E-Books from Gary Friedman are user guides, mines of information and all-round treasuries of inspiration for Alpha owners – see www.friedmanarchives.com for details and how to buy them either as a physical printed book, or a download. His e-Books include:
- Dynax 7D/5D
- Dimage A1/A2 book (equally applicable to the Dimage A200)
- Alpha 100
- Alpha 700
- Alpha 200/300/350
- Alpha 900
- and just about everything else – up to the latest A77, NEX-7 etc as Gary is rarely more than a month or three after the introduction of each camera in getting his book finished
dPreview is recognised as one of the most important camera test sites on the web.
Phil has also done a review of the Alpha 700
and much more again – no point in making an exhaustive list, they have a very good search function.
Sony Alpha owners will find that Adobe Photoshop CS series and Photoshop Elements series include a good .ARW raw file converters.
Adobe Lightroom, a dedicated raw file conversion and ‘digital asset management’ utility, which is a complete stand alone product including all Alpha and NEX conversions updated at roughly quarterly intervals, can be trialled or purchased from:
There’s a great Mac-only raw file developer for the Alpha, NEX and previous Konica Minolta files – RAWDeveloper from Iridient. This is really fast, allows scaled exports, has superb noise reduction and is a highly professional workflow solution.
Another alternative is Silkypix Developer Studio, a Japanese developed raw file converter, which has something in common with Sony’s Image Converter SR. This is available in both Windows and Mac versions.
Bibble, is a popular commercial multi-format raw converter and browser utility.
DxOptics Pro is highly developed with lens profiles, camera and film based colour looks, and great Alpha support.
An excellent top-level raw .MRW/.ARW converter, if a little hard to master, is Capture One Pro made by Phase One, the Danish digital medium-format back manufacturer. You can download trial software, or upgrade the LE version provided promotionally to the full product, by visiting Phase One’s website. The latest versions are good at handling high ISO noise but Phase One is fairly slow to add new camera models.
RawPhotoProcessor is a simple and deep Mac-only raw processor ideal for the more technically minded. It reveals a lot about the image through reading the makernote and metadata comments hidden in each file. It is fast and small.
Another commercial program we really like – it has a very good interface – is LightZone from Lightcrafts Inc. This is a feature-laden full image management system which can match Aperture or Lightroom on most levels and even replace Photoshop for some work.
A good PC-only raw converter, small enough to run on palmtop devices and Origami platform machines, is RawTherapee. This independently written experimental converter has won many converts amongst Alpha users, as it offered support right from the start and overcame most of the smurrging issues present in high ISO detail:
Let us know of any other raw converter links, and I will add them.
Support and resources
For legacy support and information on Konica Minolta photo-digital products, we currently recommend the website below, which has not disabled all its downloads of software, firmware, etc: http://ca.konicaminolta.com/support/americas/
For information on the Sony Alpha system and the new Sony Alpha 100 DSLR, the UK Sony site now has some really excellent resources in place. Use the High Bandwidth option if you possibly can, and expore both ‘Assignments’ and ‘Equipment’: http://www.sony.co.uk/nextlevel
You can view a selection of full size images taken with Sony Alpha on David Kilpatrick’s pBase pages. There’s lots of technical information on the tests, examples, and comparison present on these pages. These include comments, captions and EXIF shooting data: http://www.pbase.com/davidkilpatrick
There is an independent Minolta M-AF forum and website, Dyxum, which offers many useful resources including lens tests and storage card speed comparisons. Unlike dPreview, Dyxum does not ban participants for being associated with specialist websites like Photoclubalpha, and has kindly promoted and helped us in the past: http://www.dyxum.com. Dyxum is probably the most active Alpha discussion site, with an excellent lens review and rating system allowing you look up almost any lens ever made to fit M-AF and find a user opinion along with full specs and original selling price. They also have a very good links page which lists just about every other Alpha resource around!
Yahoogroups include one dedicated entirely to Minolta which in practice is used by Sony Alpha owners as well – http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Minolta/. There is also a Yahoogroup called SonyAlpha, at least until Sony’s legal dept ask them to cease and desist: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SonyAlpha/.
A busy forum is well established at Dynaxdigital – http://www.dynaxdigital.com/
Carl Garrard and T E Morrison have set up a site called Alphamountworld which offers forums, reviews and articles and will be reporting from major trade shows in the US. Carl is also going to post articles from his show visits or press invites to Photoworldalpha.
A useful group with a strong photography emphasis is UKExpert – forums and galleries and many further onwards links. It was a pleasure to meet Andy from UKExpert at the Sony Alpha 700 launch, and great to know that Sony value the presence of independent opinion-formers.
There is a photo sharing site (by far the most popular web activity for photographers!) at Shootalpha.com. This is, after all, what camera clubs and even august professional associations do – share their pictures and pass generally not unkind comments on them to each other, with the occasional bit of constructive crit. Do not expect to encounter the photo equivalent of Simon Cowell stalking the gallery pages, you will be welcomed as a beginner and find your level quickly. There is also an active forum.
Here’s an enthusiast from New Zealand – Rob provides many further links connected with the A900.
Dealers and spares
At Icon Publications Ltd we now have just a selection of Minolta glass filters; MD/AF hard lens cases (many types); Dynax branded original camera straps; Minolta leather cases ideal for iPhones, iPods etc; and Vectis BPS-1 battery base grips for the Vectis S-1.
Former Minolta Club administrator Adrian Paul has his own specialist business selling spares, accessories and smaller hard-to-obtain products from the Minolta and Konica Minolta ranges, and will be offering Sony Alpha system products in future. The Photostore is a mail-order business only and Adrian offers a fast, excellent standard of service and knowledge: http://www.photostore-uk.com/
Alpha and NEX body and lens rental is available from hireacamera.com which is a fairly new compay investing a stack in this gear, and charging surprisingly reasonable hire rates. Here’s a quick video interview we did with them:
In New Zealand, the Sony Service Centre for Alpha is http://www.phototronic.co.nz/ – they are also dealers, an ideal one-stop shop for purchases and repairs, run by a former Minolta UK Ltd service department staff member.
Pro dealers Calumet have the Alpha system now as a main line, after decades of sidelining the Minolta mount. This is very important and will put the Alpha in front of Britain’s working professionals: http://www.calumetphoto.co.uk/.
London Camera Exchange Colchester is now a Sony ACE dealer and has committed to supporting this website and our magazine. The branch manager will always try to offer the best deal to Photoclubalpha members! Email them on colchester@LCEgroup.co.uk or call 01206 573444.
To find out about the values of used cameras, visit the Monark camera price guide site – http://www.cameravalues.com/
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