Friday, January 12, 2007
Buyer's Guide 2007: D-SLR Systems
For your best images, digital SLR systems offer the latest technologies and flexibility
Sony has entered the D-SLR market with a new camera body, a line of lenses and several accessories. Additionally, the camera is compatible with many Konica Minolta D-SLR lenses and accessories.
Camera. The first under-$1,000 10-megapixel D-SLR to reach our hands (there may be a few more on the market by the time you read this), Sony's new DSLR-A100 offers excellent image quality, a full range of features and good AF and metering performance. Sony acquired some of Konica Minolta's digital SLR assets when the latter dropped out of the camera market in late 2005. The A100 incorporates some mechanical and design elements of the Maxxum 5D and 7D, but adds a lot of new Sony features, including that 10.2-megapixel CCD image sensor, super-quick hardware-based Dynamic Range Optimizer image-analysis technology, a new Bionz image-processing engine, and an effective two-pronged sensor dust-removal system (a special anti-static coating, plus the camera vibrates dust off the sensor each time you switch it off). The A100 also improves on the excellent moving-sensor image stabilization system of the Konica Minolta D-SLRs. Because this system is inside the camera body, it provides the great advantage of anti-shake with all system lenses.
Lenses. Minolta and Konica Minolta Maxxum-series lenses can be used with Sony's A100. Sony has also introduced some new lenses and reissued some of the Konica Minolta line with the Sony name. Nineteen lenses should be available by the end of the year, with focal lengths from an 11-18mm zoom to 500mm reflex (mirror) lens, including 50mm and 100mm macro lenses, and in cooperation with Carl Zeiss, three new Zeiss T* lenses for the A100: a 16-80mm ƒ/3.5-4.5, an 85mm ƒ/1.4 and a 135mm ƒ/1.8. The A100 has a 1.5x focal-length factor, so 35mm camera focal-length equivalents from 16.5mm to 750mm will be available to its users.
Accessories. Many Maxxum-system accessories can be used with the A100. Sony accessories include two flash units (the HVL-F56AM with an ISO 100 GN 183, in feet, and the HVL-36AM with an ISO 100 GN 136), cases, a rechargeable InfoLITHIUM battery pack, an AC/DC adapter/charger, a remote commander and padded shoulder straps. The camera comes with a CD containing Sony Image Data Converter SR 1.1 and Picture Motion Browser 1.1 software.
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