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I recently bought a Sony Alpha 300 (live-view version of the A200). The camera is now available for around £300 with the 18-70mm kit lens. This is my first venture into DSLR photography.
I'll give you my first impressions:
From the front, the A300 is identical to the A200.
This image illustrates the articulating screen of the Alpha A300.
Sony Alpha A300: Handling
The camera feels good and nicely weighted. The body is robust and survived me dropping it!
Sony Alpha A300: Controls
Logically laid-out, but you really need to know SLR terminology to get the best for these cameras. Digesting the instruction manual is just too dull and most people will just end-up shooting in "auto" mode, which defeats the object of having a DSLR.
The 2.7in LCD screen seems fine. Some have commented on its size, but that's just splitting hairs. In bright daylight it's not the best; I guess that applies to all LCD screens. One nice touch is that the screen pivots and moves outwards on angled supports. It looks good if nothing else!
Sony Alpha A300: Performance
The kit lens (18-70mm) provides only reasonable performance. At anything less than f/8, the image is very soft around the edges. This is particularly noticeable when shooting at the full 10.2Mp resolution. A decent lens is going to empty your pockets to the tune of £300 .
The exposure level on Matrix readings, seems to lean slightly toward under-exposure by 1/3-1/2 stop. I'd be tempted to shoot anything important twice, pushed up half a stop. Shoot anywhere between ISO100–400 and you won’t notice the difference. When pushed up to ISO3200 there’s obvious noise, however that can add atmosphere if used appropriately. I have the Tamron 70-300mm lens with this camera and it’s not bad. Sharp images are achievable, even when shooting at full zoom (f/5.6). It doesn't weight too much, so camera shake isn't bad either.
I'd give 7/10 for the camera but the kit lens isn't as good.
||DxOMark provides objective, independent, RAW-based image quality performance data for lenses and digital cameras to help you select the best equipment to meet your photographic needs.
Visit the DxOMark website for tests performed on the Sony Alpha A300.