Hands on with the new A700

Started Sep 6, 2007 | Discussions thread
José B
José B Forum Pro • Posts: 19,573
Doug, very nice review (nt)

Doug Brown wrote:

This morning I attended the Canadian launch of the Sony A700. Thought
some of you might like to hear my impressions.

It's a very solid, professional feeling camera with some unique
features. With grip it's slightly larger than the Canon 20/30D
w/grip, but lighter in weight. Very comfortable combination, and all
the test cameras had the grip attached.

The Sony grip includes all of the main controls for focus selection
and exposure found on the back of the camera itself, and is one of
the most well-thought out I've seen. The grip is magnesium, and the
information screen on the back of the camera switches to portrait
orientation when using the camera for vertical shots.

Also, the location of the shutter release on the grip is very
sensible. They cut the grip down on the front so the release is more
in line with the lens. More comfortable, more stable, and easier to
access the control buttons.

You can shoot in 16:9 ratio format (the only DSLR that does this) and
you can output in that aspect ratio to select Bravia TV's in HDMI
format. When the television is selected to photo mode the results are
amazing. Like having a 37 inch computer monitor. Much, much more
detailed than looking at photos on an ordinary TV, or even an HD

The LCD on the back is very high resolution. Very nice feature. Easy
to see the true detail and exposure of a photo.

The price will be $1599 CDN body only, $2050 CDN body w/ the new kit
lens which is a 24 - 160mm equivalent . The lens has an ED element
and two aspherical elements. But it is APS only, no good for full
frame which Sony are rumoured to be working on.

Results from the lens were good to very good. After only about 50
exposures I'd say my rough impression is that it's better at the wide
end than at the telephoto.

The A700's top speed is 6400 ISO. I shot several frames at this
setting and you'll be shocked to know ... it's actually useable. If
only for smaller prints or in Hail Mary situations, but in a variety
of circumstances it did quite well considering. Certainly there is
noise, against some backgrounds and lighting colour blotchiness, but
in others the photos were little different than the 20D at 3200 ISO,
and even in a few frames close to the 20D's 1600 ISO. It varies with
the lighting and how much shadow information there is in the shot. In
bright perfect lighting it's really good for the speed we're talking
about, however, that's not likely to be the circumstance in which
you'd need such an extreme setting.

There are environmental seals around all the buttons and switches but
the Sony reps went out of their way to stress the camera is not
considered water-proof or even splash-proof.

Max. frames per second is 6 fps. but their technical person said the
sensor is capable of doing 10fps.

They've tweaked the included software and it is now faster than
previous versions.

I had the camera to myself for about twenty minutes. The launch was
at the Jane Corkin Gallery in The Distillery District. We were
allowed to shoot at random outside as well as use a studio setup
w/model. The images I shot ranged from 100 - 6400 ISO. I'd say they
were pretty impressive. With further familiarization with the camera
I'm sure it would be easier to match settings to the subject and
achieve even better results.

Eleven point auto focus - feels much quicker than my 20D, with a
double cross high precision sensor in the centre for lenses 2.8 and

Focus was off in just a few of the early frames as I had it in auto
focus point selection mode, once I switched it to centre point they
were dead on. Even grab shots of people walking by were perfectly

The viewfinder is nice and big, and very bright. Really nice.

The back LCD is easy to see, even in the bright sunshine of midday
here, and gave a good representation of the final results.

It's a seriously impressive camera.

BTW: I asked one of their executives about the full frame direction -
no comment. When we would be seeing the highest level pro model - no
comment. Is the A100 discontinued - 'the A100 will carry through the
Christmas season'

Very good presentation, well executed and informative, all of the
Sony people were well-versed in the product. Good professional effort
all round.

Doug B

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