Sony's Alpha A200 is a relatively minor revamp to the electronics giant's first digital SLR, the A100, which itself was a more significant step up from the Konica Minolta 5D. Sony claims improvements to the Sony A200's AF system that will make focus acquisition 1.7 times faster, thanks to the high-torque AF motor and improved AF sequence borrowed from the A700, and our test results do indicate a significant improvement. Sony's Alpha-mount lens system is the oldest SLR autofocus system in the business, going back 28 years, so there's a broad and growing selection of lenses to choose from. The Sony A200's 10.2-megapixel sensor is the same resolution as its predecessor, but it's said to let more light reach each pixel for lower noise and more detail. A new LCD-based function menu replaces the old dial-based function menu on the A100, and many of the menu functions and systems from the Sony A700 have made their way into the Sony A200. Eye-start Autofocus, also from the A100, starts up the autofocus system so the Sony A200 is ready before you even match your eye up to the frame in most cases. Sony's Alpha line got off to a slow start until late Summer of 2007, when the company introduced the Sony A700, their camera for intermediate photographers. The Alpha A200 is smaller and lighter than the A100, though still a little larger than the Canon Rebel XTi.
Another minor change is the left-right orientation of the Super SteadyShot switch on the back, and the deletion of the Remote connector, which has been moved to the left side of the Sony A200, under the rubber door, a much better location. With the Function dial now replaced by software, the Mode dial has room to move to the left side of the pentamirror housing, making the top deck very clean. There's one additional icon on the Mode dial: the No-flash Full-Auto mode, for when you don't want the Sony A200 to exercise its new ability to pop up the flash. Missing from the front of the Sony A200 is the depth-of-field preview button, which was present on the A100.
When I bring the Sony A200 up to my eye, I'm greeted by another whirring noise: The infrared sensor just under the optical viewfinder has sensed my approaching face and started focusing on the nearest subject, and the lens is already slewing into focus. The Sony A200's autofocus is pretty fast, overall, and the nine-point autofocus system works fairly well, but I've taken to locking it to the more accurate center AF point, as I do with most digital SLR cameras. Though I'm used to almost all digital cameras bringing up an immediate playback of the image I just captured, the Sony A200 is better behaved, not wanting to blind you in dark settings. Hitting the Zoom button in any of these playback modes (the AEL button) zooms the view in to 6.1x, a good magnification to check focus. If you know a little more about color balance, you can switch to Kelvin mode and dial in the right color temperature, and add green and magenta filters. That's all great when comparing the Sony A200 to other cameras tested on the same target in our lab, but I kept running into odd slowdowns that I couldn't explain. After eliminating differences in the lenses and card speed, we finally realized that when you throw more work at the Advanced DRO mode, giving it too many dark and light components in an image, it'll throttle the camera's frame rate back dramatically after three frames. Compared to XTi: Though it's slightly larger than the Canon XTi, the Sony A200 holds up nicely against this very popular competitor (shown here with the optional image-stabilized 18-55mm lens).
Accessories for the A200 include the Vertical Grip (VG-B30AM), three conventional bounce flashes, plus a Macro Twin Flash Kit and a Ring Lite for macro and close-up work. Both shots show some noise at ISO 1,600, but the Sony A200 shows a little more noise suppression. Performance at ISO 100 from both cameras is good, with the Sony A200's shots coming out a bit sharper than the Canon XTi's. Here in Georgia, we're not often prepared for snow as it is, but I knew just what to do, and the Sony A200's use of a traditional location and interface made adjusting the exposure value easy. Though snow fell all around us, the Sony A200 had no trouble focusing, and the metering handled the bright light pretty well, leaving detail in the highlights despite my EV compensation. Most of the images needed some contrast adjustment once I got inside to give them a little more pop. When shooting Gallery shots and casual portraits on a sunny day is when I ran into that DRO+ problem. The Sony A200 was easy to get familiar with, and I found the new Function button arrangement to be much easier to use. For more on Image Quality, please see our full analysis of Optics and Exposure for the Sony A200.
Improvements in autofocus speed are real, and welcome, as is the ISO 3,200 setting; and the pop-up flash is a must for the consumer market that the Sony A200 is courting. More than anything, I think I'm drawn to the Sony A200's decided lack of bells and whistles that would detract from its easy nature. Dynamic Range Optimizer: Normal DRO improves detail using standard gamma curves for fast shot-to-shot response time. Sony's SLR juggernaut got rolling early in 2008 with the Alpha A200, a simple, inexpensive, 10.2-megapixel digital SLR camera that takes some pretty impressive pictures. Autofocus speed was indeed improved in the Sony A200, turning in very fast shutter lag numbers, meaning that you'll more likely get what you see when you press that shutter.
Though shot-to-shot performance was good, it was a little bothersome when the Advanced DRO mode slowed the camera's frame rate down significantly. Sony is bringing live-view shooting to its digital SLR camera line with the 10.2-megapixel Alpha DSLR-A300.
Sony is bringing live-view shooting to its digital SLR camera line with the 14.2-megapixel Alpha A350 DSLR camera. Sony is launching the DSLR-A200 as an entry-class model of the popular α series of digital SLR cameras with interchangeable lenses.
At the PMA 2007 trade Show which was held between March 8th and 11th in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Sony exhibited two prototypes of digital SLR camera bodies and interchangeable lenses currently under development. I was just passing by the Sony booth and was looking at the collection of Sony Alpha lenses and cameras…. The PMA show, or Photo Marketing Association, continues its yearly tradition of maintaining a network of photo imaging as well as the experience and know-how of the industry.
Eye-start auto-focussing speeds up your shooting-- when you put your eye up to the viewfinder the camera attempts to pre-focus, minimising focus time when you press the shutter halfway. Sony's implementation of live view places a second, low-resolution, dedicated image sensor to be used by the LCD viewfinder. The A350 will be released on March 21, 2008 and will retail for around $800 for the camera body only. Enjoy the all-new SonyA® I± (alpha) DSLR-A100K camera with an amazing all-around lens to get you started.
Also you can check out the new Tamron 70-300mm with macro function between 180-300mm, it’s only about RM650.
DisclosureReaders may want to note that sometimes, I do sponsored reviews on this blog but all views and opinons are strictly my own. Sony has created a new vertical battery grip (VG-B30AM) for the Sony A200 that duplicates many of the controls necessary for vertical shooting, and holds two InfoLITHIUM batteries, making the camera capable of shooting up to 1,500 shots.
Most settings are available via a button, with the drive and ISO buttons on the top deck, and less commonly changed items nested in the Function button on the back. There's really only one major physical change from the A100 that affects both the top and the back of the Sony A200, but it makes a big difference. The images still don't fit exactly in the frame, slightly letterboxed with a black bar top and bottom. Sony might have thought it wasn't worth the extra cost for a feature that most consumers won't know how to use. The Remote control and DC-in sockets are now together, covered by a rubber door that opens from the front.
Sliding the power switch on the upper left of the Sony A200's rear lights up the main LCD's Status display briefly and you can hear the lens motor quickly whirring. The AE Lock button is perfectly placed for setting your exposure, moving the camera to an AF point, then moving back for the capture; and because they've re-tapered the back of the A200, it's a little more difficult to accidentally press the button than it was on the A100.
My favorite Playback mode has five images across the top, and a limited display across the bottom. Pressing the Fn (Function) button brings up a simple menu for adjusting most of the important items. Of particular interest is the Sony A200's White Balance menu, which offers a very simple approach to a complicated subject. You can use the A200 as a gauge by moving to Custom mode, which will ask you to take a picture of a white or neutral object and dial in the correct temperature and filter setting to match. The Sony A200's menu is also very easy to use, functioning like a tabbed menu and a scrolling menu.

The most most shots the buffer would hold was 8 with our Kingston 266x 2GB card, and the buffer cleared in 11 seconds. Most often, I could shoot and shoot, up to 17 shots in continuous mode with no slowdowns, and at other times the Sony A200 would slow down after just three shots. Give that same lighting situation to Standard DRO or DRO Off, and the slowdown doesn't occur. Dynamic Range Optimization's purpose is to prevent highlights from blowing out and shadows from plugging, and it comes in two varieties. DRO wasn't exactly designed for well-lit test targets, but here in the cloth swatches on our Still Life target you can begin to see some differences. Next to its larger, more expensive sibling, the Sony A200 is much smaller, more affordable, and simpler to use. The Alpha lens line includes 24 Sony-branded lenses that will work with the A200, plus dozens of older Minolta branded lenses that should also be compatible. Those interested in macro work might also want to look at the Angle Finder and Magnifier options.
The Sony A200's kit lens and its imaging sensor are of pretty good quality, competing favorably with its Nikon and Canon rivals of the same resolution. The A200 leaves more noise processing artifacts that obscure some detail, while the Canon shot leaves more chroma noise (random dots of color) in the shadows, leaving a little more detail to work with. Exposure and angle are again a little different, but the Sony A200 is a little bit sharper, with a little less lens flare. No matter what digital SLR camera or digital camera you buy, you should know about this simple exposure adjustment method.
Though this shot needs a little contrast tweak, at least the snow isn't too dark or too bright to fix. I also found viewing and judging images on the screen was pretty easy, despite the enveloping white light all around us.
Once portraits start, you need to be able to fire off as many as are necessary to catch mood and subtle face changes, so that was a frustrating discovery. Though most of the controls don't have their own button, that's probably the right idea for the A200. Printed results from the Sony A200 show that the company's noise suppression works pretty darn well, and their sensor is excellent.
As a people photographer, I really love the extremely short viewfinder blackout time, because it allows me to keep my eye on changing expressions and track unfolding events while grabbing shots. For all the nifty features on other cameras, I'm more impressed by a camera that dazzles with its output more than its spec sheet.
There isn't a whole lot to talk about in terms of new or revolutionary features, but that's not a strike against it.
Viewfinder blackout time is also quite good, allowing you to better keep your eye on the subject between shots. We recommend using Advanced DRO sparingly, or only in situations where rapid capture is not important. Add the RSS feed to your news feeder and you will receive constantly updated articles on all the PMA 2010 news.
The new Sony A300 features new technologies that make picture taking faster, easier, and more familiar for first-time DSLR users. The new Sony A350 features new technologies that make picture taking faster, easier, and more familiar for first-time DSLR users.
The PMA represents 20,000 members from over 100 countries, who are all active within the imaging industry.
The rationale behind Live View is to improve the response time of the digital viewfinder, so that it mimics the behavior of an optical viewfinder. Like most other digital SLRs, the user deploys the flash with a button on the left side of the lens mount housing, by the Sony A200's big orange Alpha logo. Sony claims up to 3.5 stops of extra exposure with their body-based image stabilization system. In January 2008 Sony introduced the A200, and less than a month later they followed up with the A300 and A350 in the same body style with a few more features than the A200. Here on the back, there's a new Function button that brings up a simply worded Function menu for easier access to commonly changed items. This used to reside on the Function dial, but I think ISO is important enough to warrant its own button. Appearing on more digital SLR cameras, this divot helps you quickly acquire a proper hold on the camera. Upper left in the now-traditional location is the manual flash release button, which activates an electronic switch to let the flash pop up.
If the lens's focus mechanism is out, the Sony A200 will pull the lens back into the lens barrel, setting it to infinity. Viewfinder blackout time, a more important factor, is also reduced thanks to the snappier mirror mechanism in the A200, making model and action photography a better experience. You can turn this option off if you want to work a little faster, but it's not a bad idea if you work in dark places where a bright LCD might ruin your ability to capture a follow-up shot. Pressing the OK button takes you back to full screen view, where you can move the zoom box around the screen and press the OK button again to zoom back in. Just use the Arrow pad to navigate to the desired option and press the center button to select your mode, in this case, the AF Area mode. It's actually identical to the A100's White Balance system, but the interface is slightly easier now.
There are no pretty graphics to accompany the adjustment, as is more common on other cameras, but it's pretty straightforward in practice. When you get to the bottom of the first tab's list, it automatically switches to the top of the next tab.
It seemed to be related to Advanced DRO (Dynamic Range Optimization) mode, so we tested it out in the lab.
So it seems that the Sony A200 is evaluating how much work it'll have to do to process the images and is slowing the camera down so it can do its work. The Standard DRO attempts to optimize the tone curve across the entire image, and Advanced DRO applies its algorithm differently in each area of the image if necessary. With Dynamic Range Optimization off, the camera had to make a decision between rendering the black cloth above to preserve detail or keep detail in the white cloth instead.
The Sony A200 applies noise reduction in the RAW file at both ISO 1,600 and 3,200, according to Sony, and then applies it again after the usual image processing. You're probably better sticking with the newer designs, which are optimized for digital capture, and are designed to work with these latest cameras, but it's nice to know that you can use some of the old lenses, especially if you already have a bag of Minolta lenses at your disposal. Below is a sample comparison between the Sony A200 and the Canon Rebel XTi, both at ISO 1,600. Printed results with the Sony A200 are pretty impressive, however, so this is only relevant when cropping or printing at very large sizes.
It's easy to bring the XTi into similar sharpness, so this comparison mainly shows is that the Sony A200's sharpening is probably a little more aggressive by default, and that the image quality is comparable.
You can leave it in Full Auto mode most of the time, but my first time out with the A200 I ran into a situation that required me to adjust for difficult lighting that most point-and-shooters wouldn't be prepared to handle: Snow.
The most important buttons are ISO and Drive mode, and the other major adjustment items are under the Function button, so finding what you want to change is quick and easy.
ISO 100 images held up well when printed at 16x20 inches, and would have been helped by a little more sharpening on the computer. The Sony A200's handsome, compact body fits well in most hands, and it is easy to learn and use on a daily basis. I was a little disappointed when the camera slowed down to process the Advanced DRO images, but once I learned about that problem, I just shot in Standard DRO mode, and used RAW when quality was my chief concern. Rather than starting a revolution, the Sony A200 refines what was a good camera -- the A100 -- making it better in several important areas. The Eye-Start AF sensors really do help you acquire focus more quickly, though I do wish it could be activated in concert with a grip sensor as on the A700 to avoid the AF system coming on when the A200 hangs around your neck. It's a slight disadvantage that the Alpha line uses a proprietary flash hot shoe, because common flashes, cords, and accessories that you may already have will not work with the Alpha cameras. To use our RSS service you will need an RSS reader, of which there are many available online.

The Alpha 300 offers Sony’s new “Quick AF Live View” technology so you can frame photos on the camera’s LCD without sacrificing auto-focusing speed common to other live-view systems.
The Alpha 350 offers Sony’s new “Quick AF Live View” technology so you can frame photos on the camera’s LCD without sacrificing auto-focusing speed common to other live-view systems.
In addition to the Super SteadyShot image stabilization built into the camera body compatible with all Sony α lenses, the Sony A200 supports high sensitivity shooting of ISO 3200. YES, Sony showcased two new Sony Alpha digital SLR cameras without giving away specifications or date of introduction. As a reflection of the changes in the market, the PMA organization has also changed and has become more diverse. Both the 350 and 300 two distinct new features: 1) Live View mode for the LCD viewfinder, and 2) an articulating LCD screen. The low-resolution sensor introduces less lag between the actual image and the image rendered to the LCD by requiring less processing time by the camera's internal circuitry. This standard lens easily handles the full range of shots youa€™ll take most oftena€”but therea€™s nothing a€?standarda€? about its advanced optical design. Anti-dust is also built in, with a static-free coating on the CCD's filter that is shaken each time the camera is powered off. All three of the digital SLR cameras introduced this year are aimed at the consumer SLR market, and are surprisingly simple to use. It's hard to see much difference in such a small viewfinder, and it's easier to just snap a shot and zoom in on the larger LCD screen. Wrapping my hand around the grip, I find a very comfortable hold, with a nice divot for my middle finger to center my hand; however, my fingers tend to rub up against the tapered lens mount body. Just use the up and down arrows to pick a white balance method, and use the left and right arrows to adjust the color bias of that particular setting.
So beware that if you want to benefit from Advanced DRO processing, you might run into slowdowns based on the relative contrast and detail of your subject. You'll find more highlight and shadow detail in the Advanced DRO images but overall image contrast can actually decrease, depending on the subject.
Though the A200 image is a little darker than the other, you can still see a difference in how the two cameras handle noise. Use either the Control dial on the top in front of the shutter button or the left and right buttons on the rear Controller to move the bright orange arrow to the setting you think you need.
Consumer cameras should generally have fewer buttons and labels to prevent intimidation, and the Sony A200 strikes a good balance. Even ISO 400 images looked good at 13x19 inches, and ISO 800 and 1,600 were quite usable at 8x10. The Sony A200 has a large array of good quality lenses to choose from, and the kit lens turns out excellent images without much trouble. It now confidently competes favorably with similarly priced digital SLR cameras from other manufacturers, and its big brothers, the A300 and A350 add just enough to take on the newcomers. Optical performance from the Sony A200's kit lens is actually better than most kit lenses, and the lens has a good quality feel to it. It works very well, is easy to understand and use, and most importantly it produces great images. Sony’s innovative Pentamirror Tilt mechanism directs light to a dedicated live view image sensor, enabling fast and responsive TTL phase-detection auto-focusing, even during live view. Nowadays, the member group consists of representatives coming from photo retail, manufacturers, commercial photo labs, professional sports and news photography, in addition to small album print suppliers and photo processing centers. There is a mirror inside the pentamirror arrangement that reflects the image to the secondary live view sensor. To change ISO, for example, you had to look at the top deck so you could turn the Function dial to ISO and press the Fn button nestled in the center of the dial, then tilt the camera forward to look at the LCD, and use the Controller or Main dial to select the ISO.
Note the addition of something that was missing on the Sony A100: the Focal plane indicator just right of the ISO button. Whatever the reason, it's good to consider if optical depth-of-field preview is important to you.
It feels a little more cramped in there than on most other cameras, at least for my fingers.
I wish the five thumbnails could come up a little more quickly, but that's somewhat card-dependent. If you've chosen Tungsten, for example, but your light source is just a little off from the norm, hit the left arrow button to make the image a little bluer, or to the right to make it a little more yellow or orange.
If you see that a given tab isn't what you need, regardless of where you are in the list, you can press the left or right arrow to move between tabs. What that means is that the auto exposure modes can activate the flash when they deem it necessary, rather than suggesting the user raise the flash.
It's better to use Advanced DRO for special circumstances, and stick to Standard DRO for everyday work. Standard DRO looked at the entire image and made the opposite decision, bringing more detail to the white cloth, and boosting contrast in most of the mid-tone cloths -- in fact, making the white cloth more mid-tone than it actually is -- and obscuring detail in the black cloth. ISO 3,200 shots were still quite usable at 5x7, an excellent performance from a 10-megapixel digital SLR. Though it comes at a low price, the Sony A200 still offers an array of features that will help you make great pictures. The technological gadgetry that it does have is all directed toward that purpose, and Sony's execution is excellent.
Eliminating the focus delay of other systems, the new Sony A300 is equally responsive whether using live view or optical viewfinder. Eliminating the focus delay of other systems, the new Sony A350 is equally responsive whether using live view or optical viewfinder. The PMA 2012 Trade show focuses on an industry which is heavily affected by the unstable situation of the global financial economy.
The A350 offers further penetration by Sony into the DSLR market, since the introduction of its first DSLR camera in the Alpha line, the Alpha DSLR-A100 release in the summer of 2006. Having the Fn button on the back makes more sense, because your main interface to the camera is the LCD. Though that begs for such a feature with the Live View mode, I doubt the tiny secondary sensor would do much better than my eye with the lens stopped down.
The other very useful Playback screen is the full-data display, with a small thumbnail of the image, but with a more full set of data including the EV, metering mode, image size, and even the focal length of the lens, plus luminance, red, green, and blue histograms, useful for gauging proper exposure in a hurry. It's a little confusing if you've been using a Nikon, where pressing the right arrow often selects a menu item, but it's not hard to get used to using the center button instead. The flash doesn't go up as high as the one on the A100, however, and that's probably because the bodies of the A200, A300, and A350 are molded to make room for the Live View mode components in the latter two cameras. In Advanced DRO, we see a mixture of the two approaches, preserving the general contrast of the non-DRO image while boosting contrast in the midtones. Dynamic Range Optimization successfully makes up for common shortcomings in digital capture by rescuing highlight and shadow detail, and Super SteadyShot optimizes every lens in the line with sensor-shift image stabilization technology that delivers clearer images. In that respect the Sony A200 reminds me a lot of the Canon 20D: not designed to impress with anything but its ability to make great images. I don't know and the Sony people made sure no one is mentioning anything about this to anyone. However, whether the latter will also stand in the way of the innovation and product introductions, remains to be revealed by the PMA International Convention & Trade Show in Anaheim Convention Center (California, US). The Sony A200's high ISO of 3,200 has noise and softness due to noise suppression, but you can actually get a decent 5x7 from this output, which is impressive. At the end of the day, when you're sitting at your computer appreciating your photographs, you'll appreciate the Sony A200 all the more for what it's given you. Ok, let me start with the first new Sony Alpha digital SLR camera; this new model is aimed at the high amateur looking for a higher level of performance than the A100 for advanced users. The flash bulb also ends up a little more forward, but that still means you'll have trouble with some lenses and lens hoods, which will block the short little strobe's light over much of the frame.
Those wanting Live View might want to look at the Sony A300 or A350, but if you just want a good quality digital SLR camera that does what it's supposed to, check out the Sony A200, an easy Dave's Pick.

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