Looking for good entry level Sony Alpha

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Looking for good entry level Sony Alpha

Postposted on Thu Mar 03, 2011 1:23 pm

I've strolled through amazon and really, that's about as much as I know about buying a camera. Here is the situation: I have a 4 lenses for a Minolta Maxxum 9000 as well as a pair of flashes. From everything I've read (and been told here), the Alpha is the way to go. Its for my wife and she wants it to be as point and shoot as possible. We do not forsee being into photography in a big way. However, we do see wanting to pictures of wildlife at a distance as well as some of the scenery here in Colorado. I'm looking for something in the A200/230/290 range. Might it be worthwhile to look for an A100?

Which model should I pursue?
Also, where could I find a good deal? I only need a body.
Are there any dangers in going used/craigslist?
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Re: Looking for good entry level Sony Alpha

Postposted on Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:42 pm

TheEmrys wrote:Its for my wife and she wants it to be as point and shoot as possible. We do not forsee being into photography in a big way. However, we do see wanting to pictures of wildlife at a distance as well as some of the scenery here in Colorado. I'm looking for something in the A200/230/290 range. Might it be worthwhile to look for an A100?

I'm reading some contradictory goals here. A dSLR doesn't take good pictures, a photographer does. A photographer uses a dSLR if that's the right tool for the job AND they want to spend time becoming familiar with the tool. In your case, you're talking about wanting it to be P&S and not making a big hobby out of it. That's not what a dSLR is for, and if your wife wants to use one as a high-end P&S, she'll get the results of a high-end P&S...except it will be more cumbersome to carry around and possibly annoy her now and then.

There are a number of higher end P&S cameras on the market with 20-30X power zooms that can easily rival the quality and capabilities of an entry-level dSLR and lens collection under all but the worst lighting conditions. The Nikon P100, for example, or perhaps the Canon SX30IS. And if your wife is going to be the primary user, I would strongly recommend visiting a B&M store that carries a few of these models and make sure she likes the handgrip, weight, control, etc. before dumping the four hundred bucks.

If you really want to pursue the Sony Alpha route, it would be helpful if you could describe which lenses and flashes you currently own. Some of the Sony/Minolta aficionados around here could then help you decide whether the kit is worth reusing/reselling.
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Re: Looking for good entry level Sony Alpha

Postposted on Thu Mar 03, 2011 8:00 pm

I had an A330 for all of 3 hours and returned it. The low end Alphas are very plasticy and feel cheap. I returned it for an Olympus E-PL1, which I absolutely love. The upside is you can buy an adapter to use your lenses on it. You can also pick up a Panasonic G10 body only for $299 brand new on Amazon right now, with a $15-20 adapter for the Minolta lenses. The G10 includes an EVF where the Olympus do not, but this will likely be a better bet for you than going full DSLR.
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Re: Looking for good entry level Sony Alpha

Postposted on Thu Mar 03, 2011 10:54 pm

I believe that the OP is correct to look first at Sony α cameras because his existing Minolta Maxxum lenses will be fully-functional (auto-metering, auto-aperture and auto-focus) when mounted on a Sony α DSLR.

The newer CMOS sensors that Sony is producing for their own α-series DSLR cameras and for Nikon are excellent. The older CCD sensors aren't terrific in low light.

In another thread, I wrote:There's little danger in buying used or refurbished equipment from the big suppliers like B&H Photo Video, Adorama or KEH.
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Re: Looking for good entry level Sony Alpha

Postposted on Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:51 am

ludi wrote:There are a number of higher end P&S cameras on the market with 20-30X power zooms that can easily rival the quality and capabilities of an entry-level dSLR and lens collection under all but the worst lighting conditions. The Nikon P100, for example, or perhaps the Canon SX30IS. And if your wife is going to be the primary user, I would strongly recommend visiting a B&M store that carries a few of these models and make sure she likes the handgrip, weight, control, etc. before dumping the four hundred bucks.


Agreed. If you're not looking at a situation where low-light is a concern (i.e. people at a party, or something that you don't want to use a tripod for), the high-end compacts have some good options.

TheEmrys wrote:Are there any dangers in going used/craigslist?


Sure, but if you check it out pretty thoroughly, you could get a good deal that way. Might be a good way to test the waters and see if a DSLR is really what you're wife wants to use.

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Re: Looking for good entry level Sony Alpha

Postposted on Sat Mar 05, 2011 6:55 pm

I think I expressed myself badly. I'm looking for the best entry-level Alpha I can find. As for entry-level, I'm looking for the most Point and Shoot-like Alpha I can find. I had always thought that an entry-level camera (that has fewer options) would be the best way to get into it. I can see this is a solid hobby for my wife (and I to an extent). However, I am not looking for something with so many options that we are over our heads.

Here is what equipment we have:

1 Minolta 35-105mm AF Lens w/ a Toshiba 55mm SL-1A and a Kodak 55mm Polarized filter
1 Minolta 100-300mm AF Lens w/ a Eitar 55mm 1a
1 Minolta 28mm AF Lens
Minolta Maxxum 4000 AF flash - I believe this can only work in manual mode.
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Re: Looking for good entry level Sony Alpha

Postposted on Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:04 pm

To give you an idea of what your old lenses are worth:
Fixed focal length
Zoom lenses
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Re: Looking for good entry level Sony Alpha

Postposted on Sun Mar 06, 2011 12:32 am

TheEmrys wrote:I think I expressed myself badly. I'm looking for the best entry-level Alpha I can find. As for entry-level, I'm looking for the most Point and Shoot-like Alpha I can find. I had always thought that an entry-level camera (that has fewer options) would be the best way to get into it. I can see this is a solid hobby for my wife (and I to an extent). However, I am not looking for something with so many options that we are over our heads.

Here is what equipment we have:

1 Minolta 35-105mm AF Lens w/ a Toshiba 55mm SL-1A and a Kodak 55mm Polarized filter
1 Minolta 100-300mm AF Lens w/ a Eitar 55mm 1a
1 Minolta 28mm AF Lens
Minolta Maxxum 4000 AF flash - I believe this can only work in manual mode.

Okay, if you think she'll make a proper hobby out of it, then you're on the right track. I have no knowledge of the quality of those lenses, but in terms of focal lengths, that's a pretty good starter collection for medium-angle and telephoto. You'll probably need to add something more on the wide-angle side, especially for landscape photography. (Multiply the nominal focal lengths by 1.5 and that's the 35mm-equivalent field of view you will see on an entry-level Alpha.) Correspondingly, you should consider either buying a kit that includes an 18-55mm lens (or similar), or else buying only the body kit but then budgeting around $300-400 for a good-quality aftermarket lens in that same range.
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Re: Looking for good entry level Sony Alpha

Postposted on Sun Mar 06, 2011 8:07 am

If I read correctly, the 28mm lens is a wide-angle lens, so I may be set.

Is there anything I can do with a Maxxum 9000 with a powered winder thingy?
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Re: Looking for good entry level Sony Alpha

Postposted on Sun Mar 06, 2011 11:05 am

Old cameras are prized by some decorators as knickknacks and bric-a-brac.


28mm was a wide angle lens on 35mm film or a DSLR with a full-frame sensor. Entry-level DSLRs use a smaller APS-C size sensor that captures only the center of the image passing through the lens. The field of view is equivalent to that provided by a lens with 1.5x the focal length. A 28mm lens mounted on a camera with an APS-C size sensor provides a normal view (image diagonal is equal to focal length) rather than a wide angle view.

The Sony SAL1855 kit lens (aka DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM) included with most new Sony α DSLR cameras provides a wide-normal zoom. This lens sells separately for $200. The Tamron Di-II 17-50mm f/2.8 covers this same very useful range of focal lengths with better image quality and a larger aperture for $459 -25MIR (new).
Last edited by JustAnEngineer on Sun Mar 06, 2011 11:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Looking for good entry level Sony Alpha

Postposted on Sun Mar 06, 2011 11:10 am

TheEmrys wrote:If I read correctly, the 28mm lens is a wide-angle lens, so I may be set.

Reasonably wide on film, but not that wide on crop-format digitals like you're considering. 18mm would give an equivalent field of view with the cameras you're considering.
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Re: Looking for good entry level Sony Alpha

Postposted on Sun Mar 06, 2011 7:26 pm

TheEmrys wrote:If I read correctly, the 28mm lens is a wide-angle lens, so I may be set.

As noted, the field of view on a crop factor digital is around 28mm * 1.5 = 42mm. Each person develops their own shooting style, but there are very good reasons, both having to do with the natural human field of vision, why 35mm and 50mm are two of the most famous focal lengths with reference to the 35mm film format. To get 35mm field-of-view on a crop-factor digital, you need about a 20mm lens. When shooting landscapes on digital, I gravitated to the 20mm range naturally before I even knew why I was doing it. I've also shot extensively at 28mm when necessity demanded, and it's challenging. It's particularly challenging with respect to Colorado topography, because foot zoom often isn't available: back up any farther from the lake and you're in the trees or behind the lip of some rock formation.
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Re: Looking for good entry level Sony Alpha

Postposted on Sun Mar 06, 2011 8:03 pm

ludi wrote:
TheEmrys wrote:Its for my wife and she wants it to be as point and shoot as possible. We do not forsee being into photography in a big way. However, we do see wanting to pictures of wildlife at a distance as well as some of the scenery here in Colorado. I'm looking for something in the A200/230/290 range. Might it be worthwhile to look for an A100?

I'm reading some contradictory goals here. A dSLR doesn't take good pictures, a photographer does. A photographer uses a dSLR if that's the right tool for the job AND they want to spend time becoming familiar with the tool. In your case, you're talking about wanting it to be P&S and not making a big hobby out of it. That's not what a dSLR is for, and if your wife wants to use one as a high-end P&S, she'll get the results of a high-end P&S...except it will be more cumbersome to carry around and possibly annoy her now and then.


QFT. A DSLR is *not* a "Super Point-and-Shoot". Used incorrectly, a DSLR can and will give you worse shots than a good compact, which usually has more effort put into making it "idiot-proof" when exposing and choosing the proper picture parameters.

If you still want an Alpha, I'd avoid the models with CCD sensors, as they are pretty poor performers in low light and at high ISO. So that means avoiding anything A3xx and lower. The A450 is the lowest end model I'm aware of with a CMOS sensor (also, both the A33 and A55 use CMOS sensors).
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Re: Looking for good entry level Sony Alpha

Postposted on Sun Mar 06, 2011 8:58 pm

There's a reason I got my wife the Canon SX20IS and not an SLR. It is much more caryable than an SLR is and the video mode is superior as well.

That said, I'd encourage you to rent an SLR for a week to give it a shot before plunking down the $$.
Last edited by Usacomp2k3 on Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Looking for good entry level Sony Alpha

Postposted on Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:21 pm

LensRentals has the α55, but not the less expensive α33.
http://www.lensrentals.com/rent/sony/cameras/sony-a55

The also have the α550.
http://www.lensrentals.com/rent/sony/ca ... alpha-a550
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Re: Looking for good entry level Sony Alpha

Postposted on Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:31 pm

The a230 is on discount at Walmart right now. $350 seems a great deal to me.
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Sony-Alpha-A2 ... l/11089350
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Re: Looking for good entry level Sony Alpha

Postposted on Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:42 pm

this_rock wrote:The a230 is on discount at Walmart right now. $350 seems a great deal to me.
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Sony-Alpha-A2 ... l/11089350

Unfortunately, as noted by Voldenuit above, that's one of the models that features a CCD sensor.
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Re: Looking for good entry level Sony Alpha

Postposted on Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:51 pm

ludi wrote:
this_rock wrote:The a230 is on discount at Walmart right now. $350 seems a great deal to me.
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Sony-Alpha-A2 ... l/11089350

Unfortunately, as noted by Voldenuit above, that's one of the models that features a CCD sensor.

High ISO performance isn't always the be-all and end-all. It's nice to have, but can vary from vital or meaningless, depending on your shooting pattern.
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Re: Looking for good entry level Sony Alpha

Postposted on Sun Mar 06, 2011 10:25 pm

mattsteg wrote:High ISO performance isn't always the be-all and end-all. It's nice to have, but can vary from vital or meaningless, depending on your shooting pattern.

If a person is going to make the dSLR investment, I would tend to recommend it. First, shooting indoor flashless is a nice capability (produces softer and more natural lighting, shadows, etc.). Second, in the case of shooting from the various automatic modes, which the OP and his spousal unit will probably be doing, the camera usually has liberty to pick the ISO from a preset range. That range may or may not be user modifiable and may or may not give good results in low light if the top-end of the range is too aggressive relative to the sensor capabilities.
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Re: Looking for good entry level Sony Alpha

Postposted on Mon Mar 07, 2011 9:11 am

mattsteg wrote:
ludi wrote:
this_rock wrote:The a230 is on discount at Walmart right now. $350 seems a great deal to me.
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Sony-Alpha-A2 ... l/11089350

Unfortunately, as noted by Voldenuit above, that's one of the models that features a CCD sensor.

High ISO performance isn't always the be-all and end-all. It's nice to have, but can vary from vital or meaningless, depending on your shooting pattern.


In good light, even a cameraphone can get great results. It's when the light fails that the men get separated from the boys.

Yes, high ISO performance isn't everything, but there's no sense in intentionally crippling your options with a sub-par solution that is dramatically worse than the performance of competing contemporary DSLRs. Especially since the A230 is two years old by now and was already behind the curve when it first came out.
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