|Sony Alpha 900 body
It is a housing manufactured from high quality aluminum with a magnesium alloy. Various elements have been given a special seal that protects against dust and moisture. Features that are usually only found on professional bodies. And it are not only the seals that protect the camera against annoying dust. Chances of dust or dirt getting into the camera are the highest when changing the lens on the camera. An effective anti-dust system, as we know from the A700, has to provide optimum protection. In short; the housing has been thought-through really carefully.
Sony SteadyShot image stabilization
In addition to protection against nuisances coming from the outside, the Sony Alpha 900 also provides an image stabilization system; SteadyShot. Naturally, we are already familiar with a system like this, and it is also integrated in other Sony Alpha DSLR cameras; however, the Sony Alpha 900 has the scoop since it is the first full frame camera equipped with this kind of built-in image stabilizer. Theoretically, SteadyShot should offer the possibility to work with slower shutter speeds up to 4 stops thanks to the way the SteadyShot is built into the housing. In practice, this will apply to wide angle focal lengths, unlike slow telephoto images where four stops will generally not be reached.
Sony Alpha 900 mount
If we take a look at the front of the Sony DSLR-A900, we notice a large metal mount, a so-called Minolta A-mount. You should be able to use your old, traditional Minolta lenses, although these are not optimized for digital use. Left of the mount, a Preview button is placed that lets you obtain information in two different ways about the picture you're about to capture. To the right of the mount, there is a button to decide the way of focussing. Above it, just below the Alpha logo, the connection to connect a flash unit through a flash synchronization cable is found. Top left, there is a large LED that serves as indicator for the self-timer, and moreover as AF assist light. The small grip of the camera contains a small sensor that supports the remote control function.
Large handgrip of the Sony A900
The large handgrip and the fairly heavy weight of the housing (approximately 850 grams without battery and memory card) make the camera lie solidly in your hand. If you have large hands, you will experience the little finger not falling around the handgrip, or well, at least that is the case with my hand. The optional handgrip offers the solution, whilst it gives the Sony A900 a more massive design and makes the camera larger dimension-wise. The side opposite the handgrip features a HDMI and standard Video out/USB 2.0 Hi-Speed interface and, in addition, an AC adaptor connection and remote control connection.
|A dual card slot is integrated in the handgrip, and supports UDMA CompactFlash memory cards plus Memory Stick (Pro) Duo cards. The card slot cover could have been finished a bit better since it both looks and feels slightly fragile. The design compartment could have done a better job on this. The bottom of the handgrip offers the battery compartment with support of a Sony NP-FM500H 7.2V 1650mAh Lithium Ion battery. And naturally, you can mount the Sony Alpha 900 to a tripod. The universal metal tripod connection is placed almost in the centre, leaving enough room to change a battery whilst mounted.
Small monitor on top of the camera
On top of the camera, the setting dial is found offering the main programs. The dial offers just enough resistance while turning it and each program has an audible click. The small monitor carries a tiny indicator offering information regarding the ISO, white balance, exposure compensation, battery status etc. This is convenient, although slightly too small. The shutter release button reaction is excellent with a fine tactile response offering excellent control. Various shortcuts and a command dial complete the small space on which the buttons are found.
Clear viewfinder on the Sony A900
The main part of this space is taken by a large viewfinder. And I must admit the viewfinder of the Sony Alpha 900 is beautifully clear. This clearness adds an extra dimension to the shooting and combined with the 100% coverage, the result is a fabulous tool that lets you focus fully on the composition. The AF points are divided in a diamond shape and only cover a small part of the total image. The information regarding the image settings etc. are clearly visible. The indicator for the SteadyShot comes in handy. It offers information as to how strong the stabilization system is working, thus enabling you to take the picture at the moment the least motion is detected. Two small sensors right beneath the viewfinder deactivate the monitor when the viewfinder is used. The Sony Alpha 900 no longer uses the so-called Eye-start AF.
Sony A900 LCD monitor
The large sized 3 inch LCD monitor offers high resolution of 921,600 dots and beautiful reproduction. There is no Live View function available on the Sony DSLR-A900; instead it offers the possibility of an 'Intelligent preview' of the image that you're about to capture. A low resolution RAW image will be displayed on the monitor, after which small corrections such as exposure compensation, white balance etc. can be adjusted in order to check the image. However, it is not possible to store the adjusted picture (the preview is rendered in low resolution). The picture still has to be taken the normal way. Around the monitor, several buttons are found as well as a joystick that serves for operating functions such as AF, AEL, Menu, Monitor, Reproduction etc.