Here's a brief comparison of the three new 10MP DSLRs announced in the last few months. They are the Canon Digital Rebel XTi (EOS 400D), the Nikon D80 and the Sony Alpha A100. Though you may not associate Sony with high end cameras it's important to know that Sony recently took over the camera division of Minolta, so the Sony Alpha A100 is actually an evolution of the Minolta Maxxum line of cameras and can use any of the Minolta Maxxum lenses.
All three are 10MP cameras, all three have a 2.5" LCD, all three have a 3fps maximum shooting rate. They all have the same range of shutter speeds and very similar white balance, focus and exposure modes. All three can shoot RAW and JPEG images. They are all good cameras! So how do they differ?
Which would I buy? I think any one of the three would be good. I'm a Canon shooter, so I'd stick with what I know and go for the Canon myself, but if I wasn't a Canon shooter and had no investment in lenses, I'm not sure what I'd pick. It would be a tough choice, but I think as an average consumer it would probably come down to the Canon or Sony based on price and features.
The higher noise level of the Sony might concern me a bit if I thought I'd be shooting at ISO settings higher than 400 very often, though the images would still be far better than those from any P&S digicam. The built in image stabilization of the Sony A100 is certainly a plus, though the lens based stabilization of the IS and VR lenses from Canon and Nikon may be more effective - but at an added cost per lens.
The Nikon is $200 more than the Canon ($100 more than the Sony) and is more expensive than the Canon EOS 20D, which is arguably a better camera (though "only" 8.2MP). However it's a good camera and if the Nikon lens line is attractive to you or you already own Nikon lenses, it's certainly seems to a better camera than the D70s was and I'm sure it will perform well.
Here's a table comparing the basic specifications of the three cameras:
Digital Rebel XTi
|Nikon D80||Sony Alpha
|Availability||September 2006||September 2006||Available now|
|Max resolution||3888 x 2592||3872 x 2592||3872 x 2592|
|Low resolution||2816 x 1880, 1936 x 1286||2896 x 1944, 1936 x 1296||3896 x 1936, 1920 x 1280|
|Effective pixels||10.1 million||10.2 million||10.2 million|
|Sensor photo detectors||10.5 million||10.75 million||10.8 million|
|Sensor type||CMOS (Canon)||CCD (Sony)||CCD (Sony)|
|Sensor size||22.2 x 14.8 mm||23.6 x 15.8 mm||23.6 x 15.8 mm|
|Focal length multiplier||1.6x||1.5x||1.5x|
|ISO settings||Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600||Auto, 100 - 1600 (up to 3200 with boost)||Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600|
|Image stabilization||In lens only (IS lenses)||In lens only (VR lenses)||In body only|
|Auto focus type||Multi-BASIS TTL, 9 focus zones||Nikon Multi-CAM1000, 11 focus zones||TTL CCD line sensors 9 zones|
|White balance options||7 plus manual||6 plus manual||7 plus manual|
|Shutter speeds||30 sec + Bulb to 1/4000 sec||30 sec + Bulb to 1/4000 sec||30 sec + Bulb to 1/4000 sec|
|Flash sync||1/200s||1/200s||1/160 sec [ 1/125 sec with Super Steadshot on]|
|Flash guide #||13 m (ISO 100)||13 m (ISO 100)||12 m (ISO 100)|
|External flash||Yes, hot-shoe, E-TTL II||Yes, hot-shoe||Yes, hot-shoe (Minolta)|
|Flash modes||Auto, On, Red-eye reduction, Off||Front curtain, Rear curtain, Red-Eye, Slow, Red-Eye Slow||Auto, Fill-in, Red-Eye reduction, Slow Sync, Off|
|Exposure comp.||-2 EV to +2 EV in 1/3 EV or 1/2 EV steps||-5 EV to +5 EV in 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps||-2 EV to +2 EV in 1/3 EV steps|
|Metering||35 area eval, center weighted, partial||3D Matrix metering II, Center weighted, Spot||40 segment, Center weighted average, Spot|
|Lens mount||Canon EOS EF, EF-S mount||Nikkor AF / F-mount, D-Type||Sony Alpha mount, Minolta A-type mount|
|Continuous Drive||Yes, 3 fps, 27 JPEG or 10 RAW frames||Yes, 3 fps, up to 23 JPEG, 6 NEF images||Yes, 3 fps|
|Remote control||E3 connector, InfraRed||Optional (ML-L3 or MC-DC1)||Wire (Optional)|
|Self-timer||10 sec (2 sec with mirror lock-up)||2, 5, 10 or 20 sec||2 or 10 sec|
|Memory card||Compact Flash (Type I or II)||SD/SDHC card||Compact Flash (Type I or II)|
|Storage formats||JPEG (EXIF 2.21) + RAW||JPEG (EXIF 2.2) + RAW||JPEG (EXIF 2.2) + RAW|
|Quality Levels||Fine, Normal||Fine, Normal, Basic||Fine, Standard|
|Viewfinder||Pentamirror, 0.8x, 95% coverage||Pentaprism, 0.94x, 95% coverage||Pentaprism, 0.93x, 95% coverage|
|USB||Yes, 2.0||Yes, 2.0||Yes, 2.0|
|Firewire (IEEE 1394)||No||No||No|
|Battery||NB-L2H Li-Ion||EN-EL3e Li-Ion||NP-FM55H Li-Ion|
|Weight (w/battery)||553 g (20 oz)||668 g (23.6 oz)||638 g (22.5 oz)|
|Size||126.5 x 94.2 x 65 mm (5 x 3.7 x 2.6 in)||132 x 103 x 77 mm (5.2 x 4.1 x 3 in)||133 x 95 x 71 mm (5.2 x 3.7 x 2.8 in|