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a350 first impressions

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Post Options Post Options   Quote kiklop Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 February 2008 at 08:53
I uploaded a small (recorded using km a2 :( ) video file
What i was trying to show are two differences between a350 and a700;
- image preview shows with longer delay on a350; something i found a bit irritating.
- frame rate difference (raw+jpeg mode)

Edited by Kiklop - 08 February 2008 at 08:54
 



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Post Options Post Options   Quote kiklop Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 February 2008 at 15:16
The camera is on the road to where it belongs. I would like to express my gratitude to Sony Croatia (especially to mr. Goran) for being just great in every aspect. I just hope that Goran's kind and open friendly attitude will not influence too much my subjective judgment and a natural impulse to be critic.

***
I've been asked to try more cheaper lenses (mostly old minolta ones) with this 14mp sensor but i simply didn't had the time to do it. I was able to take few shoots with the old 28-135/4-4.5 today and that's all.


Full res image can be downloaded from
http://dyxum.fotki.com/sony-alpha-350/a350-2008-02-08-112.html

Next sample was taken with 28-135 macro mode; wide angle only and no AF. Since i taken this image from low angle i was trying to manual focus with the LCD screen; if not for the AF led aid i wouldn't be able to focus properly judging the image on the LCD screen. Here i am taking a shoot

And the result

Full res image can be downloaded from
http://dyxum.fotki.com/sony-alpha-350/a350-2008-02-08-111.html

An LCD hood would be very useful when using live few; on a sunny day it's quite difficult to use the screen but then again, as i said earlier this may be something that compact camera users are used to (i'm not)

With the camera not anymore in my possession i will start writing some kind of summary (personal opinion .. nothing more). Hopefully i will get it done today or tomorrow.
My apologies if someone has expecting high ISO shoots of my bookshelf; i was never talented enough for this kind of photography and to be honest a350 is aimed for other purposes mostly ;)

Happy shooting    

Edited by Kiklop - 09 February 2008 at 16:29
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Post Options Post Options   Quote kiklop Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 February 2008 at 22:40
The whole idea of having a200/a300/a350 models on the market is something I will leave for another possible article (if that ones passes our admin/mod censure ) but one can really admire the marketing wisdom Sony is proving with the latest products.
We have 3 new models, what can we wish for! We have a better camera than anyone else at all price levels.
A200 is better than the Nikon D60
A300 is better than the Canon 450D
A350 is better than pentax k20D
Just search around the net and you will realise how much users honestly believe in the above statement.
Add to that that Nikon 300D only looks better than a700 but in reality it isnít (sic!) and that we will have the Biggest FF sensor of all our future is quite the most promising one.

We have 3 new models; a200 as a basic one; a300 which is a200 with added live view and a350 which is again a300 with 14MP sensor. At the R&D costs of only one model Sony did succeed to ďcoverĒ the market from the 60d to k20D.

As we old minoltian already know, it is perception that counts not really the fact. The only difference here is that Minolta products were great but this wasnít perceived as such, while Sony is certainly having other way around. But as long Iím happy (am i?) I donít care . .and will leave others to make their own conclusions (thatís why we all have the brain ;))

Leaving alone the fact that we have basically one model with ďadd-onsĒ implemented on production lines, I need to say that I was quite satisfied with how a350 performed.
No reason to repeat aspects that I already mentioned in this thread but in overall it is quite capable camera (well .. all current DSLR are to be honest) and the price is quite fair IMHO.

A350 is capable to produce excellent images; its large sensor will put your glass at test. High end lenses like recent CZ ones, 80-200, 100/2 .. will cope with this task great but those who love to crop their images a lot may find some lenses not quite up to the task. This is a resolution that clearly shows the difference between lenses. Still, even the cheap kit lens is capable to provide solid result if your expectations are realistic.

Up to the ISO 400-800 results will satisfy most owners. I may go even that far and say that at there is certain characteristic of CCD sensor here that I do like more than results I get from my CMOS based a700.

For my kind of shooting LV implementation as found on a300/a350 serves the purpose. Iím not practicing macro photography (donít need higher magnification for manual focusing) and I certainly prefer having LV done this way than as is provided on some other cameras that do not provide any kind of swivel/tilt LCD (which makes the whole LV thing pretty useless for me). And having the same TTL AF performance as in normal mode is just so convenient and useful. Itís not perfect, it can be done better but I perfectly understand why did Sony put their effort in making it so similar in use as found on P&S cameras.

For my own tastes some differences in spec between a200 and a300 does not justify getting the a200; the only objective reason may be the price (and while this are cheap cameras compared to most other models, not all can pay that money)

However, I do have few reservations here, highly subjective opinions that most of you may not share.

You can download few full res samples I have provided in this thread and resize the image to about 3900*2600px which is about what would you get from a300(10MP). Resolution difference IMHO isnít something that should be a issue for most potential owners. On the other hand and while I didnít used a300, noise performance may be noticeably better on the cheaper model.

A 14MP stamp on the camera (isnít a simple sticker that can be removed easily) clearly prove that MP count is still something many less experienced users may be attracted with. But donít be fooled, and before picking a350 instead of a300 consider if you really need all that resolution.

I realized that many users tend to prefer greater resolution only because they count on the ability to crop more. Well .. Iím one of those who really canít understand this reasoning; Iím not a purist (I donít have a fraction of talent Bresson had) and I do crop my images quite often but picking a camera with greater resolution because Iím going to throw away half of the frame when cropping isnít really something even an amateur photographer should consider when making purchase decisions (and I certainly write this as one photographer to another, no matter how much experiences each of us have .. if you are interested in this tool as a gadget then I guess there are tons of more interesting reading around the net than my ramblings here).

With printing at home as my current hobby I donít see too much advantage for this purpose either; you will get equally good a3+ prints from 10 or 14MP. Only in certain cases you may actually see slight difference IMHO.
File sizes can be often overlook when considering which one to get. I have about 280 images left that are used in raw+jpg mode and average jpg site is about 5mb while average raw file size is about 14MB. You will need plenty of storage but quite powerful computer to handle this as well.

The reason Sony provided ďanother modelĒ with 14MP sensor as the only (significant) difference from a300 is telling a lot of the current market needs. Do NOT underestimate Sony when market is concerned; remember, itís all about perception and judging from enthusiastic reactions from so many Sony users (they gained a lot of new users but you already noticed that if you visit major forums) they did a good choice.

Finally I came to the point where my former ďMinolta loyal mentalityĒ gets kicked in. I donít see a DSLR camera as a gadget but rather as a tool. A photographic tool, designed, produced and delivered to photographers. Current Alpha line-up is significantly missing an intermediate model between a300 and a700.Thatís what a350 should be IMHO. Ya,ya,ya .. I already hear some of you speaking about a500 coming ya ya ya Ö. But guess what it may not happen so fast to justify why 350 isnít more as a toll and less as a gadget.

As I already mentioned, personally I donít give too much importance to 10MP vs. 14MP. I would rather see a model very similar to a300 but with
-     full quick navy feature as similar to the one found on a700 as possible
-     MLU
-     DOF preview button
-     3Ē LCD
-     DMF
-     AF/MF button
-     more accessible flash compensation
-     AEL spot option
-     Remote shooting (computer control)
Ö

Most of these do cost almost nothing (quick navi, MLU, AEL spot) while cost of other features listed may be compensated with the reduced cost of manufacturing only one sensor (10 MP) and even a bit higher price. Those minor changes (than most users may donít need but there are some that DO) may easily make that change between a gadget and photographic tool. But whatís maybe even more important, these features are telling us that Sony does care for those who donít have the money or they donít need all the futures a700 have, but they still know what MLU is serving for or do know how useful flash compensation can be for exaple.

What makes me really sad, is seeing persons treated badly if they complain about the missing MLU for example. (It is kind of heresy today asking for what once was a common feature no one has any asked to be removed. We were so proud when 7D was released for all the features and options we had since most of us were aware how useful those small things are even if we didnít needed them for our own kind of shooting. Even a100 had it. And no money was saved by removing it.)
Whether of not this phenomena should be of any concern to Sony isnít on me to judge, but I know what I would do.

And, since I donít want to end this report with rants .. I will repeat I was quite satisfied with how a350 performed.

All of the above strictly IMHO (in my humble opinion) and nothing more

Happy shooting

ups .. i copy pasted some text that wasn't supposed to be posted so those of you receiving email notification may just ignore it :)


Edited by Kiklop - 08 February 2008 at 22:58
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Post Options Post Options   Quote kiklop Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 February 2008 at 22:42
******
I want to thank you all for not using this thread for any comments so far and being patient while waiting for me to end this report. I think it was best thing to do since the whole report is easier to read.
Since Iím finished writing this there is no more reason to keep this thread for me only (i removed the kind requests from the first post) so feel free to comment and discuss if you want to (but be nice on me .. Iím only human :)) .. and use other threads for topics that are already discussed)
*****

Edited by Kiklop - 08 February 2008 at 22:59
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Post Options Post Options   Quote eieio Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 February 2008 at 20:14
Kiklop: thx for such a useful and practical hands on review. much appreciated.

you had mentioned that you'll get to the auto focus speed vis-a-vis various lenses earlier in this thread.    i have not seen it (hope that i didn't just miss it).

in particular, i'm considering one of these lenses:

Sony 18-250mm 3.5-6.3 430 g http://www.dyxum.com/lenses/detail.asp?IDLens=415

Sony 55-200mm 4-5.6 295 g http://www.dyxum.com/lenses/detail.asp?IDLens=416

Zeiss 16-80mm 3.5-4.5 440 g http://www.dyxum.com/lenses/detail.asp?IDLens=318

Sony 16-105mm 3.5-5.6 470 g http://www.dyxum.com/lenses/detail.asp?IDLens=417

TAMRON 10-24 mm 3.5-4.5 370 g   http://www.dpreview.com/news/0802/08020102tamron1024.asp
________________________________________________________

I would like one "all purpose" zoom w/wide range for most of the time, and then the Tamron 10-24mm for "fun"! i love the ultra wide zooms similar to the 7-14mm Olympus (which is too expensive for me at $1,600).

May I kindly ask if you might be so kind as to opine/comment as to the auto focus speed and responsiveness of the 18-250mm versus either the 16-80 or the 16-105?     Some have said that the 18-250 is noticeably slower due to the long zoom range...others have said it is minutely different.

It is hard to quantify but I'd like to see if someone can add a little "color" to the speed discussion, i.e. instead of fast, kind of fast, sort of fast... maybe there can be a reference point?

I tried out the Olympus E3 with the 12-60mm as a benchmark for super fast focusing as it claims to be the fastest in the world and, wow, it IS very fast. zippy.   then again, the E3 is fast in and of itself, plus the 12-60 has the ultra sonic motor.

I tried the Sony A700 with some 70-250? lens and it was S L O W! :(   it was inside a BestBuy store with all flourescent lighting, not ideal but that dark either! it was a very slow focusing experience.    i also tried out, for weight, canon 40D and 5D.

I'm sensitive to weight because i enjoy walking my dog while having my camera with me.    my past experience with the Sony R1 (cmos w/big Zeiss zoom) was that at roughly 980 grams, it was really a bit too heavy for me to carry around.    my current and temporary Olympus 510 with 2 kit zooms (i only carry one at zoom at a time) is around 755 grams only!   The 350/300 plus one of the zooms above will be around 1,070 grams. :(

Looking forward to seeing your comments re: auto focus speed and once again, thank you for your extensive effort to help us all!

*************
Below are the weights of the various carmeras that are my personal reference points:

Sony R1 995 grams incl battery 2.2 lbs 139 x 168 x 97 mm (5.5 x 6.6 x 3.8 in)
Olympus 510 Incl battery 535 g (18.9 oz) 136 x 92 x 68 mm (5.4 x 3.6 x 2.7 in)

             Olympus 14-42mm 190 grams; Oly 40-150mm 220 grams

OLYMPUS 510 + 40-150mm = 755 Grams INCLUDING battery
======================================

SONY 300/350 582 g (1.28 lb) NO BATTERY 130.8 x 98.5 x 74.7 mm (5.2 x 3.9 x 2.9 in)
             SONY 18-250mm 430 grams
             TAMRON 10-24 mm 370g (13.1 oz)

SONY 300/350 + 18-250mm = 1,012 Grams NOT including battery
=========================================

So the 3 salient weights are:

R1 995 grams incl battery
510 755 grams incl battery
350 1,012 grams NOT incl battery
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Post Options Post Options   Quote kiklop Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 February 2008 at 11:05
As far AF performance is concerned, a350 is very much like a700. Where a700 may behave better are low light situations with fast (2.8 and faster) lenses since this is when dual cross center AF point found on a700 should improve things.

I can't really comment 18-250 but if it is anything like the older 18-200 then it isn't a great lens when AF is concerned.

16-80 and 16-105 are fast focusing lenses. A regular user won't find them problematic in this respect IMHO.

Since this thread isn't devoted to lenses but rather about a350 i will just say that AF performance on a350 didn't disappointed me.

Somewhere in the future i provide an field report with more than one person involved and all lenses from the low end price tag used. This will not happen soon however since i really do not have the time at this moment.

Happy shooting !
 



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Post Options Post Options   Quote deyo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 February 2008 at 21:23
Thank you, Kiklop, for the review, it's very useful for me.
My previous camera was Sony R1, and with the live view I made very nice low-angle photos.
Did you used DRO, shooting the pictures? Do you think this option is useful, when shooting RAW?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote kiklop Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 February 2008 at 21:25
Originally posted by deyo deyo wrote:


Did you used DRO, shooting the pictures? Do you think this option is useful, when shooting RAW?

No i didn't used DRO (i'm not using it on my a700 neither) since i preffer post process files if needed.
DRO is not affecting RAW files.
Happy shooting !
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Post Options Post Options   Quote blueshift Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 February 2008 at 15:14
its very unfortunate that a350 doesnt have mlu and dof preview..
do you think there is a possibilty to get the firmaware "hacked" and activate the mlu and dof preview? maybe it sounds funny, but i owned a KM Z2 few years back and actually someone hacked the firmware and made it able to save raw images..
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Post Options Post Options   Quote kiklop Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 February 2008 at 15:38
Originally posted by blueshift blueshift wrote:

do you think there is a possibilty to get the firmaware "hacked" and activate the mlu and dof preview?

Instead of firmware hacks i hope to see sony providing an updated firmware but then again for something like this a critical userbase is required and i'm not sure we have that.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote blueshift Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 February 2008 at 16:41
Originally posted by Kiklop Kiklop wrote:

Originally posted by blueshift blueshift wrote:

do you think there is a possibilty to get the firmaware "hacked" and activate the mlu and dof preview?

Instead of firmware hacks i hope to see sony providing an updated firmware but then again for something like this a critical userbase is required and i'm not sure we have that.


i think sony's reason for limiting those features is to create a gap between a700 and a350.. if thats the case, i dont think improved firmware will ever be provided (although i hope it will)..

its also very possible that sony actually already has that firmware that support mlu and dof preview.. but they dont release it due to marketing beneficial.. i suppose..

i think the easiest way to get mlu and dof preview working is to develop hacked firmware.. maybe we can ask or "hire" a hacker to develop that firmware.. i'm not sure if this can be done, coz i'm blind about hacking stuff..

just my 2 cents though..
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Post Options Post Options   Quote sybersitizen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 February 2008 at 19:00
It may be too late to answer this since you no longer have the camera, but...

We know that when using the ten-second or two-second shutter delay the mirror does not flip up until just prior to the exposure. So I'm assuming that when using either type of delay in wireless flash mode the pre-flash also does not occur until the END of the countdown. Correct?

Edited by sybersitizen - 17 February 2008 at 19:31
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Post Options Post Options   Quote artuk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 February 2008 at 08:57
Originally posted by Kiklop Kiklop wrote:

We have a better camera than anyone else at all price levels.
A200 is better than the Nikon D60
A300 is better than the Canon 450D
A350 is better than pentax k20D
Just search around the net and you will realise how much users honestly believe in the above statement.


I can't see how you can justify the statement that the new Sony models are "better cameras" when they lack basic photographic features such as depth of field preview or mirror lock up.

Every SLR camera I have ever owned, no matter how basic, has always offered depth of field preview, and I wouldn't consider a body as my main camera that lacked it. I can't be the only photographer who feels this way.

The new models strike me as very consumer / entry-level oriented, much like the Nikon D60, but I don't think that is the same market that the Pentax K20D is aimed at, for example?

Edited by artuk - 18 February 2008 at 09:12
Art
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Post Options Post Options   Quote kiklop Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 February 2008 at 10:35
artuk,

i was trying to be ironic which i obviously failed :(
I share your opinion, but as i said many users are happy with what Sony has made and this is most probably the way a-mount will be build in the future.
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