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10/28/08 

 

Has anyone noticed Sony has dropped the HVL-56AM flash unit.  I guess they replaced it with the more expensive HVL-58AM, go figure!  Hold on though before you bail for Canon, Sony has reduced the price of the entry level HVL-36AM to $199.  On the A900, you need the HVL-58AM to trigger wireless flash, so you need that unit and at least the HVL-36AM, for a hefty $700!!  You can also use the off camera cable (FA-MC1AM) if you have the 56AM, it plugs directly in.  Other flashes need an off camera shoe, $49.  I used the wireless feature on the A700 for holding the flash in my hand to get the best flash lighting.  If you only use the flash within arms reach or so, and already have the 56AM, just get the cable mentioned above for $59, it has a coiled 5ft (1.5m) reach.

 

I've put back the Minolta 28mm F/2 review for next week since I want to continue the A900 review until I'm finished, which should be by the end of this week. 

 
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10/26/08 


I've wrapped up most of the work on the A900 review.  I'm still having some trouble getting meaningful results with IDC, though I messed up when I said I was able to tweak a 1/3 stop of highlight recovery, my fault, I'm getting about a full stop.  I haven't checked ACR yet.

 

Random thoughts; focusing is better on the A900 than the A700, though I didn't initially notice it until I started doing my comps, then it showed up.  I can't say I notice any dynamic range differences between the two cameras, and I've done a lot of testing.  TIFF conversions run almost 70mb!  The A900 tends to underexpose as compared to the A700 by 1/3-2/3 stops, that's good though.  Macro shots are very similar, but the APS-C still has the edge.  The super wide angle KM 17-35mm F/2.8-4 lens shows really bad flare and ghosts when the sun is near or in the image, and a GND filter causes vignetting, I've put up some samples at the bottom of the review page.  And one last item; check out how you can get a 14mm shot with your Sigma 10-20mm lens, I posted samples of this too.  Go to the bottom of the page to check out all this and more.


In APS-C mode the auto crop is 3984x2656, for 10.6mp.  Sony uses "11M" (MP) on the camera, but other sizes are listed as "5.6M" or "2.6M" etc and match up correctly.  Hmmm, is that what they call a "market" adjustment?  On second thought, I guess there aren't enough characters, or can't add a point.

 

october08/km1735bdfl.jpg
Yikes!
october08/1020vigsm.jpg
14mm APS-C shot

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10/23/08 
 
Fun with Indian Corn.  Instead of a camera strap, I have some Indian Corn to look at as we check out the details in the crops of the A900, as compared to the A700.  I've also figured a ratio for the A900 and A700 when you want to compare them using the same size crops.  The A700 has to be farther back due to the 1.5x crop factor, but not as much so because of the increase in megapixels.  You should use 1.0736 when figuring the distance for placing the A700.  That is, multiply your subject distance from the A900 by that amount, and you'll know where to put the A700 for getting the same comparable image.  That figure is approximate, and should not be used for scientific studies or measurements.
 
New items on the Sony A900 review page (look towards the bottom) include comparisons in the following; details with upsized images, details with actual distance, crop factor samples, and the real difference in 12mp and 24mp.  I also checked to see if using the 13mp setting on the A900 would show any difference in noise abatement, it didn't, a surprise.  Look for a comparison below the ISO crops.
 
I have plans for macro comps and RAW dynamic range shots coming up.  So far I'm not getting much more than a 1/3 of a stop of highlight recovery using RAW, which makes me want to never shoot RAW.  Stay tuned for more.
 

october08/indcorn605z.jpg
click and look towards the bottom of the page

 

10/19/08

 

I went on a hike this past week with the Sony A900, and managed a couple of decent shots using the Konica Minolta AF 17-35mm F/2.8-4 exclusively.  Go here for a fall color tour in the mountains near Tucson, AZ. 

 

This lens works good, and produces sharp pictures, but man you won't believe the flare and ghosting, it's horrendous!  If the sun is anywhere near the image, you better have your hand ready, the hood doesn't help, and if the sun is in the image, you're screwed, period.  Sometimes you can lose the ghosts in a background, but it's going to be tough with this lens.  I used a Tiffen G ND filter, and at 17mm it vignetted hard, and also caused more reflective problems.

 

I was reading Photoclub alpha's recent entry on do you need the A900? and agree on his points.  It's pretty clear to me your problems and costs will go up exponentially from an APS-C system.  One is the example above with the lens, (telephoto lenses seem ok with my limited use) the other is with files sizes.  My average Fine JPEG is 7-8mb.  My average extra fine JPEG is about 20mb!!  I had a couple of JPEG images that were over 30mb themselves!  RAW + JPEG will run 45-50mb.  I've noticed battery power goes down faster when using quality setting which yield larger sizes, (the access lamp is on for 10 sec in RAW+JPEG).  I'm getting about 300-400 shots per charge using fine, or extra fine, and no flash.  Also, file sizes are larger when using Vivid settings, about 10% it seems.   A 4gb card will give you about 200 shots in extra fine, and takes about 15 minutes for a memory stick pro duo to download.  These are my personal observations so far.

october08/falltour_09sm.jpg
Click for tour.

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10/16/08 


I'm working away on the A900 review, this time I have some ISO shots for you, and comparisons to the A700.  Check it out here.  The crops below are ISO 6400, and you can see the A900 (left) leaves more details intact.  I guess Sony is using less luminance reduction with this camera.  I also made sure the scale was right for the comparisons, so the A900 isn't benefiting from the extra 12mp. 

 

This weekend I hope to post some down-sampled ISO comparisons using 24mp and 13mp image sizes, and RAW shots reworked with noise reduction software.  

 

october08/96400a.jpg
click me
october08/76400b.jpg
click me

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10/12/08

 

Get ready for the running review of the Sony A900.  I've been tinkering with it a little bit, and have decided to incorporate the first full frame results in the 28mm F/2 lens review, do up soon, though it might be a little later than I promised.  Of course I'll be updating most of the lens reviews with full frame information, except the "DT" lenses over the next couple of months.  The review page is up, but I only have some product shots with comparisons to the Sony A900 right now, check back for updates.

 

Here are some initial thoughts on the A900; the mirror slaps pretty hard, and sounds more like a big Konica Minolta maxxum 5D-7D, instead of the dull sounding A700.  You can also feel the camera "quake" when the mirror actuates.  No big deal though.  The viewfinder is nice, about the same as a Maxxum 7000, but not as much distortion, that's good.  In the hand it feels much the same as the A700, but if you have long fingers, the grip isn't as comfortable as the A700, which is deeper than the A900, odd.  The "DT" lenses seem to work fine, just remember to use the guides on the screen.  At wide angle, there is massive vignetting with these lenses, but it'll crop this out automatically.  Telephoto seems fine.  Lenses seem to fit much tighter to this body, though I've changed lenses a thousand times on the A700, so it could be worn slightly, but I don't remember it being so tight fitting even when brand new.  Weather sealing doesn't appear to be any more substantial than the A700.  Intelligent preview is pretty neat, but if you make changes, you have to go back in the menu and switch it to where you had it before, there's no quick way out.

 

Everything in the box is the same as what comes with the A700; remote, shoulder strap, cords, battery, charger etc.  The only different items are the new versions of Image data converter SR (vs 3.0), and Picture motion browser (vs 3.2.01). 

 
You may have also noticed the new picture on top.  I'm now officially kurtmunger.com, though I haven't been crawled yet.  I'm pointing newcamerareview.com to this site, so there shouldn't be any change on your favs link.  I did it because I don't really do many camera reviews, so using the new name will open me up to a more general site, at least in my mind.
 
 

october08/A900ft4.jpg

 

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10/5/08

 

I have a new review up, if you can spare a moment.  This time it's the Minolta AF 24-50mm F/4 lens.  It is very similar in appearance and operation as the Minolta AF 35-70mm F/4, but doesn't quite perform the same.
 
I decided to put the lens reviews in a four segment chart, on the same page, this way you won't have to look all the way down the list for a specific lens.  The old list is still there, at the bottom of the page.  You may also have noticed the search bar.  Try it out. 
 
Up next will be the fast Minolta AF 28mm F/2, you see these on eBay going for $400-$600.

october08/2450ftoff2.jpg
Click for review.