Sony Alpha A200, our new top pick for budget DSLR

By
Sony Alpha A200, our new top pick for budget DSLR
Note: This review appears in the Digital SLRs Group Test in PC Authority Magazine. For the full feature, read the December issue of PC Authority.

When Sony entered the DSLR market with its excellent Alpha A100, it was trying to bludgeon the established competition to death on value. The A200 continues that tradition with a combination of features and price that’s little short of terrifying.

The new models look less utilitarian than the chunky old A100. The body is larger than the EOS 1000D and D40, with an overall weight that’s noticeably but not terribly higher.

For a camera below $800, the A200 leaves out remarkably few features. Its 10 megapixels dwarf the six on offer from its nearest price competitor, the Nikon D40. There’s also impressive nine-point autofocus (the D40 offers only three), and Sony’s very effective Super SteadyShot integrated image stabilisation.

There’s more beyond the headline features, too, with spot metering and exposure bracketing, two features that might not sway the first-time DSLR buyer but become useful as you become more photographically adventurous. The latter feature is missing from the Nikon D40; the Canon EOS 1000D lacks both. ISO sensitivity goes up to ISO 3200, although here the budget shows its limits: results are too noisy to be useful except for web-sized images.

The kit lens is better than some, too. While Canon, Nikon and most of the rest offer 18-55mm lenses as standard, Sony gives you an 18-70mm model, and build quality is arguably better, too. It even comes with a small lens hood to cut down on flare – an accessory you’ll pay $50 or so for if you buy separately. It’s not as sharp as Nikon or Canon’s kit lenses, but there’s relatively little in it.

The only major feature the A200 lacks is a live-view mode, and the only omission a photography enthusiast might bemoan is the lack of a depth-of-field preview. If you’re planning on branching out into extra lenses, the Alpha system is at a disadvantage to the range of optics available for Canon and Nikon, but that’s changing and the extra focal-length range of the kit lens means it won’t become an issue too soon.

The price of the A200 is all the more amazing when you consider that it’s less than some digital compact cameras. And it’s a price that means the A200 simply must win this Labs.
Sony Alpha A200
5 6
Verdict
For a DSLR that does everything an amateur is ever likely to want, with a terrifyingly cheap price tag, look no further.
Image Quality
Features & Design
Value for money
Overall
Specs
$767
• Price: 763 • Camera type: DSLR • Megapixels: 10.2 • Sensor size: 23.6 x 15.8 • Max resolution: 3872 x 2592 • Optical zoom: 18 - 70mm • Lens max aperture: f/3.5 - f/5.6 • LCD size: 2.7" • Live view: No • Shutter speed: 30 - 1/4000 • ISO range: 100 - 3200 • Anti-Shake mode: Yes - in camera • RAW mode: Yes • Max burst speed: 3 frames / second • PictBridge: No • Battery type: Li-ion • Rechargeable battery: Yes • Dimensions (WDH mm): 128 x 150 x 98mm • Weight: 880g • Manufacturer: Sony • Supplier: Sony • Warranty: 1yr RTB
This review appeared in the December, 2008 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
Copyright © Alphr, Dennis Publishing
Tags:

Most Read Articles

Australia gets its own Humble Bundle

Australia gets its own Humble Bundle

The 31 best podcasts of 2017

The 31 best podcasts of 2017

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update: 10 of the best new features

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update: 10 of the best new features

Ask Graeme - What is the value of the NBN?

Ask Graeme - What is the value of the NBN?

Would you like to receive

Our Newsletter?