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Old Jun 26, 2008, 12:37 AM   #1
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First, the disclaimers. I'm not a professional photographer or camera reviewer. I just love photography and more so, playing with cameras. The following is my personal opinion of the Sony A300 based solely on visual comparison of images taken at various camera settings, light conditions and a variety of subjects (all from my backyard). The idea is to give others interested in the A300 an unbiased opinion based simply on my experience with the camera.

I've been extensively playing with my A300 since I received it last Friday. I've experimented with various camera settings (creative styles, AF area, AF mode, Metering mode, WB, various FL and aperture settings, etc, etc, etc.).Although I am annoyed by some firmware design (limitations IMO) and somewhat poor ergonomics (some buttons are awkward to operate - now I must state that I have small hands so perhaps that's my problem), its is certain that the A300 has good potential once the settings are optimized to one's liking. There are many things I personally dislike about the camera, and most have to do with its operation.But, there's plenty to like about it as well.

The kit lens is not nearly assharp asthe Zuiko kit lens that comes with theOlympus E4nn and E5nn but it is not that bad either. The lens is certainly a good performer as long as there's plenty of light. Move to shaded areas and the images become very soft indeed.

It seems like Sony is applying a lot of noise reduction at ISO above 200. When set to ISO AUTO, the A300 will choose between 100-400 depending on the lighting condition. I noticed that the camera has the tendency to increase ISO before reducing aperture. That's probably due to optic limitations of the kit lens when operated wide open. After looking at 1000+ shots, I could pinpointwith some accuracy which pictures were taken withISO greater than 200. It has more to dowith image sharpness and lack of definition than noise per say.


Dynamic range is a huge plus, a bigadvantage over the E510. In order to preserve highlights though, theA300 tends to under expose. Actually that's what I thought at first. Then,after shooting many bright-colored subjects (with no whites or high contrast areas), I noticed that the under exposure was quite severe considering that the contrast was not that high at all. In some cases I had to increase the Ev by +1.0 or even +1.3 to obtain a well balancedimage in terms of exposure.One very positive fact from this behavior is that the A300 has the most usable SPOT metering system I've ever experienced,better than any othercamera I've had (P&S and/or DSLR). Usually when SPOT metering is used, the actual subject is properly exposed but the surrounding area is either well over or underexposed. Not in the case of the A300. Itmeters the subject accurately and then compensates the surrounding areas accordingly so that the entireimage is well exposed. Awesome! I found myself choosing SPOT more often than ever before.


As for DRO, DRO Advanced did nothing more than DRO Standard in most conditions. Very seldom it improved the darkest areas. So, I say don't bother messing with DRO. Leave it on Standard unless the image contrast is real severe and the shadow area is much larger than the bright area. That's when DRO Advanced works best.

The default settings for Contrast, saturation and sharpness did not appeal to me at all. Now, I do not like to spend hours and hours adjusting curves and sharpness in PS. So, I try to get the best possible image (to my taste) right out of the camera, if possible. I found thatVIVID produces cleaner images. Somy preferred setting is VIVID C=+1, Sat=-1 and SH=+2.For Portrait and Landscape, I left C and S at 0 increasing SH to +1 (portrait) or +2 (landscape) and for Standard, I chose C+2, S-1 and SH+2. This is quite a change from the E510 settings I used. Because the E510 had the tendency to clip highlights very easily, increasing contrast and saturation would just make matters worse. So I had set C to -2 and S to -1. The A300 generous DR allows me to increase contrast w/o causing over blown highlights.

I found Auto WBa bit temperamental. A lot of images with lots of shade in them,presented a blue'ish/purple'ish color cast in the shaded areas. So, IMO, the preset WB Daylight and Shade seem toproduce moreaccurateresults under these two conditions.Coming from the Oly E510, I'm veryfamiliar withusing Kelvin rather than the preset WB. I'd suggest to any one familiar withcolor temperature, specially in difficult lighting conditions to use Kelvin.

Well, there are plenty of other settingsto be discussed but the ones mentioned are the ones Iplayed with the most. So, here are some examples I selected out of over 1000 pictures taken in a few days. I haven't PP them at all (except for cropping) so they are pretty much out of the camera and theEXIF data is intact.

This was my first attempt using SPOT metering. As soon as I saw the picture displayed on the LCD I wasimmediatelypleased with the result.



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Old Jun 26, 2008, 12:39 AM   #2
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Once I realized that SPOT metering produced such great results, I went ahead and took many pictures using this setting. Here's another one...
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Old Jun 26, 2008, 12:40 AM   #3
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And another...
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Old Jun 26, 2008, 12:45 AM   #4
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Here's a great example of how well the camera adjusts the exposure of theentire image even though SPOT metering was used.
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Old Jun 26, 2008, 12:51 AM   #5
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OK, let's move to some examples of the A300 DR. The sun was shinning hardon this bird house and yet, I increase the Ev by +0.7 in order to get a well balanced image. No blown highlights or under exposed areas. Try that with the E510!!!
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Old Jun 26, 2008, 12:52 AM   #6
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Another good example of the A300 rendering DR.
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Old Jun 26, 2008, 12:53 AM   #7
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and another
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Old Jun 26, 2008, 12:54 AM   #8
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Lots of color and wide range of contrast...
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Old Jun 26, 2008, 12:58 AM   #9
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Here's one of my favorites. The figurine is painted with pastel colors: very pale blue, peach, grey and white. The background is dark The sun is shining on it creating shadows. The A300 managed to balance it all out producing a well exposed and pleasantimage.
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Old Jun 26, 2008, 1:00 AM   #10
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How does the A300 render deeporanges exposed to a bright sun? Real well, I'd say!
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