While the trademark of Sony digital cameras has always been its Super SteadyShot (SSS) anti-handshake technology, the Sony α100 was engineered to use Konica Minolta's Anti-Shake technology instead. This uses a gyroscopic sensor that works by shifting the movable CCD module within the lens assembly to counter the hand shakes, which is not only practical but also economical because users do not need to break the bank for premium professional lenses with integrated image stabilization system.
The α100's nine-point autofocus system itself is highly accurate and fast, but of significant interest is the 'Eye start AF' that focuses on the subject you are about to snap when you look through the optical viewfinder. By using sensors installed below the viewfinder to automatically detect the proximity of face to camera, the α100 is able to perform quick focusing without user intervention (i.e. manual half pressing of shutter release button). From our day shoots, we were pleased with the overall detail and color reproduction of the α100.
One of the interesting functions was the D-Range Optimizer (D-R) mode and with it, dark areas in day shots were automatically compensated in relation to the overall brightness of the picture, thereby resulting in more uniformed images. Happily, thanks to Sony’s powerful Bionz image engine, photographic noise or grains is not a big issue for the α100. In our night test shots, photos were print worthy even at ISO 1600, and even more impressive was the blazingly fast review speed of the α100. Using a normal 4GB CF card, we were able to sift through a series of photos on the 2.5-inch LCD monitor as if we were looking at an animated GIF – yes, that's how fast the review speed is.
With the introduction of the highly competitive and functional α100, Sony has presented a viable system for those considering their first DSLR investment. However, if Sony were to expand its consumer base for DSLR cameras, they'll have to continue delivering professional products that can rival those offered by Nikon and Canon. Already, we are looking forward to its high-end DSLR series and Carl Zeiss range of lenses. The birth of the α100 is akin to the case of the mythical phoenix where one dies in flames to give birth to a newer and stronger one. Regardless of how you care to look at it, it is definitely more than just a simple step up from the Konica Minolta's Dynax 5D.
Overall, the α100 is a punch in the right direction for Sony. Our reservations were quashed as soon as it outperformed our expectations of price and performance for an entry-level DSLR. Coming from a company that never had a film-based camera before, Sony has really outdone themselves this time with the α100. The Sony α100 will be available from this weekend in three different configurations: Body only, body and 18-70mm lens only or body and 18-70mm lens plus the 75-300mm lens with RRP of USD$900, USD1,080, and USD$1,260 respectively.