have had two Nikon Coolpix (including the splendid twisty-bodied 4500) and then an Olympus semi-SLR (the 8080 wide zoom, with bend-out LCD screen). Someone stole the Olympus. What should I do?

I was very tempted by the Sony DSC-R1, with it's live twisty LCD and...
Published on 19 Sep 2006 by P. Kingston

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28 of 54 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Think carefully about this one
I am an ex owner of this camera. Deciding not to upgrade my SLR lens collection for a camera that I failed to get on with. I am not saying this is a bad camera just that I did not get on with it and I will tell you why. Firstly the controls are not very well set out.It is still trying to cater to the creative compact market and has lots os settings for various scenes...
Published on 15 May 2007 by P. MARTIN


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94 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine DSLR that's good to use as well as having competitive functionality and excellent technical performance, 19 Sep 2006
By 
P. Kingston "Paul Kingston" (Reading, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sony Alpha A100K Digital SLR Camera (18-70mm Lens Kit) (Electronics)
I've used a film SLR for most of my photographic life. Then a few years ago I got into digital, and have had two Nikon Coolpix (including the splendid twisty-bodied 4500) and then an Olympus semi-SLR (the 8080 wide zoom, with bend-out LCD screen). Someone stole the Olympus. What should I do?

I was very tempted by the Sony DSC-R1, with it's live twisty LCD and excellent lens. And there is tremendous competition now amongst SLR suppliers, with new announcments from all the majors. But I chose the Sony, and after five days and many hundreds of pictures I'm very pleased with the camera.

You can read about its technical performance at [...] What I can add is that this excellent performance is easy and inviting to make use of.

The focussing screen is clear, crisp, and bright. I find I often want to use manual focus, and can switch back and forth from manual to auto by simply moving a switch. And there's a depth-of-field preview easy to hand.

These controls are typical- what you want is to hand, and works logically (at least, as I expect). With the Olympus after a year's use I was still going back to the manual to find how to do things. The Sony feels familiar after five days.

The camera feels good to hold- a good grip is a huge help with avoiding camera shake, which this camera helped further by an antishake system that works with all lenses.

And then there are the twiddly bits- for example the fact that the autofocus switches on and the LCD switches off when I bring the camera to my eye (although I find the camera can mistake my chest for my eye when I have it round my neck), and that the LCD image stays upright whether you have the camera horizontal or vertical.

These as well as the advantages you expect from this generation of DSLR- instant start-up, very quick reaction to pressing the button, and if you want it three frames a second until you've run out of space on the card (in .jpg).

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the standard kit zoom gets you pretty close up to a flower or an insect, and does this at maximum zoom so that you don't find your shadow is interfering with the picture. My first "extra" has been a secondhand Minolta AF 1.7 50mm standard lens, which I have found excellent for snapping people indoors by available light (find your way round Minolta lenses for the Sony at [...]

I miss the infra-red remote control supplied with the Olympus (there's a long and a short wired control for the Sony, but at large additional cost). And I'm sure I'll miss the ability to sight a picture down low or up high using a twisty LCD screen. And in some quiet "candid camera" situations the clunk of the mirror which is part of a true SLR can draw attention. But for me the advantages, starting with composing pictures on that fine focussing screen, far outweigh these losses.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 99% of all amateur photographers will be delighted with this!, 17 Mar 2007
This review is from: Sony Alpha A100K Digital SLR Camera (18-70mm Lens Kit) (Electronics)
INITIAL REACTION: Have just started using the a100 and, after researching for a couple of months, it certainly lives up to its promise. Being a former Minolta film SLR owner, the Sony seemed to be the obvious choice with the alpha mount meaning that most Minolta lenses are compatible. However, since I only own the one Minolta lens, that wasn't really an issue. A MUCH bigger issue is the built-in image stabilization on the a100. It works amazingly well and combined with the feeling of holding a solid piece of kit in your hands, gives you great confidence. Comparing lens prices with Canon EOS400 and Nikon D40 models, it's clear that the Sony SuperSteady Shot is a long-term money saver.

Anyone reading these reviews will also undoubtedly be checking out other sources such as the excellent dpreview and yes, there will be those who have specific requirements - such as high ISO shooting - who may be better served by the Canon or Nikon. Personally, by checking out the models in-store, I found holding the Canon to be a little too cramped and a little on the light side - more in-line with my old Minolta - and I wanted something comfortable and substantial in my hand. The Nikon, on the other hand, just didn't justify me investing so much initially and over the long haul. With some Carl Zeiss lenses on the horizon, I'm fairly confident the a100 can compete in most situations. To sum up:

Pros: Great value (inbuilt image stabilization); Eye-start focus is great under the right conditions (and can be deactivated); Fantastic images (which can be sharpened if you find the default settings too soft) - at least up to ISO400; Confidence-building look and feel - makes you FEEL like a photographer!; Easy to use menu system (a little drab, but a first-class LCD with innovative features) and the same ease of use overall as previous Minolta SLRs.

Cons: Bundled lenses could be better - they do the job but the look and feel of them lets you know there is more potential lurking in the body; Outperformed by Canon and Nikon at very high ISO settings; Don't like the Compact Flash slot very much - on an otherwise great body, it's a little flimsy;
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Camera For the Money, 25 Jan 2007
By 
M. G. Chisholm "chiefengineer3" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sony Alpha A100K Digital SLR Camera (18-70mm Lens Kit) (Electronics)
I have to first say that I was rather amused by the semi-literate rant from some chap called Oleg. As he does not actually own this camera I'm somewhate bemused by his overly protective attitude towards his Canon, which is I'm sure excellent. I have had this camera for a week now and find it hard to fault. I'm happy to admit that I'm no expert and this was bought as a means to learn DSLR photography having had a Nikon F60 film camera before, however having looked at most of the cameras in this price range it clearly gives one the most "Bang for your buck." 10.2 Mp means photo standard prints at A3, the auto eye focus is a neat idea and very fast. I've compared photos that a work collegue has taken with his Nikon D200 and artistic merit aside the results at our level are hard to differentiate. I will of course accept that a pro will want more but this camera provides every possible mode of operation and a healthy range of lenses given that it's an upgraded Minolta. Sony have a good range of accessories too (mind you don't they all) and of course there are many other third party providers. Definately the best camera for your money. Mind you I bought mine in the US and it cost me three hundred and seventy five quid all in. Isn't it nice to live in the UK.......
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great value, very nice camera, 14 April 2007
By 
This review is from: Sony Alpha A100K Digital SLR Camera (18-70mm Lens Kit) (Electronics)
This camera comes at around the same price as a Nikon D40, and cheaper than a D40X...and I would say it is a better buy

The Image quality is really great, I am particularly impressed with the Matrix metering...its very reliable and much less "quirky" than the meter on the Nikon D40/D80, if you want great "no brainer" shots with auto matrix metering...the Sony is great, with a bit of care, blown highlights and washed out pics are virtually non existent with this camera

If you have ever used a Minolta 5D...well this is the same cam, only a bit better (10MP sensor, a bit nicer finish, menus a bit better organised etc) I find the kit lens pretty good, but this cam is also available with a 18-200 (11X) lens, which is a great range...and with the anti shake, makes a great alternative to a "superzoom"...so check out that other lens

Performance is about the same as other DSLRs...its fast enough for me with a great burst rate if you need it.....but best of all, the images are really lovely

Only thing I dont like too much, is that the flash has to be raised for the Autofocus illuminator to work....Nikon have it beat here, I must however point out, that the low light focus without the illuminator is very good right down to very low light levels, its just that Nikons will focus a bit quicker in very dark conditions....no big deal. One thing to be aware of is that if you buy the external flashgun (there are two Sony flashguns available)...even with the flash turned off, but mounted on the cam...the autofocus illuminator on the flashgun operates to assist focus...this is great, and with the flashgun attached to the camera, the focus speed in low light is improved even more, making it comparable to the D80

I have used both this camera and a Nikon D80 extensively, given the huge price difference, and the superior metering of the Sony....I would say go with the Alpha...its great.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Organic upgrade from a 35mm Dynax 5, 15 Mar 2007
By 
Mr. Cj Jothi (London, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sony Alpha A100K Digital SLR Camera (18-70mm Lens Kit) (Electronics)
Ever since I picked up my dad's Canon AE1 with a beautiful f1.8 50mm gracing the front I have been a sucker for film photography. Being creative is important in life and this is where I find the opportunity to express myself, making something tangible that you can look at all day, share with friends, and remember moments that have passed.

Having learnt the basic elements of photography; aperture, shutter speed, ISO, film speeds, focal lengths and so forth I decided to move on from my dad's 70s equipment and get my own gear. After weeks of researching, on the net and visiting high street retailers I decided to go with Minolta and their then internationally celebrated Dynax 5. I could have gone with Canon or Nikon but Minolta has always been the quietly admired, underrated company that professionals would commend but rarely go for. Everyone I spoke to though agreed that in terms of value and performance Minolta's camera bodies and selection of lenses surpasses the more popular rivals. And because less people owned the lenses, the more likely you would find a bargain or two on ebay! So over the course of a year I snipped up a 50mm f1.7 prime, 70-210mm f4 zoom and 24mm f2.8 wide angle lens. Between the three lenses, and the Dynax's compact yet feature packed body, I was ready for everything I wanted to achieve.

Over the past year my brain, for some reason, started telling me that now is the time to take a plunge into DSLRs. The prices are constantly falling, the technology is moving forward, and the benefits are as clear as daylight. Hearing Sony pick up Konica Minolta's Dynax technology and existing lenses was one of those "too good to be true" moments. Sony are great. Sure, they've made their own mistakes, but when they put their mind to it they often rival if not beat all the competition. With their ties to Carl Zeiss, their deep pockets, and undisputed experience in electronics, Canon/Nikon et al are no doubt looking over their shoulder. It is an exciting time for Sony, and I look forward to what they will bring to the photography industry.

The Alpha A100 is Sony's first foray into the DSLR market and is a clear statement of intent. Underpriced (which Sony NEVER do!) and boasting the same sensor as the D80/D200 etc it is as good as all the 10 MP cams out there. As I own three excellent lenses I decided to buy the Alpha. It's a big leap, from digital to 35mm, and sure enough I am keeping my film body, but I am glad I took the jump!

Comparing the Dynax body with the Alpha's the differences are clear to see. Whilst the Dynax is more compact and lighter the Alpha looks and feels sturdier. The hand grip on the right feels comfier and the function + mode dial buttons are clearly improved (chunkier, more like the Dynax 7 or other pro bodies).

The beauty of having used a Dynax is the fact that it still uses the Dynax principles. The readings, the focusing, the different modes. Sony have shown great respect to the way the Dynax bodies functioned. What they have done is improve the form factor and added fairly nifty features, whilst retaining what made the Dynax so successful.

The only complaint, which is prevalent with many other bodies, is the small viewfinder. The Alpha's feels 1/3 SMALLER to my Dynax. I do not know why this is. Maybe something to do with the smaller sensor. It's just a major disappointment because focusing becomes more difficult.

The main disadvantage of these lower priced DSLRs is their 1.5X crop/magnification factor of the 35mm lenses. This was the main obstacle stopping me from buying a DSLR. I love my 50mm f1.7 lens, but now it is a 75mm lens. And buying a 35mm prime for this camera to emulate a 50mm focal length will cost me hundreds of pounds. Sure, I could use the zoom lenses, but we all know this is a compromise in sharpness and speed.

As for the picture quality? Well I'm impressed. The dynamic range is as good as a number of my preferred film stocks and the colours are very rich. Focusing could be improved but because of the technology you can zoom into your images immeasurably more than what you did with film. All the multiple exposure options, white balancing and other image tweaks ensure you get the image you want.

The best thing about the Alpha is the KM lens mount. Having used Minolta glass for five years I KNOW how good it is. For the newcomers, boy are you gonna be in for a surprise. Sony have breathed new life into Minolta's lenses and are rebranding them with Sony's logo. There is so much choice, and for the pros, with these new Carl Zeiss lenses coming around you should be reassessing your allegiance to Nikon and Canon. Why? Just look at the Alpha and you will see why!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good camera from Minolta, 12 Aug 2007
By 
Paul S. Ell (NI, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sony Alpha A100K Digital SLR Camera (18-70mm Lens Kit) (Electronics)
Sony have not suddenly discovered expertise in SLRs - they bought out Minolta. This camera benefits and builds on Minolta heritage and is exceptionally good for the price. I've also purchased a 75-300mm lens which completes the package.

The downside - like all SLRs (except perhaps the Olympus offering) it's big and the case makes it bigger still. The cheap lenses are not great - although the Sony 75-300 was only 105 bought from SonyStyle in Taiwan. Also if you're out of practice with SLR photography after years of digital photography buy a book on the camera.
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68 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended, 10 Aug 2006
By 
Mr. J. P. Lester (Leeds, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sony Alpha A100K Digital SLR Camera (18-70mm Lens Kit) (Electronics)
I did a lot of research on this camera on dpreview.com which I would certainly recommend anyone to do before taking the plunge. Upon comparing the Alpha to other rival DSLRs from Canon and Nikon - notable the 350D and D50 respectively - I decided on this one as, although a higher pricetag, you still get more than you would expect.

Most notably, the best bits are the in-camera image stabliser, which ordinarily you pay for in every single lens you buy, but with it built into the camera you can opt out with future lenses so it saves you money. The eye-start focus is good, it saves battery as well. Plenty of functions, and although I needed to read the instructions, once I had done it was a breeze to use. It has a large CCD so expect excellent quality. It also has the option of using Compact Flash or Memory Stick Duo. It comes with an adapter as well which is nice.

The bad sides to it (there are very few) are the kit lens is not the most fantastic, but does the job. I imagine most people buying this camera would buy another lens or two anyway, so you'll get to mix and match. The oonly other thing is, I imagine that although it has a 10.2MP sensor, with in camera image stablisation, the resolution is smaller as it will constantly be on the move so you never get to use the whole chip. Unsure of this however, and cant prove it myself.

On the whole, it is a fantastic, simple yet complex enough for most enthusiastic amateurs, offers great resolution and size. There will also be a whole range of lenses coming from Sony but you can also use Miolta lenses as well which there is a fantastic range already available. I would highly recommend this camera.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Sony Alpha and Lenses, 11 May 2007
This review is from: Sony Alpha A100K Digital SLR Camera (18-70mm Lens Kit) (Electronics)
The Sony Alpha is definitely an outstanding camera for the new DSLR users.

There is no doubt that more professional grade machines will come out (see PMA reviews). This machine is not a weathersealed powerhorse and so it makes sense for it not to have a powergrip (especially since you can shoot 700+ pics on one charge).

People also forget that Nikon etc uses Sony CCDs, so to say that the Sony machine is not outstanding or somehow made by a novice in the market is a mistake (DSLR bodies are more CCD than anything else).

What is more, the idea that there is more noise in the pics at iso800 and iso1600 is a falacy. It is true when you shoot JPGS, but not when you shoot raw, since you do the postprocessing yourself. If you want to shoot in low light you should use RAW and if not you should use a flash to use normal ISO values (any "pro" would accept this).

The ease of use is outstanding, you don't need to read the manual, because all ISO, flash settings, DR/DR+, white balance etc are accessible from one rotating bezel (this is how it should be for a consumer DSLR, the pro versions are yet to come, "with more buttons").

To say that there are not enough lenses for the Sony Alpha is also ridiculous. There are many many lenses on the market made by Minolta (bought by Sony), so there is a lot of very good and cheap glass for this machine. Who would say that the 80-200 APO HS and 70-200 APO SSM lenses are somehow inferior to the Canon and Nikon versions? Same with the 300 F2.8 SSM. There are also many many lenses by Sigma, Tamron and Carl Zeiss lenses.

This machine is also perfect for the DLSR newbie, because of the Anti-Shake (AS) system. This is wonderful at reducing the price of lenses for the normal user and at being able to use lower F-stops in low light.

This machine is very complete, it does not suffer from missing options that a new DSLR user would need. If you are a pro then wait a little bit. You cannot expect Sony to launch everything at once. New pro glass is on the way and it is reasonable not to release this glass for a DSLR aimed at the amateur.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An astounding camera, 12 Nov 2007
This review is from: Sony Alpha A100K Digital SLR Camera (18-70mm Lens Kit) (Electronics)
OK, I was upgrading from a Minolta 7000 purchased in 1986 so perhaps I'm setting the bar a little low. BUT this is an astounding camera.

Very solid feel yet light in weight, excellent controls and usability.

Very sharp and vivid yet natural results. Anti-shake control that lets me use a 300mm lens (equivalent to about 450mm in old money) and get a result so sharp you can zoom in to someone's face hundreds of meters away on a jetski, with me standing on a moving dock. Very quick focusing, and up to 3 shots per second.

Ability to use all my old Minolta AF lenses through sadly not the flashes.

Pretty good built-in flash. Unexpectedly long battery life, even using flash. Big clear high-resolution screen.

The cons - you really do need to read the owners manual on this one. there are LOTS of features and the icons are just not very self-explanatory.

At around 400 (body only) a great piece of kit.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you are a Minolta fan you will love this camera., 28 Jan 2007
By 
D. Seabrook (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sony Alpha A100K Digital SLR Camera (18-70mm Lens Kit) (Electronics)
I have previously owned 2 Minolta SLRs (a 9000 and a 9xi). I have had the Sony alpha 2 days. 539 pictures later I am very impressed. My 2 xi lenses and my Minolta xi flash work perfectly. The Alpha produces the best flash results I have ever managed. I could not fault my 9000(which was stolen) and so far the Alpha is as good.
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