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There are a few reasons you may be considering buying this camera. Either you are upgrading from an older Minolta camera and want something that will be compatible with your existing equipment or you are new to DSLRs and you are tempted by the brand at this price (£259 if you shop around at the time of writing).
I came to this after owning a few Minolta cameras in film and digital flavours and I chose the Sony as it meant all of my kit fits. My previous camera was an aging Konica Minolta D5 and I decided on the upgrade due to a few hot pixels and the higher spec of the new Sony. A WORD OF WARNING here... The build quality of the Sony came as a bit of a letdown when compared to the older camera. The D5 had a nice solid feeling rubberized body but the Sony feels more plasticy and light weight. They have also made the body smaller but not by any amount that makes it easier to lug about but just smaller enough to make it a little bit awkward to hold comfortably. You do get used to it but at first it is a squeeze.
It may sound like I am moaning about this camera but these things are just the small little niggles I want to get out of the way first.
It focuses whenever you put your eye to the viewfinder which might be a good feature, speeding up you taking your shot but anything near the viewfinder sets this off making carrying the camera when switched on noisy and battery draining. You can switch this off so it is not a big niggle.
It has a built in flash that if set on Auto will pop up whenever it feels it must. This also can be switched off.
So, that's it for my list of bad points about this camera. Aside from the above very minor moans it is a very, very good camera. The results from it are amazing. If this is a first step into owning a DSLR then you really will not be disappointed. Many will moan that the lense that comes with the camera isn't great but it will do and besides, that is what ebay is for. There is a world of great quality used Minolta lenses out there for not a lot of money that will really make this camera shine.
One thing worth mentioning is that thanks to improved image processing, my 4 gig CF card will hold nearly 1000 10.2 MP images on it but only 650 lower resolution pictures on my older Minolta camera.
The screen is a great size displaying sharp, clear previews. No live view but this isn't something I will miss just yet. If you feel that you cannot live without it though, the Alpha 300 isn't a great deal more expensive and is basically the same camera. I just didn't feel it was worth paying the extra for.
The camera has image stabilizing built into the body of the camera and not the lenses like some other cameras making lenses for it cheaper (but remember what I said about ebay). It also utilizes this technology to shake the sensor whenever the camera is turned off to eliminate the dreaded dust blobs on pictures. It might better than nothing but do get yourself a blower (not canned air) for the more stubborn particles.
I would have given this camera 5 stars as its pictures really do deserve it but as it has a few minor (but easily overcome) niggles and it just isn't up to the build quality of the older Minolta cameras I have to give is 4. On the whole though it is a great camera.
Thank you for reading my review.