First time SLR user- A200 help needed

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by amoda, Apr 24, 2009.

  1. amoda macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2006
    #1
    Hey everyone,

    So this is the first time that I'll be delving into the world of SLRs. I'm really excited, but also a little scared aha. To note: $$$ is of the essence. I am a student so I do have small budget. I'm thinking about $700 tops, $500 on the camera+kit lens and $200 for a 2nd lens.

    I've been reviewing a few entry-level cameras (Nikon D40, Sony A200 & Cannon Rebel XS) and decided on the Sony A200. What pushed me towards it is the built in anti-dust and anti-shake capabilites. Also it has a 9 point AF, it's amazing battery and overall is just the best bang for the buck (which is important to me).

    There is one major con, but I'll speak to that later (point 2).

    So, here's the things I want to do with camera:

    1. HDR
    I'm really interested in this and I've seen some great results with the A200.
    I'll probably get some cheap $20 tripod or something. I'll want a wide angle lens for this, which I would also want for point 3.

    2. Low-light situations
    Well this is really one of the big reasons of why I'm getting the camera. I'm very active in a bunch of societies in my university and am actually the president of the Science Society. We hold a lot of events, and many are in places that are low light.

    This is where the major con comes in. I've been looking at a lot of reviews and it seems that at higher ISOs (800+) the A200 lacks in performance as compared to it's competitors. From what I read ISO is really important for low-light situations since it changes how sensitive the camera is to light. Of course I could always purchase a flash add-on but that would be undesirable. I wouldn't want to go brighter than the built in flash.

    Is there some lens that can help out with this, or some other way of working around it?

    Finally...

    3. Nature shots
    These photos will be of trees, the park, the lighthouse next to the ocean sort of thing. For close ups the macro capability of the kit cam, which isn't that great apparently, should suffice. However, I would be interested in a wide angle lens just so that I can capture more in the picture. It would also help at an event or something where it would be nice to not have to go to the other side of the room to get everyone in the picture. Any suggestions?

    About the lenses, I understand that Sony is limited in it's offerings since it's new to the game. However, I was told that 2nd hand Minolta lenses could be used since Sony actually bought them out. Are there any 3rd party lenses that would be compatible with the A200?

    Thank you, I really appreciate any advice and help that I receive. There's a lot to learn! I'm excited though, can't wait to get what's on mind into a frame in the living room. :)
     
  2. SLC Flyfishing Suspended

    SLC Flyfishing

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2007
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #2
    Get a 20 mm f/1.8 EX from Sigma, it's fairly wide, has a large aperture (which helps in low light) and probably has a lot better close up performance than the kit lens.

    That should do you for a while.

    http://www.adorama.com/SG2018MAX.html

    SLC
     
  3. gkarris macrumors 604

    gkarris

    Joined:
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    #3
    I was just at a Ritz in the suburbs of Chicago that was closing down and they've got the A200 kit for $375 new with USA warranty.

    Good luck!
     
  4. toxic macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    #4
    any camera will do this, and do it well. auto exposure bracketing will make it easier, but it's not hard to do it manually since whatever you're taking a photo of has to be stationary. so it's not really a reason to choose one camera over the other.

    i dunno about getting a $20 tripod.

    if you're never gonna print (larger than 4x6) or upload huge images, don't worry about it. if you will, software can only alleviate noise. you can smooth it out as well, but then you lose detail and get a plastic look. you may or may not mind.

    3. Nature shots
    These photos will be of trees, the park, the lighthouse next to the ocean sort of thing. For close ups the macro capability of the kit cam, which isn't that great apparently, should suffice. However, I would be interested in a wide angle lens just so that I can capture more in the picture. It would also help at an event or something where it would be nice to not have to go to the other side of the room to get everyone in the picture. Any suggestions?[/quote]

    the kit lens should be sufficient...if not, there should be a 10-20mm or similar available.

    these lenses will be manual focus. unless it's an ultrawide or fisheye, i wouldn't bother since your viewfinder will be next to useless. there may be splitscreens you can stick in your camera, but good ones are pricey and they mess with spot metering (and partial?).


    have you considered used? you can get a Canon 300/350D (maybe 400D), 18-55 IS, and another lens or two for less than $700. and why not Pentax?

    in case you don't know already, in-lens stabilization is more effective than in-camera. it just costs more and isn't as convenient.
     
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #5
    Why get the second lens right away? Wait a while until you've shot about 1,000 frames and know what you need. Buy the lens that will get you the shots the kit lens missed

    About HDR. Any camera can do this. ALL of them, they are all equal in this areas. All yu need are manual controls and that's it. They all have this

    If you want to shoot in low light the #1 feature you need is a "fast" lens. Ideally you should have an f/1.4 lens. Don't think about ISO, anti-shake or anything else until after you get the f/1.4 lens. All those other things are just details

    So now that you know you want an f/1.4 lens, or f/1.8 if you have a tight budget. Look for the camera company that makes the one you want. Do yu want a 24mm, 30mm or a 50mm or an 85mm. All of these are available but not all from one company. Pick the company that makes the lenses you want to buy now and later. Then buy a DSLR body. You will replace the body twice in 10 years but the lenes you keep forever. So pick the company whoes lenses you want to collect. Bodies hardly matter and you replace them like you do computers.

    Work out some exposures. the f/5.6 kit lens at ISO 3200 is the same as an f/1.4 at ISO 200. Yes at the same shutter speed you kits lens would need 3200 but in the same light the 50mm f/1.4 can shoot at ISO 200 The lens matters a LOT more then small differences in ISO

    The problem with Sony is their very limited lens lineup not as many options as Canon or Nikon

    If budget is an issue buy used gear. There is a huge used market for Nikon and Canon equipment.

    Given what you are shooting you might want a Nikon D50. It has an in-body focus motor for used with the older prime lenses and the D50 is pretty good in low light.

    One more thing: $20 is not much of a budget for a tripod. Even for a used tripod. Good tripods last nearly forever and will out last your camera system
     
  6. NightGeometry macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2004
    #6
    Personally I think the A200 is reasonable at ISO 800, look here for a picture taken in Seville cathedral. Note - it was *very* dark. Having a lens with a largish aperture (f/1.7), was a real help, but it was so dark the problem was actually focussing rather than noise... <edit - I just checked the exif on that shot, and it wasn't even a large aperture, all the f/1.7 ones I think I managed to keep ISO low - low light is a lot easier when the subjects has been in place for a couple of hundred years, I guess>

    $20 tripod - there is a very good article about tripods, which basically comes down to - you get a good one to start with, or get cheap ones that don't last then a good oe, and it just costs more. I've gone the cheap route because... well as a beginner splashing out a couple hundred £'s to start with seemed a bit extreme.

    Sigma do a 10-20 in Sony Alpha fit. It's a wonderful lens.

    Minolta lenses - there are two Minolta brackets. Really old ones would need an adaptor and be manual focus, just plain old ones are autofocus. The pic linked above was taken on a Minolta lens, worked out cheap and is a lovely lens. Second hand Minolta auto focus lenses tend to be good value.

    In lens stabilisation is better (the general feeling is that it's around one stop better). But in camera stabilisation means that *all* your lenses are stabilised. For me that was a more than worthwhile trade off.

    Personally I think the Alpha 200 is a tremendously good value camera, and I loved mine (it's now with a friend, and I have an Alpha 700). I have a reasonable amount of experience with it, feel free to ask questions if you want to know more.

    I tend to agree with the prevailing wisdom of SLR purchasing though - unless you have a real niche requirement that only one brand covers (specific type or focal length of lens), then probably the most important thing is how the camera feels for you. I had a chance to use a number of different bodies, and found that the Alpha's just had a nicer feel and UI *for me*. If you get a chance to go into a shop and handle a couple of bodies, please do, and how they feel in your hand should bias what you get (i.e. if cannon feels best to you, it's probably a good choice for you, likewise Pentax, Nikon, Sony).
     
  7. gatepc macrumors 6502

    gatepc

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2008
    Location:
    Pittsburgh PA
    #7
    I own the A200 and I know a lot of people with bash it since its not a canon or nikon but I will say its great ( check out my pics here ) I would say if your going to get it buy a monilta 1.7 50mm lens also ( great for low light and can be bought on ebay for 80-130 USD )

    ISO is not really a problem just shoot raw and turn off the built in noise reduction ( it sucks ) and then use Dfine from Nik software to reduce the noise and you get great results :)

    Shoot at ISO 1600 at F3.5 at 18mm ( below )
    [​IMG]

    100% crop ( below ) ( when you remove noise to this extreme you do get softer and less sharp images but I find it usable in most cases just don't expect to print anything bigger then 8x10 or you really start to notice. ISO 800 is Very usable and retains almost all the sharpness even after noise reduction )
    [​IMG]

    I also own other gear like that tamron 70-300mm di ld lens as well as remote shutters ( which are great for long exposures ) and of course don't forget filters like UV ( protective ) and Polarizers ( which reduce reflections in non metallic surfaces like water ) the built in Anti Shake is really nice on telephoto lenses but will help all lenses :)

    For the people who are going to tell him he is buying into a system and that sony alpha's don't have a good lens selection I come to tell you that all the old monilta's will work so I say they have plenty, maybe not as much as canon or nikon but Enough and more so then olympus or other new comers like sony

    @toxic I want to correct you on something you said that the minolta lenses will be manuel focus and that is incorrect. every single AF lens from the minolta line ( which is almost all of them ) will work in AF on Sony's I know this to be a fact. They are also cheaper and just as good as the sony ones
     
  8. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2007
    #8
    The problem is you have to buy used Minolta gears and to buy one which is still in good quality Minolta lens will be a bother for some.

    Hmm, eventhough Noise Reduction magically removes most noise it still doesn't leave the fact that the details will be lost, its better to have a dSLR with better higher ISO result without having to resort to any form of noise reduction.

    And from that image, it clearly doesn't retain almost all sharpness, the image is just usable and the sharpness has been lost, sorry.

    But I can't complain much though, most APS-C will see image degradation at ISO 800 and above, just some does better then the others. Nikon is ahead of the pack in high ISO performance followed by Canon 2nd and Sony 3rd.
     
  9. SLC Flyfishing Suspended

    SLC Flyfishing

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    #9
    Has nobody noticed that the OP has stated that they've already decided on the A200? Why the constant need to change his/her mind?

    SLC
     
  10. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Redondo Beach, California
    #10
    The OP never came back, no one is changing his mind. Seems we are all talking to ourselves
     
  11. gkarris macrumors 604

    gkarris

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    #11
    Great info for anybody who's a first time buyer and who also may be thinking about an A200...
     
  12. amoda thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2006
    #12
    Sorry for the lack of response, I've been very busy lately. I have read all your posts, and appreciate all the information and time you spent.

    I don't currently have the time to post a long detailed response, I just wanted to thank you guys again for your help until I do have the time.

    Thank you!
     
  13. amoda thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2006
    #13
    Hey,

    So I'm back.

    First off, again. Thank you guys :)

    An update:

    Okay, so on Saturday I bought the A200 (I know, that was quick) and I took several pictures. Probably close to a hundred by the time Saturday was done. Nothing special, pictures of my room, neighborhood, just wanted to test it out.

    It, honestly, sucked. I had it set on Raw + JPG. I had it set on Auto but then tried fiddling with the ISO, exposure, etc. It really was not that great. The feel of the camera is amazing, I loved having it in my hands. But the picture quality was pretty terrible. I took better pictures with my Fuiji Finepix A350.

    I don't know if it was just a lemon, or if the kit lens was just that terrible but the pictures were always grainy. Indoors, outdoors, auto iso, iso set on 200, 400, flash on, flash off, it was always grainy.

    I had my sister return it for me and buy the Canon Rebel XS (I know people suggest the XSi over it but the XS had all I needed). I love this Camera. It doesn't fit, or feel, as nice as the A200 in my hand but the picture quality is just so much better! I also bought the 50mm f1.8 and it is a great lens. Oh, the kit lens is great too. It doesn't zoom as far as the A200 kit lens but overall is better.

    Gatepc's point about noise reduction could possibly be the problem, I did have it on. However, I'm still glad that I have returned it if that was the case. The XS's pictures are nice even without software help.

    About the tripod, which seemed to get a few responses, I'm following NightGeometry's way of thinking. A bit extravagent to dash out big $$ on a tripod this early in the game. I probably will up that budget a bit, maybe to $50, but will overall stick on the low end. Hopefully I can get a good used one.

    Toxic: Several great points. Yes, I am looking at the used market. However, I decided to purchase the camera new since...well I just don't trust used electronics unless it's refurbished from the manufacturer. I'll be buying used lenses though. Pentax, never heard of them till you mentioned them aha. They look great but are at the same price point (at least where I bought my camera) so I decided to go with Canon.
     
  14. steviem macrumors 68020

    steviem

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    Location:
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    #14
    To be honest, it sounds like you (or a problem with the camera).

    [​IMG]

    For some reason Flickr thinks I used an A300, but I used an A200 (JPEG mode), in Auto mode with image stabilization on with a Sigma 55-200 lens and using Manual Focus.

    I'll get some indoor photos up taken with this camera too, but the Sonys are are perfectly good.
     
  15. wheelhot macrumors 68020

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    #15
    Well glad you are happy with ur purchase, the XS is a fine camera.
     
  16. steviem macrumors 68020

    steviem

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    #16
    Yeah, ultimately, it's great that you are happy with it.

    The only reason that I have the Sony a200 is my Grandmother bought it, didn't like it (too many options for her, too heavy and she felt vulnerable carrying it around.), bought a Panasonic Lumix and let me kind of have the a200.

    It's a nice camera, I do prefer the weight of the Nikon D40 (my sister has a D40), but the Live View on the Sony, along with the LCD panel's ability to tilt, means that quick low shots are easy but I tend to use the viewfinder more than Live View.

    If I can really keep it, then I would get a 50mm lens for it and maybe a wide angle lens if I can afford it. The camera is coming to New York with me soon though, so I'm looking forwrd to that.
     
  17. tvp macrumors member

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    Michigan
    #17
    I wonder if there was something wrong with the camera. I bought the a300 as an entry into the DSLR world (didn't really like the Canon options for my price range, and I get a great Sony discount at work) and it takes beautiful pictures.

    Either way I hope you like the camera you did end up purchasing!
     
  18. amoda thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 9, 2006
    #18
    Thank you Wheel, Steve and Tvp for the notes of congrats.

    Steve, I do think that you have the A300. The A200 doesn't have live view or a tilting screen.

    Steve & Tvp, the problem could easily have been me. If that's the case then the Canon XS gets a bonus point for working well right out of the box while the Sony needs tinkering. It also could have simply been a lemon but it wasn't something I really wanted to test.

    I'm going out tonight so I might take it along and snap a few pictures. If I do I'll upload one or two. :)
     
  19. steviem macrumors 68020

    steviem

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  20. gkarris macrumors 604

    gkarris

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    #20
    You're welcome!

    I see on the web that the people with Sony's who have great pics are either using a Sigma or Zeiss lens...

    Enjoy the Canon - great cameras...
     
  21. amoda thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 9, 2006
    #21
    Hey,

    Here are a few pictures that I took today. Wasn't able to snap any earlier :-(. There was a fire near by and yeah. I don't understand how the pictures in "Picture of the Day" are so sharp and clear. You guys amaze me.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Edit: There...better size now
     
  22. wheelhot macrumors 68020

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    Nov 23, 2007
    #22
    Hmm, would be better if you try and post your photo a lil bit smaller, in flickr you can post it as large or medium which fits well in forums.
     

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