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Old Aug 11, 2010, 1:19 PM   #11
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NHL (one of our senior members) has the A900 along with the Carl Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8. So, perhaps he'll chime in with his thoughts if he sees this thread.

NHL shoots with Canon, Nikon and Sony dSLR systems.

The CZ 24-70mm is a really nice lens. But, it's not cheap. If you look at the CZ lenses available in Sony/Minolta mount, it's listed at $1599 right now.

Sony did have some bundles with the A900 including that lens a while back, where you could get a better price on the CZ 24-70mm f/2.8 with the camera body. But the only A850 and A900 bundles I see right this minute are with the 28-75mm f/2.8 instead (a non CZ lens that's very similar to the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8).
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Old Aug 12, 2010, 9:28 AM   #12
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OK!!!! I am ready to make a decision. Well, actually I've narrowed it down to 2 options:

Option A: Sony a550 with Sony/Zeiss SAL 1680z ($1450)

Option B: Sony a850 with Sony/Zeiss 24-70 ($3600)

Either is financially feasable. But my concern is the "bang for the buck"!!
Is the extra "bang" of option B worth the extra bucks??? I really need some advice on this decision. I do not want to make a mistake. I just DO NOT want to go with option A, then wish I had forked out the extra $$$ 6-8 months down the road. From the feedback I have received and the reviews I have read, Option B is the "real deal"!!! I'm planning to make my decision today..............HELP!!!!!!!!
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Old Aug 12, 2010, 10:49 AM   #13
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There are pros and cons to any solution. The A550 would have some advantages in the performance area (faster frame rate, higher available ISO speeds, some interesting feaures like Auto HDR, built in flash, tilting LCD with Live View).

The A850 has better dynamic range, a higher resolution sensor allowing for larger print sizes, much better viewfinder, build quality, weather sealing and more. Note that you would not have a built in flash with the A850, and you would not have the fast Autofocus Live View feature of the A550 (so, keep that in mind if you are accustomed to framing with an LCD). But the optical viewfinder on the A850 is very good (much better than you'll find on cameras with an APS-C size sensor).

I've spent some time with both cameras, and each has strengths and weaknesses. If your primary concern is landscape photography, the A850 would be very hard to beat.

The image quality from the A850 is superb for that type of shooting, and it's going to have much better build quality compared to the entry level models, as well as a much nicer viewfinder. You're getting a pro grade camera with the A850 or A900, versus a consumer grade camera with the A550 (not that it's bad or anything, it's just that the A850 and A900 are in a different class in areas like build quality). The Sony/Carl Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8 SSM is also superb from all tests I've seen, although I have not personally used one. The Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 AF-S (which I have used with a D3 before) is close, followed by the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 HSM, followed by the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L. IOW, the Sony/CZ lens is "best in class".

I would make sure you're comfortable with the kit's size and weight if you go that route, as you'll be getting a larger and heavier kit compared to one with a lens that's not as bright (as you'll have f/2.8 available throughout the focal range, in a lens size designed for a full frame camera model). Of course, the larger camera body and great ergonomics with a larger grip surface make a kit like that easier to handle.

If you decide to go that route, Sony does have some specials right now where you can get $100 off the HVL-F42AM flash when you buy a dSLR. So, you may want to consider that option so you'll have a flash to use with it when you're shooting something other than landscapes (where you may want fill flash for portraits outdoors, need a flash for indoor photos, etc.). Most dealers have the same deal ($100 off the HVL-F42AM if you purchase one with a dSLR body). Sony also offers a smaller flash (HVL-F20AM) that some users like (since again, the A850 and A900 do not have a built in flash). But, the HVL-F42AM is a better bet to get more power for bouncing, both tilt and swivel, and support for High Speed Sync. Some users have both (since the smaller HVL-F20AM can be used to wirelessly trigger the HVL-F42AM or HVL-F58AM to allow off camera flash use for more interesting lighting setups).
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Old Aug 12, 2010, 10:55 AM   #14
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The 24MP image sensor is quite popular with nature, landscape, and fashion photographers. And while the A850 doesn't have the articulating screen and 'Live View' like the A550, it does have the 'Intelligent Preview' and 'Mirror Lock-up' features that the A550 doesn't have.

For what you want to do, if you can handle the extra cost, I think the A850 is the better choice.
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Old Aug 12, 2010, 7:13 PM   #15
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And the winner is..............after much debate, I have (finally) decided to go with the A550 and Sony/Zeiss 1680 lens. No doubt that he A850/2470 combo would have been the "cheese" but, as I had mentioned, I'm a big fan of the "bang for the buck" theory. I can grab the 550/1680 (GOTTA HAVE THAT ZEISS GLASS....no matter what) combo for $1270, while the 850/2470 kit would be around $3400, plus I'd need to get a flash unit for my wife's indoor drapery jobs. As Mike mentioned, the 550/1680 is a BIG step up from my DSC V-1 which I have been pretty much satisfied with up to now. No reason to think the less expensive option would not meet or exceed my wants, needs and expectations. You folks have been so much help, I can't thank you enough!!! (Special thanks to Jim, Mike and Tom!!!) If I can "support" your great site by clicking on a link when I do the actual purchase, just let me know and I would be glad to do that!!! Jim V
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Old Aug 12, 2010, 9:34 PM   #16
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That sounds like a pretty smart choice. IMO, APC-C size sensors will continue to improve as time passes. So, like any other type of technology oriented product (computers, etc.), you'll tend to get better bang for the buck as time passes and advancements are made in camera bodies.

Yet, your lenses will be more of an investment. So, you could always upgrade the body later if you see any limtations with your current body, and take your lenses with you, given the same sensor size.

The A550 is a pretty decent camera, and has superb dynamic range, combined with lots of nice features (Auto HDR, tilting LCD with Live View, fast Autofocus, frame rate, great dynamic range, and more).

It would take a trained eye to see any difference in image Quality between those bodies, except at a very large print sizes. So, if you want great bang for the buck, the A550 is a really good choice right now, allowing you to invest more in glass, upgrading the body later should you run into any limitations

In the current Sony lineup, the A660 is probably the "sweet spot" if you want the best price/performance ratio. Personally, I liked the camera when I hqd a chance to use one for a while, so I think it's a really good choice.
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Old Aug 12, 2010, 10:11 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimC View Post
...In the current Sony lineup, the A660 is probably...
Did you have a finger on the wrong row? Do you mean A330?
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Old Aug 12, 2010, 10:16 PM   #18
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Yes, my fingers were on the wrong row. No, i did not mean the A330. I meant the A550.

I'm out of town and trying to type on a tiny Eee PC 900 keyboard right now. I bought it a couple of years back, thinking the small size/weight was neat, until I started trying to use it, realizing how tiny the keyboard really is. Please remind me not to buy a netbook with a keyboard this small again. :-)
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Old Aug 13, 2010, 12:07 PM   #19
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Good luck with your new gear. That Sony/Zeiss 16-80 is a very nice lens.
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Old Aug 14, 2010, 5:17 PM   #20
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One more quick question. One of the main reasons I started getting the "itch" for a new camera was that my old photo printer "tanked", so my wife's "business" bought us a Canon Pixma 9000 Mark II printer (I sure hope that was a good choice) and it has the capability of up to like 13" x 19" prints. NOW...let me re-frame the whole decision dilemma. Would the a550 and its megapixels be adequate for a 13 x 19 print. If not.......I'll have to seriously re-consider the 850/24/70 combo!!!
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