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Sony Alpha DSLR-A900 Gordon Laing, October 2008

Sony Alpha DSLR-A900 Gallery

The following images were taken with a Sony Alpha DSLR-A900 fitted with the Sony Carl Zeiss 24-70mm f2.8 lens. The body was an early sample, but we believe the image quality is representative of final production models.

The A900 was set to L:24M Extra Fine JPEG quality, Auto White Balance, Multi-segment metering and Standard Creative Style. High ISO NR and the D-Range Optimiser were set to their default Normal and Off settings respectively. Super SteadyShot was enabled for all handheld shots here.

The individual exposure mode, file sizes, shutter speeds, aperture, ISO and lens focal length are listed for each image.

The crops are taken from the original files, reproduced at 100% and saved in Adobe Photoshop CS2 as JPEGs with the default Very High quality preset, while the resized images were made in Photoshop CS2 and saved with the default High quality preset. The three crops are typically taken from far left, central and far right portions of each image.

Note: you may wish to open our Nikon D700 Gallery for a direct comparison of detail and noise.

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Landscape: 14.8MB, Program, 1/320, f9, ISO 100, 24-70mm at 24mm (equivalent to 24mm)

  This first shot was taken with the A900 and 24-70mm zoomed-out to its widest position. As you'll see in this gallery, the A900's default Standard Creative Style avoids the subdued output of many cameras at this price point, but remains natural-looking.

As you'd expect, the crops contain a high degree of detail, and the 24-70mm lens performs very well across the frame; there's a small amount of softening in the extreme corners, but little to worry about.

Landscape: 22.4MB, Program, 1/160, f9, ISO 100, 24-70mm at 24mm (equivalent to 24mm)

  Here's another shot taken at 100 ISO under bright conditions at 24mm.

Once again it's a natural-looking result, packed with detail when viewed at 100%. Notice the 22.4MB file size though. The A900's Extra Fine JPEGs can get very large with detailed scenes.

The very low shooting angle was however quite uncomfortable without Live View. Sony may shun Live View on its higher-end Alphas, but it's a useful facility in many situations.

Landscape: 17.1MB, Program, 1/500, f11, ISO 200, 24-70mm at 70mm (equivalent to 70mm)

  For this shot we increased the sensitivity to 200 ISO and zoomed the lens into 70mm. The A900's continuous AF tracked the approaching boat without difficulty.

As you'll see in this gallery, the A900 has a tendency to underexpose, and the bright hull hasn't helped here.

The crops still contain plenty of detail, but in shadow areas there's the slightest evidence of noise - it's not quite as clean as at 100 ISO, but that's serious pixel-peeping and won't bother most.

Portrait: 13.7MB, Aperture Priority, 1/3200, f2.8, ISO 200, 24-70mm at 70mm (equivalent to 70mm)

  For this portrait shot we kept the sensitivity at 200 ISO and the lens at 70mm, but opened the aperture to its maximum f2.8.

The result is a small depth of field with a nice blurred background and attractive bokeh - the 24-70mm f2.8 is great for this kind of effect.

There's arguably a slight over-exposure this time, but there's still lots of noise-free detail in the image, and the brightness is easily adjusted in software if desired.

Macro: 19.3MB, Program, 1/250, f9, ISO 400, 24-70mm at 70mm (equivalent to 24mm)

  For this macro shot we increased the sensitivity to 400 ISO and positioned the camera as close at it would focus with the 24-70mm fully zoomed-in.

The result isn't the tightest macro shot you'll have seen in these galleries, but look closely at the crops and there's lots of detail which remains sharp across most of the field.

As we're seeing throughout this review, the Sony A900 and Carl Zeiss 24-70mm are an ideal combination.


Indoor: 17.3MB, Program, 1/40, f3.5, ISO 400, 24-70mm at 24mm (equivalent to 24mm)

  Our first indoor shot was taken with the A900 at 400 ISO.

As you'll see in all three of our indoor samples here, the A900 has delivered what most would consider to be an underexposure.

The boost in sensitivity has resulted in the presence of very fine noise if you're looking for it, but it remains discreet and we'd certainly be happy using the A900 at 400 ISO.

Indoor: 16.8MB, Aperture Priority, 1/5, f5.6, ISO 800, 24-70mm at 24mm (equivalent to 24mm)

  Our second indoor shot was taken at 800 ISO. Dark conditions have again fooled the A900 into under-exposing, and even with +0.3EV applied, the result remains dark.

To ensure sufficient portions were sharp, we selected f5.6 in Aperture Priority. This resulted in a relatively slow shutter of 1/5, but the built-in SteadyShot ensured a sharp result.

The crops show an increase in noise, but there's still lots of detail - remember those artefacts will be very small when printed.

Indoor: 16.4MB, Program, 1/50, f4.5, ISO 1600, 24-70mm at 24mm (equivalent to 24mm)

  Our final indoor shot was taken at 1600 ISO, and once again the A900 has under-exposed - although at least the window highlights haven't been blown.

Noise levels are now much higher with undesirable colour artefacts and smearing. Again the high resolution means the artefacts will appear small on prints, but most would still try to avoid 1600 ISO on the A900 for the best results.

The A900 goes on to offer 3200 and 6400 ISO modes, but neither look good up close.

All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2017 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

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