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Sony’s flagship SLR boasts 24.6 megapixels on a full frame sensor with in-body Image Stabilization shooting at up to 5 frames per second. The “Exmor” CMOS image sensor is ~2.35x larger than typical APS-C size sensors, and the large capture area allows for more sharpness, tonal graduation, and depth of field control.
The 3 inch, 920,000 pixel LCD provides amazing resolution at the time of capture and provides superb feedback when shooting with Live View. It also provides an ‘intelligent preview’ function that allows you to see the effects of changes in shutter speed, aperture, etc. before you take the shot.
Sometimes overlooked in all the other features is the fact that the A900 has a very bright, 100% viewfinder. It has 9 primary focus and 10 focus assist points and provides a cross-type, f/2.8 center focus point. It also has dual card slots accepting either Compact Flash or Memory Stick Duo media. Together with batteries and a memory card it tips the scales at ~2 lbs (900g).
I took this out for a weekend with the 135 f/1.8 and 35 f/1.4 prime lenses and came back impressed—this is a huge step up from the Alpha 350 I’d shot with previously. First, I generally like the ergonomics: the layout is clean, the controls are intuitive, and I’m a fan of more buttons and less menus like this has. I found the menus a bit overly complex, but that might just be due my longer experience with Canon and Nikon. There are some really thoughtful touches, though, like the fact that the LCD rotates so the menus are always vertical no matter the camera orientation, just like on my iPhone. Not a big deal, I know, but a nice feature that shows some engineers are being thoughtful. The viewfinder is bright and clear, a pleasure to look through. The camera is solid in the hand, a bit bigger and heavier to feel than a Canon 5DMkII or Nikon D700—the grip is a bit large for my hands (YMMV of course) and the next time I take it out, I’ll put a hand strap on it.
Autofocus is quick and sure. It meters cleanly and accurately. The high ISO performance, which is an area where some other recent SLRs have spoiled me in, is better than previous Sony cameras: I found it fine at ISO 800, might need a bit of noise reduction but very usable at ISO 1600, and would take 3200 in a pinch for a small print or a web sized jpg. There’s some loss of detail that’s apparent to pixel-peeping at 3200, but given 24 megapixels to work with, I think detail would be adequate. Plus, I was using out-of-camera jpgs, RAWs should be better.
- A900 camera body
- Body cap
- Camera bag
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