Sony A100 - shortcomings

Discussion in 'Sony' started by Alan Browne, Jun 11, 2006.

  1. Alan Browne

    Alan Browne Guest

    While of course glad that the camera is in the birthing process and that
    it is somewhat up to date in sensor pixel count, I can't help but see
    what's missing from it: (Please correct any errors I may have made).

    -Dedicated shutter speed and aperture wheels (only
    has one wheel)
    -Dedicated exposure compensation and flash compensation wheels
    -Exp comp is still limited to two stops
    -no dedicated meter control switch
    -no dedicated ISO control button
    -no dedicated WB/Kelvin switch
    -no dedicated shutter button mode switch
    -reduction in AF modes (or buried the modes in menus)
    (I'm mainly a MF shooter, but ...)
    -Flash sync terminal
    -Flash sync is limited to 1/160 s (1/120 with A/S activated)
    -Shutter delay not spec'd, but probably as slow as the 7D/5D
    (Note, on Maxxum 7/9, shutter dealy is on the order of 50-60ms,
    whereas on the 7D it is an abysmal 150 - 200 ms making
    sports and action shooting esp. difficult).
    -fastest ISO is 1600 (no really big deal)

    -Some will note the lack of a really fast frame rate, but
    this, to me, would only matter to a very few shooters.
    -Composition Priority (TM)

    KUDOS: (in no particular order)
    -flash mount (Minolta)
    -Dust "shaker" a la Olympus (not sure if it is the same
    technology or something different.
    -Compact Flash as primary (not Memory stick)
    -Menus are basically the Minolta menus which are reasonably
    well designed.
    -DOF preview
    -VF Diopter control
    -40 segment spot meter. (14 was "fine enough", will
    40 be better?)
    -2.5" 230,000 pixel display (similar to the 7D 207k-pix)
    -Carl Zeiss lens designs to follow.
    85mm and 135mm sound delicious; 16-80 sounds suspicious.
    (probably fab'ed by Sony on CZ design)

    Uncertainties: I've seen one claim it's "plastic" and one claim it's
    plastic over a metal body frame.

    The lack of external controls reveals my worst nightmare: they've buried
    everything in menus. What made cameras like the Maxxum 9 and 7 great
    has been totally erased from the A100. I hope this is due to the use of
    the Maxxum 5 "template" they appear to have settled on and that it is
    not indicative of their future bodies.

    In summary it appears to me that the camera is engineered for a price
    point aimed at amateurs meant to increase sales volume and margins. IOW
    a pure business decision approach rather than a photography approach
    (which is what they're trying to push on the alpha website).

    Alan Browne, Jun 11, 2006
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  2. Alan Browne

    Mike Guest

    Eliminating mechanical buttons and switches saves a ton of money and eases
    manufacturing. Plastic molds much cheaper/easier.

    Mike, Jun 11, 2006
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  3. "Lightweight and durable magnesium alloy body" according to the review at
    Steve's Digicams.

    The A100 is just a somewhat modified Maxxum 5D. So I'd say it is a
    transitional model between Konica Minolta and Sony, and no reason to think
    it tells you anything about where Sony will go from here with their new SLR
    line, any more than you could have predicted the Maxxum 7 from the original
    7000 of two decades ago.

    I have a Maxxum 5D and I like it a lot -- partly because it lets me keep
    using my cupboardful of older Maxxum lenses (and flash units and other
    Maxxum accessories), partly because its camera-body Anti-Shake really works
    great with all those lenses, and partly because I just really like
    everything about the camera. So I think Sony's on the right track using this
    as the basis for their new line.

    I suspect they just want to establish Sony in the dSLR marketplace and
    decided that this was the best price point to do it at, rather than the more
    expensive Maxxum 7D. I would not be surprised to see another Sony model come
    along later, based on the 7D.

    Neil Harrington, Jun 11, 2006
  4. Alan Browne

    Alan Browne Guest

    Sure enough, but I would hope they would exceed the 7D and do a "9D".
    _that_ would be something. (I have the 7D and I'm not totally thrilled
    with it wrt to functionality).

    Alan Browne, Jun 11, 2006
  5. I agree with Alan that while this camera may be an excellent general
    consumer model, it does not satisfy the advanced amateur or professional
    photographer. The 10 MegaPixel CCD, CCD Cleaning, 40-segment metering and
    increased anti-shake range are all great features, but we have already
    been waiting a couple of years for a pro-level digital camera from
    Konica-Minolta and if Sony isn't quick to announce something like a 9D
    camera soon, I may have to jump ship. My short list of requirements are:

    - Rugged Metal Body
    - Dust/Water Seals Everywhere
    - External Controls like the 7D
    - Infrared Auto Focus Assist
    - 1/12,000 shutter speed & 1/300 x-sync ala. Maxxum 9
    - 100% Viewfinder
    - Continued Compatibility with CF Cards, Maxxum Flash & Flash Mount
    - Extended accessory and lens options

    So basically, take the existing state-of-the-art technology and stick it
    into a Maxxum 9 body and you have a winner in my book. The real strength
    of Minolta was that they combined some great engineering with the best
    ergonomic design in the industry. Sony is notorious for its inferior
    ergonomic design (sorry I bought that Sony-Ericsson Phone!) and I hope
    that they don't toss out what has made Minolta so great in the past. I'm
    willing to wait a bit longer to see what develops, but I'm not encouraged
    by this first announcement.

    I don't think Sony can win this battle if they don't quickly satisfy the
    existing customer base (which will be their best source of free advertising
    while also providing free external customer support for new users) while
    they try to expand into new market segments.
    Jeffery Small, Jun 11, 2006
  6. Alan Browne

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Makes sense to me. Why go after a true professional market dominated by
    Canon and Nikon, and somewhat low volume at that. Enthusiasts want the
    feeling of a professional product, but not true professional functions,
    nor true professional price points. That does not mean some professional
    would not use a Sony D-SLR, but I don't see many dumping Canon or Nikon
    to do so.

    Digital cameras are consumer electronics, with short product cycles,
    lifespan not much past the warranty, and largely sold on "features" and
    marketing speak. Sony could make a good profit at this, where Minolta
    and then KonicaMinolta largely "failed" in this market. Target consumer
    enthusiasts, update the products often, and hit a reasonable price range.

    Take a look at a printed brochure for the Canon 1Ds Mark II, or the
    Nikon D2X. Both barely use marketing speak, but do list information a
    professional might actually find useful. When someone is paying as much
    as these cameras cost, there is not much point in glorifying anything.
    These two cameras sell on capability and potential for profits, and like
    a Ferrari or Bentley, you won't find that many ads for them as for
    lesser gear.
    Gordon Moat, Jun 11, 2006
  7. Alan Browne

    Alan Browne Guest

    I've been preaching the same line for ever since DSLR's came on the
    market. Maxxum 9 + sensor = Fantastic digital camera.

    I agree with the IR focus assist (I missed that in my rant), OTOH, I
    don't use AF very much, so not that big of a deal.

    I wrote a letter to Sony, no reply on this issue in March: The Canadian Sony support
    people claimed they passed on the note to Japan ... we can only hope
    that it's read there and hope even harder that they catch the fever...
    I too bought a Sony-Ericson phone hoping it would be better than the
    Eriksom disaster I bought in 2000 ... real crap ... back to Nokia every
    I'm encouraged in the sense that it's at least a 10 Mpix camera, so
    keeping up with the Jonses in that sense. Now just need a _camera_ not
    a glorified P&S.

    Alan Browne, Jun 11, 2006
  8. Not me. I've owned Maxxums for 20 years, and never had any interest in a
    "9"-level model.

    What's the complaint with its functionality?
    Neil Harrington, Jun 11, 2006
  9. Alan Browne

    Alan Browne Guest

    The "9" is the ultimate Maxxum. Dead simple. Highly functional. Bright
    100% viewfinder (possibly "brightest of them all"), 1/300 sync speed, no
    stupid locks on function wheels (like the Maxxum 7 & 7D), ...
    See "Negative inpressions" @

    Alan Browne, Jun 11, 2006
  10. Interesting. I too wrote them a note and never heard anything back.
    This was somewhere on their web site under a "Contact Us" option which
    promised a response within 24 hours. :-(

    I hope someone from Sony reads these forums!

    Jeffery Small, Jun 12, 2006
  11. If you took your camera into the wild, you would begin to appreciate
    the difference between the 7 and 9 series. I had a Maxxum 700si. Step
    out of the car in a light mist and one drop of water running into the
    shutter release button could short the electronics and stop the camera from
    functioning until that drop evaporated. The seals on my Maxxum 9 solved
    that type of problem. I'm taking my two 7Ds to Tanzania next month. It is
    extremely dusty while driving across the Serengetti and I am very concerned
    about the impact on this camera. I would have much less worry if I were
    taking my trusty 9!

    Jeffery Small, Jun 12, 2006
  12. (Alan Browne) wrote in

    If you don't like it, don't buy it.

    Just give Sony some time. Couple month ago, we were uncertain, how it
    will continue with the Minolta-AF mount. Now I'm glad to see, that even
    some new lenses are introduced. I'm glad, they even introduced new
    "fullframe" lenses, that gives me some hope, that there will be
    digitalbodys with less cropfactor.

    Until then, I'll be happy with the 7D. Sure, it's not my dream camera. I
    also like to have something simular to the Dynax 9... but when Minolta
    said, they would stop building cameras, I rushed in to get a 7D, before
    all my lenses eventuelly would be obsolet.

    Now, I'm glad to see, that there are some continuation, and new stuff

    Leonhard Pang, Jun 12, 2006
  13. Thanks, very informative (and the linked Anti-Shake page too).

    Neil Harrington, Jun 12, 2006
  14. Alan Browne

    acl Guest

    All they have to do is take a look at the Nikon D200 and use the best
    features of that model (the ergonomics are different from the late
    Dynax models that you like but good for the same reasons: external
    controls). It even has auto-ISO as you want! And they make its sensor,
    so in principle it shouldn't be so hard for them to produce eg a Dynax
    9 with that sensor. Should be a nice camera, if they do.
    acl, Jun 12, 2006
  15. I've had a day to play with the Alpha 100 and been briefed by Sony UK on the
    subject at the European launch event last week.

    The Alpha 100 is a Dynax or Maxxum 5D replacement, not a 7D; hence the
    cheaper pricing and clear targetting of the Canon EOS 350D (Rebel XT).

    Yes, it's a plastic body and that means it's light but it's as good as the
    best plastic chassis DSLRs out there. I didn't notice any creaking or wobbly
    panels. Although the camera is light, it did not feel over-light or lacking
    in solidity.

    Like the 5D and 7D, though, I feel two things let the Alpha 100 down; the
    lack of SSM in affordable lenses (in this respect Canon's lens range, which
    is almost entirely USM-equipped) is way-ahead and, secondly, the
    shutter/mirror mechanism is too noisy for comfort.

    That aside, I enjoyed using the camera and got some cracking shots with it,
    especially with the re-vamped 75-300 zoom, assisted with the Super Steady
    Shot Inside IS.

    I posted some links to some of my shots, including ISO comparisons, on a
    Minolta google group if you are interested, here:


    Digital Photography Now

    Digital Photography Now, Jun 12, 2006
  16. Alan Browne

    Clyde Guest

    I agree that this camera wouldn't work for most advance amateurs, but I
    disagree that professionals wouldn't want it. I am a pro and I want it.
    The trick is to understand what a pro needs in his/her tools. Most pros
    are looking for tools that do a very specific thing. We are NOT looking
    for one tool that does everything.

    For example, the type of photography that I do doesn't need dust and
    water seals. I very rarely shoot outdoors. When I do, I do have a cover
    for my camera and/or an Assistant to hold an umbrella. I'm also not
    shooting in rough and dangerous environments that would break a resin
    body; I've never broken one. I also have no use for 1/12,000 shutter speed.

    Therefore, why should I pay for any of that? I'd rather have eight A100
    bodies than one 1Ds Mark II body. I would have more reliability that
    way. OK, I wouldn't buy eight of them.

    I still have a KM A2 camera that works very well in some situations in
    my business. Its combination of features haven't been able to be
    replaced yet. The A100 looks like a good replacement for it - for me.
    Ironically, one of the features you think is missing I see as there and
    a good replacement for the my A2. That is the dial on the top left.

    The A2 has just such a dial on the left side. It makes for a very fast
    way to change most of the stuff I change. The WB, ISO, drive, etc. are
    all there with a quick push of a button and spin of the wheel with the
    other hand. Once you get used to this method, it is a marvelous way to
    quickly change the key settings. I'm thrilled that they've brought it
    back. (It disappeared on the A200, 5D, and 7D.)

    As a pro I've needed much less equipment than I ever did as an advance
    amateur. The reason is that I'm not shooting everything. I now only
    shoot what I can sell in the market that I work in. That focuses the
    mind and the equipment very nicely.


    Clyde, Jun 12, 2006
  17. Alan Browne

    Bill Tuthill Guest

    ISO 1600 max is a problem for me. You're thinking of the film days.
    I want to take pictures in theaters and am sick of paying to push film.
    You forgot to mention Antishake (Super Steady Shot).

    The real question for people like me, who emotionally abandoned Minolta
    several years ago, am I attracted enough to buy this Sony product?
    It's an awful lot of money, nearly $1000, to throw down a rathole, if
    the Sony DSLR lineup ends up being a rathole.
    Bill Tuthill, Jun 12, 2006
  18. Don't forget it's quite easy to 'push' a digital camera beyond its stated
    ISO limit, especially by using RAW. Set to underexpose a stop or two and you
    could have 3200 or 6400 ISO equivalence and then compensate when

    With the anti-shake, you have a very useful camera-shake advantage, though
    of course it won't help with subject movement at slow shutter speeds. If you
    are really worried about noise and low light sensitivity for uses at
    concerts, etc., maybe a 7D would be better for you.


    Digital Photography Now
    Digital Photography Now, Jun 14, 2006
  19. Alan Browne

    Alan Browne Guest

    I suppose. It's "included" from the K-M line so a "neutral". They
    could have thrown it out as too costly.
    OTOH, for those of us with substantial glass, it's a potential saver. I
    do want to see how well it does before I buy anymore glass, however.
    Ah, well I do have the 500 C/M to feed too.

    Alan Browne, Jun 16, 2006
  20. Alan Browne

    Alan Browne Guest

    Digital Photography Now wrote:

    How was the shutter release speed? I find it too slow on the 7D v. my
    Maxxum 9.
    Must look at taht... time / damnit
    Alan Browne, Jun 16, 2006
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