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Old May 7, 2009, 6:55 PM   #1
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Default Long question: Body stabilization vs. lens stabilization

Hi,

I've been out of photography for a long while. I have a Minolta 700si camera body, Minolta 28-85 auto focus zoom lens, Sigma 75-200 auto focus zoom lens and Minolta AF100mm f2.8 Macro.
I'm getting close to retirement and have decided to get into digital photography. I've been reading up on the new Sony DSLRs and also on the Nikon's. The biggest difference I can detect is name brand identity and the Minolta/Sony body stabilization vs. the Nikon in the lens stabilization. It seems having one unit in the body is better then in each lens, plus I can use older my Minolta auto-focus lenses with a new Sony body instead of having to buy new lenses. Four questions:

1. Is there really a major difference between the Nikon and Sony systems? If so which is better?
2. Is there an advantage of Minolta/Sony body stabilization vs. the Nikon in the lens stabilization?
3. I've always liked Minolta, but the camera shop guy is telling me that the Nikon D90 is the way to go. Overall, how does the A700 compare?
4. What about APS-C sized sensor vs. Full size?
Thanks for your help.
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Old May 7, 2009, 8:00 PM   #2
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1. Is there really a major difference between the Nikon and Sony systems? If so which is better?
As far as performance goes, there's no clear leader. Nikon has some stabilized lenses that perform exceptionally well, and some that don't. Since sensor shift image stabilization is in the body, it works very well for all lenses.

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2. Is there an advantage of Minolta/Sony body stabilization vs. the Nikon in the lens stabilization?
With sensor shift image stabilization in the camera body, all lenses are stabilized, including third party lenses, including AF lenses made over 20 years ago. With optical image stabilization in the lenses, only certain OEM lenses are stabilized, few third party lenses are stabilized, and no older lenses are stabilized.

Nikon (and Canon) persued optical image stabilization because they still make film SLRs, and you can't stabilize film.


There are some considerations where optical image stabilization is preferable:
  • Stabilized lenses present a stabilized image in the viewfinder and in 'Live View'. Sony's sensor shift image stabilization does not.
  • Extension tubes cause sensor shift image stabilization to undercompensate for camera shake.
  • All 1.7X, all 1.5X and most 1.4X teleconverters don't report the correct focal length to the camera, causing sensor shift image stabilization to undercompensate for camera shake.
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3. I've always liked Minolta, but the camera shop guy is telling me that the Nikon D90 is the way to go. Overall, how does the A700 compare?
They are both excellent cameras. The D90 is a newer model and the A700 is getting long in the tooth, but if it can do what you want, you can use your older lenses.

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4. What about APS-C sized sensor vs. Full size?
The APS-C sensor is roughly 2/3 the size of a 35mm film exposure. This means a narrower angle of view and a deeper depth of field. It also means that you'll be using the sweet spot on 'Full Frame' lenses (as in, vignetting and soft edges and corners are cropped off by the smaller sensor.)
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Old May 8, 2009, 7:31 AM   #3
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No one is making really bad cameras so there is no reason to worry about any of them. Which one is best will lead to never ending arguments/discussion.

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Hi,
...
3. I've always liked Minolta, but the camera shop guy is telling me that the Nikon D90 is the way to go....
I think you have identified which camera gives the best commission in that shop at the moment.
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Old May 8, 2009, 9:00 AM   #4
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Taking anti-shake out of the discussion (since you've got a good handle on that and TCAV already addressed it), the rest of "WHICH SYSTEM IS BETTER" isn't so strait-forward. I'm not a huge fan of either system's entry level cameras - they have a lot of flaws compared to the competition (sony's have small viewfinders, poor AF, poor high ISO, nikon has poor AF and limited lenses due to no focus motor). But the D90 and A700 are both great cameras. Nikon has arguably the best flash performance of the major brands. They have a larger modern lens selection than Sony does. Sony has some excellent lenses though. Nikon has the larger selection of prosumer - pro bodies (D90, d300, d700, d3) vs (a700, a900). And the ergonomics will be differrent between the two. I personally like the robustness of Nikon's system. Sony is still the jv kid stepping up to varsity. Their system isn't as robust as Nikon but they have a large $$$ behind them. You also have a benefit of more camera stores carrying Nikon gear so you can see, handle the gear before you buy - if that's important to you. I like a lot of what Sony is doing but as a system they just aren't at the same level as Nikon (or Canon) yet. But that may or may not be important. If their current body / lens / flash offerings meet all your needs for now and future then the quality of what they have is pretty good. Just my opinion. For what it's worth I'm a Canon shooter so no particular affiliation to either of these brands.
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Old May 18, 2009, 2:43 AM   #5
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  • All 1.7X, all 1.5X and most 1.4X teleconverters don't report the correct focal length to the camera, causing sensor shift image stabilization to undercompensate for camera shake.
Sorry to jump in. Are Sony's own offerings also not reporting correct focal length back to the camera?
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Old May 18, 2009, 5:23 AM   #6
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Are Sony's own offerings also not reporting correct focal length back to the camera?
Sony's 1.4X and 2.0X teleconverters do report the correct focal length and aperture to the camera. But Sony's teleconverters are Matched Teleconverters, and only work with a few lenses.
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Old May 18, 2009, 9:17 AM   #7
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Thank you, TCav.
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