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Thread: Is the Sony A550 a good choice?

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    Is the Sony A550 a good choice?

    Hi,

    I'm joining from Canada in Northern Ont. ~ snip ~

    I bought a Sony cybershot to see if I liked shooting pictures. You've already guessed the answer---I'm hooked.By the way my shooting companion is my Alaskan Malemut who carries lunch and equipment in his saddlebags.

    I'm just going to step up to a DSLR and was considering the Sony A550 because its in my price range especially if it comes with the lens kits. Any advice anyone, and keep it simple,
    please?

    Thanks,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 6th January 2010 at 06:33 AM. Reason: Copied question part to a better place for answers

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    Re: Is the Sony A550 a good choice?

    Hi Philjam,

    I have just upgraded from a Sony cyber-shot to a D-SLR. Even I had the budget as a major deciding factor. I did enough home-work and have bought a Nikon D3000 with kit-lens (18-55mm Lens). I am loving it. Its amazing. I never liked Sony for its picture quality.

    I have no clue, how much is Sony A550 for, but Nikon D3000 is for around $500, may be less.
    Last edited by Sahil; 7th January 2010 at 04:27 AM. Reason: Additional Information

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    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Is the Sony A550 a good choice?

    Philjam,

    Are you considering the Sony A550 because of brand loyalty or is there something about the equipment, other than price, that meets your photographic needs? You mentioned price of the kit but do you have an interest in acquiring other lenses? There is an added cost to increasing your zoom range if you find yourself suddenly interested in wildlife photography. Let us know what your subject matter will be and we can assist you further.

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    Re: Is the Sony A550 a good choice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    Philjam,

    Are you considering the Sony A550 because of brand loyalty or is there something about the equipment, other than price, that meets your photographic needs? You mentioned price of the kit but do you have an interest in acquiring other lenses? There is an added cost to increasing your zoom range if you find yourself suddenly interested in wildlife photography. Let us know what your subject matter will be and we can assist you further.
    550 in answer to price question is about $849 Cdn with, by memory, 18-55 lens and 18-200 lens. The Nikon D3000 (10.0 megapixels) is much more inexpensive about $500 with one lens. No, I'm not nescessarily committed to Sony at all. I'm committed to wildlife and flora photography. Because I'm lame I can't go into the wetlands in a boat; I have to shoot from shore. For instance I have a shot of a blue heron standing in a deep wetland. The bird's wing span was about 4 feet. So its big, but I need to have a harder image for blowing up, so the 14 megapixels in the a550. Same for the bears I don't want to be that close. (I think). More advice please, its great so far.

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    Re: Is the Sony A550 a good choice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sahil View Post
    Hi Philjam,

    I have just upgraded from a Sony cyber-shot to a D-SLR. Even I had the budget as a major deciding factor. I did enough home-work and have bought a Nikon D3000 with kit-lens (18-55mm Lens). I am loving it. Its amazing. I never liked Sony for its picture quality.

    I have no clue, how much is Sony A550 for, but Nikon D3000 is for around $500, may be less.
    Hi Sahil: What didn't you like about the Sony picture quality? I'll look for that characteristic in my pics. Thanks.

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    Re: Is the Sony A550 a good choice?

    The sharpness, clarity, colors were not very pleasing. I am talking about sony cyber-shot. Can't say much about their D-SLR series, but I was told that it is not as good as Nikon or Canon. (General Views of friends and online reviews)

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    Re: Is the Sony A550 a good choice?

    Sony makes very nice dslr cameras and it's unique "in body image stabilization" feature. Meaning you can mount any lens on the camera (from primes to zooms) and have instant image stabilization capabilities without having to pay more for "IS" lenses.

    With that said, Sony never had their own from the ground up camera and lens division. Sony actually bought out Konica Minolta's division; so naturally Minolta's Maxxum lenses are compatible with Sony's camera line. Many former Minolta film users naturally switched to Sony dslrs because they didn't want to "reinvest" all over again.

    Photography isn't a cheap interest or hobby, and once you commit to a brand purchase; you're 100% committed to the system. When deciding on purchasing your very first dslr, take a good look at the availability of lenses and their alternative 3rd party brands as a whole. Image quality comes from the lenses, not the camera body. Fyi other compatible Sony's A mounts lens brands are Tamron, Sigma, and *Carl Zeiss*.

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    Re: Is the Sony A550 a good choice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sahil View Post
    The sharpness, clarity, colors were not very pleasing. I am talking about sony cyber-shot. Can't say much about their D-SLR series, but I was told that it is not as good as Nikon or Canon. (General Views of friends and online reviews)
    Hi Phil (?), Sahil,

    All these things are only really relevant to a jpg - typically all you get from a point and shoot and what reviews will zero in upon.

    If the cyber-shot has RAW, and I certainly assume the A550 does, it's largely a moot point, because you would naturally address all those things in RAW PP workflow. Even if you shoot jpg with the A550 (what a waste ), there will probably be more control over the jpg content and quality anyway.


    For wildlife, you will need a Looong lens, think how, and what it will cost, to obtain 400 - 500mm equivalent focal length MINIMUM. Yes Heron's are big, but there's plenty else you'll want to shoot that isn't anywhere near that big. Now you might achieve that length with a prime, or a (probably very expensive) zoom, or a shorter lens plus a tele-converter (but check compatibility).


    I think both Pentax and, if you go 4/3, Olympus also have in-body VR/IS/OS systems. Do research lens prices carefully before committing to a system. I mention 4/3 due to the 2 x crop factor, which may help, but those lenses are expensive, presummably because of low demand.

    Cheers,

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    Re: Is the Sony A550 a good choice?

    I looked at the sony range, theA380 a little closer to the lower end, still 14MP and available with the 55-200mm (up to 300mm@35mm equivilant). Tempted by the price and in body IS. However i opted fro the 500d due to qulaity and lens range, this is available with a 55-250IS (400mm@35mm equiv) for a reasonable price, especially since i got the 55-250 refurbished. It's also commonly available with a 70-300 (no IS, 480mm equiv) lens at a similar price if you would be using a tripod most of the time or have some other reason to forgo the IS. There is also a wider range of lenses available for later progression with bigger budgets.

    I will leave the nikon crew to tout whatever budget long lenses are available for them, and besides food just landed on my desk

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    Re: Is the Sony A550 a good choice?

    Hi again: I think your right Dave. I will be shooting RAW and not jpg, especially for the big guys the Heron, the Bear etc. Some I can't get close to. See the attached Heron photo which was shot about 50-75 feet away, and he is a big guy. He is only cropped and brightened a little. Other pics I have are much closer with friendler subjects. So the image stablization in the camera and not the lens makes sense for economy in the Sony. When I used one of your tutorial charts to determine required lens based on the distance of the Heron, it came out to 400-500mm. I just about had a heartache. a Sony 70-400mm lens is $1599 in Can.
    A Tamron SP AF 200-500mm is 899. A sigma 80-400 is $649. Quite the range isn't it. So next I'll expand my lens knowledge as you recommend. The interchangeability with Minolta might also prove interesting, I'll check.
    I looked at your photos of the animals and birds and you're shooting Raw, correct?
    Thanks and keep writing I don't have to buy until Feb or March. The snow in the bush is too deep to get far.

    dsc00519-3-.jpg

    PS: If anyone wants to play with the Heron go ahead.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 7th January 2010 at 06:25 PM. Reason: add Heron inline

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    Re: Is the Sony A550 a good choice?

    Quote Originally Posted by wjh31 View Post
    I looked at the sony range, theA380 a little closer to the lower end, still 14MP and available with the 55-200mm (up to 300mm@35mm equivilant). Tempted by the price and in body IS. However i opted fro the 500d due to qulaity and lens range, this is available with a 55-250IS (400mm@35mm equiv) for a reasonable price, especially since i got the 55-250 refurbished. It's also commonly available with a 70-300 (no IS, 480mm equiv) lens at a similar price if you would be using a tripod most of the time or have some other reason to forgo the IS. There is also a wider range of lenses available for later progression with bigger budgets.

    I will leave the nikon crew to tout whatever budget long lenses are available for them, and besides food just landed on my desk
    A canon EF 100-400 is $1679 in Canada as opposed to the Sony at 1599. At these prices even $100 makes a difference. Although I am vitally interested in used lens and will look at it now. Any comments on used equipment?

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    Re: Is the Sony A550 a good choice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Amberglass View Post
    Sony makes very nice dslr cameras and it's unique "in body image stabilization" feature. Meaning you can mount any lens on the camera (from primes to zooms) and have instant image stabilization capabilities without having to pay more for "IS" lenses.
    Interestingly though, when asked about this, Canon's Chuck Westfall has said that the reason they don't do in-camera image stabilisation is that different lenses require different stabilisation characteristics; eg what's required to counter mirror slap on an EF600mm is going to be different to that required on an EF70-200/F4 (with the latter being good for up to 4 stops of stabilisation).

    I suspect that having the stabilization lens based gives them a greater ability to improve it over-and-above what's available in-camera.

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    Re: Is the Sony A550 a good choice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    ~ Canon's Chuck Westfall has said that the reason they don't do in-camera image stabilisation is that different lenses require different stabilisation characteristics; eg what's required to counter mirror slap on an EF600mm is going to be different to that required on an EF70-200/F4 (with the latter being good for up to 4 stops of stabilisation).~
    Hmmm, call me cynical; while that might be true when you are using elements within the lens to stabilise the image, by the time the image reaches the sensor, surely it is just a movement of a flat image in X and Y directions that needs to be addressed from an inertia sensor in the camera. As long as the inertia sensor picks up the vibration, in all the different "signatures" dependent upon the lens, and the 'motor' can move the sensor fast enough, I don't see the validity in that reasoning. Sounds like sales patter and 'our way is best' justification to me

    Although I do accept your point that as the technology of inertia sensors, piezo motors and the software algorithms between the two improve; more modern lenses will benefit from better performance.

    Cheers,

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    Re: Is the Sony A550 a good choice?

    Hi Philjam10,

    (By the way, if you'd ever like to change your username to something like your real first name, just let me know -- it only takes a few seconds, and instantly changes all previous posts).

    With regards to Sony DSLR Cameras ...

    I'd have to say that while there's nothing technically wrong with them (after all, there's a HUGE overlap in all current cameras on the market), there is perhaps still a bit of the "orphan factor" to be considered - in much the same vein as someone who buys Coral software for post-processing instead of an Adobe product ... or perhaps someone why buys a Suzuki car -v- someone who buys a Ford or a Toyota.

    Case in point ...

    ... Someone looks at an image and asks "how did you do that" - and I answer: "Easy - just add a levels layer - ctrl-backspace to fill the mask - and then paint over the mask with a soft white brush to reveal the image". Easy for the majority who use that product ... very hard for those who use a product that has the same capability, but nowhere near the same degree of user support.

    Or - for a more camera specific example - someone who has a Canon 40D asks how to do something ... and many people can help because they either have the camera or one that's close enough ... whereas if they have a brand that's relatively uncommon (like a Sony DSLR) then it can be a lot harder to get specific answers. Photography principles in general don't change (at the end of the day the camera is just a box that lets in the light), but with specifics it can be significant.

    I don't want to put you off the Sony, but if you choose a "minority brand" then you might struggle a bit more to get up to speed if you're the kind of person who's not good at reading manuals or digging around for answers.

    Sorry - I'm sure that there's a much shorter way of saying all of that!

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    Re: Is the Sony A550 a good choice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Philjam10,

    (By the way, if you'd ever like to change your username to something like your real first name, just let me know -- it only takes a few seconds, and instantly changes all previous posts).

    With regards to Sony DSLR Cameras ...

    I'd have to say that while there's nothing technically wrong with them (after all, there's a HUGE overlap in all current cameras on the market), there is perhaps still a bit of the "orphan factor" to be considered - in much the same vein as someone who buys Coral software for post-processing instead of an Adobe product ... or perhaps someone why buys a Suzuki car -v- someone who buys a Ford or a Toyota.

    Case in point ...

    ... Someone looks at an image and asks "how did you do that" - and I answer: "Easy - just add a levels layer - ctrl-backspace to fill the mask - and then paint over the mask with a soft white brush to reveal the image". Easy for the majority who use that product ... very hard for those who use a product that has the same capability, but nowhere near the same degree of user support.

    Or - for a more camera specific example - someone who has a Canon 40D asks how to do something ... and many people can help because they either have the camera or one that's close enough ... whereas if they have a brand that's relatively uncommon (like a Sony DSLR) then it can be a lot harder to get specific answers. Photography principles in general don't change (at the end of the day the camera is just a box that lets in the light), but with specifics it can be significant.

    I don't want to put you off the Sony, but if you choose a "minority brand" then you might struggle a bit more to get up to speed if you're the kind of person who's not good at reading manuals or digging around for answers.

    Sorry - I'm sure that there's a much shorter way of saying all of that!
    What is the group's opinion on using the camera's maximum resolution (megapixels) as a deciding factor in choosing the model. If you can get a decent printout at 24x20" inches with a 14MP camera, should you let higher MP or other factors(price, video capabilities) sway your judgment in making a final purchasing decision?

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    Re: Is the Sony A550 a good choice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Philjam10 View Post
    Any comments on used equipment?
    www.keh.com and the used dept. of www.bhphotovideo.com and www.adorama.com are great places to buy from. All have great customer's service and their own warranty for the used gear.

    Btw Keh will often buy out camera shops that have gone under. So you can get "new MIB" gear at second hand prices. I saved 30% on a new MIB Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8 a last year.

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    Re: Is the Sony A550 a good choice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    What is the group's opinion on using the camera's maximum resolution (megapixels) as a deciding factor in choosing the model. If you can get a decent printout at 24x20" inches with a 14MP camera, should you let higher MP or other factors(price, video capabilities) sway your judgment in making a final purchasing decision?
    In my opinion the "megapixel war" was declared a draw when they reached 8MP (so long as you're framing the shot correctly and not having to crop away too much).

    In a nutshell, the bigger the print, the further the viewing distance - and the less detail that the eye can resovle from that distance - so it almost becomes a constant.

    I've 22 x 44" prints from 21MP and 8MP camera hanging side by side - and you can't tell the difference from normal viewing distances.
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 8th January 2010 at 06:17 AM. Reason: correct error

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    Re: Is the Sony A550 a good choice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    What is the group's opinion on using the camera's maximum resolution (megapixels) as a deciding factor in choosing the model. If you can get a decent printout at 24x20" inches with a 14MP camera, should you let higher MP or other factors(price, video capabilities) sway your judgment in making a final purchasing decision?
    For me (500D@15MP) one of the reasons to excuse it was 'digital zoom'. A higher resolution image lets you get away with a much more agressive crop while you are saving up for the longer lens that actually lets you get closer.

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    Re: Is the Sony A550 a good choice?

    Cameras are so often marketed in newspaper ads based on features (LCD size, ISO levels, video capabiiity) rather than functionality. One specification not shown in newspapers is weight of the camera or lens. If it wasn't for vibration reduction, tripods, or perfect stance, none of the above specifications (or resolution) will matter as each photo taken will have a bit of blur.

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    Re: Is the Sony A550 a good choice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    Cameras are so often marketed in newspaper ads based on features (LCD size, ISO levels, video capabiiity) rather than functionality. One specification not shown in newspapers is weight of the camera or lens. If it wasn't for vibration reduction, tripods, or perfect stance, none of the above specifications (or resolution) will matter as each photo taken will have a bit of blur.
    Oh the weight, size, and all the other "tech specs" are all there. It's just that most new consumers to photography will not look thru all the tabs (in depth) on the product's information. Mostly because while researching, one can easily become overwhelmed with all the info. That is why it's best to physically go into a shop that carries the models/brands that you're interested in, physically handle them for ergonomics first, and then go home to sort out all the technical stuff at your leisure later.

    In answer to your question about "deciding factors" about purchasing a camera for me. I've used and own multiple camera systems over the years, but primarily worked with Canons and Nikons. Camera brands have always been viewed as tools in my mind. Some camera systems will perform better at certain jobs than others (just like Windows, Macs, and Linux OS's for computers), and it will all depend on the needs of the photographer (and/or the clientele). "Any camera placed in the right hands will achieve amazing results if you know what you are doing".

    Ergonomics is very important to me because I'm not a big person. AF accuracy, speed, durability, high ISO performance (because flash is often times not permissible in my field), and control layout for quick setting changes are other features that I demand. Mega pixels? 12-14 is more than adequate for my needs. I do not waste money on things/features that I don't need or will ever use. Photography is expensive as it is.

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