Face Off: Nikon D80 and Sony A100

The First Sony DSLR: A100

The First Sony DSLR: A100

Sony has already established itself in the compact digital cameras business but that alone isn't going to help them secure the number one spot in the global digital camera market. Moving forward, the company has broadened its camera line-up with its very first DSLR, the new A100, to provide a complete solution for every photographer. Without prior experience in the development of DSLR cameras, it was clear that Sony has had a lot of catching up to do, but with the acquisition of Konica Minolta DSLR division, Sony finally has the leverage it needs to establish itself as a brand to be reckoned with. Although the A100 bears numerous similarities with the Konica Minolta Dynax 5D, it's not just a case of "old packaged as new". Just like the mythical phoenix where one dies in flames to give birth to a newer and stronger one from the ashes, the new camera (A100) has a lot to offer to budding photographers.

In particular, users can stand to benefit from Sony's Super SteadyShot technology. Already available in nearly all its digital compact offerings, the technology works to reduce blurring from handshakes. Unlike the technique employed in the smaller T30 compact that uses lens shifting to reduce blurring, the A100 adopts a more sophisticated gyroscopic sensor to shift the CCD module accordingly to counter handshakes, thereby eliminating unwanted blurring from handshakes.

Because DSLRs differ from prosumer cameras in that it allows a myriad of lenses to be used, concerns of unwanted dust particles on the CCD image sensor are unavoidable. It's definitely dampening to find holiday pictures smeared with unwanted artifacts caused by dust particles that have settled on the image sensor, which is usually the result of switching from one lens to another. Thanks to the Anti-dust System, the A100 is able to reduce the number of dust particles settling on the sensitive CCD image sensor. The system is very similar to Olympus' E-series in that it also uses ultrasonic vibration to shake off dust particles on the CCD sensor. Sony being Sony and that the A100 is the company's first DSLR, they've gone on to add an anti-dust coating on the CCD sensor to reduce static charge from attracting dust onto the image sensor.

Another brand new development specially engineered for its introductory DSLR is a new Bionz engine that basically handles all image quality aspects of the A100. Using sophisticated algorithms and high-speed processing, the new engine is able to remove unwanted image noise without incurring a heavy penalty on resolution and color integrity. And to solve the longstanding issue of losing details in scenes with contrast in lighting, the Sony A100 comes with D-Range Optimizer (D-R) to enhance dark/underexposed regions in an image/shot without severe alteration to the brighter areas. Simply put, with the D-R activated, Sony claims pictures taken by the A100 will look more natural.

That about sums up the unique key features of the Sony A100. Next up is those of the Nikon D80.

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