24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Organic upgrade from a 35mm Dynax 5,
This review is from: Sony Alpha DSLR-A100K Camera with 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens (discontinued by manufacturer) (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!