Sony Alpha A200 Digital SLR - Sony Alpha A200

By Cliff Smith

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Sony Alpha A200 Digital SLR

Summary

Our Score:

9

User Score:

So, enough about the competition, let's take a look at the camera. The overall size and shape holds no surprises for anyone familiar with recent consumer DSLRs. Measuring 130.8 x 98.5 x 71.3 and weighing 532g it is a little larger and heavier than either the Nikon D60 (126 x 94 x 64 mm, 495g) or the Canon 400D (126.5 x 94.2 x 65mm, 510g), but the difference is not great and the A200 feels light and compact. Compared to the Alpha A100 it is almost the same size (133.1 x 94.7 x 71.3mm) but slightly lighter (545g). The body is made of plastic over a metal chassis, and it has to be said that the construction doesn't feel as robust as the rather chunky A100, but it is by no means flimsy, especially when compared to other current entry-level models.

The design of the body is clearly based on the A100 , which in turn was based on the Minolta Dynax 5D, so it does have a certain pedigree. Although broadly similar, the shape has been softened somewhat, with wider-radius curves and a sloping top to the rear panel. The finish is a more matt shade of black than the A100, and that too somehow softens the appearance. The shape of the rubberised handgrip is the same at the front, but that shape-softening has resulted in a slightly smaller thumbgrip area on the back, and as a result the camera is not quite as secure and comfortable to hold. This is a little unfortunate, since the same body design is being used on the A300 and A350.

The most obvious external changes are seen in the control layout, which has been completely revised. The main mode dial has been moved from the right to the left side of the top plate, while the A100's function selection dial has been replaced by a function button and on-screen menu. This makes the camera look a lot less complex, while still retaining the same level of control and range of features. ISO setting now gets its own button on the top plate, but other than that the position and function of the other buttons remains unchanged from the previous model. Other less obvious changes include the shutter release button, which now has a shorter travel and is a lot more sensitive, but has lost the very positive double action of the A100. The LCD monitor is also slightly larger, 2.7 inches rather than 2.5, and has slightly higher resolution, with 230,400 dots. One negative change is found on the underside of the camera. The A100 had a textured base, enabling it to fix securely to a tripod even when using a telephoto lens in portrait format. The underside of the A200 is smooth, and even has a couple of slippery labels around the tripod thread. I found I had to over-tighten the tripod retaining screw in order to stop the camera tilting when using the aforementioned zoom lens. Some things have remained unchanged, most notably the viewfinder. It has the same 83 percent magnification and 95 percent frame coverage, and is nice and bright.

The A200 doesn't add much to the A100's feature set, in fact something has been removed. The main photographic features are unchanged, with 30-1/4000th of a second shutter speeds, multi-segment, centre-weighted and spot metering and multi-zone, centre or selectable AF. The main additions are an improved Bionz image processor chip now offering 3200 ISO maximum sensitivity setting and an improvement to the Super SteadyShot image stabilisation system, which now offers 2.5 - 3.5 stops of extra stability at low shutter speeds. The AF system has also been improved, with nine AF points and a cross-type centre spot, for faster and more accurate focusing. One very useful new feature is support for Sony's InfoLithium battery technology. The remaining battery life is displayed as a percentage figure on the monitor, so you know exactly how long you can continue shooting. One very useful feature has been removed however. On the A100, when using the 2-second self-timer for shake-free tripod shots, the camera would raise the reflex mirror as soon as the shutter was pressed, so that any vibration caused by the mirror moving would not affect the photo. This mirror-up feature has been removed for the A200 for no readily explicable reason. Maybe it's because the A200's shutter release is a lot smoother and quieter than the loud clack of the A100, and produces less shake.

pinkliverbird

February 7, 2009, 5:02 am

I am thinking of buying either the Sony Alpha A200 or the Nikon D60 and I am finding it difficult to decide. I see from the picture of the A200 that it has a Carl Zeiss lens, but the Sony A200 that I have seen for sale does not come with this lens. The reviewer has given image quality at 10 points. I am new to SLR cameras but I do believe that the image quality has a lot to do with the lens used. If the review has been written using the Carl Zeiss lens then doesn't that give a slightly false rating? Or should this camera come with a Carl Zeiss lens? As I said before I am new to photography and would appreciate any feedback on picture quality in relation to the camera used. Thanks.

Cliff Smith

February 7, 2009, 11:25 pm

You can buy the A200 with the Carl Zeiss lens shown, but it would be a lot more expensive. It normally comes with a standard Sony 18-70mm kit lens, which is obviously a lot cheaper. The quality of the Sony kit lens is actually pretty good, certainly better than some other manufacturers' kit lenses. I used the kit lens, the Zeiss lens and a Sony 70-300mm telephoto zoom when testing the A200, so my score for the image quality was based on the camera, not the lens, when compared to other cameras of similar price.

hesperus

April 14, 2009, 5:39 am

You can now pick a sony alpha 200 with sony's kit lens for under 𧶲 which on reflection is a brilliant buy. However, having just bought one and taken my various test shots I take with all my new cameras. In my opinion if you are on budget save yourself 𧵎+ and buy a FujiFilm S5800(or similar)!

Sencci

May 13, 2009, 7:03 pm

Hello Mr. Smith and others!


Please, could You tell me which dslr camera is the best buy solutions? (seeing parameters: picture quality and performance):





-Sony A200 (KIT 18-70mm)


-Nikon D60 (KIT 18-55mm) or


-Canon EOS 1000D (KIT 18-55mm)





I decide that is 9AF (sony) and 7AF (canon)advantageous against nikon, but is it crucial?


But nikon and canon has better reputation than sony, is it relevant, or sony is a good choice regarding a lower price? Please, tell me your opinion?

stefan

May 21, 2009, 2:05 am

im looking to start photography at school and of course need a fairly cheap dslr, i ahve spent alot of time looking around and this seems too pop up as the best. but i have been recommended quite strongly to go for a canon or a nikon. the only similar one too this camera is the canon 1000d for around £350 whereas i found this for £250. basically shall i listen to those chums who recomend the worse nikon's and canon's or just go take the risk with the sony ?

john whale

June 18, 2009, 7:41 am

I have a Sony A200 and a Nikon D40, even though the Sony has more pixels I find the Nikon to produce crisper pictures and a better focusing system, although I have to admit I am no expert and these are only my own opinions.

rob 10

June 27, 2009, 11:23 pm

i have just bought a sony a200 i have found it very easy to use and very light to hold i have allready been out using it and i find the quality very very good and clear i would recomend this camara to others my brother is know looking to bye one

Chris Lyons

July 21, 2009, 9:09 pm

I have just also bought a A200 and it is by far the best camera on the market for the money, the only trouble and downside is there is no live view, but hay hoe you do get what you pay for and for £250 you cant go wrong, if you are a beginner then look no further, a great investment.

Tim 12

August 28, 2009, 2:19 am

I'm struggling to find this and a lense kit for £250, any pointers?

Geoff Richards

August 28, 2009, 3:26 am

£300 seems to be the going rate these days... I certainly can't find anywhere selling it near £250 either

tamila56

September 6, 2009, 2:08 am

asda have it for £247

Toby

October 7, 2009, 5:56 pm

Hi guys Argos are selling the camera and lense kit for 225 as a managers special only available in Store. I know as I just managed to pick one up : )

Neeraj Deneeraj

December 14, 2012, 4:32 pm

hi

Neil Tuttle

September 13, 2014, 8:55 pm

i have one of these 200, i do believe its one of the worst cameras on the market, i dont claime to be a super picture taker, but i have used this camera for over 8 years, and to this day, using ever setting, i know, i cannot get this camera to shoot a clean clear picture. no matter the pic quality sucks big time... i wanted a camera that would talke sports pics at inside arenas , etc with enouhg speed for stop action.. this camera will not get the job done.. shooting inside at sports areas is useless. i have a nikon cool pic that takes better pics... my advise simple, you dont want this piece of crap, .. i made a mistake and listen to a sales person whom i though had some knowledge of cameras.. spent a lot of money at that time for nothing.. i wrote sony a letter years ago explaing that this camers would not do what they said it would do. never heard back from them, as of that time, i dont buy sony any more.. i will stick with canon or nikon.... my advise is stay away from sony cameras.

Neil Tuttle

September 13, 2014, 8:56 pm

dont take the risk, this is the sorries camera on the market,, you will not like it ,,

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