Customer Review

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A camera that delivers time and again., 12 Sep 2010
This review is from: Sony - Alpha DSLR-A300 (10.2MP) (Electronics)
If you are reading this now, you're probably thinking of picking up a second-hand A300, like I did. It's the second hand perspective I'm taking here.
Like me you are probably weighing this against several cameras competing for your cash.
Firstly, what I think are the positives.

A genuinely useful Live View.
Often derided by anorak 'real' photographers, Live view is a brilliant feature to have. For me it means taking pictures that I would otherwise miss, sometimes candid street shooting, sometimes getting that angle. Just using as a waist level finder is worth it in-itself, and shows why so many pros stuck to TLRs. No other manufacturer has really seriously implemented live view, compared to Sony. In all other DSLRs, it feels like a tacked on feature, if it's there at all. With all other systems Live View is laggy, slow focusing and hiccups for the shot. I even use it to preview how my shutter speed is. Even if you believe you'll hardly every use it (and I hardly ever do) isn't it better to have it?

Super Steady Shot
Sony uses in-body image stabilization. This means all lenses you attach, even 20 year old Minolta's, have image stabilization. With most other DSLRs, you pay through the nose to get this, one lens at a time. And it makes a real difference, maybe as much as two stops

Minolta.
That this camera is built on a Minolta pedigree is not to be sniffed at, Minolta were great camera makers, and hugely innovative. But it's the stacks of stuff out there that can be picked up for shirt buttons that's the biggest bonus of all. With-in a month of owning this camera I've bought one of Minolta's legendary 'Secret Handshake' lenses, two Sigma a mount lenses, a Minolta remote and a host of bits-and-bobs, for a price that's made my Canon owning friends green. Next on my list are a couple of Minolta primes, I hope to get both for the cost of one comparable Nikon Lens, with change.

Sony.
Buying a DSLR, you are buying into a system, hopefully something that will sustain you for years. Sony are a big aggressive company that wants market share, and they are getting it. They are putting out a smorgasbord of cameras, seemingly all the time, from full frame pro to innovative entry level gear. When this camera was released there were just a handful of lenses, now there's an army. I am confident that with Sony's ambitions, you'll never run out of stuff to buy.

So that's the main positives, there's a heap of other stuff. The camera has a huge dynamic range, there's a fantastic Sony/Minolta user community on the web, great bang for buck and it's just fun to use.

But here are what I consider the negatives. It's worth pointing out that prior to buying, these negatives were a factor I was aware of, but still felt the camera was right for me.

Smaller Viewfinder.
Due to the Live View, this camera has a smaller viewfinder than many other DSLRs. I felt offset by the Live View, it was a price worth paying. I'm glad I felt that way, checking against My old Canon Film SLR, which has a larger than most DSLRs finder, the difference isn't huge, and in real world use won't handicap your use.

Exposure Bracketing.
Not a great range on auto exposure bracketing, only .7 or .3, strange huh? But it is enough to do the real job of bracketing exposure, and that is to make sure the shot is properly exposed. It's just not quite enough for HDR. As HDR is something I only play with I decided I wasn't bothered. After all, HDR is impressive the first time you see it, but quickly looks gimmicky, overly processed and same-y. But... if you really want to do HDR, you should use a tripod, and once on a tripod you can manually bracket to your hearts content.

Noise.
My only genuine worry with this camera was how it rated for noise. At ISO 1600 you might get away with it, at 3200 not really. 100-800 is usable with the degradation you might expect. What I've found is, real world, it's nothing like the problem you might expect. In reasonable light you can bump up ISO, as it only becomes apparent as light fails. In other situations there seems allot of elasticity with-in settings, maybe due to the increased Dynamic range or the in-camera image stabilization, compared to other DSLRs. Shooting statically in near total darkness at ISO 100 produces silky clean images. For social situations the flash offers allot of control with power options, slow and rear sync, so you can achieve very natural exposures.

I hope that's all been of some use, over-all I felt that weighed against the other cameras at around the same price point, this just offered more. Even the things considered negatives couldn't tarnished those five stars.
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