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Old May 11, 2008, 6:07 PM   #1
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hi there,

i have minolta a1 which needs replacing - something physically smaller/lighter more pixels?? must have as good a lens as the minolta gt (which is super) not dslr but slr with zoom at 200 or above (35mm equiv).must have the 90 degree moveable screen and would dearly love the 90 degree eyepiece (does anyone do the eyepiece like this any more)? Have up to £600 to spend on this. any comments/thoughts very welcome - would consider dslr if suitable zoom lens available at the price.

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Old May 12, 2008, 11:00 AM   #2
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I'd be concerned that you're not going to be happy with a newer camera in a smaller and lighter package with that much focal range when comparing image quality to your A1.

The size of the photosites for each pixel in that model's sensor are much larger than the newer cameras similar to it. It used a Sony 2/3" 5MP CCD and had good performance for it's class.

Most newer cameras similar to it are going to use much smaller sensors. Also, because most are higher resolution now, manufacturers are stuffing more of them into these smaller sensors (making each one of the millions of photosites even smaller). Smaller photosites don't gather as much light, so they require more amplification for the same ISO sensitivity, inceasing noise levles and/or loss of detail from noise reducition in less than optimum lighting.

Of course, that assumes everything else about the cameras is equal (and it never is, thanks to advancements in sensor technology, advancements in image processing technology and more). Despite the advancements, I think you'd be taking a step backwards with a number of newer cameras.

It sounds like you want to go with an even smaller camera (which means a smaller sensor), with higher resolution (meaning even smaller photosites for each pixel), with better lens quality (and a smaller sensor places even more demands on how good a lens needs to be to resolve enough detail for it).

Giving you what you are looking for in a small package is not easy (especially if you want miore megapixels), and you'll need to decide what compromises make it worth it to you.

You may want to start your search with Steve's
Best Cameras List (models deemed to be a good value within their market niche). You'll see a Super Zoom category.

If you decide that image quality is more important than size and weight, you may also want to consider something like the new Sony DSLR-A300 (a dSLR model). It's a new dSLR model with Live View and a tilting LCD. This Sony is very good in the Live View area, since it's new design allows the camera's main Autofocus Sensors to see the same image as it's separate Live View sensor, without the drawbacks associated with Contrast Detection Autofocus using a camera's main sensor, or the need to flip the mirror back and forth to Autofocus using the main AF sensors before returning to Live View mode (problems you'll find with other dSLR models).

With the Sony you can use Live View at the same time the camera is focusing with it's dedicated 9 point AF sensor (and it will even show you selected focus points in the Live View display on the LCD). Circuitcity.com has the base Sony A300 kit with an 18-70mm lens on sale for $599.99 now (and they have other A300 kits with different lenses for more):

Sony DSLR-A300K for $599.99 at circuitcity.com

It's viewfinder is optical (through the lens, like any other dSLR model). But, you can find inexpensive Angle Finders to fit on it if you want to view from the top through it (for macros, etc.), although the tilting LCD should prevent that need in most cases. That way, you'd have a camera with higher image quality compared to point and shoot models if you use higher quality lenses, and Live View with a tilting display. Here's an example of an angle finder for a dSLR that lets you use an optical viewfinder that way:

http://www.gadgetinfinity.com/produc...267&page=1

You can also find "all in one" lenses for dSLR models to help keep size and weight down. Here's a review of one:

http://www.alphamountworld.com/revie...-f35-63-review

Just keep in mind that any zoom with that much focal range from wide to long (this lens would be equivalent to a 27-375mm lens on a 35mm camera), is going to have some compromises in image quality. So, for best results, you may want to stick with lenses that have a less ambitious focal range from wide to long.

That is one of the advantages of a dSLR (you can buy lenses that are better suited compared to others for more conditions). Also, if you upgrade the camera body later, most of the time you can carry your lenses with you within the same manufacturer. So, your lenses become an investment. Note that the Sony dSLR models can use any Minolta Autofocus Lens (they bought Konica Minolta's camera related assets, and these models are using a Minolta AF lens mount).

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Old May 12, 2008, 1:40 PM   #3
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hi there,

that is really useful - many thanks. I'll certainly take good note of your comments and will pay attention to the size of the sensor versus pixels etc. unfortunately ads do not tell you the downside of their products! many thanks for your advice and for your time in putting it together - further to that many reviewers also don't give you the full picture.



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Old May 12, 2008, 2:16 PM   #4
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Unfortunately (if you want to go to a dSLR with live view route), the sale prices for the Sony A300 kits just vanished from Circuit City's web (they were all $100 off). They were still showing the $100 off sale price earlier today when I posted the link in this thread. But, it's back up to $699.99 again now (about what everyone else is getting for them).

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