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Alpha Dslr

Alpha Dslr
Alpha Dslr
Considering Sony Alpha A100 DSLR -- how important is image stabilization?

I am amateur photographer looking to buy my first digital SLR. Sony Alpha A100 DSLR has built-in image stabilization, but the reports are saying it has noise at high ISO settings. How important is IS for an amateur photographer versus better ISO quality in the Nikons and Canons? I travel alot in developing countries where it is usually not convenient to have a tripod, so IS would seem to be a big plus. Still, I'd like to hear from folks with more photography experience on whether this is a gimmick or whether this makes it a better deal than the Rebel XT or the D50/D80.
Thanks for all the helpful comments. I found this link that has a very good discussion of the tradeoffs between the image stabilization and the ISO performance:


All of the cameras you mentioned are great and good value for money. Their strenghts boil down to this:
If you want to do long zooms hand held & on the cheap, get the Sony.
If you do a lot of night time photography, get the Canon.
If neither is a big priority, get the Nikon D80.
And get the D50 if you're on a tight budget or don't need the (advanced) features of the other models.
Sony A100:
The review at dpreview.com gives the A100 a 'highly recommended' but mentions that it only produces clean images up to ISO 400. So you'll have to use the flash at dusk and indoors.
Regarding Sony's 'Super SteadyShot', this is not a gimmick: it will let you shoot about 2 stops slower than normal and this is fantastic for long zooms.
Canon Rebel XT:
The Canon Rebel XT produces clean images up to ISO1600 and usable results at ISO 3200. The difference between ISO 400 (clean image Sony) and ISO 1600 (clean image Canon) is also two stops.
In theory, on the one hand you have a Sony where image stabilisation lets you slow down the shutter speed from 1/60th to 1/15th to get the shot, and on the other hand you have a Canon where you can crank the ISO up and keep shooting at 1/60th.
In practice, the Sony is better for long zooms and the Canon is better for low light.
With the Canon you can also add image stabilisation in the form of expensive lenses. This would make the Canon better in every situation.
The Rebel's only down side is the flimsy build quality. You'll have to pamper it a bit.
Nikon D50/ D80:
I personally use a Nikon D200, so I read the specs for the D80 with great interest. Of the four cameras you mentioned, the D80 is the most advanced, the best built, and the best all-around camera. It's also the most expensive of the four models.
Like the Canon, if you want image stabilisation, you'll have to buy expensive lenses. In terms of high ISO performance, it's midway between the Sony and the Canon. Recent Nikons produce clean images up to ISO 800 and usable picture at ISO 1600.
What I often do in low light situations is replace my f/2.8 zoom lens with a fast 50mm f/1.4 prime lens. You can do the same with Sony and Canon too, so this doesn't change the comparative advantage of the brands.
The D50 is the least advanced and cheapest of the four. Actually, it's price and simplicity are the only things going for it. Then again, if you don't need the features of the other models, maybe you shouldn't pay for them... With 6 Megapixels, the D50 will still produce great quality 8x10 inch prints.
Panacea's Sony R1:
Panacea's been plugging that thing for a month and I've been cautioning people for a month. The R1 actually is a great camera for what it is, but it has severe limitations compared to dSLR cameras. My main gripe is that it uses an electronic viewfinder. This viewfinder introduces a 1/10th second delay to the eye piece - before you ever press the shutter button. This makes it a lousy camera for action shots. It also fares poorly against the dSLR cameras in low light situations.

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