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Sony Alpha DSLR-A200 Review

LAS VEGAS (CES BOOTH 14200), Jan. 6, 2008 – Sony is advancing the digital SLR category for mainstream photographers with today’s introduction of the new α (alpha) DSLR-A200 camera.

The DSLR-A200 model features upgrades influenced by the recently-introduced, enthusiast-class DSLR-A700 camera and replaces the former Sony DSLR-A100 model, which was Sony’s first in the DSLR class.

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The new model is designed to be faster, lighter and easier to use. Upgraded features include a wider, 2.7-inch Clear Photo LCDTM screen for easy playback viewing; a more compact body and an easily-accessible mode dial; an easy-to-use function menu (camera function display); improved noise control for higher quality images; an auto focus speed 1.7x faster than the previous model; improved predictive control performance; quieter shutter sound; automatic pop-up flash; and a battery life indicator that displays the percentage of battery life remaining so you know exactly when to recharge.

As seen in all α (alpha) camera bodies, the DSLR-A200 camera incorporates Super SteadyShot® image stabilization in the body to allow shooting at shutter speeds of 2.5 to 3.5 steps slower than otherwise possible – a benefit realized with every compatible lens attached to the camera. Compatible lenses encompass all Minolta Maxxum® mount lenses, in addition to Sony α (alpha) lens lineup – including Carl Zeiss® lenses.

“With the DSLR-A200, we are helping consumers capture high-quality images with advanced technology that’s practical and easy to use,” said Phil Lubell, director of marketing for digital cameras at Sony Electronics. “This model is an ideal step-up for point-and-shoot users who are looking for a camera that can capture virtually all of the photographs they want.”

High-Quality Images

With its 10.2-megapixel (effective) APS CCD image sensor, the DSLR-A200 camera continues to offer high-quality images by allowing more light to pass through to each pixel – increasing sensitivity, reducing noise, and providing greater detail.

Clean, reduced-noise signals are sent from the image sensor to Sony’s BIONZ™ processing engine, which processes data-rich picture information at high speeds and reduces picture noise in the RAW data stage before image JPEG conversion. The results are high-resolution, detailed images with rich tonal reproduction.

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The DSLR-A200 model supports JPEG and RAW file format support. It has a slot for CompactFlash™ Type I/II media cards. An adaptor for Memory Stick Duo™ media cards is sold separately as an accessory.

Get The Photo Results You Want

In addition to Super SteadyShot image stabilization for virtually blur-free photos, the new model incorporates Sony’s D-Range Optimizer (DRO). It helps you capture well-exposed images, especially when shooting high-contrast or backlit scenes that often lead to loss of highlight and shadow detail. Sony’s DRO modifies the range from highlights to shadows, including gain and contrast, through its in-camera hardware processing to produce more natural, evenly exposed pictures. The camera’s image analysis technology studies the captured image data and instantly determines the best exposure and color tonality for the image before JPEG compression.

The BIONZ image processing engine powers the camera up immediately and the eye-start autofocus starts the focusing system before you even press the shutter. The camera can shoot up to three continuous frames per second at 10.2-megapixels at the finest JPEG compression level.

As seen in previous α (alpha) models, the new model carries a static-free anti-dust coating on the CCD filter which is gently vibrated to dislodge any dust that might have collected each time the camera is powered off.

Additionally, the DSLR-A200 camera’s supplied lithium ion battery offers up to 750 shots per full charge.

Bright and Easy Playback

The camera’s smaller, more compact body along with its wider, 2.7-inch Clear Photo LCD TM screen and a new on-screen navigation interface make it easier to carry and to use. The vibrant, easy-to-view screen features 230K-pixel resolution, an anti-reflection coating and glare-reducing layer assures vivid, accurate colors with a wide viewing angle, even in daylight. The on-screen navigation display shows camera settings and key shooting information in large, easy-to-read text. The display’s orientation automatically switches from landscape to portrait position when the camera is turned on its side.

Accessories Expand Creative Possibilities

Sony is providing a full line of accessories for the model, including flashes, rechargeable battery packs and several carrying cases. An interesting addition is the VG-B30AM ergonomic vertical grip equipped with the most essential controls for portrait orientation shooting. It also allows for the use of two InfoLITHIUM® batteries (sold separately) for up to 1,500 shots on a single, full charge.

The DSLR-A200K kit includes the camera body and a DT 18-70mm f3.5-5.6 3.9x zoom lens for about $700. The DSLR-A200W kit includes the camera body, the DT 18-70mm lens and a 75–300mm f4.5-5.6 lens for about $900. Both will ship in February and will be available at sonystyle.com, Sony Style® retail stores (www.sonystyle.com/retail), military base exchanges, and authorized dealers nationwide. Pre-orders begin online on Jan. 7 at www.sonystyle.com/dslr.

Sony Alpha DSLR-A200 specifications

(Note specs below are quite sparse due to the level of detail provided by Sony)

Price

• Kit inc. 18-70 mm F3.5 – F5.6 lens (DSLR-A200K): $700
• Kit as DSLR-A200K plus 75-300 mm F4.5 – F5.6 lens (DSLR-A200W): $900

Body material

Plastic

Sensor

• 23.6 x 15.8 mm CCD sensor
• RGB Color Filter Array
• Interline interlaced CCD
• Built-in fixed low-pass filter
• 10.8 million total pixels
• 10.2 million effective pixels

Image sizes

• 3872 x 2592 (L)
• 2896 x 1936 (M)
• 1920 x 1280 (S)

File qualities / formats

• RAW (12-bit,.ARW format)
• RAW + JPEG Fine
• JPEG Fine
• JPEG Standard

Dust reduction

• Static-resistant anti-dust coating
• CCD-shift dust reduction mechanism

Lenses

• Sony Alpha lenses
(also compatible with Minolta A-type bayonet mount lenses)

FOV crop

1.5x

Super SteadyShot

• CCD-Shift ‘Super SteadyShot’ system
• Five level LED shake indicator in viewfinder
• Anti-shake effect: Equivalent to 2.5 – 3.5 steps in shutter speed

Auto Focus

• TTL CCD line sensors (9-points, 8 lines with center cross-hair sensor)
• EV -1 to 18 (ISO 100) detection range
• Predictive focus control for moving subjects
• Auto-tracking focus point display

AF area selection

• Wide AF area
• Spot AF area (center)
• Focus area selection (any of 9)

Focus modes

• Single-shot AF
• Direct Manual Focus
• Continuous AF
• Automatic AF
• Manual focus

AF assist illuminator

Via internal flash, must be raised

Eye-start AF

Yes, selectable from menu

Shooting modes

• Auto
• Programmed AE (with shift)
• Aperture priority AE
• Shutter priority AE
• Manual
• Scene modes (below)

Scene modes

• Portrait
• Landscape
• Macro
• Sports
• Sunset
• Night portrait

Sensitivity

• Auto
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800
• ISO 1600
• ISO 3200

Metering modes

• Multi-segment (40 segment Honeycomb pattern)
• Center-weighted
• Spot

Metering range

• EV 1 to 20 (Multi-segment / Center-weighted)
• EV 4 to 20 (Spot metering)
(at ISO 100 with F1.4 lens)

AE Lock

• AEL button
• Half-press shutter release

AE Bracketing

• 3 frames
• 0.3 or 0.7 EV steps

Exposure compen.

• -2.0 to +2.0 EV
• 0.3 EV steps

Shutter

Electronically-controlled, vertical-traverse, focal-plane Shutter

Shutter Speed

• 30 to 1/4000 sec
• Bulb

Flash X-sync

1/160 sec

Aperture values

Depends on lens, 0.3 EV steps

DOF preview

Yes, dedicated button

White balance

• Auto
• Daylight
• Shade
• Cloudy
• Tungsten
• Fluorescent
• Flash
• Color temperature (2500 – 9900 K)
• Manual (Custom)

White balance fine tuning

• Auto (none)
• Preset WB: -3 to +3
• Fluorescent WB: -2 to +4
• Color temperature WB: -9 to +9
(Magenta to Green)

White balance bracketing

• 3 frames
• Hi or Lo steps

Dynamic range optimizer

• Off
• Standard
• Advanced

Color space

• sRGB
• Adobe RGB

Color modes

• Standard
• Vivid
• Portrait
• Landscape
• Sunset
• Night view
• B&W
• Adobe RGB

Image parameters

• Contrast (-2 to +2)
• Saturation (-2 to +2)
• Sharpness (-2 to +2)

Noise reduction

• Long exposure for exposures longer than 1 second
• User controllable: On / Off

Viewfinder

• Eye-level fixed pentamirror
• Spherical Acute Matte focusing screen (not changeable)
• Magnification approx. x0.83
• 95% frame coverage
• Diotric adjustment (-2.5 to +1.0)
• Eye-relief 20 mm from eyepiece, 16 mm from frame
• Eyepiece cup removable
• Viewfinder info bar

LCD monitor

• 2.7″ TFT LCD (‘Clear Photo LCD Plus’)
• 230,000 pixels
• Anti-reflective coating
• Auto dimmed by viewfinder eye sensor

Flash

• Built-in pop-up flash (auto release)
• Metering: ADI, Pre-flash TTL, Manual flash control
• Guide number 12 (ISO 100/m)
• Angle of coverage 24 mm (35 mm equiv.)
• Flash sync 1/160 sec, 1/125 sec (SteadyShot on)

Flash modes

• Auto
• Fill Flash
• Red-eye Reduction (pre-flash)
• Wireless/Remote Off-camera Flash
• Rear Flash Sync.
• High Speed Sync.
• Slow Sync with AE Lock

Flash compensation

-2.0 to +2.0 EV in 0.3 EV steps

External flash (optional)

• Sony HVL-F56M (guide no. 56)
• Sony HVL-F36M (guide no. 36)
• Macro Twin Flash Kit HVL-MT24AM

Drive modes

• Single-frame
• Continuous
• Self-timer (10 or 2 sec)
• Continuous bracket
• Single-frame bracket
• White balance bracket

Continuous shooting

• RAW: 3 fps, up to 6 frames
• RAW+JPEG: 3 fps, up to 3 frames
• JPEG: 3fps, unlimited

Self-timer

• 10 sec
• 2 sec

Orientation sensor

Yes, for shooting, playback and control panel display

Connectivity

• USB 2.0 Hi-Speed (mass storage or PTP)
• Video out (NTSC or PAL)
• DC-IN
• Remote terminal

Video out

Selectable NTSC or PAL

Storage

• Compact Flash Type I/II
• Supports FAT16 / FAT32

Power

• NP-FM500H Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery
• Battery charger included
• Optional AC adapter

Vertical grip

VG-B30AM (optional) accepts up to 2x NP-FM500H batteries

Dimensions

131 x 98.5 x 71 mm (5.2 x 3.7 x 2.8 in)

Weight (body)

No battery: 532 g (1.2 lb)


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