a580 to a99 - Crazy to upgrade? or go with an a77?

Started Mar 31, 2013 | Discussions
MikeNannie
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a580 to a99 - Crazy to upgrade? or go with an a77?
Mar 31, 2013

Okay, been struggling with the new Sony sale all day today and decided to seek some opinions.

I'm primarily a landscape / travel photographer, with some occasional wildlife photography, not pro. I also shoot family photos at gatherings and a once a year family portrait shoot outdoors.

Current equipment:

Camera: a580 (also have a Minolta 7D and a Minolta 800si film camera)

Lenses: CZ 16-80, Sony 35mm 1.8, Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 SP Di USD XLD, Minolta AF 24-85 3.5-4.5

Flash: Minolta HS 5600 Flash (and a 5400 HS non digital flash)

Misc: Gitzo G-1228 MK2 Tripod, RRS BH-40 ball head, flash stand, umbrella, and other misc stuff.

The a580 and 16-80mm lens were huge improvements in image quality over my 2004 Minolta 7D. But, when I bought my 7D, I though the images from it were outstanding using the 24-85 lens. Interesting how your perception changes when you get better technology and lenses   I've never ownd a full frame digital camera. Been a Minolta/Sony shooter since my x-700 back in the early1980s.

I do my post processing with LR and PS 5.
Most disappointing is indoor flash photography. It's always been a struggle using my older Minolta cameras and also with my new a580. I honestly don't know if it's me, or my equipment, but I'm tired of blurry images, or blown out flash shots of family members. I've tried about everything to get better flash shots, with moderate success, but very inconsistent results.

When Sony announced the deals today on the a99 (with flash and grip) and the reduced prices on the a57 and a77, I started to think maybe it's time to upgrade from my 2 yr old a580 (which I do like, a lot).

I'm not attached to the OVF and actually like the idea of being able to see what my image will look like before the click of the shutter using an EVF. That's the main reason to stay with Sony  vs Canikon.

I'm considering the a99 for better high ISO shots, indoor family photos, and for better quality images for my landscapes. I could sell my a580, 16-80 and 35mm lenses, along with my 5600 HS flash to help offset the cost. (At this point, I'm not sure what I can get for those items or how to go about selling them. ) I'd probably sell the a99 vertical grip too - never had one before.  I'd likely use the 24-85 mm lens for a while on the a99 until funds allow me to purchase something better / faster, something in the same focal range.

My questions are for those who have made the switch to full frame.

1) I assume that I would be able to shoot indoors with higher ISO and get better images than from the a580, but how much better? Significant, or not so much? Still need a flash most of the time?

2) For landscape photography, is there that much difference between a crop sensor and a full frame sensor like the a99? Advantages?

3) Would I be better served buying an a77 and keeping my lenses and flash? My concern is a potential drop off in high ISO performance moving from the 16 mb a580 to the 24 mb a77 sensor.
About 40% of my reasoning for considering an upgrade is the answer to question 1 above.

I've always told myself that better photography is based on my skills more so than my equipment. Better lenses are more helpful than a better camera body. But, I also believe better equipment produces better results, even for an average photographer.

I know my skills need to improve and I can do that with any camera. I"m sure that many of you have had similar conversations in your head and I'm wondering what you decided and how you feel now?

I'm in the information gathering stage with the idea of making a decision in the next few days.

Thanks for your thoughts, sorry for the rambling.

Mike

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Abhayks
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Re: a580 to a99 - Crazy to upgrade? or go with an a77?
In reply to MikeNannie, Apr 1, 2013

If you need to ask this question -- Stay put. Keep shooting good photos with you current gear.

Soon you'll realize your real need- a FF or a high end APSC. then you can buy with confidence.

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Edward Sargent
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Re: a580 to a99 - Crazy to upgrade? or go with an a77?
In reply to MikeNannie, Apr 1, 2013

I went from the 7D to the A700 to A77 now to A99. Each was a significant improvement in IQ. I was lucky that my lens collection save two was FF. I'm only 600 shots into the A99 but as much as the A77 was an improvement over the A700 the A99 is over the A77. Get Gary's A99 book to help you decide if the extra cost is worth it.

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paradisephoto
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Re: a580 to a99 - Crazy to upgrade? or go with an a77?
In reply to Abhayks, Apr 1, 2013

I went from an A200 and an A580 to an A77 and an A580.  The A580 is your low light camera until you pull the trigger on the A99.   The A77 is simply an awesome camera, but low light is its weakness.  Otherwise, the A77 would handle beautifully everything you are doing.  I'm working this year to get the A99, more so for the lowlight capability because it is the one weakness in my current lineup.  If you can make a play for the A99, go for it.

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AntonyK
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Re: a580 to a99 - Crazy to upgrade? or go with an a77?
In reply to paradisephoto, Apr 1, 2013

paradisephoto wrote:

I went from an A200 and an A580 to an A77 and an A580.  The A580 is your low light camera until you pull the trigger on the A99.   The A77 is simply an awesome camera, but low light is its weakness.  Otherwise, the A77 would handle beautifully everything you are doing.  I'm working this year to get the A99, more so for the lowlight capability because it is the one weakness in my current lineup.  If you can make a play for the A99, go for it.

As an a77 user for over a year, I agree with the above sentiments and would advise against going from an a580 to an a77. You will not see much, if any, improvement in low light over the a580. Some might even argue that the a580 performs better in low light situations. Also, there is a rumored a78 around the corner but again that is just a rumor.

I have been monitoring the prices of the a99 so that I can get one but the current bundle deal is not enough for me to pull the trigger. Good luck with your decision. Ultimately, there are tons of good user reviews and pics posted on the board. You will have to weigh pros and cons that impact your style and decide if the cost is worth it.

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jeffer79
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Re: a580 to a99 - Crazy to upgrade? or go with an a77?
In reply to AntonyK, Apr 1, 2013

I mirror what's been said. I'm a wedding photographer and I started with A550 and A200 backup, then 2x A550, and then changed to an A77 with an A550 backup. The A77 handles and performs very well and the EVF is amazing and much better than the OVF (even though I was very sceptical at first), but overall picture quality is worse, especially in low light - the A550 wins on image quality.

I now have an A99 with my A77 as backup and I really should have done this ages ago. The A99 is awesome in every aspect. I can't go back to A550 now, mainly due to handling and performance of SLT, and I don't want to use my A77 if I can avoid it - the A99 is really that good and that much better.

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Clayton1985
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Re: a580 to a99 - Crazy to upgrade? or go with an a77?
In reply to MikeNannie, Apr 1, 2013

MikeNannie wrote:

My questions are for those who have made the switch to full frame.

1) I assume that I would be able to shoot indoors with higher ISO and get better images than from the a580, but how much better? Significant, or not so much? Still need a flash most of the time?

I think the answer to this depends on both the camera and the lens.  If you upgrade to the A99 and also upgrade the lens then the difference may be considerable.   I'd guess a 24-70 f2.8 (Sony, Sigma, or Tamron) paired with the A99 would make a big difference over your A580 with 16-80.   The A99 without upgrading your lenses should still be an improvement but I don't know that it will take you from needing a flash to not.

2) For landscape photography, is there that much difference between a crop sensor and a full frame sensor like the a99? Advantages?

IMO, the advantages can also be disadvantages.  If you plan to shoot with an ultra wide angle zoom on the A99 then your choices are limited (even more limited if you use filters).  The advantage is that you can get the CZ 16-35 and have the best combination...  the disadvantage is that you have to buy the CZ 16-35 .  There are more UWA choices for the A77 that won't break the bank.

Since your widest lens now appears to be 24mm FF equivalent then this may not be an issue for you.   Your 24-85 may be all that you need.

If you're happy with the lenses you have or will buy for the A77 then it is a great landscape camera.  One of the main reasons I upgraded to the A99 was to have the opportunity to use the CZ 16-35 and CZ 24 at their FF focal lengths for landscapes.

) Would I be better served buying an a77 and keeping my lenses and flash? My concern is a potential drop off in high ISO performance moving from the 16 mb a580 to the 24 mb a77 sensor.
About 40% of my reasoning for considering an upgrade is the answer to question 1 above.

I think you would be very happy with the A77 and it would work out better based on your current lenses.   To really get the most out of the A99 I think you'd need to spend some money on lenses especially if you want to go wider or want the same reach you have today with your 70-300.

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tqlla
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Re: a580 to a99 - Crazy to upgrade? or go with an a77?
In reply to Clayton1985, Apr 1, 2013

IMO, its too bad that the deal didnt come with a lens.... but I guess Sony knows that people have to buy a FF lens(whereas, people dont need to buy a flash immediately or VG.)

Luckily for you, you have the 24-85mm.  Its a great lens, just buy the A99, keep your A580 as a backup, or sell it for $1.1K with your CZ.

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Jeadm
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Re: a580 to a99 - Crazy to upgrade? or go with an a77?
In reply to MikeNannie, Apr 1, 2013

MikeNannie wrote: (EMPHASIS ADDED)

Most disappointing is indoor flash photography. It's always been a struggle using my older Minolta cameras and also with my new a580. I honestly don't know if it's me, or my equipment, but I'm tired of blurry images, or blown out flash shots of family members. I've tried about everything to get better flash shots, with moderate success, but very inconsistent results.

I think about what you're saying, and what struck me most was this statement.  Upgrading gear is always going to give you a greater potential for better shots, but I think if you master this particular bugaboo (or at least get a better handle on it), you'll be happier overall.  I'm certainly not against existing light shots, there are good ones to be had.  But indoors meh lighting is still meh lighting, regardless of which camera you use.  Slow shutter speeds or high ISO is more often than not going to be the end result of a poorly lit environment, hence your blurred shots (you're moving, or people are).  There's just no substitute for good light, and flash is the go to component when nothing else will work to make that happen.

The blown out areas can be overcome by proper use of the flash.  Resolving that goes a long way to being happier with the end result, which seems to be your desired goal.  That's going to be an issue regardless of what gear you choose.  As of this moment I look at what you're shooting and you're clearly not suffering with subpar gear.  Just my 2 cents.

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Jeadm
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On flash exposure...
In reply to MikeNannie, Apr 1, 2013

I highlight a particular post because I feel a solution to helping improve your flash exposure is contained in it.  But it's a good idea after to expand upon it and view the entire thread (threaded view) to follow the entire train of thought.   Different camera and flash, but the concept is the still the same regardless of which models you own.

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3290988#forum-post-50153294

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JimmyMelbourne
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Re: a580 to a99 - Crazy to upgrade? or go with an a77?
In reply to MikeNannie, Apr 1, 2013

How about keeping your a580 for the short to medium term, investing in FF lenses that can also be used on the a580 and then buying the a99 when the price drops? The only downside is your a580 depreciates too over time, unless you plan to keep it as a backup.

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texascbx
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Re: a580 to a99 - Crazy to upgrade? or go with an a77?
In reply to MikeNannie, Apr 1, 2013

I would wait on the A77's replacement. Or pick up one of those super cheap A57 bodies.

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MikeNannie
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Re: a580 to a99 - Crazy to upgrade? or go with an a77?
In reply to Edward Sargent, Apr 1, 2013

Edward Sargent wrote:

I went from the 7D to the A700 to A77 now to A99. Each was a significant improvement in IQ. I was lucky that my lens collection save two was FF. I'm only 600 shots into the A99 but as much as the A77 was an improvement over the A700 the A99 is over the A77. Get Gary's A99 book to help you decide if the extra cost is worth it.

Good suggestion Edward, I thought about doing that too. I have bought several books from Gary in the past and they are always great.  thanks

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MikeNannie
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Re: a580 to a99 - Crazy to upgrade? or go with an a77?
In reply to Clayton1985, Apr 1, 2013

Clayton1985 wrote:

MikeNannie wrote:

My questions are for those who have made the switch to full frame.

1) I assume that I would be able to shoot indoors with higher ISO and get better images than from the a580, but how much better? Significant, or not so much? Still need a flash most of the time?

I think the answer to this depends on both the camera and the lens.  If you upgrade to the A99 and also upgrade the lens then the difference may be considerable.   I'd guess a 24-70 f2.8 (Sony, Sigma, or Tamron) paired with the A99 would make a big difference over your A580 with 16-80.   The A99 without upgrading your lenses should still be an improvement but I don't know that it will take you from needing a flash to not.

I'm inclined to agree with you that a new lens would be necessary to get the best out of a new a99. I wonder how well the old Minolta 24-85 would perform? My assumption is that it wouldn't capture enough detail to take full advantage of the pixels available with the a99 sensor. I had a similar problem when I took some sample images with my old 7D using the new CZ 16-80.

2) For landscape photography, is there that much difference between a crop sensor and a full frame sensor like the a99? Advantages?

IMO, the advantages can also be disadvantages.  If you plan to shoot with an ultra wide angle zoom on the A99 then your choices are limited (even more limited if you use filters).  The advantage is that you can get the CZ 16-35 and have the best combination...  the disadvantage is that you have to buy the CZ 16-35 .  There are more UWA choices for the A77 that won't break the bank.

Since your widest lens now appears to be 24mm FF equivalent then this may not be an issue for you.   Your 24-85 may be all that you need.

If you're happy with the lenses you have or will buy for the A77 then it is a great landscape camera.  One of the main reasons I upgraded to the A99 was to have the opportunity to use the CZ 16-35 and CZ 24 at their FF focal lengths for landscapes.

I think 24 mm would be acceptable to me. That was the widest lens I had with my 800si film camera and I never felt the need for anything wider. Someday perhaps.

) Would I be better served buying an a77 and keeping my lenses and flash? My concern is a potential drop off in high ISO performance moving from the 16 mb a580 to the 24 mb a77 sensor.
About 40% of my reasoning for considering an upgrade is the answer to question 1 above.

I think you would be very happy with the A77 and it would work out better based on your current lenses.   To really get the most out of the A99 I think you'd need to spend some money on lenses especially if you want to go wider or want the same reach you have today with your 70-300.

The a77 is an interesting option, and of interest to me, but I'd be worried that would be disappointed in the low light ability compared with my a580, as some others have pointed out. And, if my ultimate plan is to go full frame, does the a77 give me enough extra benefits to justify it as an intermediate move?  Not sure.

thanks

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MikeNannie
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Re: a580 to a99 - Crazy to upgrade? or go with an a77?
In reply to tqlla, Apr 1, 2013

tqlla wrote:

IMO, its too bad that the deal didnt come with a lens.... but I guess Sony knows that people have to buy a FF lens(whereas, people dont need to buy a flash immediately or VG.)

Luckily for you, you have the 24-85mm.  Its a great lens, just buy the A99, keep your A580 as a backup, or sell it for $1.1K with your CZ.

I think I'll need to sell my a580 to help offset the cost of the new camera. I haven't sold much camera equipment, just one lens on Craigslist, so I'd have to figure that out too.  But, having $1100 or so to put toward the new a99 is attractive.

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MikeNannie
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Re: a580 to a99 - Crazy to upgrade? or go with an a77?
In reply to Jeadm, Apr 1, 2013

Jeadm wrote:

MikeNannie wrote: (EMPHASIS ADDED)

Most disappointing is indoor flash photography. It's always been a struggle using my older Minolta cameras and also with my new a580. I honestly don't know if it's me, or my equipment, but I'm tired of blurry images, or blown out flash shots of family members. I've tried about everything to get better flash shots, with moderate success, but very inconsistent results.

I think about what you're saying, and what struck me most was this statement.  Upgrading gear is always going to give you a greater potential for better shots, but I think if you master this particular bugaboo (or at least get a better handle on it), you'll be happier overall.  I'm certainly not against existing light shots, there are good ones to be had.  But indoors meh lighting is still meh lighting, regardless of which camera you use.  Slow shutter speeds or high ISO is more often than not going to be the end result of a poorly lit environment, hence your blurred shots (you're moving, or people are).  There's just no substitute for good light, and flash is the go to component when nothing else will work to make that happen.

The blown out areas can be overcome by proper use of the flash.  Resolving that goes a long way to being happier with the end result, which seems to be your desired goal.  That's going to be an issue regardless of what gear you choose.  As of this moment I look at what you're shooting and you're clearly not suffering with subpar gear.  Just my 2 cents.

Thanks for the feedback.

I agree that I certainly could study up more. I've tried off camera flash / bounces, and other diffusers over the years, and a Stroboframe as well. Results are just so inconsistent. I've used about every camera setting as well and it just seems to me that you should be able to setup the camera to get a reasonably good result consistently using a flash and TTL.

I usually dial in about -.7 flash compensation too in order to prevent getting a blown out foreground. But then sometimes you get an image that's just too dark, and then the next one is fine - just extremely frustrating inconsistent results - across all my recent cameras.  It's almost like the TTL system isn't working correctly with the 5600 HS flash - it's just that inconsistent. I've sometimes wondered if there isn't a problem with my 5600 HS, even though I bought it new and it's never been abused.

Maybe I expect too much from flash photography in environments that required you to move about and have moving subjects - like family gatherings.

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MikeNannie
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Re: On flash exposure...
In reply to Jeadm, Apr 1, 2013

Jeadm wrote:

I highlight a particular post because I feel a solution to helping improve your flash exposure is contained in it.  But it's a good idea after to expand upon it and view the entire thread (threaded view) to follow the entire train of thought.   Different camera and flash, but the concept is the still the same regardless of which models you own.

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3290988#forum-post-50153294

Interesting technique. I'll try to remember it in similar fill flash situations. Most of my challenges are indoors, standard incandescent lighting.

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fossil1950
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Re: a580 to a99 - Crazy to upgrade? or go with an a77?
In reply to MikeNannie, Apr 1, 2013

Sorry can`t offer advice, but am in the same boat, (A580 Tamron 17-50, Tamron 70-300 USD,and 35-70,28-85,70-210 beercans, and Metz 44, plus Dynax(maxxum) 7 and 7D), would like A99 but don`t feel I would really use it to its full potential, so am thinking of waiting for the rumoured A 78 in about July, hoping that it will have better low light performance using some A99 technology. Plus reading reviews that keep telling me how good the A580 is, I just put bad photos down to "operator error"

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MikeNannie
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Re: a580 to a99 - Crazy to upgrade? or go with an a77?
In reply to texascbx, Apr 1, 2013

texascbx wrote:

I would wait on the A77's replacement. Or pick up one of those super cheap A57 bodies.

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I believe the a57 sold out already based on another forum thread. I hope the 'a78' or whatever does materialize and offers an improved 'a77', but only time will tell.

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MikeNannie
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Re: a580 to a99 - Crazy to upgrade? or go with an a77?
In reply to fossil1950, Apr 1, 2013

fossil1950 wrote:

Sorry can`t offer advice, but am in the same boat, (A580 Tamron 17-50, Tamron 70-300 USD,and 35-70,28-85,70-210 beercans, and Metz 44, plus Dynax(maxxum) 7 and 7D), would like A99 but don`t feel I would really use it to its full potential, so am thinking of waiting for the rumoured A 78 in about July, hoping that it will have better low light performance using some A99 technology. Plus reading reviews that keep telling me how good the A580 is, I just put bad photos down to "operator error"

I hear ya! and feel the same about some of my images. I also find that after I've looked at an image enough times, it no longer looks great to me, but my wife and others still love it.  I think I get tired of seeing the same 'old' images

I kind of feel the same way about my a580, nice camera. But, I felt that way about my 7D when I bought my a580 too, but now, I'd be willing to part with my 7D.

It's kind of like getting a new car with the plan to keep the old one for poor weather days. I've just never been able to do that once I start driving the new car - can't go back no matter how much I thought I would before my purchase

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