Is the new Sony Alpha A550 a good choice?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Lazy Photographer, Jan 17, 2010.

  1. Lazy Photographer

    Lazy Photographer TPF Noob!

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    I'm still shopping for a DSLR and although I really like the D90, I just read dpreview.com's review of the new Sony Alpha A550 and was surprised at how well it was received. What's particularly attractive to me is it has in-body image stabilization, while the Nikon doesn't. Not sure how much weight I should put on that one feature, but I do plan to buy one or more prime lenses that have no built-in IS, so I'm concerned about being able to get good shots sans tripod. The Pentax K-x is another camera on my radar, again because it has in-body IS. The downside with the K-x is it uses AA batteries and there's some issue around AF points in the viewfinder, can't remember.

    You can check out the review here:
    Review: 1. Introduction: Digital Photography Review

    Here are the pros and cons, from the conclusion portion of that review:

    Conclusion - Pros

    • Capable of excellent results (especially in raw)
    • Good JPEG dynamic range
    • Far better high ISO performance than most other recent Alpha models
    • Fast and responsive operation - and up to 7 fps burst shooting
    • Excellent screen and improved viewfinder (though it still works better in Live View)
    • Class-leading live-view autofocus system and new high quality main sensor live view option
    • Improved user interface (though still no interactive control panel screen)
    • Effective in-camera image stabilization
    • Clever automatic HDR feature and DRO shadow adjustment
    • Improved handling and external controls over A3XX models
    • Probably the easiest 'high end' camera for the compact camera upgrader to use
    • Excellent battery life
    • Wireless flash capability built-in and optional remote control
    • Well-featured and usable software included
    • Decent 18-55mm kit lens
    Conclusion - Cons

    • JPEG output doesn't really do the sensor justice - shoot raw for the best results
    • Default output over processed: too much contrast, saturation (reds in particular often end up overdone) and noise reduction for our taste
    • Metering not reliable enough, easily fooled by unusual subjects and large skies (often over exposing)
    • More auto white balance errors than we'd expect at this level
    • Not enough control of noise reduction for JPEGs (high or really high)
    • No Program Shift or Depth of Field Preview
    • Very Limited customization options compared to competitors
    • Some shadow noise visible even at base ISO in certain shooting conditions
    • Despite improvements the viewfinder still not that great - hard to get your eye near enough
    • Button placement is less than optimal
    • In today's market, at this price, lack of video has to be mentioned
    One thing that was mentioned is there is no "mirror lock up" function. Since I've never owned a DSLR I really don't know what that does, let alone its value.

    Anyway, I'm hoping that those with more experience with DSLRs in general and Sony products in particular will offer some advice and tips.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Lazy Photographer

    Lazy Photographer TPF Noob!

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    Checked out the Sony A550 at the camera store this afternoon. Really nice camera, but LARGE! It's about the size of a D90 but doesn't feel nearly as comfortable in hand. The guy in the store and my buddy who came along (semi-pro photographer) both talked me out of image stabilization. Well, not talked me out of it as much as explained the rule of thumb around getting good shots with fast shutter speeds.

    Anyway, long story longer, there will be A550 in my future.
     
  3. wtdeane

    wtdeane TPF Noob!

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    Good choice. I have a few Alpha bodies and was very close to replacing my α350 with the α550. I decided to put that money towards the Zeiss135 instead. My α700 will hold me over for a few years till I decide to go Full Frame.

    Glad to hear you didn't buy the faster shutter speed argument as the panacea of photography. Funny how that all goes away when you don't have a fast lens and not enough light. In body image stabilization is the only way to go. Turn it off when you don't need it, but when I hand-hold, it is always on.


    Cheers!
     
  4. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    It might be a good idea to wait until February 21-23 to see if a new Nikon in your preferred price range is announced at the PMA show or for the Vancouver winter Olympics.
     
  5. nemopaice

    nemopaice TPF Noob!

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    The a550 is a good camera. I prefer lenses with IS over the body having it (personal taste, and there is a reason I just can't remember what it is...) Sony has a pretty good DSLR for the price. And I love Zeiss lenses. I have one on order for my Canon.

    Oh I just remembered why I don't like in body IS. As best as I can remember, when looking through the view finder, you couldn't see the stabilization because it's not working through the lens. And I think you could see it in live mode, but it seemed to lag just a tiny bit.
     
  6. SushiWarrior

    SushiWarrior TPF Noob!

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    It wouldn't work in live view because Sony uses some sort of a sensor in the prism assembly, so the actual CCD isn't used at all.
     
  7. nemopaice

    nemopaice TPF Noob!

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    That was probably it then. I much prefer IS in the lenses.
     
  8. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 TPF Noob!

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    And when the light dicates a slower shutter to even get the shot, VR/IS/ETC is invaluable. Yep, there are guys steady enough to shoot down to 1/15 and get a pretty sharp image, but most of us aren't superman like that.
     

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