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Sony Alpha A100 Review Summary

10 Megapixels10 MegapixelsSingle Lens ReflexSingle Lens ReflexStabilization: Compensates for tiny involuntary movements of the camera.Stabilization: Compensates for tiny involuntary movements of the camera.Continuous DriveContinuous DriveManual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Hotshoe: Allows external flash units to be attached.Hotshoe: Allows external flash units to be attached.Spot MeteringSpot MeteringDepth-Of-Field Preview: Improve perception of DOF before shooting.Depth-Of-Field Preview: Improve perception of DOF before shooting.Accepts Compact Flash memory.Accepts Compact Flash memory.Neocamera detailed reviewNeocamera detailed reviewDiscontinued: No longer produced by the manufacturer. May still be in stock or found used.Discontinued: No longer produced by the manufacturer. May still be in stock or found used.

Sony Alpha A100 Assessment

The Sony Alpha A100 is a superb and well valued DSLR camera. This 10 megapixel digital SLR is packed with useful features and technology such as body-based stabilization and a hardware dust-reduction system. With body-based stabilization, all lenses automatically benefit from stabilization, even ultra-wide-angle lenses, at no additional cost. It also has some clever options such as low-key and high-key tone-curves, ambient and flash-based exposure compensation and a hardware dynamic range optimizer. Except for above average noise-levels staring at ISO 800, the Alpha A100 shows truly superb image quality. Other downsides are very minor such as artifacts for long-exposures noise-reduction, which can be turned off. The dynamic-range optimizer is also a good idea but since it is not entirely reliable, we recommend turning it off when there is no time to experiment. Then again, no other camera has this feature anyway.


All-in-all, we can easily recommend the Sony Alpha A100 except for action photography, particularly indoors, where ISO 800 and 1600 are normally used. For action photography, the Canon EOS 30D not only does better at high-ISO but also shoots faster at 5 FPS versus this Alpha's 3 FPS. Another alternative is the lower-end Canon Digital Rebel XT which has very clean high-ISO performance but is not as advanced as the A100. For those rarely using ISO sensitivities above 400, the Sony Alpha A100 is truly unmatched.

Neocamera detailed reviewNeocamera detailed review Read the full Sony Alpha A100 review here.

PROS CONS
Superb photo quality
Quite noisy and low-saturation at ISO 1600
Great color accuracy Slightly above average noise at ISO 800 for a DSLR
Very good dynamic range Long exposure noise-reduction image artifacts
Excellent metering and exposure Dynamic range optimizer not reliable
Low image noise up to ISO 400 Rare multi-segment exposure errors
Effectively stabilizes all lenses
Hardware dust-reduction
Very fast and responsive
Fast focusing
Good ergonomics
Eye-start auto-focus
Excellent build quality
Selectable low-key and high-key tone-curve
Ambient and flash-based exposure compensation
Good battery life
ExcellentExcellent Excellent

Sony Alpha A100 Hands-On

Neocamera hands-on reviewNeocamera hands-on review
Having lots of Konica-Minolta Maxxum lenses, we just had to try the Sony Alpha. The first impression is a solidly built camera with a dense body. Holding it is comfortable and buttons are easily accessible. The viewfinder is good but a noticeably smaller than on the Maxxum 7D or the Canon 20D. Still, it is larger than most. Just as with the Konica-Minolta DSLR cameras, the Sony Alpha A100 uses the rear LCD as a status panel. This panel has to be used to change most settings other than the basic shutter-speed, aperture and ISO sensitivity. For example, when changing metering modes, the only feedback is on the LCD. That is unfortunate but is common for competing DSLR cameras. The display itself is quite useable, it rotates when changing the camera's orientation and has an anti-reflective coating.

The Sony Alpha A100 has more technology features than any other available DSLR. The most important one is body-based anti-shake inherited from Konica-Minolta. This is extremely valuable in low-light and when using long lenses. Remember though that any stabilization feature compensates for the photographer's movements and does nothing against subject motion. Long lenses can be bought without stabilization, saving a significant sum of money and wide-angle lenses get stabilization which is rarely available for such focal-lengths. Next up is dust-reduction, this is a solution to a common problem for cameras with interchangeable lenses. Until now, only Olympus had such system.

There are subtle features which do not get much attention but can greatly help photography. The first are two tone-mapping mode which strangely appear as part of the selection of ISO sensitivity. It was the same way with the Maxxum 5D which is the first camera with these options. The low-key option creates a tone reproduction curve designed to preserve more detail in dark areas. The high-key options does the opposite, preserving more details in bright areas. Another interesting option is wether exposure-compensation adjusts ambient light or flash. When exposure compensation is set to adjust ambient light, flash power is kept constant as the exposure is changed. In the other mode, which is common with most cameras, the flash is used to adjust exposure in low-light conditions. These two interpretation of exposure compensation can produce rather different looking images.

Finally, there is the dynamic-range optimizer (DRO). It idea is a useful but unfortunately it has been reported to not be entirely reliable. Plus, the results are a matter of taste. Just like adjust saturation, contrast and sharpness, it must be done after some experimentation. The main difference is that DRO works differently from scene to scene. Hence, for consistent results, better keep it off. In some cases, having a scene where both shadow and highlight details are clearly visible results in a flatter and less pleasing image.

The bottom line is that this is a great camera except for hand-held low-light photography where high-ISO sensitivities are frequently used. Action photographers will also be better satisfied with a faster continuous drive. Below ISO 800, this camera is nearly perfect and provides excellent value for its price and capabilities.

Sony A100 Facts

SLR digital camera
10 Megapixels DSLRISO 80-1600
Sony A Mount
1.5X FLM

Sensor-Size: 24 x 16mm

APS-C Sensor

Actual size when viewed at 100 DPI

Shutter 1/4000-30s
2-Axis Built-in StabilizationFull manual controls, including Manual Focus
95% Coverage
Medium Viewfinder
Custom white-balance with 1 axis fine-tuning
Automatic Eye-Start sensorSpot-Metering
Built-in Dust ReductionHot-Shoe
3 FPS Drive, Unlimited ImagesLithium-Ion Battery
2.5" LCD 230K PixelsCompact Flash
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