Found this info somewhere else, but there's a big fuzz about a discovered firmware version 4 for sony a700. With a noise reduction off menu setting, which pretty much gets rid of the infamous watercolor effect in the higher ISO range.
I have not been able to download the file yet, as the downloadlinks are down or overrequested, but I think an official announcement is not far of.
Examples of someone who tested the new firmware:
I have not yet experienced the new high ISO capabilities with noise reduction off, but I think this will bring the IQ a step closer to what Nikon's D300 is giving us with more or less the same sensor!
Good news for a700 owners!
Links to 'discovered' firmware:
http://support.d-imaging.sony.co.jp/dow ... 700v04.zip
http://support.d-imaging.sony.co.jp/dow ... 700v04.exe
Curious as I am, I now have been able to download and install the new firmware. It is true, with noise reduction off, the blurry watercolorish effect is replaced by a (imho) much nicer grain...