DPreview's Richard Butler "apologizes" and corrects Sony A350 review

Discussion in 'Sony' started by Focus, Jun 11, 2008.

  1. Focus

    Focus Guest

    After I pointed out, that another important missing feature in the review of
    the Sony A350 was the built-in wireless flash function, he changed it and
    added it with the "pros".

    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1037&thread=28245139

    (I'm still known there as Sosumi instead of Focus)

    Now a few more adjustments, like how big is a nose if you can't get your eye
    close enough to the OVF?
    Why do A350 owners give it an average 4.55 and 450D owners an average 4.11?

    AND a few questions and remarks:

    Pros:
    »Good detail at lowest sensitivities, competitive with best in class
    »Reliable metering
    »JPEG output makes good use of the sensor's dynamic range
    »Most seamless live view system of current DSLRs
    »Probably the easiest DSLR to use for a compact camera user
    »Super SteadyShot helps keep snaps sharp
    »External ISO button
    »Above-average ergonomics for its class
    »Well-featured and usable software included
    »Very good battery life
    »Wireless flash capability
    »Solid-feeling construction

    So this seems like one very good, outstanding camera, right?

    Cons:
    »Soft JPEGs with poor low-contrast detail
    But you just said in Pros:
    "Good detail at lowest sensitivities, competitive with best in class"
    Speak English! What is it?

    »Smallest viewfinder to appear on an APS-C DSLR
    True, but also easy to change with, for example, a Nikon magnifier for 23
    euro.
    Also, the only DSLR that has a very workable alternative: the LV system.

    »Screen obstructs use of viewfinder
    Que? Last time I checked it was still under the viewfinder. And unless you
    have a nose that will prevent you from using *any* camera with an OVF, it's
    just as good as the next camera.

    »Image quality suffers above ISO 400 (from both noise and excessive noise
    reduction)
    Shoot in RAW, turn of all NR and you don't have a problem.

    »Long exposure noise reduction turns hot pixels black
    No problem encountered with a 10 second night exposure.
    »Slower and less responsive than its contemporaries
    Slower at what??? Baking a cake? Mopping the floor?

    »Poor continuous shooting rate
    2.5 versus 3.5 with the 450D. Both are not winning any speed tests.

    »Most convenient button on body given least useful function
    O, that's a can of worms you just opened!
    So how "useful" do you consider the "direct print" button on the Canons???


    Now lets compare the different way of final "approach" to both camera's:
    A350:
    "The biggest reservations we have about this camera, though, relate to its
    image quality. On paper and when shooting resolution charts, the A350 is an
    impressive performer but that prowess doesn't always hold up when you step
    outside the studio. The default JPEG output from the A350 is distinctly soft
    (and this is exacerbated when coupled with the rather below-par 18-70 kit
    lens), though detail is being recorded and can be recovered if you're
    willing to shoot in RAW and post-process. We also see the traditional
    trade-off between tightly-packed pixels and high-sensitivity performance,
    with the sensor producing a lot of noise and smearing it away to an extent
    we're not used to seeing in cameras of this type.

    It's certainly a competitively-priced, well-specified camera and one that
    feels better-constructed than many of its rivals. It's also one that
    smoothes down the learning curve while still offering a huge step up in
    all-round performance compared to compact cameras - and one that will
    satisfy a lot of buyers. Unfortunately, it can't quite compete with the
    all-round performance the best modern DSLRs are capable of.* Had the image
    quality been of the same standard as the leaders in its class,* that would
    have been enough to award it our highest rating. As it stands, it's a camera
    we feel too **equivocal about to award more than a 'Recommended.'"

    *Excuse me, but isn't that exactly what you wrote it WAS? Here a melancholy
    trip down memory lane:
    "Pros:
    »Good detail at lowest sensitivities, competitive with best in class"
    Now, that really could confuse people, to say the least.

    **equivocal?
    1.allowing the possibility of several different meanings, as a word or
    phrase, esp. with intent to deceive or misguide; susceptible of double
    interpretation; deliberately ambiguous: an equivocal answer.
    2.of doubtful nature or character; questionable; dubious; suspicious: aliens
    of equivocal loyalty.
    3.of uncertain significance; not determined: an equivocal attitude.

    if there's anything "equivocal" it's the text in this review...

    450D cons (left the heavenly praised Pros at the site:
    »Average automatic white balance performance, still very poor under
    incandescent light
    »Limited exposure compensation range (+/- 2.0 EV)
    »Contrast detect AF so slow it's useless for most types of photography
    Much worse then, compared to the superfast LV of the A350?

    »Metering has tendency to overexpose in very bright, contrasty conditions
    Hm, you mean against the A350? , I quote:
    "»Reliable metering"

    »Default JPEG output may be a little 'over processed' for some tastes (raw
    far more flexible)
    So really not much better then the A350?

    »Flash must be up for AF assist lamp (although AF is good even in low light)
    »Automatic AF point selection unpredictable (use center AF, it's safer)
    So not as good as even a P&S?

    »Occasional total focus failures (in our case only 5 or 6 shots in almost
    2000)
    Not much, but if you happen to loose your best shot... I'd smash it against
    a solid brick wall...

    »New Auto Lighting Optimizer doesn't really seem to do anything
    Do you mean: as opposed to the DRO of the Sony that *does* work?

    »No mass storage USB support
    Again: Sony has.

    »A little pricey
    For a toy: no. For a serious photographer: yes.

    NOW FOR THE KILL! Read this with attention:
    Last part of the conclusion Canon 450D:
    "Perhaps the biggest challenge facing Canon at the sales counter is that the
    EOS 450D costs too much to compete with the real entry-level DSLRs and and -
    on paper at least - cameras *such as the Sony Alpha 350 that offer a lot
    more bang for your buck.* But compared to many of its competitors the EOS
    450D just feels like a more 'sorted' camera; in the half decade since the
    original 'Rebel' the line has matured to the point where we have to dig
    pretty deep to find anything serious to complain about.

    Canon may no longer be the automatic choice for the entry-level SLR user,
    and I possibly wouldn't recommend it over a Nikon D60 or Olympus E-420 for
    absolute beginners or anyone wanting 'point and shoot' access to well
    optimized JPEG output. But if you want to move to the next level of image
    quality and performance, and are prepared to** take control of parameters
    (and ideally shoot raw) to get the best possible results,** the EOS 450D is
    an easy recommendation."

    *So here the Sony gives more bang for the buck??? Why didn't it get a High
    recommendation then?

    **So why didn't you write with the same "courtesy" in favor of the Sony?
    After this sounds a lot worse:

    "The default JPEG output from the A350 is distinctly soft (and this is
    exacerbated when coupled with the rather below-par 18-70 kit lens), though
    detail is being recorded and can be recovered if you're willing to shoot in
    RAW and post-process."

    Review conclusion:

    The whole story is like a Swiss cheese: some parts are rather nice if it's
    your taste, but it's full of very big holes and gaps.

    Contradiction is no strange word in the used vocabulary of DPreview. Any
    review should be free of biased parts and kept from using "expensive" words,
    specially if they're out of place or even totally wrong.

    All things considered and compared to a few random chosen competitive review
    sites, my recommendation would be, to take the whole thing with an huge
    shovel of salt. Until DPreview wakes up and smells the coffee, it's better
    to compare with a few, less biased competitors, like:

    http://www.trustedreviews.com/digital-cameras/review/2008/06/10/Sony-Alpha-A350-/p1

    http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/AA350/AA350A.HTM

    http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Sony_Alpha_DSLR_A350/index.shtml

    http://www.alphamountworld.com/reviews/sony-a350-review?page=0,0

    http://www.letsgodigital.org/en/camera/review/163/page_1.html

    http://www.photoreview.com.au/reviews/digitalslr/sony-dslra350.aspx

    http://www.photographybay.com/2008/05/11/sony-a350-review/

    (I would have also added Popphoto, but they have annoying advertisement that
    doesn't go away)
     
    Focus, Jun 11, 2008
    #1
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  2. Focus

    OldBoy Guest

    [snip]

    It still has a low IQ
     
    OldBoy, Jun 11, 2008
    #2
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  3. Focus

    Dica Photo Guest

    GET A LIFE..........................
     
    Dica Photo, Jun 11, 2008
    #3

  4. So do the people who buy it ;)
     
    Not mad, but nearly..., Jun 11, 2008
    #4
  5. Focus

    newsmb Guest

    The only low IQs here belong to the people who spend any amount of
    time worrying about such things.
     
    newsmb, Jun 11, 2008
    #5
  6. And some other names too.
     
    van de Meppelink, Jun 11, 2008
    #6
  7. Focus

    Focus Guest

    How admirable of you to try to keep "your" Canon brand up.

    Look at what DPR writes at the JPEG comparison between the two.

    Then go to the RAW comparison and download both the A350 and the 450D file.

    Now enlarge and look closely: where, anywhere, in the picture do you see the
    Canon is better???

    You gotta be kidding me....

    7 independent sites listed who think different.
    Do you really think DPR is the holy grail or something?
     
    Focus, Jun 11, 2008
    #7
  8. Focus

    OldBoy Guest

    I'm not branded, however I have a Nikon LF35 AF2

    [snip]
    No, there are other sources: me and my monitor.
     
    OldBoy, Jun 11, 2008
    #8
  9. Focus

    Focus Guest

    Either one or both need calibration ;-)
     
    Focus, Jun 11, 2008
    #9
  10. Focus

    Focus Guest

    Sadly the only sentence he knows in English without making a mistake...
    And he's deaf too, LOL!
     
    Focus, Jun 11, 2008
    #10

  11. I, for one, am not the slightest bit worried ;)

    I have an A700 which (thanks mainly to Bibble) produces some excellent
    results. What I can't really understand is why Sony have bothered to
    release three noisy downmarket cameras that have about as much appeal as
    chronic toothache.

    They are not going to sell many - and having the cheap 'n' nasty things
    hanging about only tarnishes the Sony image. Leave the bargain bin cams to
    the proles to fight over in-between scrabbling for reduced food at their
    local supermarket. The A700 should have been the lowest point at which Sony
    entered the game (after stopping the abysmal A100)

    I know the usual wail is that people can't always afford the 700 - well,
    tough, lot's of people can't afford a Landrover Discovery either - LR
    obviously decided that, rather than drag their cars downmarket, the plebs
    would just have to do without.

    Which is the strategy that Sony should adopt if they are ever to become an
    established DSLR player.
     
    Not mad, but nearly..., Jun 11, 2008
    #11
  12. Focus

    Focus Guest

    That's not a very good example: what do you call the Landrover Freelander?
    Not nearly as good as the Discovery, yet it's sold pretty well.
    I think it's safe to leave those decisions to Sony. They've only been in the
    market for 2 years and already are #3. Something Pentax, Olympus and Fuji
    can only drool and dream about.
    Columbia pictures is now Sony and they are the biggest stockholder of
    Tamron. So the future looks quite bright.

    I don't understand your problem with the A350, which I have, for one thing.
    It's a wonderful camera with excellent IQ and very reliable metering. If
    you'd know how to use the LV, it's even better then most, even more
    expensive DSLR's.
    The only thing that could be better, is the high ISO (which I hardly or
    never used, even with my D300) and the continues speed (which I used once
    with the D300 and then it took three different settings to change from
    normal to 3D!).
    I can assure you the IQ is nothing worse than the D300 and the metering is
    on par at least.
    Even if they ware priced the same, I'd still wouldn't exchange it for a
    A700...

    After all: high continues shooting is only necessary for people who don't
    know what they're doing, just like bracketing, as pointed out by one master
    photographer. High ISO you need when there is nothing to capture ;-)
     
    Focus, Jun 11, 2008
    #12

  13. Well, OK, I *was* trying to poke and prod, just a little ;)

    I do have the A700 and am genuinely pleased with it - at least, I became
    pleased after trying and buying Bibble Pro which has eliminated the Chroma
    noise which seems to be a real Sony trademark.

    I've yet to see all the 'burring' that is supposed to be an effect of the
    forced A700 NR, and post-Bibble I'm a happy camper.

    I've handled the A200 and it really did seems a cheaply made camera to me -
    mind you, that was in Asda who had it at the staggering price of £399! I
    understand that some UK vendors are now knocking it out for around the £250
    mark, so that makes a big difference to perceived value.

    I personally love high ISO and the A700 (with Bibble, of course) is well
    able to deliver nice shots up to 5000 (even 6400) although I usually stay
    around ISO 2500. I can honestly say that I have hardly used my external
    flash since buying it with the A700 earlier this year - with such good high
    ISO results it's proved to be largely redundant.

    To me (and this is just my opinion) the 350 has succumbed to 'gadget
    mania' - I don't find the idea of live view even remotely interesting, and
    it seems as if Sony have compromised the rest of the 350 solely to produce a
    camera with this month's 'must have' feature. What's next?, built in MP3's
    ?!

    In the end, none of it really matters - they will all be dated and
    superseded this time next year ;)
     
    Not mad, but nearly..., Jun 11, 2008
    #13
  14. Focus

    Focus Guest

    About LV I thought the same until I used it on the A350. With the D300 I
    hardly ever used it, because it was so clumsey. But this little guy works so
    well, I find myself using it at least, if not more, then the OVF.
    One reason is the life histogram feedback and the very good metering system.
    Yesterday I did some shots at sundown at some rock at the ocean. I just
    point the camera, move until the light is distributed the way I want. The I
    lock the light, frame and ready. I already know the shot is good.
    Besides that, it gives me shots that I can never do with another camera
    without breaking my back or legs ;-)
    Let's hope so!
     
    Focus, Jun 11, 2008
    #14
  15. Focus

    ransley Guest

    So why would I look ar RAW when Jpeg on the sony is weak, Im not
    shooting Raw, who does. Its weak on Jpeg, what people most often use.
     
    ransley, Jun 11, 2008
    #15
  16. Focus

    Lucas Guest

    Especially with entry level cameras.
    Users fussy enough about image quality to use raw are hardly going to
    want to consider an a350, given it's noisy low-performing sensor.
     
    Lucas, Jun 12, 2008
    #16
  17. Focus

    Lucas Guest

    Sure, but isn't the D300 LV sensor-fed? Combined with a high resolution
    LCD, isn't that a significant advantage for use on a tripod, rather than
    rely on a separate CCD image of the viewfinder, when the viewfinder
    itself isn't very good?
    You can do that with most point and shoot cameras.
     
    Lucas, Jun 12, 2008
    #17
  18. Focus

    Lucas Guest

    Exactly.
    But to be fair to Sony, they have a large enough range of models so that
    other more sensible choices are available.
    The a350 is the worst of two worlds. It features the pitfalls of P&S
    cameras, but doesn't avoid the pitfalls of dslrs either.
     
    Lucas, Jun 12, 2008
    #18
  19. Focus

    Alan Browne Guest

    Why leave the low end to Nikon and Canon? They too have some rather
    lean offerings at the lower dollar points, including the recent 1000D.

    Sony are fresh at this. Same old engineers (mainly) but new marketing.

    Takes a while to settle down.

    I picked up the A700 the other day. Was not particularly enthused with
    the feel or the controls.

    As the A900 won't be out on time for my trip to CA this summer, I
    wouldn't mind borrowing an A700, however. I'm still shooting the Maxxum 7D.
     
    Alan Browne, Jun 12, 2008
    #19
  20. From your point of view. However, having used another Sony with
    articulated LCD I've found it so surprisingly useful for the kind of
    photography I do that I now will not buy a general purpose digital
    camera without an articulated LCD, and the more articulated the
    better. Having to hold the camera up to your eye places quite a
    restriction on the points of view usable by a camera. It took quite a
    while for me to appreciate the possibilities and start exploiting
    them, but now that I have, I'm not going back!

    It looks to me as though Sony realise that some of their new features
    (or comibnations of features) are creating a new market as some people
    get to like them, and in their various models they're testing the size
    and shape of this market and how it's developing.

    You may be right that this particular camera is not one of their best
    efforts. I do think for example that placing the articulating LCD so
    that it has to be folded away before you can use the viewfinder is a
    definite disadvantage. Nevertheless I think the development of their
    digital camera model range over the years shows a developing
    philosophy and approach which I'm not alone in finding has some
    advantages over the conventional canonikal view of how to design a
    good camera. Of course it has disadvantages too. If Sony can continue
    developing the advantages and reducing the disadvantages they could
    in a few years end up with a winner.
     
    Chris Malcolm, Jun 12, 2008
    #20
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