• Price: 510

  • Company: Sony

  • Pros: Built-in camera-shake system makes every lens behave as if image-stabilized, and the Minolta A-mount provides access to a large legacy of Minolta lenses.

  • Cons: Not the all-new camera we were hoping for, the Alpha inherits some of the less ambitious specs of the earlier Konica Minolta 5D, such as the closely grouped 9-point AF system, sluggish operation, and only average low-light performance.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

The Alpha 100 is Sony’s first digital SLR. It’s the first effort from the company since it acquired assets and facilities from Konica Minolta’s photographic business, and the 10.2mp camera reflects the collaboration between the two companies.

Although Sony has dropped the Dynax and Maxxum branding in Europe and the US, the Alpha moniker is not
new – it was originally Minolta’s brand name for its film and digital SLRs in the Japanese market.

The collaboration has given Sony a credible lens system to work with – the new Alpha 100 retains the Minolta A-type bayonet mount, and compatibility with the vast majority of Minolta and Konica Minolta’s Dynax and Maxxum branded AF lenses. New lenses are promised too, including some obscure designs – thanks to Sony’s relationship with Carl Zeiss.

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The standard lens supplied with the A100 is a Sony-branded 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6. Coupled with the Alpha’s APS-C-size sensor, this set-up is equivalent to a 27-105mm on a 35mm camera, and is a slightly wider, longer, and more versatile range than most rivals. Both the Nikon D50 and Canon EOS 350D sport shorter 18-55mm (27-82mm equivalent) zooms. <BR>
With its polycarbonate mount, the Sony lens doesn’t come close to the likes of Nikon’s superb AFS 18-70mm lens supplied with the D70s, but it’s light, and performs reasonably. 
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A twin lens kit with a 18-70mm and a telephoto 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6 (112-450mm equivalent) is available for an additional £130 plus VAT. Neither would be particularly attractive to professional snappers, but they would be great if you’re trading-up from a compact.
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While the chassis and a good deal of the mechanics are based on the old Konica Minolta Dynax 5D, with the much vaunted Anti-shake CCD-Shift system (renamed Super-steady Shot), Sony’s contribution now goes much further than the image sensor. Along with upping the pixel count from 6mp to 10.2mp, Sony has developed a new Bionz Image processor with optional Dynamic Range Optimization. 
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