This article was originally supposed only to be my journal. But I then decided to post it here.
An Old/New Camera
Written on 22 Feb. 2013
I was using SONY A550, a DSLR camera that was released at Q3 2009. I bought this camera in February 2010, precisely, 16 Feb. 2010. So I’ve been using this camera for exactly 3 years and 6 days.
Early as 2 years ago, I’d been planning to upgrade my camera. The A550 is an entry-level model. Though called “advanced entry-level”, it is still entry-level. As I enhanced my photography skills, I could gradually sense that this camera can no longer meet my growing standards.
It’s a good camera. I mean, at that time it has above par performance and reasonable price. And some features, like dual live view, 7 fps continuous shooting speed, gave it once a big advantage over its opponents——the entry-level DSLRs of Nikon and Canon. However the entry-level is such a thing, that as you do better over time, you will always find a reason to upgrade from it. It is just as the saying goes: Every photographer is a prodigal. The only thing that differs is how you persuade yourself to spend more money.
At that time such an upgrade seemed to be unrealistic. My only possible choice in the same system was SONY A700, an old mid-range camera that was released at Q3 2007, which stopped production just before A550 came out (The mid-range area of SONY was then left blank for more than two entire years until A77 was released. It’s really a strange strategy for a DSLR manufacturer). This means I could not get a brand new A700. But more importantly, I could not spend so much money in such a short period. I spent around 50 thousand NTD on my A550&lenses. And an A700 body, if brand new, will cost another 30 thousand, which was unacceptable.
I had an alternative option: to get a used one. I actually tried to search on the Internet and managed to find one. That camera was in very good condition——as the seller claimed——and I could get it within 18 thousand NTD. I asked for my mother’s permission; she agreed, in the case that I can do very well in my final exam that term.
Apparently I failed to achieve that. And the dealer sold it to someone else later.
2 years have passed. During this period I did get some good photos with my long in service A550. I also did not give up seeking for an upgrade option even till now.
SONY’s new SLT-A77, as a successor to A700, cannot satisfy me. Yes, it has powerful performance: amazing pixels, amazing continuous shooting speed, amazing AF points as a SONY model (LOL); it’s also labelled as “7”——the lucky number of Minolta, Konica Minolta, possibly also SONY. However I don’t like it. I regard it as an ugly looking camera; I dislike the “Translucent Mirror” technology (which takes the place of Reflex Mirror so it’s called SLT not SLR); I think the huge top info panel LCD is a waste of space. Things are just so ironic. Years ago when I bought my A550 I thought it would be very cool to have a top info panel on the camera’s right shoulder, and I was disappointed that my camera doesn’t have one. Now I recognise, that the release of A77 announces SONY’s deviation from the long followed tradition, the persistence of Minolta. A bright and clear pentaprism was once Minolta’s pride; when Minolta released their first Digital SLR, the D7D, they thought a top info panel is useless because the LCD monitor is capable of providing all the infos that users need. SONY discarded these: they replaced the Optical Viewfinder with their Electronic Viewfinder; they followed the trend of Canon and Nikon, added a big top info panel.
As I kicked A77 out of my consideration, the A700 once again, became my sole option. However I had to make this decision deliberately. The A700 is an “ancient” model by now in the digital standard, as it was released almost 6 years ago. The main problem lies in its image sensor. Its CMOS uses the technology of 6 years afore, so the low light/high ISO performance is quite bad if compared to almost all the cameras today, even those little DCs. The other problem is the apparently unfeasible acquisition of such an old camera in good condition.
Yet this option has its own advantage: A700’s price declined even more than before in the past 2 years. I believe one in good condition will in no way exceed 10 thousand NTD, though I have to find one first.
I then made up my mind. The A700 was once regarded as my dream in not short a period of time. Now I want to realise this dream. I found a reason to convince myself: since I now have RX100——a DC with surprisingly stunningly good high ISO performance——I can reasonably use it to make up the inability of A700 at low light situations.
Needless to describe the difficulties in search of such an old piece of equipment, I eventually found a dealer selling one in Taipei. I managed to get to that place located near Taipei Zoo and checked this camera “face to face”. It is, as said, in pretty good condition, though the dust covering it declares its long history.
Now, as I’m typing this journal, it’s just standing by my side.