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Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 final production review Gordon Laing, November 2007

Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 results : Outdoor resolution / Studio resolution / Real life Noise

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Outdoor scene - Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 vs Canon EOS 40D

  To compare real-life performance we shot the same scene with the Sony Alpha DSLR A700 and Canon EOS 40D within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings and lowest ISO sensitivities. The A700's High ISO NR was set to Normal and the D-Range Optimiser set to Standard.

We tested the A700 with the Sony DT 16-80mm zoom and the 40D with the Canon EF 24-105mm, both adjusted to deliver the same field of view and set to f8 for optimum sharpness.

In each case, the 40D's crops show a slightly larger area due to its slightly lower resolution. Note: the Sony A700 was running firmware version 2.0.

The image above was taken with the Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 at a sensitivity of 100 ISO, using the DT 16-80mm lens at 25mm f8; the original Fine JPEG file measured 4.49MB. The crops are taken from the upper left, center, lower right and lower left portions of the originals and presented here at 100%.

It's immediately clear from the crops below that using their default JPEG settings, the Canon EOS 40D is applying greater sharpening than the Sony A700. The Sony crops appear noticeably softer in comparison, but if you increase the in-camera sharpening or apply sharpening through software later, the results can look very similar. It's interesting given Sony's reputation for vibrant image processing to opt for a somewhat toned-down approach on the A700, perhaps targeting more serious photographers who expect to post-process.

As for actual detail captured, the Sony A700 enjoys a very slight edge here at its lowest sensitivity, but it makes very little difference in real-life situations like these. The difference is measurable though as we'll show in our A700 studio resolution results, but before heading there, scroll to the bottom of the page to check out a sample crop converted from a RAW file.


Sony Alpha DSLR-A700
with Sony DT 16-80mm at 25mm
 
Canon EOS 40D
with Canon EF 24-105mm at 24mm
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO


Sony Alpha DSLR-A700: JPEG versus RAW

We photographed the scene here in Large Fine JPEG + RAW mode and have presented crops below from each file for comparison. The RAW file was converted using Sony's supplied Image Data Converter SR (updated to version 2.0) using the default settings, then sent to Photoshop in 16 bits. This was then reduced to 8 bits and processed the same way as the original JPEG for presentation here.

The RAW file processed using the default settings appears little different to the JPEG, although is a little sharper. Of course the benefit of shooting in RAW is having greater latitude to make adjustments, and Sony's supplied software gives you plenty of options including the ability to apply the D-Range optimiser, adjust the noise reduction and fine-tune sharpening. If you're willing to tweak, it's possible to achieve what most would consider to be far superior results. Now let's look at the A700's resolution.


Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 JPEG
with Sony DT 16-80mm at 25mm
 
Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 RAW
with Sony DT 16-80mm at 25mm
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO


Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 results continued...

Outdoor resolution / Studio resolution / Real life Noise


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