Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sony a200 DSLR - Second Review

Sony a200 DSLR

In my first review I outlined the features, price and performance of the a200 for a fair overview of the reader. In this review I am also providing links for comparison and how the a200 stacks up compared to other models. This second review will delve a little deeper and will not cover what I have previously discussed earlier.

Lens performance: Clearly the new generation electronic autofocus lenses are nothing on the old manual focus lenses in any aspect, neither in build, optical quality nor the actual output and that’s irrespective of the brand. The kit lens of the a200 is just a kit lens, though fine, it’s not a superb performer or anything. It’s just like any other kit lens, nothing bad or nothing good. Truth be told, you need to invest some money in additional Minolta lenses (or m42 or others). Why Minolta? Because Sony lenses are actually a bit costly at this point of time.

Since a few days I was actually suspicious that there was something wrong with the camera lately. The pictures were coming out very dull and lifeless. I changed the settings a thousand times, but still no use.

One night while fiddling with manual settings on the camera, I came to the realization that presently India is going through the Monsoons. Days are always cloudy and there is little to no light(gloomy). I wasn’t using flash for indoor shots and that explains all the dull pictures. To test the camera I shot some pictures with flash on and viola, rich tones and superb colors are back.   

Third party lenses on Sony DSLRs: with a proper adapter a wide variety of lenses can be used on Sony DSLRs. Since the Minolta lens prices are also increasing and catching up with the Sony ones, its better to look at other options we have. I personally have some K mount lenses that I am planning to use with an adapter. I read somewhere that M42 lenses work excellently on Sony DSLRS. Old manual focus lenses of various mounts are widely available on ebay and Amazon and should be easy to find at affordable prices. Minolta’s MC and MD mount lenses can also be used on Sony bodies with a proper adapter as also K and PK mount lenses.  

Price: Since the a200 model is discontinued, its not available brand new, but I am sure there are plenty available on the used market. (Also the later versions 230, 290, 300, 380, 500 are all available for a bargain online.) The advantage of Sony is that, they don’t have that much resale value like Canon and Nikon (which is a good thing, believe me) so with a fair bit of research online and some bargaining you can have a good enough piece for under $300 and even less if you look further.  

Performance: Remember you are not buying a Nikon D4 or a Canon 5D etc. The a200 is an entry level camera, that’s all. That said it stacks up high in comparison to other entry level cameras of its class. Oh you have a problem with entry level cameras? Ok. They are not all that bad believe me. I have a friend who has his own photography business and he uses an entry level Canon 350D (which was introduced during the stone age) as his primary camera with a lot of good (pricey) canon lenses. Heck, it doesn’t even stack upto the a200. What do you have to say to that? It actually means that you are in good hands. Photography is not all about camera bodies but the lenses. The better lenses (not necessarily pricey) you use, the better output you get.  

ISO Performance: Like any other camera judging a camera by its ISO performance is a bit tricky. Most cameras do not measure up in ISO performance and the a200 is no exception. I test shot some pictures at ISO 3200 (max) while strolling around in the neighborhood and the pictures were un-usable. They actually looked excellent on the LCD, but when I saw them on the computer; it was a whole different story. A badly done, watered down, water color painting, but hey I don’t need any superior ISO performance, I don’t even shoot pictures in the dark at all. My honest advice is don’t go over ISO 800 and stick with that rule.                                         

Here is how the a200 stacks up with other cameras :

Comparison with Nikon Cameras

Comparison with Canon cameras

I will also post updates to this second review as and when I can. Cheers.
©Viisshnu Vardhan. All rights reserved.



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