Thanks to the arrival of the Sony Alpha 850, the aspiring full-frame digital photographer now has another reasonably priced DSLR to consider, and only a few features separate it from the Alpha 900
LCD and viewfinder
Up to three sets of camera settings may be saved and accessed via the three custom options on this dial
These sensors detect when the camera is held to the eye and turn off the LCD screen, but unlike some other Sony DSLRs the Alpha 850 doesn’t feature Eye-start technology, so they don’t trigger the AF or metering systems
With 921,600 dots, this screen is very crisp and provides a clear view of both the menu and the images being reviewed
As well as accessing the histogram view when reviewing images, this can be set to access the Creative Style or D-RO options
Unusually today, the Alpha 850 has no Live View or video technology, so this section focuses solely on its viewfinder and LCD screen.
I have no complaints about the 3in LCD, as its 921,600 dots (307,200 pixels) ensure reviewed images (and the menu) are crisp and clear with plenty of detail. When the magnified view is used to check captured images, it is possible to see whether the subject is sharp as well as assess the level of noise in high-sensitivity images. It’s just a shame that the screen cannot be used to assist with manual focusing before the image is actually captured.
The Alpha 850’s viewfinder offers a 98% field of view. Even though this isn’t much less than the 100% of the Alpha 900, it is noticeable. When shooting a still life I took several test shots and had to adjust the camera’s position a few times before I was completely happy with the composition. Of course, in many situations any unwanted objects at the image edges can be cropped out.
Although the Alpha 850’s viewfinder is bright and clear, I find that the corners of the viewfinder housing often obstruct my view and I have to adjust my eye position carefully to avoid vignetting. This is also an issue with the Alpha 900 and I thought Sony would be able to address this with the Alpha 850’s small finder, but clearly it cannot.