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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    3

    Filter advice - alpha DSLR 200

    Hello,

    Have just ordered my new Sony alpha DSLR 200; I'm a keen 'amateur' photographer although my interest has slipped a bit in recent years - when I was younger I used to be a bit obsessive, although I never had the best kit I think I did pretty good; I used to have a second hand Olympus film SLR which I absolutely loved, since that finally gave up the ghost and I lost a bit of interest/time, I've been making do with various entry-levelish digital cameras, most recently the Exilim 100 which I have to admit was fantastic, and did me proud for some wonderful photos, most recently of last year's Venice carnival (hard to go wrong there, I admit).

    Unfortunately that too is now out of commision and so I have decided to spend the bit extra in replacing it and try to recapture my past interest; I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to getting my hands on an SLR again!

    Anyway - I know most of you on here are WAY above my level, and I have read with interest the 'sticky' thread on replacement lenses; I am sure I will end up agreeing with you all about the kit lens in time but for the moment it will do for me (I hope!), and I will leave spending another £200 plus on lenses for another day, with a few more months of getting used to the camera under my belt.

    What I AM interested in atm is the stuff I NEED right now - and I'm thinking more of filters? I'm guessing a lot of you will have experience with the 200 or similar cameras, and just to give you a little info I am planning to put the camera through its paces on two very different (in terms of lighting, for current discussion) holidays soon - the Llangollen (Wales) canal, and Cyprus. Do I need a UV filter, and/or a polarisng filter, to get the best out of the camera (and the kit lens!) across this range of conditions, or is the in-camera adjustment good enough?

    Any advice appreciated, sorry for the long post - bit of a 'hello' too. So, um, Hello. Too.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Des Plaines, IL
    Posts
    9,554

    Lightbulb Filtering the discussion ...

    Welcome 'trevor' ... SONY DSLR forum is a terrific place to get in sync with your photography, concerning these little gems.

    As far as a circular polarizer (CP) goes, it is tough (if not just impossible) to do what that particular filter does, AFTER the image is created. You would really have to be an outstanding "after-image-pixel-manipulator" to do that. Believe me, most people are not. The polarizer-filter eliminates reflections and glare by only allowing light to pass through that is coherent (in line with other light waves) ... anything non-coherent or out-of-phase with the main light is attenuated. The result is a reduction in glare, also, making your image look "cleaner" and "sharper"

    Most of the time, when you are outdoors, the polarizer will improve the appearance of your skies, by eliminating the overall glare, as you rotate it into proper position. You simply monitor its positioning and then snap the image, when you have it correctly aligned (when your sky is darker or darkest). If you rotate past that point, the sky usually lightens back up, as non-coherent light is allowed back in through the filter.

    You can clearly see this effect if you point your camera at the LCD monitor and then rotate the CP filter on the front of your lens. At some point, the entirely display image will disappear (because the LCD is a polarized image, itself. Once the filter is aligned out of phase with the polarized-image of the display ... it gets blocked).

    As far as a UV-filter goes ... unlike a SLR film camera, these are effectively useless on a DSLR camera and just add another piece glass to interfere with your image The sensor simply does not respond to UV light like film does. They are mostly deployed in a prophylactic way (much like the lens cap) to prevent physical damage (finger prints, incidental scratches and just plain smacking the lens into something). As far a shooting goes, cheap filters (both UV and CP) can affect lens autofocus performance. Even more noticeably with higher-end lenses, which are more sharply detailed and sensitive to these poor design/performing glass filters.

    The average good performing CP under 67mm will end up costing you around $80-100. If you spend anything substantially less, you (more than likely) have a piece of crap in front of your lens. If you are using the "kit" lens, you probably won't notice this, because with or without a filter ... it is just as bad. Where it will really come into play and give you a "hair-pulling" experience is on a higher end lens, like the 70-200mm f/2.8 or a 70-300mm f/4-5.6 G SSM. It will simply ruin their performance in a way that simply should be avoided.

    The rule is: You do not want to RUIN the performance of a top drawer lens by slapping a low-end filter on the front of it. Spend the money. up front, literally ... or your will later, but will have a bunch of "seedy-looking" work out of a great lens ... until you do.

    Hope this advice helps ... it is pretty general in nature.


    Now, go shoot something.
    Last edited by DonSchap; 08-02-2009 at 04:38 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

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Monmouthshire, UK
    Posts
    2,152
    Which kit lens is coming with your A200? Over here it could be the 18-70mm or the 18-200mm. I don't suppose they are chucking in the 18-55mm SAM.

    I agree with Don; the CPL will be of most use to you. In the Cyprus it will tone down the excessive contrast and help to avoid blown highlights and will be invaluable on the water in Llangollen; especially so if you get to the water falls. A plastic bag and elastic bands will be handy too.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    western US
    Posts
    1,218
    The front of the A200 kit zoom rotates while focusing. Which does not help with linear polarizers and other trick filters. In my view a Haze1 or UV1 is in order for the prophylactic purpose already stated by Don. But he's also right about filters softening the image. So I would use a filter only when needed, not as a standard practice.

    Kelly Cook
    Canon EOS 50D, Fujifilm F45fd, various film dinosaurs

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    3
    Peekayoh - it's the 18-70mm. 18-200mm sounds HUGE for a kit lens, I'm guessing that's an expensive option?

    Thanks everyone for the advice, have ordered a decent Hoya polarizing filter, decided against getting the top of the line one yet as from the sounds of it with the kit lens I wouldn't be getting the full advantage. Is that what you were trying to tell me or have I got it wrong?

    Camera should be delivered tommorow or failing that wednesday - will let you all know how I get on (and perhaps annoy you with questions).

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Des Plaines, IL
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    9,554
    Trent,

    one of the best beginner "do it all" lenses is the 18-250mm (TAMRON or SONY). It is not that large ... weighing only 18 ounces. It is totally compact due to its XR design and extends quite a bit as you snorkel out and zoom in on your subject.

    One of the drawbacks of the lens it that is does darken up as you snorkel out. This side effect is even worse on the "kit" lens you are about to use. My advice is to lose the kit lens ... because it will not be of much value toward your photography, overall. It may teach you the principles of the art ... but, as far as a "decent image" ... it is not what you want to use.. The 18-250 is not only incredibly more versatile, but sharper and brighter. You also will not need to replace it except at your leisure for an improve lighting scenario.

    Many first-time DSLR purchasers now pick a long-range wide-to-telephoto mega-zoom as their first lens. The classic Tamron AF18-200mm XR Di II f/3.5-6.3 (28-300mm equivalent on consumer DSLRs) is a popular choice, in lieu of the usual short zoom that “comes with the kit” because it’s compact, lightweight, and affordable. No, even 11X zoom can’t do absolutely everything, but it’s a fantastic choice for, say, hiking a nature trail or walking around the zoo where you want a compact one-lens outfit to cover as many picture-taking opportunities as possible.

    Lenses in the 18-200mm & 18-250mm class are also a great choice for folks who want to get all the other advantages of using a DSLR without having to change lenses! Another fascinating first lens for photographers who want to shoot natural looking non-flash pictures in low light is a fast, short zoom like the Tamron SP AF17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II. This lens, roughly equal to a 27-80mm on a 35mm film SLR, offers the superior light-gathering ability of a wide f/2.8 aperture at all focal lengths—great for street photography and indoor “available light” shooting. Neither of these alternative first lenses is as inexpensive as a normal zoom, but in the long run either one may help you build an efficient DSLR lens arsenal at the lowest possible cost.

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    Is it the answer to everything? Certainly not. But, you will find immensely more useful and usable than the "kit." Worth the money? Only if you use your camera ... and you will certainly like using your camera a lot more, than what you will ever get out of that "kit" lens.

    Arguably, the 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3, the 50mm f/1.4 and the HVL-F42AM should the initial solution for most indoor subjects.

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    Last edited by DonSchap; 08-03-2009 at 09:09 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
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Monmouthshire, UK
    Posts
    2,152
    Quote Originally Posted by trevor View Post
    Peekayoh - it's the 18-70mm. 18-200mm sounds HUGE for a kit lens, I'm guessing that's an expensive option?

    Thanks everyone for the advice, have ordered a decent Hoya polarizing filter, decided against getting the top of the line one yet as from the sounds of it with the kit lens I wouldn't be getting the full advantage. Is that what you were trying to tell me or have I got it wrong?

    Camera should be delivered tommorow or failing that wednesday - will let you all know how I get on (and perhaps annoy you with questions).
    I'm not sure that's logical thinking. You need as good a filter as possible so as to degrade an already mediocre lens as little as possible.
    If you knew what your next lens would be you could future proof your filter purchase by buying one to suit that lens and using a step up ring. The step up ring prevents the use of the Lens Hood but as the front element of the 18-70 rotates it's not really an issue.
    For instance if you've got your sights on a SAL 16105 which has a 62mm thread so you'd buy a 62mm CPL with 55-62 step-up. The Minolta AF 24-85 F3.5-4.5 also has a 62mm front end.
    In my case I have a variety of front ends at 55, 62, 72 and 77mm. So a 55-77mm, a 62-77mm and a 72-77mm step-up plus a 77mm CPL covers everything.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Des Plaines, IL
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    I know people hate to read ... and would rather have knowledge handed to them on a "silver-tongued platter", but I must say this SONY DSLR FORUM is chuck full of these type of discussions and it would truly behoove the OP (Original poster) to take a about a week and dive into some of the discussions that have taken place over the past year and a half, since the A200, A300 and A350 were introduced. The discussions are intense and informative concerning lenses; filters; flashes and other accessories.

    Here's another filter discussion ... which might save some time and lead to better understanding.

    Also ... if you interested in a consistent opinion ... here's one on the "kit" lens.
    Last edited by DonSchap; 08-03-2009 at 10:01 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

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    3
    plastic bag and elastic bands?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Monmouthshire, UK
    Posts
    2,152
    You're going to be at Llangollen so you may make it to the Pistyll Rhaeadr Waterfall.
    Also it rains a LOT in that part of the country.

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