Sony, a name that many of you are probably familiar with has come to market with a line of DSLRs. The Sony Alpha DSLRs bring with them the heritage of Minolta Maxxum design and technology; Sony purchased the digital imaging technology from Konica Minolta when that company dissolved its imaging division a few years back. Last year, Sony introduced the Alpha A700 DSLR, a body that accepts upwards of 23 Sony lenses as well as most Minolta Maxxum a-mount lenses.
The A700 is an impressive camera, featuring a 12.2-megapixel Exmore CMOS sensor and the company's proprietary Bionz processor. The camera incorporates Sony's Super SteadyShot Inside image stabilization which means that all lenses used on the camera benefit from image stabilization-a handy feature to have when you use a range of lenses, especially longer telephotos. The camera uses 11 wide-area sensors in its AF system.
In testing the camera, I shot a variety of fast moving subjects and was pleased with the camera's ability to capture sharp images under these situations. The camera utilizes an Eye-Start AF-when the camera senses you've brought it up to your eye, the AF starts-so when you're ready to shoot, the camera is too.
The shutter speed range is 30 seconds - 1/8000 of a second plus bulb; and you can shoot up to five frames per second. When shooting in Jpeg Fine, continuous shooting is limited only by the capacity of the media card. The camera also captures both Jpeg and Raw file formats, as well as Jpeg + Raw.
In using the camera, I shot in a variety of lighting situations, outdoors in the sun, and shade as well as indoors with both daylight streaming through windows and tungsten lighting. Using the camera's white balance settings was easy enough, and I was impressed with the auto white balance, as it was spot on.
The Alpha A700 also features Sony's Dynamic Range Optimizer function which lets you recover shadow detail. The advanced mode gives you the option of five levels of selectable correction; and the camera offers DRO bracketing, creating three images from a single capture with three different levels of optimized dynamic range. Great when you're shooting in situations with a full range of tones from bright highlights to deep, dark shadows. ISO range is from 160 to 6400.
The camera also comes with a remote capture application so you can control it from a compatible PC via USB connection. When shooting this way, the files can be stored on the computer instead of taking up space on the media cards.
The Alpha A700 has two media card slots-CompactFlash (compatible with CF Type I/II and the new UDMA cards that offer speeds up to 300X write speed; as well as Memory Stick Duo, including the Memory Stick PRO-HG cards.
The camera also features a built-in anti-dust vibration system that shakes the sensor each time the camera is shut off, to dislodge dust-a feature that more DSLRs are offering, which makes sense with a system of interchangeable lenses.
Building on the company's CE competences, a unique feature of the A700 is that it features an HDMI output for connection to HDTV sets and when connected to a Sony Bravia LCD HDTV, photos are optimized for viewing in a new "PhotoTV HD" mode.
For more on the Sony A700 go to www.sony.com