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Sony Alpha 700 | Digital Camera Review | Camera
The Sony Alpha 700 has a pretty design and the camera's appearance shows its quality. The camera looks solid and certainly not just like a digital toy, but it is clear at one glance that this is a serious digital SLR camera. The Sony A700 is not a very light camera compared to the latest trend of feather light cameras. The weight of almost 800 grams makes you feel that you actually have a camera in your hands. This is not a bad feeling; in fact you experience the stability and the perfect hand-fit of the A700. The camera's handgrip is nicely designed which adds to the hand-fit and stability. The combination I have tested consists of the Alpha 700 body and the new Sony SAL-16105 DT 16-105mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens. Besides that I also used the DT 16-80 mm F3.5-4.5 ZA Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T*-zoom lens for some test pictures. All in all the weight reaches some 1200 grams. The Sony A100, as a matter of interest, weighs 145 grams less.
Sony Alpha 700 | Digital Camera Sony Alpha 700 | Digital Camera
Sony SLR-A700 - Lens mount
The front of the Sony A700 is quite standard equipped and does not leave a lot to imagine. The lens mount with the striking orange border stands out on the front of the camera and the large Alpha logo top right of the lens mount catches the eye immediately. These details show that we are not dealing with a traditionally thinking photo manufacturer that carefully weighs every small detail in order to not deviate too much from the traditional way of designing cameras. It certainly is striking and Sony does really give the Alpha 700 its very own look. A large AF assist lamp, also serving as self-timer indicator, is placed in between the lens mount and the handgrip. In the handgrip I find a sensor for the optional remote control. The depth of field button is placed on the left of the lens mount and is operable only with the left hand. In practice this works surprisingly well. To remove the lens you have to unlock it first by the little catch of the alongside the lens mount positioned built-in lens unlock button. Below this and right from the lens mount the focus function is found, with which four different settings can be selected.

Sony Alpha A700 - Memory Stick Duo & CompactFlash
The handgrip of the Sony Alpha 700 carries the compartment for the flash memory cards. Of course Sony's own memory card, the Memory Stick Duo format found a spot here with beside that room for the CompactFlash memory card. Both formats are available in various speeds and storage capacities. The compartment is efficiently covered by a sliding door. The other side offers access to various connections, like the optional A/C connection, the remote control and also USB and video connections. The Sony DSLR-A700 even contains a flash connection so you can easily use it on a studio location and connect the studio's flash system to it. A remarkable feature I have to mention is the HDMI connection that makes the Sony Alpha 700 part of a High Definition environment.

Sony A700 - Universal tripod connection & Li-Ion battery
The bottom of the Sony DSLR-A700 camera shows a universal metal tripod connection and a cover that offers access to the battery compartment. The Sony Alpha 700 gets its energy from a NP-FM500H Li-Ion battery. The battery is kept in its place by a security catch and a solid cover hides the compartment neatly.

Sony Alpha 700 - Command dial & Other camera functions
The top of the Sony Alpha 700 DSLR looks very neat and well-organized. A small LCD monitor is lacking but the 3-inch monitor on the back of the camera makes up to the highest degree for this lack. The shutter release button is placed on the handgrip, a tad more to the front, with before it a command dial that lets you select aperture among other things. Entirely on the left from the prism house, the main command dial is placed with the main programmes. The dial turns nicely stiffly and gives an obvious click at every setting. The flash shoe on top of the prism house offers you the possibility to equip the A700 with a powerful external flash for example the Sony HVL-F6AM.
In between the release button and the edge that is the beginning of the back some three buttons are positioned containing functions like Drive, ISO and White balance. Although these buttons offer quick access to these valuable functions, the spot they are at makes you have to move your hand in order to press them. These functions are also accessible through the monitor. If you would get rid of these buttons, you would create room for a nice status LCD….

Sony A700 - Control centre & 3-inch LCD monitor
The huge control centre is found directly on the back of the Sony A700 D-SLR. Besides the usual buttons with access to the menu or the ones activating the play mode, there is also a multifunctional joystick. These operating tools do well or not at all, depending on the speed and clarity. When using the Sony A700 in practice it soon becomes clear that the camera meets both requirements effortlessly. The monitor with its huge 3-inch sized format can easily compete with its competitors. The monitor offers fine contrast and high resolution and I can only come to the conclusion that this monitor is really excellent to work with. In particular when checking pictures the monitor shows the main points in great detail so judging sharpness and exposure is easy. The viewfinder of the Sony A700 is improved compared to the Alpha 100. As a result this viewfinder is brighter and has a strong multiplier factor of 0.9x (whereas the Alpha 100 offers 0.83x).

Sony A700 - Image sensor & BIONZ processor
The housing of the Sony Alpha 700 is of excellent quality and my first impression is it being a solid one too. Besides external features many internal innovative techniques can be found. For example the image sensor is completely newly developed and according to Sony unique for the Alpha 700. I do wonder how much its design deviates from the image sensor that the Nikon D300 is using. Most probably the sensor has been modified by Nikon, but the base might be the same. The Super SteadyShot technique the Sony A700 uses has also been improved compared to the Alpha 100. During one of the workshops in Italy it turned out that the newly developed BIONZ processor contributes tremendously to the performance of the image stabilization. BIONZ has been used before with the Alpha 100, but the Sony A700 contains the improved version that supports data transfer with high speeds.

Professional Sony digital SLR camera
The new Sony Alpha 700 digital SLR camera is equipped with sufficient functions and innovative techniques to call it a newly developed DSLR camera. It certainly is not a simply upgrade of the existing Alpha 100 that was introduced in the summer of 2006. I must say, it makes me very curious to see the professional model soon. Press product photos are already available for downloading from Sony's press centre…
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