Beginner Needing Camera Shopping Advice

Started Apr 28, 2012 | Discussions thread
Bjorn_L
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Re: Beginner Needing Camera Shopping Advice
In reply to GabeView, Apr 29, 2012

GabeView wrote:

Thanks for the advice guys.
All the of the video shots will definitely be done on a tripod.

I doubt I'll need much lighting equipment just yet, and I'm thinking the standard 18-55 lenses that usually come with the body will get me through my first semester of these classes fine.

I went to a wolf camera store today, and was immediately recommended the Sony alpha A57 when I mentioned the D5100. It seems like he may have been told to push that certain camera, but all the reasons he gave seemed to make it well worth the extra hundred dollars.

Do any of you guys have opinions about the A57? From first glance it looks like a consumer camera with some non-consumer abilities, but I just wanted to make sure I got a second opinion.

I would probably prefer the Nikon to that Sony. The stabilization turns off in video and they use electronic "fake" stabilization which according to one of the more knowledgeable Sony users here (Alphoid) is not that effective. His opinion is that it would have been better to leave it out and let the "stabilization" be done in post-processing with software.

I also do not care for the electronic viewfinder. I prefer cameras with optical viewfinders. (such as the d5100). Others don't mind the EVF.

The Nikon is around 1/3 to 1/2 stop better in low light. This is because Sony decided to put a mostly translucent mirror to split the light to the sensor and the EVF instead of splitting the signal from the sensor. Also a EVF has a surprisingly large impact to battery life. Not an issue if you shoot constantly in a test (in which case the a57 shoots around 80% as many photoso per charge), but in a real world scenario where you shoot a few shots, wait a minute or three, shoot a few more and so on then the constant drain of the electronic viewfinder has more of an impact. If you pan, particularly in lower light, the EVF will lose the image.

The Sony has a good selection of lenses, but it is less then 1/2 the available lenses for the Nikon. This has to do with Nikon have 4-5 times as much market share. This is not super important going in, but can matter later when you have invested a lot of time and money slowly building up your lenses and then hit a need only available on Nikon or Canon (Canon has an equally good lens lineup).

Ultimately with the a57 you have to pay more for the odd features few of us here care about.

But there is a minus or three with the d5100 also.

Video is generally done manually o a DSLR. With the d5100 to set the exposure manually you set it before you start filming. To change it, you stop filming change the settings and continue filming.

Autofocus in video is seldom used with DSLRs, but it is better on the Sony than on the d5100.

The controls are a little too dependent on the menus for my tastes. A camera with dual controls is much nicer once you get used to it. For example the Nikon d7000 or Canon 60d (both of which also have better video controls).

Both the Nikon d7000 and canon 60d also have much better viewfinders (pentaprism vs pentamirror.

The Sony a57 is a good camera. But, I just don't see it as useful as the d5100 to most photographers for the reasons outlined above. I suppose it might be different if you wanted to do everything in the camera and not use the superior external software options. Particularly true for a casual new-user I suspect.

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