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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 8:39 am 
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Hi everyone, just a quick note to let you know we've posted our final review of the Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 here:

http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Sony_Alpha_DSLR_A700/

We've included new results and sample image galleries, comparisons against the Canon EOS 40D and EOS 5D, and fully updated our preview to reflect any performance, dust, shake, and handling changes.

As promised, the earlier video tour has also been updated with a new verdict section, although the first seven minutes are the same as before.

http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Sony_ ... view.shtml

Gordon


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 9:34 am 
Excellent review Gordon. Been waiting for it, since none of my local Sony Centre or camera shop has it ...yet.

I noticed you emphasised that one should go out and test the feel of it at the end of the video review , :D

Looks tempting..though :wink:


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 10:13 am 
Great review Gordon. I noticed that the Sonys(even the A-100) consistently beat the Canon 40D in the resolution test even though the Canon had a prime lens on. Does the softer default image from the 40D account for the lower resolution or is it actually less sharp than the A-100(and A-700)?

The A-700 is also more expensive than the 40D do you think it is worth the extra?


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 3:21 pm 
nice review as usual ... waiting for a L10 review


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 4:59 pm 
Thanks for yet another great review, Gordon. One issue I have with it is that you didn't get very much into the benefits or unique capabilities of Sony's DRO feature, a feature that really sets the A700 apart from the competition. It is an extremely unique and useful feature as many other sites and reviews have noted but it's not even listed in the Pros section in the conclusion. Sure an HDMI port is a nice pro for A700 owners, but DRO, DRO Bracketing, etc are MUCH more useful in creating quality images easily without a ton of knowledge or time in post processing.

Overall this was a thorough, fair, and detailed review but the omission of more extensive testing/discussion on DRO along with dismissing it as a competitive advantage in the conclusion is a big mistake IMO. Thanks again for the excellent work.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 6:07 pm 
Hi!
Agree with others. Great review Gordon. Personally I don’t like new A700, although I know that is great camera.

Cheers!


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 7:30 pm 
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Hmm, with the D300 not out yet, Gordon, could you give us a short comparison to the Nikon D80, esp. IQ-wise?

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 9:21 pm 
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Hi ChiSoxFan, welcome to the Cameralabs forum!

I tested the A700 with the D-Range Optimiser set to its default Standard setting, so there's lots of examples of DRO in the review. All the images in the results pages and all the Gallery examples were taken with this setting. I also included examples with several different DRO settings in the Features pages.

I also try and take the same - or at least very similar - images across the Galleries, so you can compare how the A700 with DRO compares to, say, the Canon 40D.

I'd be interested to hear what you and everyone else thinks about them. Do you think the Sony images with DRO look significantly better than rival cameras without?

From the examples I took, I wouldn't say it offered a benefit over the competition that was worth mentioning in the verdict, but of course it depends on what subjects you point it at, so others may give it a higher rating.

I was however impressed by the way you could apply a wide range of DRO settings to RAW files using Sony's software...

Gordon


Last edited by Gordon Laing on Wed Nov 07, 2007 9:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 9:25 pm 
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Hi Thomas, not sure about including a D80 comparison as it's pitched at a higher level. Of course the D300 is pitched even higher, so it's one of those occassions where Canon and Sony have an offering which sits between two Nikons...


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 10:48 pm 
Gordon Laing wrote:
Hi ChiSoxFan, welcome to the Cameralabs forum!

I tested the A700 with the D-Range Optimiser set to its default Standard setting, so there's lots of examples of DRO in the review. All the images in the results pages and all the Gallery examples were taken with this setting. I also included examples with several different DRO settings in the Features pages.

I also try and take the same - or at least very similar - images across the Galleries, so you can compare how the A700 with DRO compares to, say, the Canon 40D.

I'd be interested to hear what you and everyone else thinks about them. Do you think the Sony images with DRO look significantly better than rival cameras without?

From the examples I took, I wouldn't say it offered a benefit over the competition that was worth mentioning in the verdict, but of course it depends on what subjects you point it at, so others may give it a higher rating.

I was however impressed by the way you could apply a wide range of DRO settings to RAW files using Sony's software...

Gordon


Thanks Gordon, good to be here. What I have found is that the Standard setting for DRO is very very minimal enhancement although it does make a small difference bringing out shadow detail in high contrast subjects. DRO+ works a bit better and the higher level of Advanced modes is much more significant. I definitely believe this is a large competitive advantage for the Sony cams, especially when it comes to out of camera jpegs. Extra bonus is the inclusion of DRO in RAW now but that wasn't a huge selling point for me. I would bet if you took the same high contrast landscape image between an A700 and 40D, shot the A700 in all DRO settings and compared the shadow detail and overall dynamic range of the images, the A700 would show a noticeable advantage.

This does need to be used somewhat cautiously though in low light, high ISO situations. If you use a high level of DRO when shooting ISO 1600 and it bumps up the shadowy areas, they will be noisier than a typical ISO 1600 image out of this camera because it's essentially bumping it to 3200, 6400, or even higher ISO in that shadow area. That's where DRO bracketing comes in though of course.

I did read the portion of the review where you compared the crop between the 4 DRO options but don't think that was the type of image or crop where the benefits of DRO would, or even could be shown. Imagine a typical shot a person would take with a bright sky and some nice trees in the foreground with lots of shadows. The camera can either expose for the blue sky or for the trees & shadows and blow the sky out. If you took that image with DRO+ or level 3-5, you could expose for the sky at low ISO and let the DRO pull out the shadow detail in/under the trees. These are common shots that can be very difficult, especially for amateur types and are made MUCH better with DRO right in the camera. If you took that scene and compared the A700 to a competitor that's where you'll see the difference. Not on a small 100% crop like on the scene in the review. The selectivity of the DRO options with bringing out only shadow detail is a great alternative to doing HDR photography which can turn out unrealistic or many times very annoying to process afterwards.

I really think this DRO is a huge selling point for the camera and should be treated as such on any review site, especially one that I respect a lot like yours. Even if it ends up as a huge Con in the results I think it is a big enough of a deal to NEED to be mentioned as a pro or a con as the competition doesn't do it. The A700 got nicked for not having live view, but didn't get lauded for including a wireless remote or DRO.

Again, I love the site and reviews. Just a little constructive criticism.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 12:18 am 
It was smart of Sony to have supplied you with a battery grip. It was a nice surprise to see it on your review.

Having said that - and this is of course a matter of personal taste - I'd say the battery grip doesn't integrate well with the camera body, unlike, say the D80's battery grip. It seems to me the D80's is like an extension of the camera body, while A700's is more like... well, if looks "wrong".

This the first review, I think, were you don't show the speed and mechanical noise of the auto-focus. Was there a particular reason for this omission?

I've noticed the ISO indicator, on the back display, shows ISO 4000, ISO 5000 and ISO 6400 as if they're special. Is there more at work here than sensor gain?

Where does Sony get its lens? I don't think they build those themselves, do they? Are Sony lens really Konica-Minoltas? I remember two (or was it three?) years ago, I held an A100 that had a Carl Zeiss kit lens.

On the comparison photos, I can't tell any real difference between the lens on the A700 and the L glass on the 40D. Except that the L glass actually seems to have more chromatic aberration on the photo of the top of the mountain range. :shock:

Lastly, what happened to the fingernail on your left thumb? Dropped a flash on it?


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 12:36 am 
Hi, good final work...

I think too that DRO is a great benefit for the phptograph indoor, to high ISO and without flash.

Comparisons of A700 and D300 in studio...
http://www.pbase.com/davidkilpatrick/d300a700a1007d_test
The D300 shoot to 1 step more that A700 to ISO 3200 and 6400

DRO +3
Image

Same image RAW converted
Image

Here the example of the DRO standar to level 5...
http://www.dyxum.com/dforum/forum_posts.asp?TID=22093

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1037&message=25256194&q=dro+a700&qf=m

Example A700 and D300...
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1037&thread=25518039

The second LCD is optional, is more easy to move the face of the viwfinder and look the first LCD-HD that to lower the cam for look the second LCD. Also second LCD is monocromatic and the high sun shine this is difficult to see.

The grip of the A700 seems to be more complete and usefull.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 1:13 am 
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Hi ChiSoxFan and Alex, thanks for your comments and examples - I do appreciate them, especially from people who are using the cameras day in, day out. Owners will invariably notice things a reviewer misses or simply doesn't have the time or space to mention.

This is where forums become really valuable as the review gets you started and the users fill in the gaps or expand on various ideas. I also like the idea of web publishing being a work in progress and as many of you have seen, I'm happy to add extra pages or aspects to existing reviews.

I'm sure we'd all like to see more examples of images where DRO in its various modes on the A700 has a significant benefit, so please do post more.

Luis - I only normally demonstrate the mechanical noise and AF speed in my lens reviews. I'll hopefully have some lens reviews demonstrated with the A700 in the future.

You're also right about the CA on the 24-105mm in the mountain crop. There was visibly more here than with the CZ 16-80mm, but I was focusing on the body differences there, not the lens differences. It does illustrate how good the CZ 16-80mm is though optically.

As for where Sony gets its lenses? Well I believe from a variety of sources. the new Carl Zeiss models, such as the excellent 16-80mm is an original, but many are rebadged Konica Minolta models, or rebadged Tamron stock - although netiher Sony or Tamron will admit to the latter.

And my thumb? It would have been a big flash! It actually got caught in the car door. I've been trying to hide it in my videos, but it can be glimpsed in that one! It's almost 100% better now though!

Gordon


Last edited by Gordon Laing on Thu Nov 08, 2007 1:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 1:15 am 
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gordon, very nice job with the review of the sony dslr... I enjoyed watching it... :) S

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 1:35 am 
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Cheers SHIVA!


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