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-   -   Sony a200 or Canon XSI Decision (

upsidedown Jul 2, 2008 9:35 AM

I have decided (well almost) to purchase an entry level dSLR. In the past I have grown up on a Canon FTb and a Nikon N80 so I understand the fundamentals of photography. For the past three years I have gone digital using a Canon sd400. WHile at this stage of my life I am mainly a "snapshot photographer" (i.e., kids, family events, outdoor scenes), I am just not happy with my compact shooter. Things I don't like include IQ, speed of focus, etc.

Through a rewards program at work I can get a Sony a200 or Canon XSi with the single kit lens (I can also get a Nikon d40 but have ruled that out). I understand the differences between the cameras (Image Stabilization for the Sony, Live View for the Canon)).

I think the Sony better suits my needs as I don't see the huge opportunity for Live View, and Image Stabilization is built in. But I am also drawn to the Canon as it is a better system to build on.

I don't anticipate in buying a large group of lenses...prbably one more lens (such as a zoom, or an all purpose superzoom) and will probably use auto mode a lot.

So comments I am looking for are should I stick with the Sony with some minor growth limitations, or go with the Canon and think about future potential. While I am not paying cash, the Canon still costs about 25% more of the "internal currency" so I could use that for something else if I went for the Sony.


JimC Jul 2, 2008 10:46 AM

There pros and cons to either camera model. The Canon has a few features the Sony doesn't (for example, DOF preview, live view), and vice-versa. I shoot in low light a lot, so I'd want a camera with ISO 3200 available if I needed it (missing on the entry level Canon models, but available in the entry level Sony models). So, that would be more important to me.

If you don't need ISO 3200, then the Canon is a great choice.

The Canon's kit lens tests better. But, on the other hand, you have more focal range from wide to long with the Sony's kit lens. There are pros and cons to any of them.

If you're looking at a "Super Zoom" (a.k.a, all-in-one) type lens solution, the Tamron 18-250mm (around $450 now) would work with either camera (only it would be stablized on the Sony). But, you'll get best results with more than one lens to cover that kind of range. Sony also offers this lens design (with some improvements) under the Sony brand name for around $S0 more (around $499 now).

If Live View is important to you, you may want to consider the A300 instead. It's got a much better lvie view system compared to most dSLR models, thanks to it's unique design with a separate live view sensor that sees the same image that would normally be projected to the optical viewfinder, while still taking advantage of the Sony's fast 9 point AF sensor assembly. It also has a tilting LCD. With other dSLR models using Live view, the performance is not as good. On the downside, it's viewfinder is smaller compared to the A200 (in order to make room for the separate live view sensor).

I'd make sure to try them out in a store to see what you're more comfortable with (and make sure to try the Live View if you are looking at the Canon, as it's not going to be as good as many non-dSLR cameras if you're using that feature to decide between them).

I doubt you're go wrong with either camera model for most uses. They're both capable of taking nice photos and have more features than most new dSLR owners would need.

mtngal Jul 2, 2008 1:39 PM

Either camera would work for you - Sony seems to bein the dSLR camera market for good and they are aggressively persuing it. I wouldn't worry about "future potential" as far as long-term availability of current lenses to fit the Sony, and they can use the oldMinolta Maxxum lenses, too. I wouldn't be surprised if Sony were to release additional lenses in the next couple of years (but never count on what hasn't been released yet - no matter what camera manufacturer you are considering!).

I'd get the one that feels best in your hands. There's nothing worse than having a camera that's too heavy/light/large/small or that your fingers can't quite comfortably reach the controls. And the best camera in the world can't take that outstanding picture if it's sitting home in your closet because you don't like carrying it/using it.

TCav Jul 2, 2008 1:53 PM

Something that has been left unsaid is that, while the Sony has sensor shift image stabilization in the camera body, the Canon has optical image stabilization in its kit lens. On the face of it, that balances out the two choices, except for the higher resolution and 'Live View' for the 25% higher price of the Canon.

But if you want more lenses later, if you go with the Canon, their stabilized lenses are bigger, heavier and more expensive.

While the Canon wouldbe a better system to build on, since you don't seem to be interested in getting a lot of lenses and other accouterments, that isn't much of a reason to pick one over the other.

I agree with JimCthat a big criterion should be how they feel to you. If you can't hold it comfortably, if you can't find the controls and commands when you need them, you'll miss some 'once in a lifetime' shots.

And as to a superzoom, when I bought my dSLR, I thought a superzoom lens (in my case, the Konica Minolta 18-200, the equivalent of the Sony 18-200) would be a good 'do everything' lens. When I started looking critically at my photos, however, I discovered that it wasn't. The Tamron 18-250 (and its 'equivalent', the Sony 18-250) is arguably the best of its kind, but it still has more geometric distortion at the wide end, more chromatic aberration at the long end, and is less sharp that a combination of lenses with less ambitious zoom ranges.

mtclimber Jul 2, 2008 9:53 PM

With all due respects to TCav-

There are really two schools of thought at play in this thread. That concerns the lens or lenses selected. If you really desire to shoot a good many existing light/high ISO setting shots, then you should be looking for prime or high aperture lenses of differnent focal lengths that meet your needs.

However, there if you are indeed looking for a single lens solution, the Tamron or Sony 18-250mm lens is a good solution if you can deal with the optical compromises inherent in that lens and providing that you are shooting a lot in good outdoor lighting. many of us folks have been very pleased with that lens.

Analyze your photo shooting needs and ambitions, then decide.

Sarah Joyce

SkyShoot Jul 2, 2008 11:34 PM

check also new Olympus line - E-520 and E-420 both.
with Sony A-200 and A-350.
but i avise you take a look at Nikon FIRST.
my strongest disadvatage in DSLR is a .... loss of detail, because trong AA filter and or artefacts of image processing, so Olympus and and Canon - produces slightly "overblurred" images :/
(E-410 performs better than E-420 in this case)
if not lack of available units(thus overpricing,especially in my country(prices comparable to Mogadisho :)), Nikon will be ultimate choice.
strictly IMO.

p.s. i welcomes some "strategically perfect" technology approaches of Pentax/Samsung, but implementations today - not good, and i cannot recommend K200d :(
(look at self and decide, according to samples(or to flickr))

mtclimber Jul 3, 2008 10:38 AM


I own a Oly E-410 and while it is a good camera, IMO its very limited dynamic range is a negative factor, giving you those undesirable white skies when you were hoping for a nice blue sky just like you saw in the photo scene with your eyes.

Sarah Joyce

SkyShoot Jul 6, 2008 11:17 AM

yeah, Sony sensor, better than Panny, but more destructive factor for DR is ... DC Firmware and-or lack of equal processing power to implement "high fidelity DR reproduction"-capable digicam.
but imnplemented in all entrly-level E-series LiveView - slightly better for beginners, than existed in A200. if customer swithing form P&S and quite new in photo world - - is critical. so A350 better in that case.
but again, A200 great cam !!
very,very, very capable.

p.s. and about DR control - in E-420 is significantly improved.
adn comparable to such thing in Sony.
but stronger AA - take out some destail, so pictures have a "Cannon-ized" sort of view :)
both(detail and DR) - significant, both might be costly(time, energy(both photogrpher and camera :)) avoided, thus, decision must be made - depend usage[planned].

p.p.s. because i try to make same decision, i try many model :)
and ... turn to Fuji S100 :-)
but this is quite different story :-) (and a little off-topic ;)

whisky_n_whisky Jul 6, 2008 11:47 AM

i had a very similar question and i decided to go with a200. my options were oly e-510 canon xti (with no lens) canon xt (with no lens) sony a200, and nikon d40

i ruled out nikon d40 as it had only 6mpix and wasnt any better then the listed cameras for the same price. canon had expensive lenses plus they didnt come with a kit lens, oly e-510 was very decent but again lenses were on the expensive side. sony had cheaper lenses with also older minolta lenses that i could pick from, i had memory sticks i could use with a200, better decent iso performance including iso3200 which i thought might be handy in desperate situations, good dynamic range, built in image stabilization regardless of the lens you use etc. etc.

now i am a noob when it comes to slr cameras (dslr included)but there are plenty of experianced users here which can help you decide. (and hopefully my reasons why i went sony might help too) enjoy ur new camera, whichever u get :-)

JeffP Jul 20, 2008 12:49 AM

I just picked up the Sony A300x from Sony Style for $699. Then they gave me $80 off the vertical grip. You have to buy a second battery for the grip. That made my final decision to invest in this line. I believe most of the cameras that are in the beginners DSLR catagory are pretty much the same. I find the best features on the A300 is the Live View and tilt screen. I don't understand at this level of photography why someone wouldn't want these features. The lenses that come with this kit are just fine. My next lens will certainly be something faster like the Minolta 50mm/1.7. You can find them on Ebay for alittle over $100. I've blew up afew photos to 8x11 inches and they look like a professional took them. I still can't believe the technology is so great. The black and white mode has the most detail. Also you can change the white balance on the fly. The sony has a nice feature which cleans the dust off the unit everytime you shut it off. I don't think Canon XSI even has that at all. With the XSI's live view you cannot autofocus like the Sony. This is a great feature when you can't put your eye up to the OVF. The sony has auto focus when you put your eye up to the lens, so you don't have to waste time pressing the shutter down half way.It is also good to take candid shots when people don't think your focusing in on them. Sony has plenty of glass for this level of photography. I know you were asking about the A200 but for the $100 extra I would go for the A300 hands down.

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