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Dennis Hissink : September 10th 2007 - 00:30 CET

Sony A700 Preview

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SonySony A700 preview: The new Sony Alpha A700 was launched during a Sony press conference in Italy. Unfortunately, the surprise element was lost because one day earlier the Alpha introduction was disturbed by a leak caused by Sony. The Sony Alpha 700 is Sony’s second digital SLR camera that has to contribute to a continuously compiling series of SLR cameras, with which Sony manifests itself as renowned DSLR manufacturer. The Sony DSLR A700 is a digital SLR camera which is positioned in the middle segment, and with that, has to compete (heavily) with the new collection of Canon and Nikon D-SLR cameras, among others. During my stay in Italy, I had the chance to work with the Sony A700 for a short period.
Sony A700 DLSR camera - Conference
During the press conference in Italy, the Sony Alpha A700 was introduced extensively. The presentation was supported by, among others, Richard Kalvar, professional Magnum photographer, by sharing his experience with the Sony A700 with the international press. According to Richard Kalvar: “The body of the Sony Alpha A700 is light in weight, but because of the clear hand grip it lies in the hand excellently. I am especially impressed by the LCD display on the Sony DSLR-A700. Because of the high resolution, evaluating the recordings is simple and efficient.”

Sony Alpha A700

Sony Alpha 700 camera - Professional photographer and Experience
Richard continues: “Sony clearly cooperated with professional photographers. This has lead to an improvement of the ergonomic and control of the camera’s operation. The operation has a clear setup, so you hardly ever have to take your eye off the viewfinder. The ergonomic of a camera is very important for a pro; the attention has to go 100% towards the composition. The wireless shutter-release is a convenient accessory; no more hassle with wires, very effective! The setting dial on the back of the camera needs a little getting used to, but he who has problems with it can even adjust the dial’s features through the camera’s menu. The Sony Alpha 700 really adapts to the photographer completely; a relief to me personally. After my experience in practice, I am completely convinced of the Sony A700 and I anticipate that the professional market will embrace the Sony Alpha.”

Alpha 700 Sony

Sony A700 digital SLR - Workshop Sony Netherlands
After the press conference, there is time to go more into detail about the Sony A700. Three aspects are important; Image quality, Photography presentation, Users’ convenience and result. The Sony Alpha A700 has been equipped with the new Exmor CMOS image sensor and a double noise reduction technology. The noise reduction occurs before the conversion of the data which are to be recorded, and faster data processing and transmission is possible because of the improved BIONZ processor. Another outstanding feature of the Sony A700 is the Super SteadyShot technique. Starting point is image stabilization for each lens. The Sony Alpha 700 has an improved Super SteadyShot technique, which reveals itself in a 4 stops range, among other things. Nevertheless, the effective range depends on the lens and the focal range that was used. A large tele-lens of, for instance, 600mm will be harder to stabilize (read: Super Steady Shot’s less effective range) compared to a 24mm lens.

A700 Alpha

Sony A700 SLR - Sensitivity and Image format
The ISO range of the Sony A700 has been increased to a standard ISO 3200 with a possibility to give it a ‘boost’ of ISO 6400. The new CMOS image sensor was developed by Sony and sets a new CMOS technology standard. Sony invested 360 million EURO in this image-sensor technology. The auto focus of the new Sony A700 DSLR camera consists of an 11-point AF, with which can be focused accurately. The shutter has been newly developed; the high speed shutter enables a minimal shutter speed of 1/8000 and continuous photography with a speed of 5 fps. Also new is the cRAW image format, where a smaller file with preservation of all raw data is being stored. The file is reduced by about 30%. With this, 25 recordings in a buffer are possible, instead of the 18 images which the standard RAW format contains. At the time of introduction it is only possible to open the cRAW files with special Sony software. Sony is cooperating with Adobe to let this file format be supported by Adobe. Very striking is, by the way, that Sony chose to work with 12bits RAW files instead of the 14bits format with which part of the competition works.

Sony Alpha DSLR

Sony A700 digital SLR - Material and Memory cards
The housing of the Sony A700 is light in weight and consists of aluminum. The buttons, memory card slot and flaps in the body are dust- and waterproof. A handy feature is the indication of the battery life in percentage, which is made possible through the use of an InfoLithium battery; also with the use of an optional grip, this information remains visible. The Sony Alpha 700 has a double card slot supporting Memory Stick PRO Duo and CompactFlash type I & II flash memory cards. It’s a pity that Sony does not fully utilize the presence of a double card slot; you have to set the card slot manually, via the camera’s menu. It would be handier, and above all faster, if the camera itself would recognize and activate the card slot. Perhaps a future firmware solution can offer such possibility. New is also the built-in studio- flash connection, so a direct connection to a studio flash-installation becomes possible.

Alpha A700 DSLR

Sony A700 SLR - Navigation and Locations
The users’ comfort of the new Sony A700 DSLR camera has been improved by giving a so-called film-strip preview on the LCD screen. Besides this, a histogram gives sufficient image information to evaluate the image on the high resolution display. The menu’s navigation has been perfected by means of a joystick operation because of which speed and comfort are increased. The so-called ‘C’ button can be programmed with a function that is used often, handy to maintain the speed of the photography in practice. With the Memory Recall function, you can store up to three preferred settings, so you can set certain lighting situations, with which working on different locations becomes simple. It’s only possible to store these data inside the camera, by the way, not on the memory card.

Sony 700

Sony DSLR-A700 - LCD monitor and High Definition
The clear LCD monitor with 921,000 dots is striking. You can evaluate the result right at the spot. The coating enables the use in- and outdoors. While photographing with the Sony A700 in Italy, the glaring sun still appears to sabotage the reproduction a great deal. Not very uncommon, and a fact we just have to learn to live with. High Definition (HD) has a central role within the Sony selection at this time. Data communication with BRAVIA televisions is possible now too. The HD interface of the Sony A700 makes high resolution possible in the living room and brings the image in absolute high quality within the reach of anybody. The Photo TV HD feature enables intelligent communication with BRAVIA television. In practice this means that the BRAVIA is being optimized which makes the highest quality possible. The ‘old-fashioned’ slide presentations are back with an unheard-of improvement in the image reproduction.

Alpha A700

Sony A700 D-SLR camera - Configurations and Pro body
The new Sony Alpha A700 is being offered in the following configurations: Sony A700 body (DSLR-A700), Sony A700 body including DT 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 standard zoom lens (DSLR-A700K) and the Sony A700 body including DT 16-105 f/3.5-5.6 standard zoom lens (DSLR-A700P). In total, there will be 24 lenses and 2 tele converters available in 2008 for the Sony Alpha A-DSLR photographer. During the press conference outstandingly little has been said about the third body which Sony shows as a mock-up during the different events globally. Rumors about the application of a full-frame image sensor in a professional housing are neither being confirmed nor denied. Nevertheless, it is a fact that we can expect a new Sony Alpha product in 2008. We are going to receive a test sample of the Sony A700 soon, and we will publish a Sony Alpha 700 review after we tested the camera extensively in the DIWA lab.

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