Yenya's World

Tue, 12 Aug 2008

Alpha 700

My old camera stopped working with any memory card bigger than 512 MB, so I have finally decided to buy a true D-SLR. Having several Minolta-A mount lenses and a Minolta-compatible flash, I have decided to buy a Sony Alpha, which is a successor of Minolta (later Konica-Minolta) cameras.

I had a great dilemma choosing between α350 and α700 (both links point to in-depth reviews at The first one is a newer "higher entry-level" SLR with 14.2 megapixels, live view on a tilting LCD display, etc. The latter is a semi-pro body about a year older, 12.2 megapixels, bright pentaprism (cf. pentamirror in α350) viewfinder, etc. But no live view.

After reading the above reviews and the article "Which Sony Alpha?", which directly addressed my dilemma, I have decided to go for a slightly more expensive α700 (the difference was not so big because I wanted the SAL 16-105 lens, which is sold in a set with α700, but has to be bought separately for α350).

Want to see the photos? Look at the last page of the above reviews. Some of my own photos are here (not edited, just scaled down; click for the full version):

a700 sample

This one has been taken by my wife.

a700 sample

From a tearoom in Hlinsko, IIRC.

a700 sample

Zelená hora in Žďár nad Sázavou.

a700 sample

Even the photos in a foggy weather are not bad.

So, after several weeks of using α700, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. Maybe it does not have many exceptional functions, but for many of them there are dedicated buttons, which means you can actually use those functions in real life shooting. Nobody who is in a hurry would use functions hidden in some deep menus. Also their dynamic-range optimization really works and is useful, as well as their anti-shake system built in the body (instead of in the lens, like other vendors). So far I have found only one drawback: the exposure bracketing can bracket by at most 0.7 EV steps, which makes shooting frames for HDR[?] photos from hand difficult. The only workaround I have discovered is to use five frames instead of three, which gives you a range of +/-1.4 EV. Another drawback is that my home workstation is too slow to handle 12-Mpix files, so I would probably have to upgrade soon.

UPDATE 2008/11/20: Fixed in new firmware
The version 4 firmware adds a wider EV range of bracketing (upto +/- 2 EV), so the problem with usability for taking HDR photos from hand is gone. Good. On the other hand, the α900 full-frame body is out now, so my α700 is officially obsolete now :-/

Section: /personal (RSS feed) | Permanent link | 2 writebacks

2 replies for this story:

Milan Zamazal wrote:

Congrats to your new toy! :-) Two questions: 1. How are you satisfied with using your old lenses on the digital body? Any picture quality problems? 2. I've heard that in cameras of another vendor it's better to switch off the in-body stabilization when you don't need it. This is because the sensor shakes all the time so if you take a snapshot from a stable tripod and with a good lens, the stabilization makes the final picture less sharp. Did/would you make some experiments about it?

Yenya wrote: Re: Milan Zamazal

As for the old lenses, the 50/1.4 is still excellent (the second picture above is taken with it, IIRC). As for 100-300/4.5-5.6, I took only few photos so far, but I did not find any problem. I did not try to use an old kit 28-80 and a Soligor 17-35, as they are both for APS-C format surpassed by the 16-105. I have the image stabilization always on. I can do test on a tripod, but so far I have been satisfied even with the photos taken on a tripod.

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