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Old Oct 19, 2010, 8:24 PM   #1
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Default alpha 100, alpha 500... and noise

Hello,

Some months ago, I picked up a cheap, used a100 to replace my broken down pentax. I was surprised at how few things I didn't like about the camera, despite its age. Most notably, the raw buffer was way better than the old k100d's... but one thing I didn't like was high iso noise - at f3.5, it was unacceptable for indoor/low-light shooting.

I want to solve this problem.

So, I'm thinking, is it better to get another lens, perhaps the 1.7 prime or the 2.8 tamron, to solve my problem... or is it better to try to resell the a100 and take advantage of the current a500 deals? Does the latter camera's low light performance significantly out-shine the older sony's? Also, how big of a difference will the faster lenses make to my low-light shooting? Could they be enough?

Thanks in advance,

-Bpp
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Old Oct 19, 2010, 9:19 PM   #2
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bpp-

I do not believe that adding a new lens will reduce the noise on your A100 camera at all. Noise is a function of ISO setting NOT aperture. Pixel density, the camera's imager, and the camera's processor, are responsible for noise.

The A500 you mentioned has much better noise suppression because it an updated and better imager/processor combination coupled with better pixel density.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Oct 19, 2010, 11:57 PM   #3
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How high an ISO? How dark a room?
I was curious so got out my alpha 100 and played a bit...at 5.6 at 400 got nice pics...at room lighting...astonishing nice...don't know why I stopped using it and gave it to my BF...hmmmm. At any rate...
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Old Oct 20, 2010, 12:50 AM   #4
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I have both a A550 and an A100, and ive never had any probs shooting lowlight with the A100 before.
The A100 is now my backup camera, and it had to be pulled out recently with the A550 being in the shop, and it performed to its usual high standards.

Dont shoot me here, but I taught my worker, that its generally not the camera, but the operator
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Old Oct 20, 2010, 8:50 AM   #5
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Re: Sarah
Having a faster lens allows him to use less ISO, which will give him less noise.
-----
Isn't there a firmware update for the a100 that helps with noise? You may have it, but you could always see. This would likely solve your problem.

Are you having trouble at below ISO 400 (with newest firmware)? If that is the case then I would get a new body since the a100 shoots at 400 almost always on auto (at least the a200 does), and the only way to solve that low ISO issue is new body.

If you're disliking the noise at and above 800 (which the a200 has a lot of) than it's up to you. I would go for a lens since it will give you a lot better quality otherwise. (sharper, less distortion)
I have the a200 and the 50mm f1.7 and lovin it. Often enough I have to go to ISO 800 for indoor shots, but i can still use it for a lot of indoor stuff plus it is light years ahead in terms of quality compared to my kit lens. Best part: you can get them for $80 on eBay. It is a good indoor lens (although too long for big group/room shots) plus it does awesome portraits.
Although if Im incorrect in assuming your lens is the kit lens, and it's actually the 16-80 zeiss than definitely go for body.
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Old Oct 20, 2010, 11:07 AM   #6
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The A100's 10MP CCD Sensor was somewhat of a step backwards as far as noise levels at higher ISO speeds, as compared to the Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D (which used a Sony 6MP CCD Sensor). The A100 was based mostly on the older KM Maxxum 5D.

You'll see the same type of thing comparing your K100D (which used a Sony 6MP CCD Sensor) to the the Pentax K10D (which uses a Sony 10MP CCD Sensor).

The 10MP sensor gives you higher resolution, and does great at lower ISO speed settings, at the expense of higher ISO speed noise (because of smaller photosites for each pixel), when compared to the older 6MP sensor.

But, it's no match for the 12MP CMOS Sensor used in models like the Sony A500. The newer 12MP CMOS sensor is going to be better at higher ISO speeds.

If indoor shooting without a flash is a high priority, I'd probably go for the newer camera model *and* a brighter lens.

Or, you may want to consider just using an external flash instead. That way, you can keep ISO speeds set lower and bounce the flash for more diffused lighting. The Sony HVL-F42AM would be a good choice.
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Old Oct 20, 2010, 11:56 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimC View Post
...I'd probably go for the newer camera model *and* a brighter lens...
That's what I wanted to say. The 50mm is affordable enough that you could possibly get both. Craigslist often has Maxxum cameras with that lens, so maybe you can find a deal somewhere.
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Old Oct 20, 2010, 12:03 PM   #8
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If going used on a lens, I'd probably just look at the Maxxum kits at keh.com. You can usually find a camera body including a 50mm f/1.7 in budget condition for under $100 there, and you'd get a good return policy and short term warranty (60 days from invoice date) with it, in case you run into any issues (sticky aperture blades, etc.) that they didn't find when inspecting and grading the gear. That would also give you a film camera to use as a backup. You'll find the Maxxum camera kits (body + lens) here:

http://www.keh.com/Camera/format-35m...c=79305&r=WG&f
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Old Oct 21, 2010, 4:15 PM   #9
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Thanks for the advice, guys.

As many of you have pointed out, the Sony is great at ISO400 and below... but I find myself having to go 1600 too often in indoor situations and the iq is not there at that ISO.

As for the lenses, I'm in the process of getting the 1.7 from craig's list - whether I replace the camera or not, for the price, this is almost a no-brainer. Hopefully, my question will at least partially answer itself once I've acquired that.

Actually, while I didn't mention it in my other posts, the cheap lenses are probably the main reason why I am inclined to stick with Sony over Pentax... I mean, I've got four of them, and they cost me less than $100 total (with a Maxxum thrown into the bargain)... they say that Pentax used to be like this as well... not anymore.

I also appreciate the keh recommendation - do they ship to Canada? That's where I am and I don't think the Amazon alpha 500 deal extends that far. Does anyone know cheap&reliable camera dealers who function this side of the border?

Have a good day,

-bpp
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Old Oct 21, 2010, 4:50 PM   #10
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Yes, keh.com ships to Canada:

http://www.keh.com/help.aspx#pe10

Ditto for http://www.bhphotovideo.com

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/find/Hel...esPolicies.jsp

But, I don't know what shipping costs would run (or if you'd have any customs issues with used gear, and/or warranty issues with new gear).

I don't keep up with Canadian vendors. So, perhaps some of our other members will chime in.
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