Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sony Alpha a200 - The best entry level DSLR for the poor photographer

 (© Viisshnu Vardhan. All rights reserved)

First and foremost, my dear reader, I would like to point out my bad habit of going on and on and sometimes off the topic. So for the convenience of your reading I will assure you to keep my focus and unnecessary details at the minimum. 

I was very tired of not having a DSLR and was borrowing cameras from friends and acquaintances. It was very humiliating. So no matter what I decided to buy one for myself and saved some money. Its been a while since I was doing my research on all the available DSLRs both used and new. Checking classifieds day in and out, calling sellers and inquiring on the prices, going into a kind of frenzy and I did it so much I started dreaming cameras in sleep. Firstly I didnt have a lot of money. Luckily for me, a few days back I called up a local seller and he told me he had 3 cameras, Nikon D40, Nikon D70s (my favorite) and a Sony Alpha a200.  I had always loved Sony and have great respect for the brand. 

When a few years ago I got interested in photography, I never wanted to buy a Canon or Nikon, though a lot of people tried to convince me otherwise. These two brands were virtually everywhere. Why? Because of their quality? No. Its because of their aggressive marketing and nothing else. I have always hated the monotony and monopoly of these two brands. Though I liked some models in Nikon, I hated Canon and still do.    

When I went to see the cameras, both the Nikons were in very bad form. So opted for the Sony which was brand new and was never used by the guy who bought it and was sold back to the store guy. And it came with a deal of the century as the camera cost me less than the used Nikons and additionally I was offered a Polaroid filter and a CF card. It cant get any better than that.

Unfortunately this camera is no longer in production and has been long replaced by the a35 and a55, which are now its entry level models according to Sony website.

The alpha 200 is the successor to the a100 which was released in 2006, but figuratively its in a class of more advanced Sony DSLR models and surprisingly a step ahead of the a230, a290, a290L and a330, which came later than the a200. It has been made not just for the amateur but also keeping the professional in hindsight.  

Its been like two weeks since I have the camera and it is my prized possession. I already did a documentary photoshoot recently and the results are amazing. Before the shoot I did also shoot some sundry images from and around the place where I live. Will soon post pictures taken with the camera. 

 (© Viisshnu Vardhan. All rights reserved)

So here is a run down on the Sony Alpha a200 camera:

Build: The build quality of the camera is amazing with a premium feel. Its comparatively better than Canons and Nikons which look very cheapish as they are made in Thailand and other south east asian countries. Also I always felt the gold embossed lettering on the Nikons very cheesy. The Sony a200 is made in Japan. The plastics used in the construction are of very good quality.  

Lens: I have to admit the Sony kit lens 18-70mm is not the greatest in the world, but it offers a better focal length at 70mm than say Canon and Nikon's 18-55mm and not surprisingly is better made than other brands, inspite of the fact that its made in China. The image quality is on par if not better than competing brands. 

Controls and Menu: The menu tilts according to the orientation, which is a huge advantage. The menu system is very simple and easy to understand. The image stabilization, Fn, on off, are all located around the back LCD like any other camera. The exposure bracketing, shutter speed buttons, however are located beside the flash, on top of the camera.

Value for money: Last time I checked the last entry level model of Sony, the a290L was priced at something like Rs. 18,990/- or less than $400 approximately, for the brand new box piece. So Sony really knows something about value for money. My a200 is priced at approximately a little over $500 on the market (but as I said, I got it at a special price haha) and can still be had at $400 or even less on ebay.

Battery: Comparatively the Sony a200 has a better battery with 750 shots on a single charge, than the Canon's 450. In my experience it charges quickly and lasts much longer.   

(Sorry for the quality of the pics, they were shot with my Samsung Wave S5253)

Thanks for reading.

--Viisshnu Vardhan--



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