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Old Aug 10, 2010, 5:31 PM   #1
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Default Sony/Zeiss or WHAT??

I have decided to step up to a DSLR after using my DSC V-1 for about 7.5 years. This is very traumatic, because I get such GREAT results with that camera, which has a Carl Zeiss (Sony-Zeiss or whatever) lens. The kit I am considering as replacement (at the moment) is a Sony A550 with a Sony/Zeiss SAL 16-80z lens. What I enjoy photographing the most is outdoor landscapes, with a few cityscapes thrown in. I am also the "official" photographer for my wife's custom drapery business and the occasional family snapshot. Okay...I do a little bit of everything.......but I enjoy outdoor landscapes the most. Can anyone share some knowledge or experience that might make my decision a little easier. I have spent hours doing "research" and I'm only getting more confused. I am more open to an alternate camera brand, as I am somewhat convinced that the Zeiss glass is what makes my current pics so good. Is there another lens "brand" that is as good (or better than) the Zeiss?? I'd like to stay under $2G if possible. PLEASE....I need help before I end up in the loony bin. BTW we are going to the Pacific Northwest in about 6-7 weeks and I really want to be fully "locked and loaded" for that photo op!!!
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Old Aug 10, 2010, 5:53 PM   #2
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For landscapes and cityscapes, the Sony does have a nice feature called Auto HDR. It can take two photos, with one exposed for the highlights and the other exposed for the shadows, then merge them in camera to give you better dynamic range than you'd get with a single image. It will also compensate for minor differences in framing (automatically aligning the two images in camera).

Also note that the A550 has the best dynamic range out of any dSLR with an APS-C size sensor that I've seen tests for if you're shooting JPEG, even without using Auto HDR (meaning you can capture a greater range of bright to dark without problems like clipped highlights). Shooting raw, you can probably top it's DR with some other models (although not by a lot, and you may end up with "flatter" images if you tried to stretch DR too much).

I've spent some time using the A550, and I liked the camera. So, I think it's a pretty good choice. But, I normally shoot with a Sony A700, so I'd probably lean towards a Sony model anyway. ;-)

As for the CZ 16-80mm... given the very small price difference between the A550 body and a kit that includes the 18-55mm kit lens, I'd get the kit with the 18-55mm for starters. Then use it for a while before deciding if you want or need the much more expensive lens (or if a different lens may suit your needs better). For example, checking cart prices at http://www.bhphotovideo.com , I'm only seeing a price difference of around $21 for a kit with a lens versus a camera body only. ;-)

Also note that Sony will likely be announcing new dSLR models and lenses leading into next month's Photokina. So, it may be worth waiting to see what else they've got in mind if you're not in a huge hurry. Of course, early adopters of new models usually pay a premium.
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Old Aug 10, 2010, 6:08 PM   #3
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I stepped up from a Sony DSC-S75 to a Minolta 5D about 5 or so years ago. I had no idea that Sony would buy them out at the time.

I since have used a Sony A-700 and just recently acquired a Sony A-550.

The A-550 is a big step up from your DSC V-1 with even a kit lens it would be better then what your using now, and the Zeiss 16-80 is an exceptional lens with a great range. I'm sure that you would be happy with that combination.

Not to add more confusion to your choices, but I would consider a Sony A850 or 900 also. Full frame would be preferable for landscape, cityscape and your wife's drapery business, plus you could use older minolta lenses designed for their film SLRs and even some of their DSLRs.

But the A-550 and Zeiss 16-80 should be great for what you intend to shoot.

The higher performance Sony A-700 replacement should be released in the near future but I wouldn't bet on it being released before 6-7 weeks.

Good luck with your choice, let us know what you decide on.

There's a good Sony DSLR forum here for info.
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Old Aug 10, 2010, 7:06 PM   #4
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Given the small price difference betwenn an A550 with the kit lens and without it, I agree that getting it is a good idea. But the Sony/Zeiss 16-80 is the best lens of its kind. And just in case, for about half the price, the Sigma 17-70/2.8-4.5 is almost as good.
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Old Aug 10, 2010, 7:51 PM   #5
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My thought is that the kit lens is really not bad, especially stopped down for subjects like landscapes, and that would give the OP a lens to use for a while until we see if Sony is going to release any updated lenses going into Photokina. If so, then they may have an even better alternative, perhaps with SSM or something similar, since a different focus mechanism would make sense for use with video (and we already know that Sony plans on releasing dSLR models capable of video recording, based on previous announcements). If not (no updated 16-80mm or similar), then then OP could always buy the current model Sony/CZ 16-80mm later.
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Old Aug 10, 2010, 7:59 PM   #6
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I think Sony has already made it's lens announcements, including the Sony/Zeiss Distagon 24mm f/2 SSM, but no zooms, and nothing else from Zeiss.
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Old Aug 10, 2010, 8:05 PM   #7
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Manufacturers often play their cards "close to the vest" for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they announce specific lenses to protect market share when they don't already have existing lenses in a given niche, or to lure customers from other manufacturers. But, sometimes they don't announce gear in advance when they already have similar products to protect sales of existing stock (since if buyers know about a new model before it's ready, that can hurt sales of existing models). I would not assume that the lenses already announced is all you'll see from Sony this year.
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Old Aug 11, 2010, 8:03 AM   #8
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Okay, Okay.......now you've tweaked my interest in the Sony A850 + A900!! What would be the corresponding Zeiss (equivalent to SAL 1860Z) lens for those full frame models??? Hey, I've never been one to go halfway!!! Thanks for your help.
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Old Aug 11, 2010, 9:20 AM   #9
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The Sony/Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8 and Sony 28-75/2.8. The zoom range of the Sony/Zeiss 16-80 is rare for an APS-C dSLR, and especially so for a 'Full Frame' dSLR. You gain some by going 'FF', but you give up some too.
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Old Aug 11, 2010, 11:57 AM   #10
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For indoor wide angle shots such as drapery or landscape and cityscape a Sony 850 / 900 and the Ziess 16-35 f/2.8 -
http://www.dyxum.com/lenses/Carl-Zei...M_lens480.html

and the Ziess 24-70 f/2.8-
http://www.dyxum.com/lenses/Carl-Zei...M_lens438.html

would be going all the way.

To help make your decision you could rent them for a try out and see if they suite your needs before spending a lot of $$$$.

Here's a place to rent them from- http://www.alphalensrental.com/index.php

There's no better camera/lens then those combinations.
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