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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Terre Haute, IN
    Posts
    8

    Thumbs up Sony a300 and DSLR newbie!

    Hello all, long time reader, 4th time poster.

    I just picked up the a300, 18-70 and 75-300 lenses. I am impressed after day 1. Anyhow, I am a former point and shoot guy and was wondering if anyone knows of literature, tips, etc to get the most out of my a300. I'm afraid that I'll just leave it on "auto" instead of moving into more advanced photography. My previous cameras had scenes, but never allowed for optimization of the settings like this camera is capable of.

    What are the critical accessories (filters, flashes, etc) that I should consider as the budget allows?

    Looking forward to learning what this camera can do for me.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Des Plaines, IL
    Posts
    9,546
    Congratulations on your purchase ... have taken your first step into a larger world.

    Photography contrasting a DSLR vs a "point & click" camera truly remains a mystery. So many "point & click" folks will jump up and down proclaiming that their camera is capable of "oh so much", yet ... if that were "so true" ... why would anyone ever again purchase a DSLR? Better yet ... why would the camera manufacturers put so much time and effort in such devices ... if they were indeed at the "end of the road."

    Well, as many have found out ... through trials and tribulations, the DSLR is the solution to problems you simply cannot solve with the limited nature of a point & shoot. Sure ... given a bright sunny day ... no need for a flash or other lighting considerations ... the two would shoot a very similar shot. In fact, there is a lot less FUSS with a P&S camera, all things considered. Let's face it, it's convenient ... but, is it up to the task? The true answer is: It depends.

    Life isn't perfect ... and your lighting conditions and the fact things actually move has a lot to do with how you set up your camera for "the shot."

    Let's assume in your case, the P&S camera simply isn't hacking it (I know, big surprise ) So, in your quest for the better image, you have seen fit to purchase an α300 and the two lenses to improve on something you simply could not find a way to do with the point & click. So ... now you need some education on how to make this newfangled contraption work outside of the AUTO setting with the MODE control.

    The problem is ... where to start? There are several generic books written that discuss "exposure" ... which is talking about the very heart of photography. Your first consideration is to purchase one of these books, read it, question what you have learned and begin to come together with the basic photographic concepts of "Aperture", "Shutter-speed" and "ISO" (as it applies to digital cameras). Your α300 is a very capable tool ... some would call the cutting edge "Intro-DSLR". It works better, faster and with more options than almost all of cameras that came before it.

    In this forum, are literally dozens of efforts to explain these basic things (concepts). Out of respect for those you ask for assistance, you should take the time to go through the postings ... read most of them (some can be kind of strange) and try to get a handle on what you have asked. Don't be afraid to experiment and take lots of images ... testing settings you have learned about and contrast them against the same image taken in "AUTO".

    I expect you'll enjoy a lot of what is discussed. I know you are chomping at the bit to be able to produce the "Art of a Lifetime" out of your new little "darkroom", but you need to pay your dues first ... and that requires learning the ways of the Force, Luke ...

    Read on, brave soul ... there's much to be discovered and practiced. And for goodness sake ... shoot something ... a lot!
    Last edited by DonSchap; 05-11-2008 at 12:55 PM.
    Don Schap - BFA, Digital Photography
    A Photographer Is Forever
    Look, I did not create the optical laws of the Universe ... I simply learned to deal with them.
    Remember: It is usually the GLASS, not the camera (except for moving to Full Frame), that gives you the most improvement in your photography.

    flickr & Sdi

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    2,562
    You just heard it from the best. Don has help me improve my images tremdously. He has always been there when I had a problem or a question. Just keep shooting and you will learn from your images what works and what don't. That is what they make delete for.
    I never leave the house without my camera. And I am always looking for something to shoot. You will get the bug once you start seeing the great shots you get.
    Good luck
    Frank
    Sony A77
    Sony A580
    Sony A 100
    Maxxum 400si.
    Sony 18-70 Kit Lens
    Minolta AF 35-70
    Minolta AF 50 f/1.7
    Tamron 70-300 f/4-5.6 Di LD
    Tamron 60mm Macro
    Tamron 17-50 f/2.8
    Tamron 2x Converter
    Sony HVL-F42AM
    Quantaray 70-300 4.5-5.6 Macro
    Slingshot 200 Bag



    http://www.flickr.com/photos/22083244@N06/

    http://s305.photobucket.com/albums/nn219/sparkie1263/

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Terre Haute, IN
    Posts
    8
    I will search for knowledge in the forums and hopefully not feel overwhelmed!

    If only Yoda could say "master thy camera you will".

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    15

    A300 Also

    Hello All - just found this forum and there seem to be alot of people with alot of knowledge as compared to my complete lack of it.

    Back in the 35mm world i had a minolta 7000i which got thrown into a closet once i got my first digital - until two weeks ago i had a Canon Powershot SD630.

    I got the DSLR bug - did a bit of research and decided that I could not go wrong buying the Canon XTi but instead bought the Sony A300 because... well basically i thought it was cool and i am a big Sony fan accross the board.

    With that being said i now have a A300 with the stock 18-70 lens. Just took a much of pictures in the Bahamas last week - some good some bad and none great - i have some learning to do and will be spending some time on this forum and also ordering a book from amazon on DSLR photography.

    Primary reason for the camera is to take pictures of my 18 month old little girl but would like to also get into photography more. I guess the next steps would be a good tripod, good flash, and a bigger lens.

    I would definitely like to hear some thoughts before i go and buy these things.

    Thanks in advance.

    Don Fenyk

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Des Plaines, IL
    Posts
    9,546
    Tripod:

    Your tripod should be sturdy enough to hold your camera, lens and flash. They are usually rated in "pounds", both the tripod and the "head." Make sure you do not purchase too light a rig ... otherwise you may be putting your camera may be at severe risk.

    In earlier days, I have personally watched as a tripod leg failed, after several minutes of support, in apparent slow motion, on an older tripod ... seeing a couple hundred dollar flash bite the dust, as its footing broke off on impact. (shudder) The actual friction grip of the leg clamp gave way ... under pressure of the camera, a decent lens and the standard external flash ... coupled with all the battery weight. With just the camera, it would have been fine ... but those few extras did it in. That tripod never saw another day of use ... but, neither did the flash unit.

    Flash:

    SONY has recently released the new flash, HVL-F42AM, which was specifically designed for the newer Alpha 200, 300, 350 & 700 cameras.

    The HVL-F36AM flash unit is still available and a bit cheaper ... but, note that it was an earlier design for the Alpha 100, KM-5D & KM-7D cameras ... and may not have the same interactive response of the newer one.

    Lens:

    As far as a bigger lens goes, I'm assuming you mean longer in focal length. A 70-300mm f/4-5.6 is a good "outdoor" compliment, since you already have the 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 in your bag.

    Anyway, that's kind of the "Cliff Notes" take on it.
    Last edited by DonSchap; 05-14-2008 at 08:18 AM.
    Don Schap - BFA, Digital Photography
    A Photographer Is Forever
    Look, I did not create the optical laws of the Universe ... I simply learned to deal with them.
    Remember: It is usually the GLASS, not the camera (except for moving to Full Frame), that gives you the most improvement in your photography.

    flickr & Sdi

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    15

    Thank you Don

    I will keep the sturdy aspect in mind on the tripod.

    Flash - i'll do a bit of research on the difference between the two you mentioned.

    Lens - i see a huge price difference between the Sony lens specific to the Alphas and third parties - is most of that marketing or is the quality better in proportion to the cost difference - If you could point me to a specific lens that you have experience with and like i will use that as a starting point.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Des Plaines, IL
    Posts
    9,546

    Lightbulb Consider this ...

    Without knowing what kind of budgetary restraints you have in mind ... I am assuming that since you went for the α300, rather than the far superior α700 ... image quality is not a super-critical aspect of your choice, but pricing probably is ... therefore I suggest also going with third-party lenses and getting variety of them them, rather than reaching deep and having only one great lens to work with, which would limit your shot selection enormously.

    Therefore:

    SIGMA 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC Ultra-wide angle lens (~$500)
    TAMRON AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Macro telephoto lens (~$180)
    SONY SAL-50F14 - 50mm f/1.4 lens (~$330)

    These three lenses, plus your current SONY 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 will cover most shots.

    But ... if it were me, I'd consider dumping the SONY 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6, mainly due to image quality concerns, that you simply will not be able to work around ... and replacing it with either:
    • SONY SAL-1680Z - Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T DT 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Zoom lens (~$680)

      or to save a few bucks,
    • TAMRON SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di-II LD Aspherical Zoom lens (~$425).


    Either one is a tremendous improvement in image quality over that SONY kit lens.

    Deciding on purely SONY's lenses is exceptionally pricey for those starting out of the blocks, that's I recommend using a good third-party alternative. TAMRON has been a source for Minolta lenses for many years, so the chances are better than most that their lens offerings will work extemely well with the SONY bodies. I use them, almost exclusively ... and have been very pleased with the result.

    For your consideration ...
    Last edited by DonSchap; 05-14-2008 at 02:01 PM.
    Don Schap - BFA, Digital Photography
    A Photographer Is Forever
    Look, I did not create the optical laws of the Universe ... I simply learned to deal with them.
    Remember: It is usually the GLASS, not the camera (except for moving to Full Frame), that gives you the most improvement in your photography.

    flickr & Sdi

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Terre Haute, IN
    Posts
    8
    I've kind of fallen (no pun intended) for a monopod myself. While it doesn't give you the self portrait option, it can "protect" your gear as you can't just leave it standing there for gravity to take effect. It stabilizes the shot but still gives you freedom of mobility. In my case, it is not practical for sky or ground shots as mine does not have a tilt mechanism on it. They do make them, I just chose not to have one with this feature based on my typical use.
    Last edited by thcheme; 05-15-2008 at 12:01 PM. Reason: added text

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    15

    consider that

    Well - to say image quality was not part of my selection criteria is completely wrong - of course it was - but price also was. Thats like saying that i dont care about processing speed because i purchased a $1500 Dell and not the top of the like $5000 gaming platform.

    The A700 is $1400 body only while the a300 with lens is half of that. It all depends on your end goals - and based on where i wanted to be coming from a point and shoot i felt that the A300 was a good starting point. my goal is to get some good looking pictures of my child and i wanted to do better then the little point and shoot i currently have. Sorry for my little rant but just wanted to point out that setting a target budget has nothing to do with not wanting the best quality possilbe at a price.

    This technology (the sensors and electronics in the body) is advancing so fast just like all electronic technology. you just have to pick a price point and go with it. Sorry about my little rant - did not mean to offend.

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