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Old Jun 11, 2008, 6:34 PM   #11
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Thanks for the link, Jim. When I decided to sell my Pentax K100D last year, I was going to buy the A100 (only Alpha model available at the time) but after reading many posts regarding noisy images at low ISO, I decided to get the Oly E510. I bought many (expensive) lenses with it and really liked them but the camera itself has a very limited DR and it's almost impossible to control highlights. So, I decided to try the Sony, specially at the price Ibought it for! I'm a bit concerned about soft images right out of the camera (a few reviews of the A200pointed that out and since the A300 apparently is the A200 sensor in an A350 body, I imagine the A200IQ issuesalso apply to the A300). What's your take on it?
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Old Jun 11, 2008, 7:07 PM   #12
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I think the 10MP sensor in the A200 and A300, combined with Sony's processing algorithms does a real good job (I don't think they look soft. unless the photographer is doing something wrong like focus point, using an aperture too wide for the desired depth of field, etc.). Most lenses are a bit softer with the aperture wide open. So, that may be what you saw (lens versus camera issue), depending on the lens being used.

You will have a bit shallower depth of field than your accustomed to with the Olympus for a given aperture and subject framing (because of the larger APS-C sensor in the Sony). That's the same size sensor you had in the Pentax though.

Don't confuse detail with sharpening either. Some models do use a bit more aggresive sharpening by default. If you don't like the defaults, bump it up a notch or two in the camera. ;-) Personally, I prefer more conservative sharpening by default.

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Old Jun 11, 2008, 7:18 PM   #13
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P.S.

The kit lens tends to get "knocked" a bit for it's sharpness by some users unless stopped down a bit. I don't think it's that bad (especially since it's practically being given away when you buy a camera in a kit now). CA is a bit higher than desired in some conditions. But, color, contrast and sharpness isn't too shabby for a small and light lens with it's range from wide to long (most kit lenses are only 18-55mm now).

Try it and see what you think. Any lens choice is a compromise in one area or another.

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Old Jun 11, 2008, 7:19 PM   #14
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Those are all good points, Jim. From day one I was impressed by the sharpness produced by the E510 with its kit lenses (even more so with the 14-54mm and the 70-300mm Zuiko lenses). I had the camera set to its default sharpness and the results were impressive. If it wasn't for the very low DR, I'd not be getting the A300. The other possibility in case I'm not happy with the A300, is to sell the E510 kit and buy the E520 body only. It appears that the E520 has a better DR.
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Old Jun 11, 2008, 7:38 PM   #15
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It does look like DR is improved a bit on the newer Olympus models. Diwa Labs just posted some of their test results for the E-520 using DXO Analyzer.

The Sony A200 (and the A300 should test the same) looks like it's still going to have close to a stop better DR though (especially once you start getting over the base ISO speed), despite the Olympus improvements. My guess is that Oly is using a bit flatter tone curve to try and squeeze more out of the Panasonic sensor being used (so, the images may not be as "punchy" if they're using a less contrasty tone curve to try and retain more detail in highlights and shadows). There are pros and cons to any approach.

Something is wrong with their web site right this minute (I can't download the .pdf files for each section the way I normally can to see more detailed test results, test patches, etc.). So, you'll have to squint at the tiny charts until they get it fixed (or just download the graphcs and enlarge them using an editor before squinting at them). lol

http://www.diwa-labs.com/wip4/test_result.epl

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Old Jun 11, 2008, 7:56 PM   #16
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P.S.

Make sure to try the Dynamic Range Optimization feature on the A300, too. It doesn't have quite the level of control you get with the A700. But, you may find it to be quite useful in tougher lighting.


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Old Jun 11, 2008, 9:02 PM   #17
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Another consideration...You do know you can use any Minolta AF lens ever made, right?

You'll usually find more used Autofocus lenses in Minolta AF mount than you will Autofocus lenses in any other mount (Nikon, Canon, Pentax) if you browse through the used listings for 35mm AF lenses at reputable vendors of used gear like http://www.keh.com , http://www.bhphotovideo.com and http://www.adorama.com

These are lenses I have for use on my Maxxum 5D and Sony A700: Minolta 28mm f/2, 50mm f/1.7, 100mm f/2, 135mm f/2.8, 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5, 35-70mm f/4 Macro; Konica Minolta 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6; Tamron 20-40mm f/2.7-3.5, Tamron 35-105mm f/2.8; Vivitar 70-210mm f/2.8-4. All are Autofocus (and all are stabilized on a Konica Minolta or Sony DSLR model like my KM Maxxum 5D or Sony A700).

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Old Jun 11, 2008, 10:46 PM   #18
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From what I've seen, standard DRO works OK in most conditions. However, the advanced DRO is a toss up. I recently bought the H50 and returned it after 3 days. Sony implemented DRO on that model but if you use the advanced DRO, the camera blacks out forsome time whileit processes the image. Not goodIMO. I hope the same does not occur with the A300. Also, depending on the lighting condition, the advancedDRO can do more harm than good. As for the Minolta lenses, I'm really not familiar with them at all. I've never had a Minolta camera so I have no idea which lens is good. I'll have to do some research before I start spending money on lenses.
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Old Jun 12, 2008, 9:18 AM   #19
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You may find these lists of lenses in Minolta A Mount to be helpful. If you click on a lens choice, you'll see lens specs, links to user reviews, links to member submitted sample images and more:

Fixed Focal Length Lenses in Minolta A mount

Macro Lenses in Minolta A Mount

Zoom Lenses in Minolta A mount

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Old Jun 12, 2008, 10:51 AM   #20
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Thanks very much for all the info.,Jim. You've been very helpful. The nice thing about the deal I got from Amazon is that there were no rebates to deal with, no cutting out UPC codes from the box or anything. So, if I dislike the 75-300mm lens, Isimply return it for a full refund and go for something else.
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