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Wednesday, 19 August 2009


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Now, it does look a little bit like Robocop or "Zee Terminator", the magnesium alloy casing, right?

As I mentioned in an earlier post--With Sony's new sensor technology they may up the ante with the A900 to over 30mp. My guess is 35mp+. With Live View this time please.
Info about new sensor here at dpreview. http://www.dpreview.com/news/0908/09080601sonycmos.asp


If it makes you feel any better, you're in good company: that particular lens is one of the most sought after lenses in the old Minolta portfolio that are now *all* thin on the ground. For the curious, the other two are the 100/2 and 28/2 (which I have and use with great relish on an APS body).

The Minolta 35/2 is pretty good you know. Andy

Mike, can't you persuade a Zeiss Z series lens to fit?


Let's hope its sub-$2K. Actually hopefully around $1,700 US.

"can't you persuade a Zeiss Z series lens to fit?"

Oddly enough, the Z series Zeisses come in Nikon F, Pentax K, M42 screw, and a few in Canon EF mounts, but not in Sony/Minolta mount. I don't know why this is.

"The Minolta 35/2 is pretty good you know."

The last one I saw, a fairly ratty, fairly old used copy, happened to cost exactly *twice* what Nikon wants for a brand new 35/2 in F mount. Call me cheap, but that galls me.


Looks like Sony is going to start a new price/performance war against Canon and Nikon.. Better for us all :) Maybe not so good for Pentax :/

The Z series lenses don't appear in Sony/Minolta mount because Zeiss has other lens building/designing agreements with Sony which would presumably cause a clash of commercial interests.

Cheers, Robin

"Looks like Sony is going to start a new price/performance war against Canon and Nikon."

This is what is confusing me about this body. The people who buy at this level of camera aren't too concerned about cost I wouldn't think - serious amateurs and professionals who don't need a full-sized body. Is a $300 or even $500 price difference (given what they're stripping out) going to make that significant of a difference?

What market is this camera aimed at, that the A900 isn't already servicing?

Guess I must be the outsider in all of this.
To me Sony used to be a pretty good constructor of electronic toys. Now they've added photographic gear to their toy list.

My mindset of photo gear is first Nikon, then maybe Canon yet not for here in Canada, Canon was late in coming to the market.
Have serious doubts of engineering by Canon.

Then comes Pentax followed by a string of
others, some still extant, some not.

My point is given an ogoing recession stateside and perhaps elsewhere, why is Sony trying to break into what I would describe as an expensive (for the gear) market?

Do they figure they are that good?

Very amusing, you're in fine fettle, well written.


Bryce Lee,
Have you ever used the A900? It is a great tool, and puts out fine images. Don't judge it by its lesser models; it's very different from them. Right now it's Canon or Sony--Nikon has not been in it for a while, and when they did come to the show they did it at a huge price of $9000 or so. Try the A900, you will be surprised.

Richard, I am in Canada, and one the problems here is even finding the top of the line Sony.
For example most of the better Nikkor lenses are never seen in Canada; they are deemed too expensive by Nikon Canada to import and label for our market, which quite small.

Have friends who have purchased lesser priced Sony digital gear, based upon their own prior
use of Minolta film equipment.

My own assessment is based upon my own feeling that many companies are into photography for the short term. Mske a profit, fold their tent and then leave.

If the only difference between the new A850 and the old A900 is the former can only shoot at 3 fps, then why would most people buy the A900? Certainly if I want the ultimate low-light and/or fast-action sports dSLR I'm going with the Nikon D700. If I want the ultimate in image quality in an affordable dSLR... well, FF 24MP under $2k is pretty compelling. It's not like the Grand Canyon is running away from me.

Sony is going to blow away the Canon 5D2 with the A850... and they may end up putting a huge dent in Nikon as well for the folks who are thinking about the D700 but would willingly trade low light or high speed for raw pixels. I wonder if the next step is to come out with a 30 MP A9xx to claim King of the Mountain status?

It looks to me like Sony might drop the 900 and have 850 with less CPU power and less accurate finder at a lower price and the 950 with pretty much the same specs but with the new sensor technology at a higher price.

One and a half questions though. If calibrating the mask on the focusing screen is such a problem on the 900, why doesn't Sony just tweak the home position of the moving sensor in software? And if the sensor is moving for image stabilization purposes, how accurate can the finder be anyway?

I wouldn't be to worried about Sony's commitment to pro photo gear . Sony is nothing if not stubborn. They still make Beta format video cameras and pretty much dominate pro video.

The 900 body price seems fine to me, it's the much higher cost of buying lenses that keeps me from jumping into yet another camera brand

Well - lately i stumbled upon this russian photog: www.razooma.net
The things he does with a900 surely prove this is a mature, capable camera - surely not a plastic toy...
And - dear god of photographers if you're there - i'm not normally a praying man but let it oh let it retail below $2k...

I'll admit to never using the A900. While I think it might well be a landscaper's dream camera, and not far behind for a studio shooter, from the samples I've seen, the image quality goes to hell in a handbasket at ISO 400 and stays there for higher ISOs. I suppose about 80% of the pictures I take are at ISO 1600 or higher, so that is a rather big deal for me.

I am looking for a full frame camera with a set of reasonably fast primes - not stupid fast, like Canon's f/1.2 lenses, just reasonably fast f/1.8 or f/2.0 small primes. While I'm perfectly happy with my Olympus bodies and almost pornographically excited about Olympus zooms, which are, in my experience, the best zooms on the market (Canon L series zooms? Used them for a year, found them to be bloody awful compared to Oly lenses, sold them), I do miss the experience of using my OM-2. Of course, Oly producing fast non-telephoto primes? Fuggedaboudit.

Therefore, I really had high hopes for Sony. Canon is right out, because the 5D (II) is built like a toy and the 1Ds is huge and has a user interface straight out of a BDSM fantasy, and the Nikon D700 just doesn't do it for me. But the A900? If I shot at ISO 100, I'd be all over it. As it is, I find it useless.

What this lengthy lamentation is trying to convey, is, I suppose, that I really hope that the A850 is a great camera with usable high ISO. If it had just 12 or so MP rather than 25, so much the better.

Sony made a big fuss about how hard it was to combine SSS, a full frame sensor and a 100percent viewfinder which resulted in a re-designed mirror. In a piece of speculation which should carry equal weight to David's, maybe this is where we should be looking for the FPS drop?

Of course, even if the Z lenses would fit, the Zeiss 35mm f2 is as big and heavy as the Sony 35mm f1.4, pretty much defeating the advantage of the f2 lens, imho.

Of course, adapters exist to mount Nikon or Pentax lenses on a Sony, Mike. An old <http://kmp.bdimitrov.de/lenses/primes/wide-angle/M35f2.html>SMC-M 35/2 won't set you back a lot, and surely you're not scared off by a manual focus lens? ;-)

Correction on my previous reply, the Nikon & Pentax adapters all have optics, so aren't practical. Sorry for getting your hopes up.

T2 and M42 adapters are fine though, so your favourite 50mm Takumar is still an option...

"If calibrating the mask on the focusing screen is such a problem on the 900, why doesn't Sony just tweak the home position of the moving sensor in software?"

Because it's not the sensor that's the problem, it's the view through the eyepiece.


So Mike, when will we be getting a post about the upcoming Canon 7D, rumoured to be a 12MP full-frame for under $2k?

Then we'll need a D700 vs 7D post.

Then a 7D vs A850.

Then a post about the upcoming full-frame Pentax.

OK, I got carried away with that last one :-) But I am eagerly awaiting your thoughts on the Pentax K-7. Do you have an ETA?



Will the A850 has as many buttons as A900? Will the shutter be quieter?


I believe back in March you mentioned you bought a new camera that did not have in body image stabilization and that you would reveal such camera in the summer. Well, the summer is quickly passing and unless I missed it, I did not see this camera revealed. Have you been too busy reviewing the A900, G1, Pentax K7, etc.?

Mike. I have read and posted on your site and enjoy it a lot. I also have a lot of respect for your views and since I have been reading you since the 37th Frame, presume to understand alittle of your style.
It is in that spirit I suggest you try the Sony 28mm f2.8 lens. I have it on the Alpha 900 and am very happy. It has some vignetting which you can leave as the Ansel Adams edge burn technique or correct in PS.
I find the lens similar to Minolta lenses and even the Summicrons (minus the vignetting, of course) on that sensor.

I too was a 35mm shooter but find the 28mm easy to embrace.

juze was yearning for ISO 1600 or higher.

I don't have an a850/a900 [yet], but have been shooting typically at 3200 for the past 3 years with an 7D (Konica/Minolta) and an a700 (Sony). The few samples from shooters of the high ISO Nikon have impressed me, but the ergonomics of C/N have not impressed me in the past ... and I don't like the glass either, so I won't even consider switching. To me, the magic of the Minolta/Sony gear is the DMF control, and as far as I've been able to determine, that control doesn't exist on any other system out there - which will keep me tied to Sony indefinitely.

Check out my live music stuff (unfortunately I have not updated the actual music section in a long time - too busy), so see the main page and/or blog), which is almost all shot with fast primes and no flash, all old-school Minolta glass - 24/2.8, 50/1.4 RS, 100/2.8 and 200/2.8


I mostly use ISO 3200, but occasionally use 5000 which the grain can look fabulous with the right environment, and when I can get away with 2500 or 1250 or 640 I do so.

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