Sony DSLR-A200 Digital Camera Review$499.99
The A200 has the look of a serious piece of photographic equipment, with nothing to indicate its low sticker price. The matte black plastic body looks and feels solid and sophisticated. In fact, the only place Sony gave in to a hint of bling is the shiny orange alpha-symbol logo on the front of the camera, a mild exuberance that's easy to forgive.
From the front, the A200 looks nearly identical to its precessor, the A100, which is fine. A substantial rubberized hand grip protrudes forward on the left. There's a deeply molded dip in the grip for the middle finger to rest in, leaving the index finger perfectly poised over the black, round shutter button. The self-timer lamp is located on the front of the grip.
Directly in front of the shutter button, on the top of the camera, is a grooved jog dial. To the right, the camera model name is printed in white text. The lens mount is placed off center toward the right, with the Sony logo embossed in white directly above it. The flash pops up behind this logo when the flash button, found on the right side of the lens mount, is pressed.
The orange alpha symbol is found to the right of the lens, beneath the control dial. Below this, on the right side of the lens mount, is a large lens release button. At the bottom right corner of the camera’s front is white text proclaiming the camera’s 10.2-megapixel resolution.
The textured, molded handgrip is a pleasure to hold.
The most prominent feature of the camera back is the 2.7-inch LCD off-center toward the left side. This represents a modest step up from the 2.5-inch LCD on the A100, though the screen resolution stays the same at 230,000 pixels. The viewfinder is directly above the LCD, framed by a soft, cushy eyecup. A sensor below the viewfinder detects when the user’s eye approaches the viewfinder, dimming the LCD and starting the auto focus system in anticipation of shooting.
The diopter control sits in a divot on the left side of the viewfinder eyecup, ready to assist eyeglass wearers in achieving a workable focus. To the left of the viewfinder is the on/off power switch, and to the right is the exposure compensation/AV button and an AEL (Auto Exposure Lock) button.
To the left of the LCD is a vertical row of buttons: Menu, Display, Delete, and Playback. To the right of the LCD is a large function button, marked "Fn." Below the function button is the four-way controller, which is the same color as the camera’s body and blends in well. The center button is marked "AF" to indicate its secondary use, as an auto focus trigger (in addition to serving as an OK button when navigating on-screen menus). The Super SteadyShot switch sits below the multi-selector, and can be moved horizontally to turn the feature on or off.
A plethora of buttons and switches await... or intimidate.
Left Side* (5.00) *The most prominent feature on the left side of the DSLR-A200 is the large mode dial, which sits on a tilted platform at the top of the camera. To its left, and barely visible, is the flash pop-up button.
The lens release button is positioned below the flash button along the left side of the camera. Below that is a small vertical switch marked 'AF MF," allowing users to switch between manual and auto focus.
A large, sturdy plastic port cover snaps open easily, protecting the remote control and DC-in jacks. Above the port cover is an eyelet for the neck strap.
Nice port cover design, though you'll probably
never have to open it.
The right side of the camera features the prominent hand grip. Its rubberized material is different from the smoother, plastic camera body, helping to ensure a secure hold. The back portion of the hand grip is a large plastic port cover, which slides back and pops open on a sturdy spring. Inside are a slot for a CompactFlash (Type I or II) memory card, and a small port for USB and AV cables.
*A proprietary USB connector joins the
CompactFlash slot behind the black door.
Here’s where the A200 differs most notably from Sony’s A100. The A200 features a mode dial on the left side of the camera’s top, which was occupied by a function dial on the A100. On top of the camera is a hot shoe, made of black plastic instead of the typical chrome silver, helping it to blend into the look of the rest of the camera. To the right is the self-timer/drive mode button, and next to that is a single-purpose ISO button, which isn’t found on the A100. In front of the ISO button is the shutter button, which is black and smaller than that found on most SLRs. In front of the shutter is a grooved jog dial.
Clean, functional design is nothing to look down on.
Under the hand grip on the A200 is a port cover that shields the camera’s battery. After sliding back the secure latch with a fingernail the cover pops open to reveal the battery. The metal tripod socket is centered under the lens, toward the right side of the camera.
*The tripod socket is sturdy, the battery
compartment solidly latched.