UPDATED: New full-size image downloads are included for the Sony A350, Canon 5D and Pentax K20D at a constant f4.0 at all ISO settings. Crops on page 6 are now actual pixels with no size reduction and were extracted from the updated images.

When Sony secured victory for Blu-ray a couple of months ago, it was difficult not to reflect on the Betamax vs. VHS battle that Sony lost many years ago. Those around at the time will remember that Betamax was the superior format but VHS won with licensing, availability, and lower prices. The Blu-ray victory was quite a contrast - this time being promoted by Sony who secured the exclusives they needed to assure Blu-ray the winner. As with VHS, however, it appears in the short term that the inferior format won again as Sony is only now introducing features to Blu-ray playback that were introduced with HD DVD almost two years ago. Those who review technology often see less capable technologies win based on dollars thrown into promoting a product and buying distribution channels.

Why does this matter in the Digital SLR market? It doesn't as far as DSLR reviews are concerned, but it does put into perspective the fact that Sony is a massive player in the electronics arena, and Sony plays (and pays) to win. When Sony absorbed Minolta it wasn't long until the A100 launched the 10MP (megapixel) wars, even though the A100 was in reality a Minolta 5D upgraded with the new Sony sensor. Great things were expected after this first foray, but it took Sony quite a while to begin putting their stamp on the DSLR market.

Last October the A700 prosumer Sony launched with a new 12.2MP CMOS sensor and 5FPS burst speed in a rugged magnesium semi-pro body. The A700 is still based on the Minolta 7D digital SLR but it is more "Sony" than the A100. This was followed at January CES with the A200 update to the A100 - now targeted at a street price of $599 with a kit lens. A month later at PMA, Sony surprised the market with two more entry level digital SLR cameras that feature what we found to arguably be the best Live View in any SLR.

No one else in the DSLR market has introduced so many new cameras in such a short period of time. There are now Sony entry models at $599, $699, $799, and $899. The A700 is $1399 to $1499, and Sony isn't finished yet. A new Pro level 24.6MP full-frame (presumably to be called the A900) will launch later this year. New Sony DSLR cameras are everywhere, and to their credit, Sony has found ways to differentiate the three entry models.


The A200 shipped about a month ago, and today we are taking a first look at the top entry-level Sony called the A350. It is the only entry-level SLR with a huge 14.2MP sensor, but unlike most recent DSLR sensor introductions, this one is CCD and not CMOS. The A350/A300 are also the only entry DSLR cameras with a tilt LCD. This is coupled with fast AF Live View, which moves that feature to a full-time view alternative with fast auto focusing. Most of the recent DSLR cameras feature Live View that was pioneered by Olympus, but Sony takes the feature from checklist novelty to a truly useful viewing alternative. This makes the transition easier for point-and-shoot users accustomed to Live View composing with the LCD screen.

Current Sony Lineup
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  • Wesley Fink - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    I have been a Senior Editor at AnandTech for over five years. In fact I have been here longer than anyone except our CEO, Anand Shimpi. I have started or expanded many review areas for AnandTech, brought on-board other AT Editors you will recognize, and handed off new sections to others after getting them up and going. I am NOT quaking in my boots at your threats.

    What I cannot figure out is why you are so determined to discredit me and my work. It certainly won't work, but I cannot figure out your motivation. I can only assume you must be from a photography web site as we have been attacked before by other web sites who were threatened by the success of AT in other areas. If my work is so mediocre and laughable who bother worrying about my camera reviews enough to threaten me? Something is not right with your vehemence and threats.
    Reply
  • Deadtrees - Saturday, April 05, 2008 - link

    What are you talking about? The question was about your being "PRO" photographer, not about your resume on Anandtech.

    Are you implying that your reviews are bound to be decent because you've been here for some years, did this and that for Anandtech?

    Who cares expect you and your ego? Reader don't care whether you're the founder of Anandtech or the creator of Internet when your camera reviews show too many problems.

    The very methods you've choson only shows how you're incapable of doing the review on this matter and you know it. Stop the ego trip and find someone who can do the review. If you feel like it's something you gotta do as you're the "PRO" photographer, stop doing silly and nonsense benchmarks as you just can't cut it right.

    You see, you're walking down path of Ken Rockwell with this stupid review and ego trip. If you want to do a good review that's not based on benchmarking, www.luminous-landscape.com would be your guide line. Learn from that site instead of Ken Rockwell's.

    Reply
  • GTVic - Saturday, April 05, 2008 - link

    Wow, you should really calm down before you give yourself a heart attack. The same goes for some of the other people posting here. The tone of your comments is extremely angry and your attacks are largely demeaning (eg. "this stupid review") rather than constructive and friendly.

    Your spelling and grammar are so atrocious and juvenile that I imagine you are writing these comments with steam coming out of your ears due to your intense anger. In short, you have very little credibility in spite of all the technical details that you so venomously spew out.
    Reply
  • brian_riendeau - Saturday, April 05, 2008 - link

    I think the motivation for a lot of people is the fact that they like AT (otherwise why would they be here reading your article?) and this feels like a letdown. I posted some stuff earlier that may not have been in the best tone, however I can assure when I first clicked on the article I was really excited to read it. Then when I finished I was like "Wow.........." A lot of computer enthusiasts are photogs as well, and its frustrating to come to a site we look to for solid information and read this article. Personally I am someone who currently knows more about cameras than PCs, so reading a head scratcher like this article can make me question some of the PC hardware articles and discredit those.

    Its also frustrating that you do not have the camera anymore. DSLRs can be finicky things and often the best results or feedback comes from second and third looks at the camera. Obviously you are trying to generate some traffic and expand the site user base a bit. Now what I would love to see if for AT to take the feedback from this, and consider that for a revision to this article or at least future articles. I would love to see a good comparison over the current crop of <$1K DSLRs.

    Just keep in mind that megapixels really do not matter. Photography is extremely subjective, and when it comes down to it, people want to know what will take the best pictures for them.
    Reply
  • kleang - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    Well done on the review and all correction you're doing. This type of review is really what's I'm seeking for.

    Who's care on everything must be perfect or measured right? I just need something easy to understand, some opinion from pro, some compare to guide what's I got if I buy this product.

    If I seriously to buy and need in depth information, dpreview and other many sites is my choice.

    May be I'm just your target group, and I'm sure this group is large segment from now.
    Reply
  • punchkin - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    This is not an opinion from a pro. In addition, if you actually don't care about basing your opinion on wrong information, you can satisfy yourself easily with a random search anywhere on the web. Hell, I'll send you bad advice for free if you give me your email address. Reply
  • kleang - Saturday, April 05, 2008 - link

    1. You need to build your credibility 1st if you want to give any advice to people. At the moment, your credit is zero for me(sorry to say that).

    2. Anandtech is one of best information web for a long time, so any advise is good to hear. And I think they response to many comment as a pro, try to correct and very patient to answer.

    3. Many comment are very good and helpful but some just try to blame and show off.

    4. Like it or haste it, just give polite comment and it's depend on AT if they think it's neccesary or not to correct. No meaning to try to blame to prove you're right. AT must responsible on their review but we (you and me) just reader which didnt provide even realname/email.

    5. It's helpful to point the error and give some opinion. But let reader decided if they think this review is helpful or not, you may just not the target group.

    Just my 2cent.
    Reply
  • punchkin - Saturday, April 05, 2008 - link

    1. We're not discussing your belief in my credibility, but the credibility of the reviewer and his "review".

    2. Nope, obviously NOT for camera information. The word is "advice". Bad advice or "advise" is bad to hear.

    3. My comment is dead on point. A "review" that puts vastly different lenses on different camera bodies, and "tests" using wide-open apertures to show supposed merits of the sensor in each camera, or the imaging capabilities of each camera system, is UTTERLY WORTHLESS.

    4. Like it or not, your half-intelligible posts here do nothing to show that the review has any worth whatsoever. If you want to play "politeness police", go elsewhere.
    Reply
  • kleang - Saturday, April 05, 2008 - link

    "4. Like it or not, your half-intelligible posts here do nothing to show that the review has any worth whatsoever. If you want to play "politeness police", go elsewhere. "

    Just in case you didn't realize, this post already shown yourself to the public, lol.
    Reply
  • punchkin - Saturday, April 05, 2008 - link

    Let's try to keep this to standard English. :D Reply

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