Check out the new Sony A 700. This DSLR is an upgrade from the Sony A 100, and still an upgrade from
the newer Sony A 200. This is an advanced amateur model, but in my personal opinion, it's more user friendly and
produces higher quality results than the A 100. It's also much heavier and costs twice as much, which will
probably be enough to keep most beginners from purchasing it; but it really shouldn't.
will be a running review, as I've done before. I'll post images and thoughts on this page every couple of days
as I learn more about the camera.
This review will cover the Sony A 700, and I'll be
comparing it to the Sony A 100, which I have on hand also. Note: I updated the camera
to ver. 3 so everything below is based on the new updated firmware.
Here are some random thoughts about the A 700 so far.
The Sony A 700 has
a great magnifying feature on the beautiful 3" LCD, especially for checking focus. You push the AF/MF button
with your right thumb in playback mode, then zoom-in using the rear wheel. Once you get the appropriate magnification, use
the front wheel for viewing your other shots at the same magnification, in the same area, very handy. You just
have to remember to frame your shots the same so you don't have to do any scrolling. This is a great feature,
which more than makes up for the slow scroll rate.
Another nice touch: if you've been using manual focus, and
turn the camera off, it'll come on in auto focus---that's good, as I've actually ruined more than a few shots
by forgetting to reset the switch to AF.
The CF card slot is backwards to the A 100. It makes it harder to
remove the card by grabbing the raised edge on the bottom, which is now up close to the card door, this is a bad design.
Scrolling through a picture during playback is not as fast as on the A 100.
Use the "fine"
setting for JPEGs. I couldn't see any difference what-so-ever from "extra fine" to "fine" so
no need to waste double the memory.
The viewfinder is better on the A 700 with better relief and brightness.
You don't need to put your eye-ball on the glass to see the entire view.
Nice included remote control, though
most of the buttons are for TV. Only the top left two buttons work with the camera itself. Note that the 2 second
timer will not lock the mirror up, like it does in the drive option; you'll have to use your twenty year old wired release.
I'm not sure why they did it this way. I like wireless remotes, so it's not a big deal. If you want mirror
lock-up, just set it on the camera, 2 sec only, not 10 seconds.
Focuses great in very low light without raising
the flash, thanks to the AF assist lamp.
Are ISO 100,125,160 processing gimmicks like Low 80 and Hi 200 on
previous models? It almost seems the ISO 200 shots are just a bit more detailed than 100. could base
sensitivity be at, or close to ISO 200. I examined both at 100% and could find no real differences at all,
other than what I just mentioned, unlike the A 100. Plus, auto ISO starts at 200, so that's how I'm coming up
with my assumption.
The shutter is quieter than the A 100, with a totally different sound, this is good.
Build quality. Fit and finish are very good, the outer shell is about the same as the A 100.
The frame on the A 700 is magnesium according to the literature. I don't really notice a better build quality though
on the A 700.
Memory card door. The camera is supposed to be weather-sealed.
The card door has a mating area that matches up with the rubber gasket around the two card slots, but I'm not sure this
is a very tight seal. I never had any problems with the A 100 getting loaded with dirt or water, so I'm not going
to worry about this one either.
ISO. Better than the A 100 all the way around. ISO
really starts at 200? (see below), so forget about 100-160. It appears as though you're going to wind up with at
least a stop better than the A 100, meaning at ISO 1600 on the A 100, you can get the same results at ISO 3200 with the A
Photo quality. So far, very good. If you like your colors jacked, check out the
VIVID +3 setting!
Focusing. Initial thoughts are: very good, better than the A 100.
It's faster all the way around, and seems to be more accurate in the "wide" setting, and better able
to predict what you want to focus on. I also think the AF/MF button is a great addition for getting the correct focus,
it's very fast and easy to use this button, which is right by your thumb. You can program it for; push and hold
for momentary release, or push for release and push for engagement and return to AF.
3.0" 921,00 pixels. Crazy good. You don't come to appreciate the size and sharpness
of this screen until you go back to your old 2.5" 230,000 screen.
File sizes. About
9MB average at "extra fine," 4.5mb at "fine" and just over 3mb in the "standard" mode. Uncompressed,
Shot to shot speeds. Using a 2GB CF
SanDisk Ultra II card, I got around 4.5 shots per second in the "fine" mode. I'll test out a faster
Image stabilization. Seems to work as good as the
White balance. Good, about the same as the A 100.
Not enough cycles yet but seems to be at least the advertised rate of 650 shots. Initially it was just OK, but after
a few recharges, I think it's real good, in excess of the stated shots. I don't use the flash much, but I use
the LCD more than most in my opinion.
Let's check out some product shots.
|Box and contents in the US. Earth to Sony; enough of the orange!
|Also included remote.
|A 700 with 50mm F/1.4
|Great LCD, but you can't tell here.
Next we have a couple of size comparisons, front and back with the A 100.
|A 700 left, A 100 right.
|A 700 left, A 100 right.
Look at the ISO comparisons below. On the left is the A 700, on the right the A 100.
The A 100 only goes to ISO 1600, so I've substituted the resulting two empty boxes with an upsampled Konica Minolta 5D
ISO 3200 shot to match the A 700 size (second to last on the right) then a fixed lens Panasonic FX100 ISO 1600 next to
the 6400 A 700 shot, just for kicks (last on the right). The A 100 shots look a little more sharp, but I think it's
in the processing, the A 700 using less sharpening, which is typical for a more advanced camera.
All camera settings
were at default levels except white balance. Lens used; Sony 50mm F/1.4 @F/8
More to come!
Next we have some D-Range Optimizer samples.