Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sony A200 vs Pentax K200 or Nikon D60 – what’s new in Sony’s SLR

Double Kit for Sony A200This year brings some new and interesting gadgets to the entry level DSLR’s market. There are Nikon D60, Pentax K200D and Sony A200 with 10MP APS-C sensor, low image noise, very fast shutter lag numbers and any cool features such as image stabilizer system, anti-dust and even weather-sealed body (Pentax K200). As for Canon, its new Digital SLR – the EOS Digital Rebel Xsi with 12MP 22.2 x 14.8 mm CMOS sensor is a little higher to these three and it requires a special article. For more details look at Pentax K200D vs Sony A200 / A300; Weather resist SLR vs. Live-View.
Sony DSLR Alpha-200 main features
I am shooting with the Sony A100 for a long time and I felt its pros and cons on one's own back. Naturally, the appearing of Alpha 100’s upgrade version – the Sony A200 made me interest in its abilities. Let’s look around the gadget for better understanding what’s make the Alpha 200 speedy, low-noisy and much attractive than predecessor.
- Super Steady Shot in-camera image stabilization system offers from 2.5 to 3.5 stops of compensation
- Dynamic Range Optimizer: Normal DRO improves detail using standard gamma curves for fast shot-to-shot response time. Advanced DRO adjusts dynamic range area-by-area
Sony Alpha DSLR A200- Bionz Image Processor
- Anti-Dust Technology
- Auto Pop-Up Flash with four main operating modes and a variable Slow-Sync function
- External, proprietary flash hot-shoe for Sony accessory flash units
- Built-in support for wireless TTL flash exposure with certain Sony flashes
- Eye-Start Auto focus System
- 9-Point Center Cross AF Sensor
- Auto and Manual focus options with Single and Continuous AF modes
- 40-segment honeycomb metering system, plus Center-Weighted and Spot metering options, with AE Lock function
- Scene Selection Modes: Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Sports, Sunset and Night Portrait/Night View situations
- RAW and JPEG file formats
- Contrast, saturation, and sharpness adjustments
- Adjustable White Balance setting with presets and a manual option, as well as a full range of Kelvin temperature settings
- Index and Slide Show Display
- High-Resolution Thumbnails for Photo TV HD Viewing
- NTSC / PAL selectable video output signal, with cable included
- Function Guide Display
- Continuous Burst Mode at three frames per second
- "Storage-Class" USB 2.0 High-Speed interface
- USB 2.0 High-Speed cable and interface software for connecting to a computer and downloading images
- DPOF (Digital Print Order Format), Exif 2.2, Print Image Matching III and PictBridge compliant
Sony A200 battery gripWhat’s new in the Sony A200
As in case of the A100, the Sony A200 has a CCD-shift Anti-Shake platform (now named Super Steady Shot), Anti-Dust technology and Bionz image processor. What for Dynamic Range Optimizer, let’s look through the Sony A-100 review:
Sony’s Dynamic Range Optimizer (DRO) analyzes the captured image data and instantly determines the best exposure and color tonality of an image before JPEG compression. Unlike software optimization of a processed image, DRO is performed in the hardware. It is the first hardware-based DRO solution with the speed required for high-speed shooting.
In comparison with the Sony A-200 review, it is hard to understand what is new.
An evolved new D-Range Optimizer helps ensure even more beautifully balanced exposures in backlit situations. In Standard mode, it optimizes brightness and contrast for the image overall, and in Advanced mode, it optimizes each area of the composition separately to bring out maximum shadow and highlight detail. The D-Range Optimizer can be used on all image formats in all metering modes.
However, there is a fact that the new Alpha 200 is speedy, easy to use and has better image quality than the A-100, especially in low light situations. The Sony A200's high ISO of 3,200 has noise and softness due to noise suppression, but in case of the A-100, I have a nasty noise at ISO 400 and higher.
Sony Alpha 200 upgraded features include:
- Wider, 2.7-inch Clear Photo LCD screen for easy playback viewing
- More compact body and an easily accessible mode dial
- Easy-to-use function menu (camera function display)
- Improved noise control for higher quality images
- Auto focus speed 1.7x faster than the A-100
- Improved predictive control performance
- Quieter shutter sound
- Automatic pop-up flash
- Battery life indicator that displays the percentage of battery life remaining so you know exactly when to recharge
Sony A200 specifications
- 23.6 x 15.8 mm Interline interlaced CCD sensor with Built-in fixed low-pass filter
- 10.8 million total and 10.2 million effective pixels
- 1.5x FOV crop
- Image size at aspect ratio 3:2 -- L size: 3872 x 2592 (10M), M size: 2896 x 1936 (5.6M), S size: 1920 x 1280 (2.5M)
- Aspect ratio 16:9 -- L size: 3872 x 2176 (8.4M), M size: 2896 x 1632 (4.7M), S size: 1920 x 1088 (2.1M)
- ISO Sensitivity: 100 to 3200
- 1/160 sec Flash X-sync
- RAW, RAW + JPEG, Fine, Standard image quality modes
- CompactFlash (Type I, Type II), Microdrive; Separately sold "Memory Stick Duo Adapter for CompactFlash Slot AD-MSCF1" is necessary for use with Memory Stick Duo / Memory Stick PRO Duo / Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo
- Long exposure Noise Reduction: On/Off selectable, available at shutter speeds longer than 1 sec., High ISO NR: On/Off selectable, available at ISO 1600 or higher
- Electronically-controlled, vertical-traverse, focal-plane shutter type
- Shutter Speed at 1/4000 to 30 sec., Bulb
- 2.7-inch 230,000 pixels Clear Photo LCD Screen
- Optional VG-B30AM vertical grip accepts up to 2x NP-FM500H batteries
- Dimensions: 5.2 x 3.7 x 2.8in (133 x 95 x 71mm)
- Weight: No battery: 532 g (1.2 lb), 625g (22 ounces) with lens, battery, and card
Sony A200 low light situationSony A200 pros and cons
Sure, the new Sony A-200 makes A100’s owners envious of some its features. At the same time, there are some A-100’s pros, which the new Alpha succeeded.
- Inexpensive price
- Compact, solid feel body
- Excellent hands grip
- Great 10.2-megapixel sensor
- Function button makes access to commonly used functions easy
- Useful menu design
- Dynamic Range Optimization works well, preserving detail in highlights and shadows
- Excellent shutter lag numbers
- Very good low light / high ISO performance
- Eye-Start Auto focus System, fast auto focus
- Auto pop-up flash great for full-auto shooters
- Super Steady Shot image stabilization system works well, allows to use cheap, non- stabilize lenses
- Fast USB transfer speed
- Excellent battery life
However, nothing is perfect and as a majority of new gadgets, the Sony A-200 has some cons too.
- Dynamic Range Optimization works well, but slow down the camera
- The same as A-100 kit (18-70mm and 75-300mm) lenses with well-known (slightly soft in corners and in macro performance) troubles
- Pop-up flash is a little slowly
- Slow startup
- Some Auto White Balance troubles in bright light
- Really excellent Carl Zeiss lenses costs so much, seemingly better to look at Olympus
Sony A200: Alpha rules, Nikon must dieConclusion
The new Sony DSLR A200 is a good plodder for adequate price ($700 for Kit and $900 for double: 18-70mm and 75-300mm Kit). With its advanced features, the Sony A-200 would be winning. However, Nikon contrives to shoot without noise with the same Sony’s sensor as in case of D80, D300 and D60. For more details about the Nikon D60 look through my previous post. As for lack of a focus drive in the Nikon D60, it is not a trouble. There are many special designed Nikkor lenses with motors. Of course, it needs a lot of money, but not so much. Instead, the Pentax K200D with weather-sealed body seems me very interesting, especially for journeys. As for Canon Rebel XTi / EOS400, look through: Canon EOS400/XTi, Nikon D40x and Pentax K10 pros& cons; SLR over SLR-like triple benefits. In any case, an entry level SLRs choice is wide. So be it.


Dmitry said...


Please help me a little bit if you have time!

I got my first digital camera (and it was Canon PowerShot A610) two years ago. It is ok and produces good images.

Now I've decided to look around and see what the digital industry has to offer today.

The first thing I came upon was Olympus SP-560 UZ. It looked like a great bargain to me. Really, the wide angle which I have been badly missing with my A610 and a superb zoom level!!!

However upon looking at sample photos scattered around the web, I noticed they were not as sharp and vivid in color as I got used to get with my Canon camera. So I read some more articles (and found your site, btw) and thought: ok, maybe x18 zoom is a little bit too much. You can't have everything working great in one box.

So I kept on browsing the web looking primarily for wide angles. Found FujiFilm s9600 again featuring both cool wide angle abilities and x10 zoom. However, sample pictures looked boring again compared to those produced by Canon cameras. And the camera itself was released two years ago meaning why should I buy a camera released two years ago today when there is so much innovating stuff available?

So… I am frustrated. Canon doesn’t want to produce wide angle cameras. I’m sure its SX100 or G9 do great pictures and their lens is great too, but the minimal focus length I can get with them is 36mm. Some of my friends bought entry levels SLRs like Canon EOS 350D and are happy. I’m not sure if I want a SLR. After all, I’m rather a point-and-shooter and the idea of changing lens every time I switch from portraits to scenery scares me.

Should I wait a year or two until Canon releases a point-and-shoot wide angle camera? And what if it’s not going to do so in the nearest 10 years?

Or should I buy an entry level SLR and forget about zoom levels higher than 3?

What do you say?

P.S. I mistakenly posted this comment on one of your previous articles. Thought I might never look at it there and so decided to re-post it here.

fototramp said...

First, you can buy a Wide-Engle converter with adapter, which available for most of Canon’s point and shoot cameras. However, if you are looking for sharp and vivid in color pictures, it is really better to look through SLR cameras. I was shooting with an excellent Nikon 8700 with fish-eye lens and I was disappointed with its results. Any SRLs with cheap kit (18-70 or 18-55) lens can more. In your case, you can buy an SLR with 18-200mm lens and forget about swapping lenses. Nevertheless, an SLR is the next than point and shoot camera level. It is a pleasure to shooting with DSLR camera. If you need more information, be my guest.

Dmitry said...

thank you!

Henry LeE ® said...

Hi there...

I am getting a new DSLR soon and what came into my mind with an affordable price is the Nikon D60 c/w 1855 lense or Sony A200 c/w two lense kits.

Personally, which one do you prefer? And what is your suggestion?


Anonymous said...

Hey Henry LeE,

I would suggest the Canon 1000d also known as the Rebel XT because it has low noise at high iso's, 10 mp and its a canon, which is always good.

Anonymous said...

I am confused about which camera I must buy to take fotografs of dolphins dorsal fins for a fotoid project at my university.

The place of the project is in the Amazon, where there are all kinds of weather and is terribly humid and hot all times.

Shooting river dolphins is a complicated task because we never know where they will surface so depending where you are looking at you might be lucky to have it in front of you and you need to take the foto very fast in order to get it on film.

Until now I have used my digital camera Olympus A230 with 30x digital zoom but the quality of images were realy bad so I am deciding to buy a SLR camera.

I have been studying some cameras and taking advice from other people but I am still confused and need some help on deciding which camera i should by.

Please i am a newby on digital SLR fotografy and know hardly few thing on this.

Knowing this I found that there are three models which might be good to choose from:

- Nikon D80
- Canon 30D
- Pentax K200D
- Sony A200

All these cameras are good to do the job i think but Nikon and Canon will be the most costly because they I will need the image stabilizer lenses 300mm and they are very expensive.

The Pentax and Sony camera has already built in imager stabiolizer and lenses cost less that the others and Pentax it has bult in protective dress agains bad weathers etc.

I obviously need a super fast auto focus camera with light weight with IS also as I will be making fotos in a raft in a lake.

I was thinking on the Sony A200. What do you think?

Having said this I need strong advice on what to buy... I have US$600-800 to spend on the camera and lense. The lense i need is 300mm to get the dolphin realy close and a fast shooting camera with higher frames per second.

Hope you can help me.



Yeswanth said...

I enjoyed reading your blog ~ thanks for posting such useful content./Nice article and great photos. Very nicely done!
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