Sony A900 (DSLR-A900)
Sony brings more megapixels to the table, serving up one of the most delicious full-frame D-SLR cameras on the market.
- Comfortable to use, manual controls for metering and focus modes, fast, full-frame sensor, huge resolution
- Noticeable noise at ISO speeds above 400
Anyone looking to make the step up to a full-frame D-SLR should make a point of trying out the Sony A900. It's a great camera to use and its performance on location and in the studio was excellent.
Price$ 5,299.00 (AUD)
With a full-frame, 35mm sensor and 26 megapixels to its name, the Sony A900 (DSLR-A900) digital SLR camera is a super-heavyweight when it comes to churning out huge images. It eclipses even the high-end models from Canon and Nikon in resolution (it only just beats the Nikon D3x), and its mid-range price of $5299 (for the body only) is sure to arouse interest from serious enthusiasts as well as professionals looking to get a high return on their investment.
The A900 uses Sony’s a Mount and will accept lenses from Sony and Minolta; we used a Sony SAL-2470Z 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom lens for our tests. This is a serious piece of glass that on its own costs around $2400, and combined with the A900 body it helped produce some crisp and colourful images. It also helped add about 1kg to the overall weight of the camera; it’s definitely a big boy!
When you first start using the Sony A900, it’s easy to get accustomed to all its buttons and dials. There are dedicated dials for the aperture and shutter, as well as switches for the focus and metering modes, which we love. A thumb control allows you to navigate the on-screen menu system, as well as change focus points on the fly, which we also love. There are nine focus points to select from, and we had no problems focusing on our target areas off-centre. However, we do wish that all the focus points showed up as red squares in the viewfinder, rather than thin lines.
The A900 focused fast with the f/2.8 lens and took shots even quicker. It has a crisp shutter that reacts immediately when pressed, and in burst mode it can capture up to five frames per second, which is on par with the fastest professional cameras on the market. If you shoot JPEGS, it will be able to capture up to 285 frames until it slows down to catch a breath; in RAW mode it will capture up to 12 images, one less than the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III. You can record your images to CompactFlash or Memory Stick cards, and we used a Sandisk Ultra II 1GB card for our tests.
In low light, the camera’s ISO can be boosted to 6400, but you will notice plenty of artefacts in your photos. In fact, we noticed noise at ISO 400 and 800. However, the noise levels were acceptable and could be tamed during post processing.
We did the majority of our shooting in manual mode, but we also used aperture priority, in which the camera exposed almost all of our shots perfectly. When shooting in low light with the ISO mode set to auto the camera will boost the ISO speed automatically in aperture priority mode, ensuring that the shutter speed doesn’t drop too low. The image stabilisation built in to the body did a good job to keep our images acceptably clear, even while hand-holding shots with the shutter at 1/8th of a second.
Like a professional camera, the Sony A900 doesn’t have a built-in flash, but there is a hot-shoe and a connection for an external flash. When connected to a light box in a studio, the A900 performed like a true pro, capturing brilliant whites and vibrant yet neutral-looking colours.
You won’t find the Live View feature on this camera; instead, you’ll have to frame your shots using the optical viewfinder, which is large and crystal clear. You can see the mirror reflection along the bottom of the viewfinder, which can be a little off-putting, but it depends on the angle at which you are looking through it.
Despite the lack of Live View, which we don’t care for much anyway, Sony is onto a winner with the A900, as it’s an absolute joy to use and captures photos at a huge resolution. We love all of the included buttons, its menu system, the big viewfinder, the position of the shutter, and the overall size of the body; it all just works. In the end, it’s easy to recommend this camera for people who are in the market for a full-frame D-SLR and want a capable alternative to Canon and Nikon.
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