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Old Jun 22, 2008, 2:26 AM   #11
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Hi Jang, I just got my A300 yesterday. As you, I'm also having second thoughts but for different reasons. In your case, it's hard to assume the problem is with the kit lens w/o seeing any examples of images you took and are not happy with. I think it's a bit premature for me to say anything about the A300 since I haven't really had much of a chance to test it out thoroughly. However, coming from an Olympus E510 I must say that the Oly is a much superior camera in most respects except dynamic range. The Sony A300 really shines in this department. But, other than that, the Oly beats the c*** out of the A300. From the ergonomics (size, buttons,...)to features/functionality to menu design and most importantly, to IQ, the E510 (with its kit lenses)wins hands down.Substitute the kit 14-42mm by the 14-54mm and you get a hard-to-beatcombo. The E510 problem is DR (well, noise control even at ISO 400 is not that great eitherbut that I could live with). Now, as far as the A300 goes, I think it handles high ISOfairly well actually (despite what many people suggest). Color is good and, once again, it hasgreat DR. In fact, the camera tends to under expose byas much as +1.0 some times to preserve highlights.AF is good (but not as fast as the Oly), specially in good light. But, when shooting indoor oroutdoor in low light conditions, the AF sucks and the AF assist makes it even worse. Many times the camera would not focus at allon the subject with the AF assist turned on but as soon as I deactivated it, the camera hunted but eventually locked focus. So, from now on,AF assist is OFF. The shutter is noisy (much noisier than the E510) and poorly positioned for small hands (like mine)...a bit too highup with the wheel sitting right in front of it. My index finger naturally lands on the wheel rather than the shutter.As for IQ, the default settings for saturation, contrast and sharpness with color mode set to standard, produced very soft images (I'm really spoiled byhow sharp the E510 images were right out of the camera), so I bumped up sharpness to+2 (even +1 produced soft images - not too bad unless you crop it, that's when you realize howsoft they are). It's more to my liking but a bit harsh. So, I guess the best setting may be +1 with some PP on top of it. Auto WB isn't that great either.Outdoor low light shots (camera chose ISO 400 and everything else was set to default values - out of the box)produced a pink'ish cast specially on rocks andconcrete.Real bad IMO.

Now, I managed to take some very good shots considering how little I've played with the camera, meaning that it has potential. However, I am not that impressed with the A300I am consideringreturning it and waiting for the E520 since I alreadyhave the good Zuikolenses to go with it.

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Old Jun 22, 2008, 10:02 AM   #12
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Yes, leave the AF assist off. It doesn't work very well. The A700 has a focus lamp built in instead.

As for AF speed, even the older A100 tests much faster than the E-510 using lenses with equivalent brightness, and it will lock focus in much lower light compared to the E-510 (it will lock in roughly half the light the E-510 is able to lock focus in, and is still able to lock in EV -1 lighting with a bright lens). See popphoto's test results for examples of AF ability in different light levels:

http://www.popphoto.com/cameras/2698...ter-page2.html

http://www.popphoto.com/cameras/4380...lts-page3.html

They haven't tested the A200 or A300 yet. But, these are even faster focusing cameras (these use the same 9 point AF sensor as the A100, but their AF is roughly 1.7 times as fast, thanks to a beefed up focus motor).

Dave Etchells over at imaging-resource.com has tested the newer camera, an got a full Autofocus Lag of 0.189 seconds for the Sony DSLR-A200. The Olympus E-510 tested at 0.35 seconds. That means the Sony is roughly twice as fast in the light Dave tested in. Here are how some of the under $1000 models compare in this area now:

Full Autofocus Lag:
Sony A200 0.189 second
Canon XTi 0.20 second
Nikon D40x 0.243 second
Pentax K10D 0.254 second
Olympus E-510 0.35 second

When comparing AF speed to your Olympus, make sure you're using lenses of roughly the same focal length and brightness with the same subjects in the same lighting (keeping in mind that the camera's AF sensor assembly can "see" to focus better with a brighter lens, and a longer focal length makes it tougher to lock faster due to camera shake. I'd also check your AF mode to make sure you're not doing something like selecting an Outside AF point.

Ditto for image quality (try them side by side with the same subjects in the same lighting and see what you get). You may also want to reset the camera back to factory defaults before giving it a spin, in case a setting somewhere is influencing your results.


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Old Jun 22, 2008, 10:47 AM   #13
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JimC wrote:
Quote:
As for AF speed, even the older A100 tests much faster than the E-510 using lenses with equivalent brightness, and it will lock focus in much lower light compared to the E-510
Quote:
Dave Etchells over at imaging-resource.com has tested the newer camera, an got a full Autofocus Lag of 0.189 seconds for the Sony DSLR-A200. The Olympus E-510 tested at 0.35 seconds. That means the Sony is roughly twice as fast in the light Dave tested in. Here are how some of the under $1000 models compare in this area now:

Full Autofocus Lag:
Sony A200 0.189 second
Canon XTi 0.20 second
Nikon D40x 0.243 second
Pentax K10D 0.254 second
Olympus E-510 0.35 second

When comparing AF speed to your Olympus, make sure you're using lenses of roughly the same focal length and brightness with the same subjects in the same lighting .

Well, the numbers certainly look bad for the E510 in terms of AF when compared to the A200 (and others), don't they? But, those are lab numbers, not real life ones. I read camera reviews and find them to be very informative. However, I always take the conclusions with a grain of salt because all the tests they put cameras through don't quite represent real life conditions. Reviewers don't go out taking pictures of flowers at dusk or dawn to see how fast or slow the AF system really is, do they? It's all done in labs, under controlled conditions (needed for repeatability and comparison purposes, of course). But the fact is, in my experience the A300 under performs the E510 in certain conditions (and by a large margin too). The lenses are very comparable in terms of FL (Oly 14-54mm and Sony 18-70mm). Now, theZuiko is a much superior lens so that may have something to do with it. As for settings, I usually use a single focus point. I find all multi-focus point to be unreliable. Some times the camera focuses where it wants to andnot where I want to.

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Old Jun 22, 2008, 11:02 AM   #14
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That Zuiko 14-54mm is a much brighter lens (f/2.8-3.5). The Sony 18-70mm is down to f/5.6 by the time you zoom into around 35mm with it, whereas the Zuiko still has f/3.5, even at it's longest focal length.

So, that Zuiko is roughly 3 times as bright (f/3.5 vs. f/5.6) at most focal lengths (allowing the AF sensors to see a much brighter image, since modern cameras always Autofocus with the aperture wide open).

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Old Jun 22, 2008, 12:17 PM   #15
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IOW, you're comparing a very bright premium grade lens to a very dim consumer grade lens (and that's going to make a big difference in AF speed in lower light, as well a difference in image quality in areas like sharpness and contrast). ;-) That's one reason popphoto tests AF speed using a 50mm f/1.4 whenever possible (so that they are using lenses with the same brightness for testing AF in various light levels). Most 50mm lenses also have a similar (relatively simple) optical designs and gearing (so that the comparison is more about the camera ability versus lens ability).


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Old Jun 22, 2008, 6:17 PM   #16
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You got a point there, Jim. As I had said, the Zuiko lens is much superior than the Sony kit lens. However, I still find the A300 AF in low light to be slow.
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Old May 12, 2009, 3:54 AM   #17
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For the Sony A300, if anything, this camera is competition for Canon and Nikon as far as the quality at ISO-100-800. Noise is always a factor at ISO levels above that but rarely will you be using them constantly. As being a Sony user for almost a yr now, they're the best camera choice for any beginner and professionals alike. The kit lens will result in results that aren't the best. As stated above, larger aperture lenses are what you would need. My friend Mark uses the Tamron lens and the results are much greater for a lens with around the same distance as the kit lens. I have the same 2 lenses as you and they do me well, but use of the 75-300mm lens is my primary because it provides richer and more vibrant colors than the 18-70mm. It's not a good choice for low light, being you may be at 1/20 shutter for any motion shots which is way to slow. I have not upgraded to an external flash yet, but will soon and see how the results with my current lenses will work with an external flash.

I wonder where you read the review about Canon XSi being better than the Sony A300. It may be a CMOS sensor camera, and higher MP, but that's not a relevant comparison. Canon costs too much to offer so little. For what you're shooting, stay with Sony and just getter better optics and you're going to be fine.
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Old May 12, 2009, 9:16 AM   #18
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I owe the Sony A200 and like you didn't like the pictures I got with the Sony 18 - 70mm kit lens. I got another lens and I am very happy with my A200 at this point. And.... like Dr Chris said their is a learning curve, so practice away and soon you be enjoying your Sony D-SLR. It took me about 2 months to get it all figured out and get the pictures to come out the way I wanted (with 5 years of using point and shoot cameras prior including Fuji S5100 and 9100).

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