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Old Nov 10, 2009, 5:44 PM   #1
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Default Stay with Sony? or jump to Nikon?

I currently have a Sony A100 with a great Minolta 50/1.7, the kit lens (18-70) and an old sigma 70-200 (3.5-5.*). The Sigma back focuses in low light however.

I really like the picture quality of the A100 at low iso. The high iso is not good and the fps is relatively slow. I have held off in advancing into better lenses because I am primarily shooting indoor gymnastics, basketball and outdoor baseball, soccer. The rest of my shooting is family portraits, stills, etc. I have been tempted to look at the Sigma 50-150 f2.8 for much of the action photography but thought the A100 wouldn't be up to par. So much so, that I was seriously looking at the Nikon D90 (still needing to get a fast lens and a low light prime).

So now Sony comes out with the A550 with possibly as good low light (high iso) performance. I think that it should have as good auto focus and better fps. I'm tempted because I still have a few lenses I could use on the A550 and even have two bodies for different situations. The price is a wash between the sony and nikon and I still need to step up to some better glass. The in body stabilization would be good for slower shots but it is my understanding that it doesn't matter as much for sports.

Any thoughts between the two in this situation? BTW, looked into the Canon 50d but thought it might not work as well for the specific indoor sports.
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Old Nov 10, 2009, 6:06 PM   #2
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Newdoc,

The 550 is an unknown entity. It's predecessors did not have autofocus on par with Nikon and Canon. The 550s AF is said to be improved but it's unknown if it's on par with the Nikon D90 and Canon 50d. I would suggest either waiting until some sports users actually field test the 550 or get the A700. The A700 has comparable performance to the D90 and 50D. Staying with the A700 would end up costing less than switching systems at this point. Although you are correct - you need both a new camera AND new lenses to get good results at indoor sports.

The Canon 50d, Nikon D90 and Sony A700 are the best mid level sports cameras on the market. I can't recommend anything lower in Nikon due to focus limitations. Same is true in Sony - I don't trust manufacturer claims, and static focus tests are no where near the same thing as testing tracking against moving subjects. Unfortunately no one does standardized tests for sports. So you're at the mercy of sports photographers actually using the gear in the field. In Canon land, the 50D and T1i are solid sports cameras.
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Old Nov 10, 2009, 7:17 PM   #3
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I used a KM5D, the 6MP predecessor of the A100, for quite a while, using my Beercan for outdoor equastrian sports, and a Tamron 17-50/2.8 and Minolta 50/1.7 for indoor family stuff, but I could never shoot the indoor sports I really wanted. Sony had the 85mm f/1.4 that might have worked, but it just cost too much. When my KM5D bit the dust, I could have gotten an A700 and kept my lenses, but I still wouldn't have been able to shoot the indoor sports.

I bought a Nikon D90 with an 85/1.8 and have been very pleased. I sold all my A-Mount gear and have been building up my Nikon kit ever since.

Indoor sports with a Sony is always going to be a problem unless you've got deep pockets or until Sony releases a reasonably priced large aperture medium telephoto lens, which isn't likely to happen any time soon. The A500/A550 might be up to it, but it might not. Go with something you know will work for what you want to do.
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Old Nov 10, 2009, 10:42 PM   #4
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Default Sony Glass is Expensive

You bring up a good point on the glass. I still like the idea of in body image stabilization as I've had a lot of low light portrait type pics that have really sharpened up with the a100.

I haven't really analyzed how much the Nikon VR glass compares to the Sony good glass. If it's a wash, then investing in the Canon or Nikon glass really isn't going to be any different than the Sony/Minolta. Either way I'm looking at a new body and I could possibly be selling the Sony/Minolta gear. It's funny to think that my a100 is an "old" DSLR. That would be my hold up on the A700. It's a quality camera already getting older and can I trust Sony to continue to close the high iso and AF gap with Nikon and Canon? I don't want to get into an "expensive" system and watch my options for reasonable priced lenses shrink.
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Old Nov 11, 2009, 4:50 AM   #5
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Sony has sensor shift image stabilization, which stabilizes all those great old Minolta lenses. But the lenses for what you want to do are expensive.

Nikon's D90 camera body plus 85/1.8 lens cost less than Sony's 85/1.4 alone!

I had been very pleased with my Tamron 17-50/2.8, for which I paid about $450. While Canon and Nikon have some very good stabilized large aperture standard zoom lenses, they're also very exepnsive. But Tamron has a stabilized 17-50/2.8, which, while more expensive than the non-stabilized one, is less expensive than the OEM options, and Sigma has a stabilized 18-50/2.8-4.5 that's almost cheap! Nobody has done any objective tests on them yet, but initial indications are that they're pretty good.
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Old Nov 11, 2009, 12:41 PM   #6
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From user reports I've seen, the new Sony A500/A550 models are very nice. I saw one A700 user report that his A700 is practically in cold storage since getting one of the new models since he's having loads of fun with it, and they appear to have very fast and very accurate Autofocus (your older A100 would seem very slow in comparison, since even Sony's entry level model are going to be dramatically faster than your older A100).

For indoor sports, I'd consider the Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 EX DC HSM II. It seems to be a good choice for that purpose. With usable ISO 3200 and higher ISO speeds with the newer models, you can have the flexibility of a zoom lens (and the fast AF of Sigma's HSM) for less than a prime would cost (and a prime would limit your coverage more than a zoom).

I'm using a Minolta 100mm f/2 AF for lower light use with my A700. But, I'm actually considering selling a few primes and going zooms instead, thanks to better image quality at higher ISO speeds with newer models. If you really need a prime, I'd probably look at a used Minolta 85mm f/1.4 AF lens (approx. $800 on the used market).

I have also seen a couple of Canon users that seem relatively impressed with the newer Sony models. Here are some A500 photos from photographer that usually shoots with a Canon EOS 1D Mark II (he's been trying out the Sony models using a Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 SSM).

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sportsphotorob/
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