The desire to own one has been there for sometimes but finance or rather priority just won't allow me to buy it yet. This time I can't hold back the urge anymore especially after hearing the good news that my eldest daughter Azura had been cleared of the dreaded Cancer after a cone biopsy was done on her a few weeks earlier. We just came out of Dr. Nik Mohamed Zaki Mahmud's room at Hospital University Sains Malaysia, Kubang Kerian for an appointment earlier where the good news was broken to us.
It was with a feeling of joy that we headed for KB Mall in Jalan Hamzah Kota Bharu for a small celebration where we ordered some pizzas from Pizza Hut with all of Azura's children in tow except for one month old Mohamad Aqil. While Azura and family headed for Piza Hut, I headed for Sony Center a few doors away.
This is the third time that I came to look at the cameras in this shop. The first time they dont have the stock of the model that I was interested in but they do have the high end Sony Alpha 700 which cost double the Alpha 350 that I had in mind. They do have the Alpha 200 but I was thinking of getting the Alpha 350 which is one rung higher. On the second visit the stock just came and I had allowed my fingers to caress the beauty. The beauty came with a twin lens package, a standard 18 - 70 mm F3.5 - 5.6 zoom lens and a 50 mm - 200 mm telephoto. The retail price was RM3400 much higher than the advertised RM2999 meaning the telephoto was added on at a price of RM401. Another freebie was the tripod. I will still have to buy the memory card and a soft case of Sony single case iwas offered at RM90. The case was a bargain and it comes only with the set. I love the telephoto lens to shoot at faunas from afar. I have often failed to get close up shots of many animals so far without it. All in I will have to fork out RM3600 to get going. Not a bad package really.
Other standard accessories that came with the set were:
- Battery Charger
- Rechargeable battery pack (NP-FM500H). At first sight the battery looks similar to my batteries for my Sony Handycam. This will be a big plus as I can interchange the batteries when on a trip.
- USB Cable
- Video Cable
- Shoulder Strap
- Eyepiece cover
The model boasts of the following features:
- Quick AF Live View - a good point since my eye sight is deteriorating and squinting through the viewfinder to get things framed up and focussed is not my forte anymore
- Super steadyshot inside the body and not in the lens, another excellent feature as coming close to 58 years in age, my hands aren't as steady anymore.
- 14.2 mega pixels is a feature not found on even the high end Alpha 700. Such resolutions of course can only mean that zooming in on the captured image isn't a problem (anyway that's my perception)
- Bionz Image Processing Engine. I don't if this is the best engine to process an image.
- D-Range Optimizer which is an image enhancer.
- High sensitivity range ISO 100 - 3200.
- 2.5 Frames per second exposure using viewfinder mode. Slower if Live mode is used. Good enough exposure speed for me.
- 9 point AF (Still blur on this point, may need Ted Adnan or Steven Lee to explain).
- Creative Style
- Anti-dust - an important feature to keep the mirror dust free especially when the lens is frequently changed in dusty condition.
- 2.7" Clear Photo LCD. Great size to use clearly the composed picture to be taken and to view pictures taken. The tiltable screen suit me fine for taking overhead shot or low angle shot without having to lie on the ground if I were to use the viewfinder. With a bulging tummy such position is of course difficult for me.
- Alpha mount- quick mounting and release on a tripod.
- Smart teleconverter. I must check with the retailer what this feature is about.
With those informations with me I told them that I would be coming back tomorrow after I have made my decision on whether or not to buy it.
I have read the advertisement of Alpha 350 somewhere and with any advertisement, I am easily impressed.
It was only almost a week later that I returned to the shop to buy the Sony Alpha 350K. I was shocked to hear that the old package was already sold out and they now have a new package. The new package is without the telephoto lens. What a disappointment! At the price of RM2999 it now comes with a single lens, the Sony SH0006 Standard Zoom Lens. The only consolation was that it now comes with a bigger capacity 8 GB Memory stick Duo with a CF adaptor and a simple tripod will be thrown in for free. The tripod wasn't to my satisfaction as I will be using it alot. Another disappointment was the battery for the Sony Alpha 350 came with a grrove at the back of it to accomodate a ridge in the battery housing rendering my Sony Digicam battery useless despit it being similar in everything else.
The sales rep of Megacity Electronics reworked the package to include the following items:
- RGB 55mm UV Filter
- Octagon 55mm lens conversion which is a fish eye.
- Digital Eye TR - 288 Pro Tripod.
The above package would cost me RM3600. I wanted the Sony soft casing for single lens but the price of RM120 seems abit steep for now.
I came for the camera and so I bought the camera. After paying for the camera I rejoined my daughters family at Pizza hut before the pizza gets cold and the people at Megacity Electronics repack my camera back into the box
After a good meal of pizzas I collected my camera and headed for home feeling satisfied that at last I have in my possession a DSLR camera to enjoy the hobby called photography.The Tripod, the camera and the fish eye lens.
Part 2 will be about the Sony Alpha 350K's performance. Hang on there will ya?