Short Report: Sony DSLR-A100
This new entry into the D-SLR category offers a lot of features at an affordable price
Whatever brand D-SLR you shoot, Sony's new entry into the market affects you, as it puts a very strong camera into the competitive fray. I had a chance to spend a couple of days shooting solidly with the Sony DSLR-A100, or Alpha camera, early this summer.
The A100 is a well-thought-out and well-engineered camera, with excellent features. And with a 10.2-megapixel CCD sensor on a body priced at less than $1,000, it significantly changes the camera playing field. This sensor is a Sony design, but it's basically the same one used in the Nikon D200. What you get from a camera isn't solely based on the sensor itself, however. The internal processing circuits, including the A/D (analog/digital) converter that affects both RAW and JPEG files, special processing chips for JPEG images and the lenses used all affect what the camera can record.
Sony developed the Bionz processor in the A100 to help it minimize noise and capture better color. Having worked with a lot of digital cameras over the years, I can say this camera produced excellent color and tonality in its images. Related to this, Sony introduced its D-Range Optimizer with the A100, a selectable control designed to bring more detail out of contrasty scenes. I used it continuously and got a terrific dynamic range for images.
Sony has taken Minolta's Anti-Shake sensor technology and upgraded it for the A100. It's built into the camera so you don't need a special lens to gain its benefits. I shot from a moving boat with a telephoto lens and was surprised to find nearly all images were sharp.