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Old Sep 22, 2011, 10:19 PM   #1
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Default Which Sony DSLR?

After saving money for the last 18 months, Im finally ready to purchase my first DSLR. I work for a Sony dist. and have access to the Sony Alpha line and was wanting some feedback on which model to get. I will be shooting standard family photos and some sports. Im looking at the A580 or A65. I plan on getting the body only and a 35mm or 50mm 1.8 lens to start with a 70-200 f2.8 as soon as I can afford one. My budget is around $1200. Im open to any suggestions. Thanks.
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Old Sep 23, 2011, 6:46 AM   #2
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The A65 is a significant step up from the A580. The A55 is closer to the A580 than the A65 is.

They are all excellent cameras. The A580 is slightly larger and heavier than the others, in case that matters. The A580 is $100 cheaper (for us mere mortals, that is) which is $100 you could put toward lenses, and get where you want to go sooner.

Large aperture primes are nice, but you may find them limiting when shooting "standard family photos". The Sony kit lens only adds $100 to the cost (again, for us mere mortals), it would add a lot of flexibility to your shooting, and it wouldn't set you back very much in your other goals.

A 70-200/2.8 lens is very good for shooting indoor sports, but it's not worth very much for outdoor sports. You might prefer the Sony 70-300 'G' or 70-400 'G' for baseball, football, soccer, etc.
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Old Sep 23, 2011, 2:24 PM   #3
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Which has the better AF system for shooting ice hockey? A65 or A580? Can the AF on the A580 handle it?
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Old Sep 23, 2011, 2:36 PM   #4
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What hurts the A-55 is the high iso performance - about 2/3 stops worse than the 580 because of the translucent mirror. If it were outdoor, not a problem. But for ice hockey you're looking at ISO 3200-6400 if you're using a 70-200 2.8. The focus performance is probably comparable to the other mid-entry level DSLRs from other systems. But don't expect the performance of the pricier D7000 / 60D type cameras. So, of the two, the edge probably goes to the 580.
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Old Sep 23, 2011, 2:57 PM   #5
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It's hard to tell, since the A65 hasn't actually hit the streets yet. The AF system in the A65 is about the same as the one in the A55, which is comparable to the one in the A580, so I suspect there won't be a lot of difference. If ice hockey is what you want to do, the A77 is probably a much better choice, if you can swing it.

But between the two, I agree with JohnG that the A580 is probably a better choice, but not by much.
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Old Sep 24, 2011, 12:02 PM   #6
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For $1200 (especially if you work for a distributor and are getting a discount), you could probably get the A65 with the 18-55mm kit lens ($999 pre-order) *and* the Sony 35mm f/2.8 ($199 now at most vendors) to go with it.

What kind of sports?

As a short term compromise solution for some indoor sports (since you're not going to be able to afford a nicer 70-200mm f/2.8 right now with your $1200 budget), with a lens that could do "double duty" as a portrait lens for head and shoulders type work, you may want to consider getting a Sony A65 with 18-55mm kit lens ($999 retail) + a Sony 85mm f/2.8 SAM AF lens ($249 retail) for $1249 total before any distributor discount you'd get.

That kind of kit would probably give you more flexibility compared to a kit with a single prime and no zoom lens to use. Then use it for a while and decide what other lenses may fit your longer term needs better and save up for them, after you have a chance to explore where those lenses may or may not be holding you back.

The 18-55mm kit lens only adds $100 to the body only price, and that would give you a lens to use in conditions where you may not be able to back up enough to get what you want into the frame using a single prime like the 35mm you're considering. The 85mm could also come in handy when you don't want to attract as much attention as a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens would have for plays, bands, etc., since it's a much smaller and lighter lens compared to that kind of zoom.

The 18-55mm kit lens would give you the roughly same angle of view you'd get using a 27-83mm lens on a 35mm camera; whereas the Sony 35mm f/2.8 would give you about the same angle of view you'd have using a 53mm lens on a 35mm camera; and the Sony 85mm f/2.8 would give you about the same angle of view you'd have using a 128mm lens on a 35mm camera (you need to multiply the focal length by 1.5x to see how angle of view compares, since the sensor in those dSLR models is smaller than 35mm film).
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Old Sep 24, 2011, 1:14 PM   #7
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I play ice hockey as its by far my most favorite sport to play and shoot. My biggest question from reading blogs on the A65/A77 is losing a few stops in low light situations. Is this a major concern? The other camera I've considered is the Nikon D7000. Its also within my budget but the ability to have interest free payments for 6 months along with the small discount on cost is whats leading me to the Sony brand right now. Thanks for all the help, the kit lens with the 85mm prime sounds great.
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Old Sep 24, 2011, 2:13 PM   #8
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Yes, the high iso performance is an issue. If you can swing the Nikon, the nikon system as a whole is a better sports shooting solution. The d7000 is a better, PROVEN performer for sports shooting.
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Old Sep 24, 2011, 2:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
My biggest question from reading blogs on the A65/A77 is losing a few stops in low light situations.
It's not losing a "few stops of light". From RAW tests I've seen, light loss through the translucent mirror is somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 stop when comparing a model like the A55 to the A580 (both using the same 16MP sensor). See this comparison (and note that each 5 points on the sensor quality scale is equal to 1/3 stop). For noise comparison purposes, you're looking at less than 4/10s of a stop difference when looking at Signal to Noise Ratio (you'd multiply the rating by 1.33 to see what 1/3 stop better performance would be).

http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Cameras/Compare-Camera-Sensors/Compare-cameras-side-by-side/%28appareil1%29/734|0/%28brand%29/Sony/%28appareil2%29/675|0/%28brand2%29/Sony/%28appareil3%29/685|0/%28brand3%29/Sony

Also, those types of tests do not take the resolution difference of the sensor into consideration so that you can tell things like what retained detail is going to be at a given print/viewing size. Another problem with those types of tests is that there is going to be some level of NR going on at the A/D level in the sensor, and that kind of thing appears to be a bit tweakable by the manufacturer with Sony sensors. So, it can skew test results.

You can have a lower signal to noise ratio with less detail compared to a model with a higher s/n ratio. Given the same manufacturer (Sony), they can be useful when comparing similar models for how RAW output looks. But, given the resolution difference with the new 24MP Sensor, I sure wouldn't use it to see how IQ compares with a lower resolution model. Another issue is that you'd have a very flat looking image trying to squeeze the amount of DR those tests show. So, take some of that kind of thing with a grain of salt.

I just made another post about that earlier. So, I'll repeat it in this thread.

What I've noticed by comparing samples in controlled conditions using the comparometer at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IMCOMP/COMPS01.HTM is that if you look at ISO 6400 images (standard test charts in daylight lighting and mannequin in tungsten lighting), at the same viewing sizes (for example, downsized so that they're the same size as your display), the A77 images appear to have more detail, sharpness, saturation and contrast (perhaps even a bit too much contrast for my tastes with default settings, but you could set it lower), with no more noticeable noise compared to the A580 images at the same viewing size, even though the A580 images may appear to be very slightly better at 100% size. Check them at the sizes you plan to use (or downsize the 24MP images to the same size as the other cameras you're comparing it to). Let your own eyes be the judge.

I haven't tried printing them yet to compare them. But, I suspect the same thing will be true (the new 24MP Sensor is going to beat models like the A580 at any viewing/printing size you'd expect to use, once other parameters like contrast, sharpness and saturation are equalized between them).

Now, the A77 firmware in those samples is pre-release (for example, Imaging-Resource is using version 0.58 and I don't know what version DxOMark is using for their tests from RAW files).

So, Sony may have tweaked it since then (lowering the contrast, saturation and sharpness defaults some from those images, and perhaps tweaking the sensor output to RAW some for the default sensitivity curve and NR, as newer Sony sensors appear to be somewhat tunable for RAW output, as we've seen from previous firmware updates with NR changes impacting output)

I haven't done the same thing with RAW files yet (converted files from both cameras and compared them). But, I suspect that if you're looking at equivalent viewing and print sizes that you'd be likely to use (versus trying to compare the output at 100% size, which isn't a great way to compare them given the resolution difference), the A77 IQ is going to top the A580, despite the light loss through the translucent mirror.

The A65 is using the same new 24MP CMOS Sensor design as the A77, so I'd expect to see the same kind of thing with it. Of course, it's not shipping yet. So, we'll have to wait until it is (with production firmware) before we can make better judgments about Image Quality.

But, given the additional benefits you'd have with the A65 (like the AF Sensors being "on target" all the time, since you wouldn't have the "mirror blackout" problem associated with a traditional dSLR design, plus I'd expect that Sony has made some algorithm improvements for tracking in newer models, as I've seen them state in press releases), I'd probably lean towards the A65 if choosing between the A580 and A65. But, if choosing between the A580 and A55, I might lean towards the A580.

As for Ice Hockey, JohnG can probably give you more insight as to what lenses work best. A 70-200mm f/2.8 with a camera capable of usable ISO speeds of ISO 3200 to 6400 is probably a good idea if lighting is good enough.

If using something different, access and the percentage of keepers you get are going to be issues. You can't expect a single focal length to cover everything, since AF accuracy tends to diminish with distance to subject if you're not filling the frame with your subject. Detail is also going to diminish with much cropping at higher ISO speeds, even if your Autofocus is spot on.

Now, that's not to say you can't get some keepers using a prime *if* you can get close enough to the action and don't mind only covering a small portion of it. Here's an article showing a few pics using 50mm, 85mm and 135mm primes with a Sony A500 with some discussion about focal lengths for Hockey. But, this is a pro sports photographer sponsored by Sony doing the shooting, and he no doubt has great access, plus the pro rinks he's shooting in are likely to have better lighting than you may have.

http://thepicturedesk.blogspot.com/2...s-at-game.html

Now, he does seem to like the Carl Zeiss/Sony 135mm f/1.8, as I see multiple articles with multiple camera models shooting hockey with it. Here's one of them with some shots with the A500 (and the newer A580, A55, and A65 would have better Autofocus).

http://thepicturedesk.blogspot.com/2...zeiss-135.html

Of course, it's a very pricey lens. ;-)
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