Sony Alpha DSLR-A900 Review
Battery / Battery Compartment
The A900 features the same NP-FM500H InfoLITHIUM battery as the A700. The battery is charged in around 175 minutes (235 minutes for a 'full charge') using the supplied charger (which can also act as a mains adapter for the camera if you buy an optional cable). Battery life is quoted as 880 shots (using the CIPA standard), which seems about right in our experience.
Compact Flash Compartment
Like its little brother, the Alpha 900 offers dual CompactFlash and Memory Stick Duo slots. The card compartment door is located on the right side of the camera and forms part of the hard grip. The door is spring loaded and flips open once slid back. Inside is the Compact Flash Type II card slot which can accept Type I or Type II cards (including FAT32 cards) and a smaller Memory Stick DUO slot. If both are inserted a menu option allows you to choose which is used for recording/playback. What you can't do is any of the clever stuff offered by other manufacturers (auto switchover, backup, splitting raws and JPEGs etc).
Connections / Accessory shoe
The A900's connectors are gathered together on the left side of the camera (looking from the rear) under very sturdy (and quite rigid) rubber flaps on proper hinges. At the front you'll find the x-sync socket (for studio flash), remote commander port (for the optional Minolta-standard remote) and DC-in socket. Behind these are a mini USB port (combined data and video out) and the mini HDMI socket for HDTV. On the top of the camera is the Minolta standard accessory shoe. The A900 supports USB 2.0 Hi-Speed (up to 480 Mbps).
On the bottom of the camera you'll find the metal tripod socket which is aligned exactly with the center line of the lens. Although there's no rubber foot there is plenty of 'real estate' available for a stable location on a tripod mount.
No surprises here, a standard Minolta A-type bayonet lens mount. As usual there is a red indicator dot for aligning the lens and lock by rotating clockwise. Just like other Minolta AF SLR's the camera goes through a priming process when a len is attached by spinning the focus motor connector to ensure it has connected correctly to the lens. This mount supports either body driven focus or lenses with built-in focus motors. Of course the big difference here is that huge mirror - and behind it that huge expanse of sensor.
Using DT (crop) lenses
The Alpha 900 is quite happy working with lenses designed for the APS-C (cropped sensor) models. The camera detects when such lenses are attached and automatically crops images taken (the image size menu changes to reflect this; you can select up to 11 MP only). What it doesn't do is crop or mask the viewfinder, nor is there any indication at all that you've got a DT lens attached. The APS-C crop is indicated on the focusing screen (see below), but that's it. With most lenses you'll see some vignetting in the viewfinder especially at wide angle settings (the 18-70mm DT for example, vignettes at anything below about 24mm.
|APS-C crop indicators (highlighted here in red, these are actually black).||View through 18-70mm DT lens at 18mm.|
With the introduction of the A900 comes a new vertical grip, the VG-C90AM. The grip powers the camera using one (or optionally two) NP-FM500H batteries (again, no luck for owners of NP-FM55 batteries) and is attached by removing the battery from the camera. There is a small slot in the body of the grip to accommodate the A900's battery compartment door (in other words you don't have to take the door off). The grip has a vertical shutter release that is positioned lower than normal so it still lines up with the top of the lens and the viewfinder, meaning the camera feels remarkably similar whichever orientation you use it in. I have to say, handling with the VG-C90 attached is excellent.
The grip has a full complement of switches and buttons to replicate those on the rear of the camera, meaning when it is attached the A900 has well over 30 buttons, switches and dials on the exterior of the body
Controls built into the Vertical Grip
- Fn (Function) button
- C (Custom) button
- Multi Controller
- AEL / Slow Synch / Spot meter button
- AF/MF button
- AE-Compensation button
- On/Off switch
- Twin (front and rear) control dials.
Box Contents (body only)
- Sony Alpha A900 digital SLR body
- NP-FM500H Lithium-Ion battery
- Battery charger (full charge time approx. 235 minutes)
- Eyepiece cup
- Body cap
- Shoe cap
- Shoulder strap
- Video and USB cables
- Software CD-ROM
- Manual, Warranty
- 20 Photographic tests (Noise)
- 21 Photographic tests (Noise)
- 22 Photographic tests (Noise)
- 23 Photograpic tests (DR)
- 24 Photograpic tests (DR)
- 25 Photograpic tests (Fall off)
- 26 Photographic tests
- 27 Compared to...
- 28 Compared to (JPEG)
- 29 Compared to (JPEG)
- 30 Compared to (JPEG)
- 31 Compared to (RAW)
- 32 Compared to (RAW)
- 33 Compared to (RAW)
- 34 Compared to (High ISO)
- 35 Compared to (Resolution)
- 36 Conclusion
- 37 Samples