Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 Review
Record mode display
As with the A100 (and the the Konica Minolta SLRs that came before it) the A700 does without a traditional LCD control panel information display and instead employs the more flexible (though more power hungry) method of using the LCD monitor as a record mode display for camera settings, exposure etc. In record mode you can press the Display button to toggle between the full recording mode display, 'enlarged' recording mode display (which has less information) or no display.
Note: apologies for the rather poor quality of some of the screen grabs on the next few pages - we had some problems with the composite video output on our A700.
|Detailed recording mode display||Enlarged recording mode display|
Using the Quick Navi menu
A key difference between the A700 and its predecessor(s) is that you can now change most settings directly from the info screen by pressing the 'Fn' button, which turns the screen into a 'Quick Navi' menu (similar to many other modern DSLRs). Using the multi-commander you simply move the highlight from one setting to another. Pressing the central button brings up a mini menu for that item, allowing you to change settings. It works well and my only complaint is that you can't change the button used to activate the Quick Navi menu - odd when so much customization is on offer - and the Fn button is too much of a stretch for your thumb (so changing settings is impossible if you're not holding the camera with both hands (and it feels unnecessarily fiddly). There is, however, a way to overcome this (see next section).
|Pressing the Fn button turns on the Quick Navi screen. The left, right, up and down arrows on the multi-controller are used to move from one setting to another.||Press the middle button on the controller and a menu appears allowing you to change the setting.|
|Selecting a Creative Style||Changing Exposure Comp. setting.|
Using the direct access buttons
By default you see a dedicated menu - as shown above - when you press one of the external buttons (ISO, DRIVE, WB and +/-) on the top of the camera. An option in the custom menu allows you to change settings directly on the Quick Navi screen by pressing one of these buttons and turning the front control dial. For settings - such as white balance - with additional options, the rear dial cycles through the parameters. The table below shows the (default) function of each dial/button combo:
|Button||Front Dial||Rear Dial|
|ISO||Change ISO (1 EV steps)||Change ISO (0.3 EV steps)|
|WB||Cycle through WB presets||• Presets: Change WB adjustments (+3 to -3)
• Kelvin: Change Kelvin value and color filter
• Custom WB: choose from 3 saved settings, create new setting
|DRIVE||Cycle through drive, bracketing, self timer, remote control modes||• Continuous: Hi or Lo
• Self timer: duration
• Bracketing: EV step and number of frames
|+/-||AE compensation||AE compensation (same as front dial)|
One big advantage of using the Quick Navi screen in this way is that once you've pressed one of the direct access buttons you can use the multi-commander to move to any of the other on-screen settings (thus overcoming the rather awkward positioning of the Fn button).
The screens below show the front dial being turned (not all options shown)
Record review / Play display
The A700 has four different record review (instant playback) / play displays; Image only, Image & information, Image & histograms (including blinking highlights/shadows) and a hybrid filmstrip/image view (shows last 5 shots as thumbs across the top). Record review will use the last selected play mode display format. During record review you can press the delete button to delete the image or the magnify button for a quick close-up view (useful for checking focus / blur). Note that blinking highlights / shadows are only shown in the histogram display mode (which is a pity).
|Image only||Image and basic information|
|Image, full shooting data and histogram (note there are now RGB and Luminance histograms)||'Film strip' thumbnails + image|
Press the 'magnify in' button to display the image at the previously used magnification level. Use the controller to scroll around the image, the rear dial to change the magnification, the center button (on the controller) to switch to loupe mode (example below) and the front control dial to browse through images while remaining magnified.
|Initial magnification (previous used)||Turn the rear control dial to change the magnification level (fro 1.1x to 16x)|
|Press the button in the middle of the controller to switch to loupe mode; move the loupe using the controller, change the magnification level using the rear dial again.||Press the center button again to return to magnify mode, press the magnify button to exit|
The play mode menu allows you to select between 4, 9 or 25 thumbnails in index view. You can jump one page at a time using the rear control dial and you can jump from folder to folder (if you have more than one folder created) by pressing the button in the middle of the multi controller.
|Four image index||Nine image index|
|25 image index|