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On Sept. 9th, Sony has announced a full frame DSLR Alpha 900, a pro model that with a good price will try to push Sony as an attractive chance into the pro-DSLR market (remember that Sony acquired Minolta).

The new camera offers an astonishing 24 Megapixels resolution (the new sensor was announced last January), but since the sensor is large, we don't expect the typical challenge in raising pixel counts (increased noise and reduced dynamic range).

Also the body is new with respect to its predecessor A700: magnesium chassis versus previous aluminium. Compartment sealing are provided against water and dust.

A900 is the first full frame camera with sensor stabilization, Sony claims up to 4 stops gained in low-shutter times (e.g. with a focal length of 200 mm where you should shoot at 1/200 sec, stability would enable you "theorically" to shoot at 1/12 sec!). The Sony solution is different than Nikon's and Canon's that have stabilized lens: advantage of Sony's approach is that immediately all lenses become "stabilized" (hence you should spend less on lenses), disadvantage is typically a less effective compensation on longer focals (tele) and not being able to see the effect through the viewfinder.

The burst shoot is also quite good considered the size of the image: 5 fps.

Very good LCD: 3" diagonal and with 920K pixels - becoming the standard de facto in the last months (last Canon and Nikon new entries have same figures). With such a LCD, you can see 25 thumbs on the screen (in play mode of course...).In play mode,you can zoom up to 19x magnification (coupled with high resolution is a good point to check focus).

Micro-adjustments of AutoFocus tocompensate for small lens mis-calibration without sending the lens to customer service.

The supplied proprietary software features vignetting correction - proprietary vignetting correction is becoming quite popular lately, not yet chromatic aberration control, but sooner or later will see it, too, I am sure.

Other characteristics:

  • ISO range 200-1600, expandable to 100-6400 (on full frame Nikon has a wider range but with much less pixels);
  • 9 AF points with additional 10 assist points (not shown in the viewfinders but used in the wide AF mode);
  • 40 segment metering with 0-20 EV range (multi-segment mode, spot mode is 2-20 EV);
  • shutter time as fast as 1/8000th sec - that, being a full frame, implies a very fast mirror mechanism;
  • dynamic range optimizer function (improved with respect to Alpha 700);
  • Compact Flash and Memory Stick as supported memory cards - hence dual slot for coping with card problems;
  • wireless remote control included - kudos to Sony
  • HDMI output (for HD TV);
  • graphic and percentage-based battery meter;
  • weight 850 g (without batteries, accessories and card).

What's missing: live view, now a almost a must in DLSR market.Actually there is a preview function that takes a shoot essentially to show you if exposure/clipping are ok for you, but live view is another thing.

Initial price will be $ 3000 (selling from late October), that is quite good for a full frame, compared for example to initial price of the Canon 5D or 1Ds series.

  • Referenced brands in this article: Sony