Sorry to say that careful testing has revealed a fatal flaw in my (new) sample of the Sony A900: At normal shutter speeds in normal light, pictures are routinely less sharp with SteadyShot turned on than off.
This is similar to an effect Carl Weese uncovered with an early Pentax (K20? Memory does not serve*), and it was not true of the earlier A900 I used, so it is not an inherent flaw of the camera—it's a sample variation.
I will be attempting to call B&H Photo's Customer Service today to see about returning this unit for exchange. If I have missed that window, then I'm thrown to the vagaries of Sony's warranty repair.
Given the cost of the camera, I'm feeling a little freaked out about this.
*I had the identical Pentax camera body at that time and could not duplicate Carl's results—my camera was fine. Again, I believe that was a case of sample variation.
UPDATE: B&H's Customer Service was great—they were very helpful and have issued a mailing label for the return, and will be exchanging the camera for another one. Further posts about the A900 will be slightly delayed, however.
In the meantime, a Panasonic G3 is en route to TOP World Headquarters, so we might have some postings about that camera coming up.
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Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Brad Nichol: "Mike, sorry to hear you got a dud. I would like to add to perhaps clear things up for those who seem to have some doubts about the sensor stabilization on the Sony...yes, it absolutely works as intended.
"I have carried out several exhaustive tests on the A900, with all sorts of lenses, shutter speeds, with stabilization on and off and the camera both on and off the tripod. Despite Sony's warnings, and accepted wisdom, it even works well when the camera is tripod mounted; it does not seem to degrade the image at all.
"Once you have used the Sony with stabilization turned on you will find it very hard to justify not having it on a camera. It is very very rare to get blurry shots due to movement.
"So to all those who doubt Mike's technical skill, if there is in issue it is real and nothing to do with settings, lenses, method, and it is definitely not typical of how the A900 performs."
Mike replies: Indeed. I did all those tests the first time I used the A900 back in 2008, because I needed to be sure of what I was saying. I can state categorically that, working properly, the A900's SteadyShot doesn't degrade resolution. Really! After I ran my own tests back then, I was sufficiently impressed that I simply left SteadyShot on all the time.
I also did the tests by the book with my original Konica-Minolta 7D, the camera that originally sold me on this feature. Again, it acquitted itself with flying colors—the sample I owned, anyway. The 7D has since gone considerably wonky, such that I hardly ever use it any more, but its Anti-Shake still works fine.