For its first digital SLR, Sony took the best of what it inherited from its acquisition of Konica Minolta and added some new features that have made its competitors sit up and take notice. From the "something borrowed" category, the Sony A100 sports an in-camera image stabilization system called Super SteadyShot, which is based on Konica Minolta's tried-and-true sensor-shifting technology. Another welcome borrowed feature is eye-start autofocus, which immediately begins focusing your image when you put your eye to the viewfinder.
Ergonomically, the A100 has one of the most comfortable but durable handgrips around, with a partially rubberized black matte body and fancy lens, giving it a luxurious overall feel. Image quality, however, was hit or miss. The camera excelled in balanced outdoor lighting situations but struggled with excessive noise in low-light indoor shots with the camera set to ISO 800 and higher.
The included lens is significantly better than the competition's lenses, with a wide 18-70mm focal range and good overall sharpness. At an average street price of $760, the A100 features a 10.2-MP image sensor where most other budget models have eight megapixels or less. The camera's revamped approach to reducing dust combines an antistatic coating on the image sensor with a high-speed CCD shake that's activated when the camera is turned on or off. This two-pronged approach--similar to that of the Pentax K100D Super--dramatically helped reduce dust on our shots.
The feature-packed A100 is a great first digital SLR from Sony and ships with features the lower-priced competition lacks. Unfortunately, the camera's uneven image quality prevents us from giving it a higher rating.
Don't Miss:Our photo-quality comparison gallery to see how this camera fared compared to its competitors.
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