When Sony purchased Konica-Minolta in January of 2006, everyone expected the world's largest digital sensor manufacturer to use the Minolta acquisition to boomerang Sony's entry into the DSLR market. It was soon clear that Sony had ambitious plans for capturing market share in photography's fastest growing market, but the going has been slow.

In the past year Sony has kicked up the pace, beginning with the A700 to compete in prosumer space, followed quickly by the A200 entry-level DSLR, and the A350/A300 DSLRs built with a truly unique and useful Sony implementation of Live View. The Sony Live View is the only Live View that truly behaves like a point and shoot camera in Live View mode. It's as simple as a switch that lets a new user move between Live View and traditional DSLR.

The culmination of the Sony push into the Digital SLR market was unveiled on September 8, after 18 months of hints, speculation, and closed case exhibits at photography events. It is likely that anyone out there who follows photography has at least heard of the A900 - Sony's flagship DSLR and the first to showcase the new Sony 24.6MP full-frame sensor. It also gives the full-frame resolution crown to Sony for the time being, as no other full-frame sensor can claim resolution this high. The closest competitor is the $8000 Canon 1Ds Mark III at 21.1MP.


Sony launched the new A900 in events around the world where invited press and professional photographers were given the opportunity for hands-on time with the A900. It was certainly a controlled environment, with a studio setup with a model and a typical tethered studio shooting product ads. The two environments do reflect how most photographers make their living today, but the manufacturer setups are hardly designed for a competitive comparison. That will have to wait until production cameras arrive in November.

Today we are publishing the A900/Sony DSLR press announcements. You may have already seen the A900 announcement, but we have gathered information on the Sony flagship items together so you can more easily see how the parts contribute to the whole. There was not enough hands-on time to do anything like a thorough analysis of a groundbreaking new camera like the A900. That will have to wait until the release of the A900 in November. However, strong impressions were triggered and we did have enough time with the A900 system to answer many of our questions about the feel, layout, and controls of the new A900. Those impressions are shared on pages seven and eight in our complaints and praise for the new Sony A900.

Full-Frame, 24.6MP, and SteadyShot Integrated IS
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  • Wesley Fink - Friday, September 12, 2008 - link

    That is the EN-EL4(a) battery for the Nikon Pro cameras and the Sony capacity is specified as 1650mAh and not 16500. We do need an edit function here! Reply
  • dr4gon - Friday, September 12, 2008 - link

    The memory stick is so that you have the ability to shoot RAW+JPG. It's just for redundancy in case your compact flash card dies for whatever reason. All is not lost since the JPEGs can be saved on the MS like the a700. Reply
  • VirtualMirage - Friday, September 12, 2008 - link

    On the a700 you can only shoot to one memory card or the other at any given time. When set to RAW+JPEG, it doesn't send one file to one card and the other file to the other card (that option is not even available). It would be neat if it did, though, since I could have used that feature with my a700 when doing a wedding shoot back in June. The camera also doesn't automatically switch over to the other card when the first card is full, you have to go into the menu and switch it over manually. The a900, from reading a preview on another site, does the exact same thing in regards to memory card management as the a700 (which is a bit of a shame).

    As for the use of a memory stick and CF, I can understand the con with this since if you want to have a fall back memory card you have to deal with two different memory card formats. But the advantage to it, though, is a smaller camera profile since two CF card slots would require a little more room.

    Below are some features I wish my a700 did (as well as the new a900) in regards to its two memory card slots:
    -Automatic switchover when the first card is full.
    -Option to have RAW files go to one card and a JPEG version go to the other card.
    -Backup mode where ever picture shot is copied (in the same file format) to both cards.

    Shame they don't do this. But oh well, the a700 is still a great camera. And with the new firmware that got leaked out earlier this week (v.4), it's an even better camera since they added some features to the a700 that are in the a900. Some of these improvements are: High ISO NR can now be turned off (used to be you can go no further than LOW), Image quality algorithms have been improved with NR on and off (finer grain pattern in high ISO shots, no more watercolor NR), EV bracketing now has a +/- 2 option for HDR shooting, and some people are reporting WB has improved in certain lighting. Their maybe more improvements, but since it was leaked with no update readme (and was quickly removed from the site too when it was discovered), the only improvements mentioned are what people have found after installing it. Supposedly, the official release of the firmware update is sometime next week (the 16th is what I am hearing). Probably so as to not steal the a900's thunder.

    ~Paul
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