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.