Throwback Thursday March 9, 2017 Edition

SonyDE

In 2006, at the long defunct Circuit City checking out the new and highly promoted Sony A100, a 10.2mp DSLR.

Hey guys and girls? In 2006, were you already into photography? If so I’m sure you can relate when I say that 2006 was a very exciting year for digital photography gear.

One of the many items causing that excitment was the release of the Sony A100 (Alpha 100), the first DSLR to be marketed under the Sony brand after their acquisition of the camera division from Konica Minolta.

At that time, I remember opinions being split as to whether Sony’s attempt to become a big player in the camera world would succeed or fail. I was one of those who thought they might succeed. Why? It was a natural. Take Minolta’s experience and resources, as well as their manufacturing, take some of Minolta’s most brilliant engineers back it up with Sony’s money and vast electronics technology and you have more than a good chance of having a winner.

And for those who felt Sony’s venture might fail? I can see the points too; Minolta and later Konica Minolta weren’t exactly setting the world on fire with their cameras in 2006. There were some good, even great ones to be sure, but KM was sort of like a middle of the road camera company. They had their devotees, but they just didn’t have what it takes to win over the masses. Sony coming in seemed like it was a union headed for a heartbreak. And if that was the case, it would probably have dissolved fast.

It was uncertain, but exciting times for Sony’s camera division and for us gearheads. However, the A100 itself wasn’t all that exciting to me. Not saying this in a bad way, but the A100 and indeed many of the earlier Sony models that followed were pretty much a straight continuation of Konica Minolta cameras, save for the Sony logo and Sony support. Since I was already familiar with the Minolta DSLR’s such as the Konica Minolta 5D and 7D, I knew what to expect, thus it wasn’t as exciting for me being a mostly Canon/Nikon man at that time.

Oh yeah, I also had the Minolta 7D at that time and I thought it was a fantastic camera. Though the A100 bested it with its 10.2mp resolution, the 6mp was better built, had better ergonomics and provided superb results when used with a good lens.

The A100 is said to have the same or a variation of the same Sony sensor that was also used in a few of its competitors at the time, most notably the Nikon D200 and the Pentax K10D. The main internal differences would probably have to do with in-camera processing, of which each manufacturer does a little differently.

The A100 provided good files, though I felt the images were a tad on the soft side if not processed, and I felt it the images had a slightly cold/blue shift whereas the Nikon D200 had those warm Nikon tones. Please excuse me if my memory is a bit murky on this after ten years 🙂

Anyway, the camera was generally good, but not good enough for me so I returned it to B&H within their return window for a refund.

A little over ten years later, Sony’s big Konica Minolta purchase seems to have paid off. I don’t think they’re at their goal of being number three behind Canon and Nikon, but I do know they’re in the top ten and while cameras like the A100 inititally started as Minolta in a Sony badge, their cameras today are far beyond, carrying Sony into the forefront of camera and camera sensor technology.

Cameras like the A7R series, A7S, A99/A99II, A6000/A6500 have taken Sony and camera technology far into the future with the things they can do. I’ll have some reviews on some specific Sony cameras in the future, but for today I just want to appreciate how Sony’s cameras have evolved and to appreciate that, look no further than the Sony A100 of 2006. It was indeed the first shot in a long and continuing war for domination of the digital camera market. A shot that may someday lead to a win.

 

 

 

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9 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday March 9, 2017 Edition

  1. Hey Sam ! thank you for this piece of memory 🙂
    about Sony – i never liked their products – nor TV, not Avea laptops and now all this rush with too automatically oriented cameras and too shiny sensors. i fell like people have an another computer in their pockets instead of “do what i want” simple cameras. but this is only my opinion no more :-))
    have a nice day Sam !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Victor, your opinion actually echoes my own feelings about Sony so no worries! Even though I liked some of their products, I was never a fanboy. I never liked the tvs or Vaio laptops. I marvel at some of the cameras they have today and even used a few, but I’ve always felt that their cameras were machines that lacked soul and were hard to connect with emotionally. And as a camera lover, you want that connection! Thanks for your comments and views as always, it is very much appreciated!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Sam, I second Victor’s opinion. I owned an RX 100 IV and put a soft release on the shutter from it being so small. Bad move. The shutter button is anchored with 4 paper thin plastic legs. While stuffing the camera into my bag the soft release caused the button to dislodge and broke the legs off. Yes, this was “user error” but made to improve a too small shutter button at least for my hands. The camera was unusable and repair cost was astronomical. An expensive paperweight. From the cost of the camera, one would think it would be built more stoutly. The menu system was terrible. I spent too much time flipping through the confused arrangement of things rather than shooting. To be fair the image quality was very good and it being so pocketable was nice. I have also tested the A6500. The menu system is somewhat improved but still not well organized. There is no place to store commonly used settings. To get to “Format” takes about 10 clicks of the directional buttons. Sony is investing resources into buffer speeds and clicks per second. If they would spend a bit more time on firmware and ergonomics and perhaps put a second command wheel or more dedicated buttons on the body to bypass the nightmarish menu perhaps that would be time and money better spent. The lens lineup for the A6500 is limited in quality on the low cost end and very expensive on the other side of the scale. To me, Fuji is headed in the right direction and Sony is headed the wrong way altogether. The Fuji X100 series is all about ergonomics and getting out of the way and the RX 100 series is completely not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your input! I have an RX100 version one and I’m glad I didn’t spend a lot on it after hearing what happened to your IV. Wow, yes, it really should be built much better for that price. I marvel at what Sony can do with their electronics, but they still have a ways to go in giving their cameras some “soul” and ease of use. Samsung was even worse and they ended up apparently leaving the camera business. I think Sony’s problem might be that they’re just too big and too electronics driven. They definitely could learn some lessons from Fuji as far as designing cameras. Thanks again for your input, appreciate it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I had a Sony R1… I really love that camera as it feels even less electronic than film cameras, the silent operation, the controls you can get by touch, the fixed Carl Zeiss zoom, it was stolen and that was the only way it could get away from my hands. But this Cybershot didn’t actually evolve after Sony purchased Konica-Minolta. I have seen the new cameras and even I had a time a Sony a5000 but I felt so unconnected to it. I understand the RX10 could be the sucessor but still I think I am spoiled by colors of other brands, Canon and Fujifilm in special.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Sony R1 was a special camera, indeed before their Minolta affiliation. They attempted to put their best into that camera…ie, best lens, best sensor at the time. I had one too. Other than some operational quirks and slow but steady AF, the camera was awesome to hold and the images were great!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha you know Jim not only would that be fine, but I second that notion! I think all Minolta fans wished for that, but you know Sony the big gun would always have to get their name on it 🙂

      Like

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