After pouring over reviews after reviews and weighing all factors I have finally chosen my first DSLR camera and its a Sony – a Sony alpha 200 to be precise.
After much debate, my choices were narrowed down to the Sony A200 or the Olympus E-510. The “Big two” – Nikon and Canon were ruled out because of two factors.
a) They were much more expensive (new)
b) They didn’t have in-camera image stabilisation.
It was hard to choose between the Olympus and Sony. I loved the Alpha series the first time I laid my eyes on it, and being the cheapest entry level SLR on the market, with all the features( inbuilt image stabilisation, dynamic range optimisation, a 9 point autofocus – a really quick one, eye sensor for viewfinder…) included and also winning the best entry level camera award for 2008, it was a compelling proposition.
However the Olympus being as good as it was didn’t make things easier.The Oly had most of the Sony`s features but also featured Live view. The greatest attraction in the Olympus for me was the crop-factor of its sensor. While the Sony had a 1.5x crop factor the Olympus had a 2x crop factor. What this meant was that if I used a 150mm lens on the Sony, it would equate to 225mm in conventional 35mm terms, while on the Olympus it would be a 300mm lens! Thats a compelling factor when my main use of the DSLR is going to be bird photography. I could get a 300mm Zuiko lens for the Oly and have an awesome 600mm equivalent.
Some of the factors that turned me away from the Olympus however were some comments I`d found from users on various forums. Primarily, its autofocus (3-point) struggled a bit under low light conditions. Also, there was no dedicated button to shift between manual and auto focus. But what put me off most of all was the cost and availability of lenses. The Zuiko Lenses of the same focal length seemed to be really expensive especially those exceeding the 300mm range, and a bird photographer just cant seem to have enough of focal length. Also, when compared to the extensive range of second hand Minolta lenses available to suit the Sony, the Olympus lenses were scarce. I suppose that is due to the relative newness of the four-thirds system.
And while on the subject of the 4/3rds system, let me voice my concern on that. While it is a new concept pushed by Olympus and Panasonic, I wondered where it was going to lead, and if it would actually have more players gradually or fizz out to leave the owners of such cameras with a system that “Once existed”. Even as I write this Panasonic has just come out with its Micro four thirds camera – the Panasonic Lumix G1. This Micro four thirds makes a lot of sense to me and I think if the camera makers were to move forwards they would probably head that way. Then where would that leave the 4/3rds system?
Anyhow, as a result of my search for 2nd user lenses, I bid on a used 75-300mm AF Minolta lens on ebay and won it. Saving me about £70 on the price of the same re-branded Sony SAL70300AF lens. This essentially sealed the fate of the Olympus!I also feel that the Sony offers exemplary value for you money. I received the lens a few days back (before I bought the camera itself) and here`s a few pictures:
Here its fully extended:
Front view without sunshade:
As I write this, I`m bunking work and awaiting the arrival of my new Sony A200 which I have bought off Amazon along with an extended Warranty for 2 years for just £10.99.
Wish me luck in my new adventures along a steep learning curve, with my first SLR camera. Hope to update you all as I progress through this space.