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PostPosted: Tue Sep 09, 2008 8:39 pm 
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Hi everyone, as many of you already know, Sony has finally made the Alpha A900 official. This is the company's first full-frame DSLR, and our full preview is at the link below:

Sony Alpha A900 preview

The official press release from Sony USA is below:

Sony is introducing its full-frame α (alpha) DSLR-A900 camera, aimed at serious photo enthusiasts looking for traditional SLR performance with the added benefits of digital photography.

It is designed to deliver ultra-fine picture quality with the world’s highest resolution, 24.6-megapixel, 35 mm full-frame CMOS sensor and fast image processing with a new dual BIONZ® processing engines. The camera is also the first to have a body-integrated image stabilization system for a full-frame sensor with Sony’s SteadyShot® Inside anti-shake system.

One look at the camera’s distinctive pentaprism and nostalgic body design will evoke its full-frame optical performance. It features a bright, clear optical viewfinder with 100% field of view coverage that would impress even film photography loyalists.

“The α (alpha) DSLR-A900 introduction solidifies Sony’s position as a leading camera manufacturer that can meet the demands of serious enthusiasts,” said Phil Lubell, director of digital camera marketing at Sony Electronics. “It represents the best in sensor and image processing technologies and offers enhanced functions, performance and reliability so photographers can push their creativity to the limit.”

Ultra-Fine Images As The Human Eye Perceives Them

The camera’s Exmor™ CMOS sensor delivers the photographic expressive power of wide angles and perspective that only a 35 mm full-frame sensor can offer, and is designed to take advantage of the resolving power of high-precision α (alpha) lenses. Its high pixel count and large size provide enhanced image detail and a wider dynamic range for natural color reproduction and subtle tonal gradations.

The sensor is produced using proprietary Sony planarization technologies to ensure an ultra-flat surface across the entire imaging area. Instead of a single analog/digital convertor, the sensor uses over 6,000 on-chip, column-parallel A/D converters to convert analog signals to noise-resistant digital signals at the earliest possible stage. The result is reduced noise and high-speed transfer of data.

Image processing gets a boost in speed and power from the application of two BIONZ image processing engines. Large amounts of data captured by the 24.6-megapixel sensor can be quickly processed to achieve a fast shooting response. Additionally, this dual BIONZ processing system applies advanced noise reduction algorithms producing images of exceptional quality and detail, especially at high ISO sensitivities.

World’s First Anti-Shake System for a Full-Frame Sensor

The camera’s newly-developed, body-integrated SteadyShot Inside unit achieves an anti-shake effect equivalent to shutter speeds faster by 2.5 to 4 stops. This new unit provides stabilization for Sony, Minolta and Konica-Minolta wide angle, large-aperture lenses, which is difficult for lens-integrated systems.

State-of-the Art Optical Performance and Responsiveness

The ultra-bright viewfinder with 100% field of view coverage and 0.74x magnification enables accurate framing and preview. It features a high-power condenser lens, an eyepiece with high reflective-index glass, and a multi-layer, anti-reflective coating on every optical surface to deliver its extraordinarily bright and accurate view.

Additionally, the focusing screen is user-replaceable, with additional L-type (grid pattern) and M-type (super spherical acute matte) screens sold separately.

The camera’s newly-developed autofocus system consists of nine wide-area sensors with 10 assist points for improved tracking of moving subjects. A center dual cross sensor comprised of two horizontal and two vertical line sensors as well as a dedicated f/2.8 sensor are included to achieve greater precision, especially when using fast-aperture lenses.

It also offers high-speed continuous shooting of 24.6 megapixel images at five frames per second. A newly-designed mirror box features a unique parallel-link mirror mechanism that moves on two horizontal axes to accommodate both 100% viewfinder coverage and the body-integrated image stabilization system without increasing the camera’s size. The mirror box also has a new moving magnet actuator, a high-powered coreless motor for a faster shutter charge, and a magnet catcher to minimize mirror bounce and light refraction within the box.

Versatility to Unleash Creative Possibilities

The model’s innovative intelligent preview function takes the guesswork out of setting up a shot and the hassle of taking multiple shots to achieve a desired effect.

After pressing the depth of field preview button, the camera “grabs” a RAW preview image which is processed and displayed on the LCD screen. You can then fine tune white balance, determine the best level and effect of dynamic range optimization, adjust exposure compensation and check histogram data, all before you actually take the picture. Preview images are not recorded on the camera’s memory card, thus saving capacity.

Other key features aimed to expand creative options include the Dynamic Range Optimizer (DRO) with five levels of user-selectable correction as well as DRO bracketing for enhanced scene analysis and graduation optimization. EV bracketing with ±2EV range makes it easy to create high dynamic range composite images.

Thirteen creative styles can be selected to enhance images and then fine-tuned by customizing contrast, sharpness, zone matching and other parameters, while 3 user-programmable memories provide instant access to as many as 26 different mode settings.

Powerful RAW file processing control is put in the photographer’s hands with the included Image Data Converter SR3 software that delivers faster file processing speeds, easy adjustment of image parameters, Dynamic Range Optimization and a new Peripheral Illumination function that compensates for corner light fall off.

With the camera’s HDMI output and Photo TV HD mode, your creative output can be enjoyed on a compatible HD television. This mode brings the look of actual printed photography to the television, by fine-tuning such image parameters as sharpness, gradation and color.

Comfort in Your Hands

Its construction features rugged, lightweight magnesium alloy with moisture-resistant, rubber seals for buttons and dials, an anti-static coating to prevent dust adherence to the imager, and a high-endurance shutter rated for more than 100,000 release cycles.

It has a 3-inch, Xtra Fine LCD screen (921K) makes it possible to check focus and image quality with accuracy. It incorporates an easy-to-see display with a quick navigation menu to easily access common functions without interrupting your creative flow. A backlit LCD panel sits on top of the camera and displays key settings.

System Expansion with New Accessories

The A900 camera will be accompanied with an array of accessories like the recently-announced Sony HVL-F58AM flash unit with its innovative Quick Shift Bounce system, powerful performance with a guide number of 58, and wireless auto flash ratio control.

The Sony® VG-C90AM vertical grip offers the same ease of operation when shooting vertically as horizontally, with its button layout and low-position shutter-release button. It also houses two InfoLITHIUM® batteries (sold separately) for longer shooting and playback.

The DSLR-A900 body will be available in November for about $3,000 along with related accessories. All will be available at authorized dealers, at military base exchanges, Sony Style retail stores (www.sonystyle.com/retail) and at sonystyle.com. Online pre-orders begin online on Sept. 10.


Last edited by Gordon Laing on Wed Sep 10, 2008 6:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 09, 2008 9:26 pm 
What an amazing camera! High resolution stabilized FF sensor what more can you ask for. Can't wait to try this beast out at the local store :) It might not have all the gadgets of the D700 or the versatility of the Canons but it's a real photographic tool! I really miss the live view functionality of the Canons but I could live without it to get such a camera. With the couple of samples I have seen the resolution headroom means that it betters the lower res. counterparts in ISO noise when processed and resized. But lets see some test first :)


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 3:04 am 
I have a doubt...

Almost all online review showed a900 image with different and not good high ISO, but Chasseur d´Images in its new edition said:

5/5 in posibilities
5/5 action picture
6/5 landscape !! (??)
5/5 studio picture

They say: the a900 image until ISO 1600 is better than D3/D700 and ISO 3200 is very similar and worst to 6400.

Some people confirm that the definitive firmware is not available yet and is probably that this magazine yes hava this.

What is your impresion about the image...??


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 4:26 am 
sony has some serious noise issues.

They should have let the engineering dept do the work not the marketing dept.........sigh*


Last edited by Joey on Wed Sep 10, 2008 6:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 4:53 am 
This is solely my opinion, and you can agree or disagree with me on this...

In my opinion, the A900 isn't as "amazing" as I thought, and I had doubts when it was being talked about during the PMA's etc'.

Now that it has been "officially" announced, and sample images have been released. I can't say that I'm very eager to get it...

Here's is my take on the camera from what I've been reading:

ISO/Pixel Count:
Why stick 24.6 million pixels on a full frame sensor, when we really need at most 12... I can understand 15-17 megapixels, but why 24!? Sure it's a great milestone to achieve, but does anyone need 24 megapixels in their camera? Even the photographers that print huge images, like huge posters/billboards, they are better off shooting a medium format + digital back anyway... Plus, shooting 24 megapixels is going to be a pretty big memory usage, so you'd need a pretty sufficient amount of memory for the camera, especially if you shoot RAW.

I don't want to make this a heated debate or anything, but I've seen some sample shots and the high ISO performance is a bit disappointing. I think it could have been much better if they had kept a bit of a smaller pixel count. Cramming 24 million pixels on the sensor can only give you so much performance under low-light.

Of course it is nice to have a sensor with that many pixels. Rest assured you are covered for all prints. But still, how much do you really want?

Camera:
The camera itself looks great. I like the body design. I bet it feels great too. The functionality looks great, ergonomically correct. Sony has done a pretty good job with the ergonomics of their cameras. I like how Sony wanted to put a top LCD info screen, but the thing they designed is a little, well, desperate looking? I don't know, I guess it's personal preference.

I'll just end it with this. I think the A900 is going to be a great camera. No doubt about that. Certainly a great flagship to add to the Alpha line-up. But could have been a bit better? Of course, everything can be. I just think the A900 is a little unbalanced as far as what it has, and what it has to offer. For $3,000.00 dollars, I can see the advantages that it has against a camera like the D700, but I can definitely see the disadvantages, and I'm not too sure that the price difference is suitable...

But I am really looking forward to trying this camera out myself.


Last edited by Sdrummer on Wed Sep 10, 2008 4:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 4:54 am 
I couldn't agree more with Joey. CNET has unbiasedly previewed it

http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-10035742-1.html

What good are the megapixels if the result is smudged?


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 5:13 am 
Well, this is not the definitive firmware and those picture don't say nothing yet.

This is a example of RAW image to ISO 3200.
The new IDC Sony Software will can edite this pictures to 16bits for more information. This is with PS and do not optimized.

Image


Now, simulating a IDC with RAW Therapee to 8bit (do not 16bits yet) and the same size between a900 and D700 image and same proces to ISO 1600, this is the result...

Image

The result are very good...

Sony changed the noise aparience with the new firmware in the a700 and I have very doubt those a900 image are all.
Is very soon for a good result about this camera and I am very sure this camera will give us a better image quality than D3/D700 and 1Ds MIII until ISO 1600 and very similar to ISO 3200...

For January and March Sony could release a new FF camera, with low resolution and price...
Maybe a Alpha 800 with 14 or 16MPx...??


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 6:19 am 
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Quick update - our news article / feature comparison preview is now ready here:

Sony Alpha A900 preview.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 9:15 am 
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Thanks Gordon!
Guess I shouldn't have read it, now I really want one :x .
I'll wait till the prices go down, and then consider buying it. Consider. I'm not sure I will.

- Bjorn -

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 Post subject: Sony? Never
PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 9:54 am 
As much as I love Sony products, I just can't see spending big bucks on a camera that uses the Memory stick. Sony screwed me when I supported the Beta format when it came to VCRs, even though it's quality was superior to VHS. I'll stick with the Pentax k200d I recently got, at least I have a choice of literally thousands pf lenses to choose from. Since 90 percent of my photos are printed no bigger than 8 X 10, I can't see needing 24 + MPs, even my 2.0 MP Olympus UZ1 takes shots that have that "WOW" factor eight years after it's introduction.

Barry


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:44 am 
ok the megapixel count is beyond any other full frame DSLRs,but if you resize the photos at the "other cameras" resolution,you can achieve much better quality at higher ISO-s. Of course this camera will be for rich kids,because you cannot buy a full frame Sony without a Carl Zeiss on it. 8) (my opinion)


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 Post subject: Re: Sony? Never
PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:51 am 
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Shutter Puppy wrote:
I just can't see spending big bucks on a camera that uses the Memory stick

It uses CF cards as well as memory sticks. Not as useful as two CF-slots, but I like the feature, it's quick and easy to change between cards (the A700 has it too).
Imagine: A900 + grip + Zeiss 16-35mm f/2.8 + Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8 + 70-200mm f/2.8 G + 300mm f/2.8. My dream kit... :D

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:55 am 
Sounds early image samples aside, it sounds impressive. Thankfully, cameras aren't about the aesthetics of the camera itself because that sure is the ugliest camera I have ever seen.

The status LCD is quite small and rather simple. With the ability to display less important info on the main LCD, I think this may be the way to go.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 11:01 am 
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grahamnp wrote:
...because that sure is the ugliest camera I have ever seen.

I love it, it's beautiful. It's an acquired taste, like coffee. First, you don't like it at all, after some time, you love it (even though I won't ever like coffee, I think :D ).

- Bjorn -

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 11:32 am 
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aesthetics look very similar to the A700. I can't remember people calling that camera ugly this explicit (already there are 'ugly or not'-threads elsewhere).

Beside that, I'm a bit concerned about the ISO performance showed in samples shot with production models. While the A900 is comfortably cheaper than its closest competitor (megapixelwise) from Canon, noise levels are significantly higher, even in lower ISO ranges. I'm not so sure whether improved noise reduction algorithms can fix this. We shall see.

Also, I'm curious why Sony didn't bring some sort of live-view to the camera. My impression is that mirror-flip live-view is getting accepted more and more and is much better than having nothing (or having a buffered preview).

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