The entry level A200 clearly has the Minolta DNA, controls, menus, A-mount, but it shares on paper a lot in common with the Nikon D80: same ISO range, same sensor, supposed same AF capabilities. The Nikon D80 (that was basically a tuned down, slower and less pro D200) was about to be replaced by the D90 when the A200 came out. You could buy the Nikon body for $600 and the Sony was about the same price with a 18-70 lens.
The more expensive Nikon D80 was built better, had a very practical top LCD, a pentaprism, and the Nikon controls ergonomic including two dials.
The less expensive Sony A200 was the bottom of their entry level line of DSLRs.
That doesn't mean it is a bad camera. It is a simple camera but it offers In Body Image Stabilization. And at the time, that was still a huge thing: all the A-mount lenses became magically stabilized. In my experience, I shot on average a 2.5 F-stops slower speed. It works pretty well, and is much more consistent than say the Minolta Maxxum / Dynax 7D stabilization.
Sp, overall, the Nikon D80 is a faster, better made camera, and the Sony has IBIS, but what about image quality? I won't talk about the in camera JPEG engine because I only shoot RAW. From the reviews at the time, that JPEG engine sucked anyways.
Both the D80 and A200 RAW files are 12bits compressed and weigh from 6 to 14MB depending on the photo. It is worth noting that the Sony compression seems much more aggressive: the same photo taken with the D80 is 14MB, and 7MB with the A200. Also, when the RAWs from the D200 and D80 are pretty similar, the color rendering is slightly different on the A200, in part because of different white balance, in part because of different RAW cooking.
I won't go into which one is better: I actually like both, much more than any CMOS sensor color rendering. (Yes, I know, it's in my head, or in the CFA. I don't care.)
My point here is that the A200 and D80 produce very similar images of the same quality. Even noise is very similar and has quite the pleasant film vibe.
Today, buying it for a ridiculously low price is not a bad idea if you have some a-mount lenses, or plan to buy some. They are cheaper than Nikon, and some are optically splendid, for just the price of a few cigarette packs. It's a fun inexpensive camera to shoot, giving some nice RAWs to work with.
In the end, the A200 is really quite a cheaper stabilized Nikon D80, or if image quality only matters, a much slower and less pro Nikon D200. It is perfectly usable in 2022 unless you need blazing fast AF tracking, frame rate and huge cropping abilities, and of course have the deep pockets to buy that.
You may also like
Shooting the Sony Alpha 77 mk II in 2022
I wrote about the A77. But what about the noticeably more expensive used A77m2? You’ll have to pay $600 to $800 to buy a used one in good condition. Is it worth it? The A77m2 came a few years after the A77. in my opinion, the improvements are mostly marketing stunts. Despite a lot more AF sensors, a so-called new AF system, better video and a bigger buffer, I keep thinking the A77m2 used isn’t a very good deal.
Olympus OM-D E-M5
August 2018 I bought that little camera for $150. Definitely a bargain considering it was sold boxed, in a not too bad condition, with less than 6.000 clicks, and included two batteries and charger, a 12-50mm F/3.5-6.3 zoom lens, a 45mm F/1.8 prime lens, the tiny Olympus flash, a couple filters (ND1000 and CPL) and a (slow) 64GB SD card that I just trew away and replaced with a Sandisk Extreme Pro.
Shooting the Nikon D200 in 2022
The D200 is a camera I always loved. At the time it came out, it was a hell of a camera for the price Nikon asked. Shooting it in 2019 is still a pleasant experience. 2005 specs? that's outdated, nobody wants that. Photos taken with that camera will be ugly, especially compared to the Sony A9 ($4500), the Nikon D850 ($3000) or the Canon 5D mark whatever ($2700). Or will it not?
Sony RX100 m3: all you need from 24 to 70mm
I got this little camera for $200 a couple years ago and didn't write about it yet.
Shooting the Minolta Maxxum / Dynax 7D in 2022
The short lived most advanced Minolta DSLR was released in late 2004. It became later the foundation for Sony's A-mount cameras. It featured the first in body stabilization in a DSLR, a 6MP CCD sensor and loads of controls. This camera is a photographer's delight. The body feels right, the controls are great and natural: coming from a film SLR, you just feel at home with the Minolta 7D. And You can use all the now often cheap quality Minolta lenses, as well as the more expensive Sony A-Mount lenses.
Shooting the Sony A77 in 2022
If you have some A-mount lenses and want an APSC DSLR that can take them natively, you don’t have many options. Especially if you can’t / don’t want to spend a lot of money.
Shooting the Nikon D70 in 2022
2004... Jesus, time passes quite fast. I won't review that Nikon D70, the specs sheets and reviews are everywhere on the internet. Only 3 figures are significant anyway: 6.1 megapixel CCD sensor, 1\/8000th second max shutter speed and 1\/500th second x-sync. I decided to buy and shoot this camera again with the Nikkor 18-135. For 20 bucks, what could go wrong?
Shooting the Nikon D2Xs in 2022
During summer 2005, after a very long wait, the Nikon D2X was released. At the time my go to camera was the Minolta 7D that replaced my Nikon film cameras for my digital needs. I also shot the Nikon D70 but I prefered the Minolta. Both cameras were quite slow, and 6MP only. I wasn't really convinced by the Nikon D1/x/h/d2h. Soon after buying the D70, the D2X was announced, making me question that early GAS compulsive buy.
Shooting the Sony Alpha 700 in 2022
I really never was really interested in Sony after they bought Minolta and started their "own" line of DSLRs. 15 years later, I buy a pristine Alpha A700 for peanuts and I quite like the Minolta DNA.