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A900 AP Review

Discussion in 'Sony Chat' started by TallPaul, Nov 7, 2008.

  1. MickLL

    MickLL In the Stop Bath

    The AP review is not yet available in the shops. When it is I will buy a copy. However that's irrelevant to my opinion that the thread was concentrating on side issues and not on the main point which, to me, is whether all those pixels deliver a better image.

  2. LargeFormat

    LargeFormat Well-Known Member

    And that is important as (allegedly) the Sony raw software isn't as good as it needs to be.
  3. Damien_Demolder

    Damien_Demolder Well-Known Member

    Don't be ridiculous man! No ones interested in that. You can't measure good pictures, now can you? Jez, you'll be asking about composition next!

    :D :D :D :D

    But, just to keep you happy - it does. Very nice. And its nice to use. Wouldn't mind one meself.
  4. MickLL

    MickLL In the Stop Bath

    Thanks Tharg!!.

    I'm just off out to the shops (it being Tuesday) to see if I can find a copy of the mag.

    As a very long term Minolta user, with lots of quite expensive lenses, it's prohibitively expensive for me to change systems and so I'm really very interested in the 900.

    When I read reviews (and you will be pleased to know that I rate AP reviews towards the top)I tend to discount the things that I don't care about. Thus if you, for example, docked a point for no live view I'd mentally add that point back because I reckon I'd almost never use it.

    Surprisingly AF performance for me comes into the same catgegory. I use it on very rare occasions and if it were not there I wouldn't miss it.

    Picture quality though is at the top - and by that I mean without having to muck about too much in Photoshop. I was always a reluctant dark room worker, it was just a means to an end, and I equally dislike sitting in front of a computer for hours on end.

  5. LargeFormat

    LargeFormat Well-Known Member

    A couple of quotes to make you happy:

    noise visible in images at all ISO sensitivity settings and AWB sometimes struggles under warm lighting No it's nothing to do with the a900, it's the AP review of the 1Ds III!

    Looking at image quality I see the Canon scored 90% against the Sony's 86.6% but the dynamic range of the Sony is 11EV against 7EV for the Canon. Also the Canon "only" goes up to ISO 3200.

    Interestingly AP said:

    the Nikon D3 is a different type of camera meant for medium resolution, general purpose use, It is also far cheaper than the EOS 1Ds Mark III, and for these reasons a direct comparison between the 1Ds Mark III and the D3 would not be helpful.

    With the a900 you get a high resolution camera that actually goes to higher ISO settings than the Canon if you really care about such things. Nobody interested in image quality would be using high ISO anyway. In the old days you put in Panatomic X rather than Royal X Pan.

    So MickLL, I think you can be comfortable with image quality.
  6. MickLL

    MickLL In the Stop Bath

    I've read the review now and I'm a bit disappointed (with the camera not the review).

    Here's a couple of quotes to explain my feeling:

    " Chroma noise can be seen ..... at ISO 400"
    "noise reduction applied to RAW files"
    "beyond ISO800 the advantage of the .. many photosites is steadily eroded"

    I won't quote the whole AF result and even though my use of Af is limited, as I've already said, the apparent AF performance in a camera of this price seems to be lacking.

    In short for this price I'd be looking for a huge improvement on previous models and, judging by this review, I don't see that it's there.

    At the moment I think that I'll be keeping my money under the bed :)

  7. TallPaul

    TallPaul Well-Known Member

    The noise seems to be a matter of opinion, the review in the British Jounal Photography this week says ISO1600 is perfectly usable and has some examples shot that look noise free to my eye.

    If you want AF performance, you can't beat the Nikon 50-whatever point AF system in the D300 and D700 for sure.

    I am not sure the AF performance is "lacking", certainly compared to Canon, I think the main problem is that Sony have used an primarily APS-C area for the main AF points and this means that when composing with your main subject outside these points it does not work as well as others with wider AF point spread - as I understand it.

    I think the quality and detail of that monster sensor is the flipside to these foibles, and it would be nice to see some full page prints with decent glass to really judge this. Re-reading the AP review again (and the recent reviews of other cameras) I think the "new style" definitely has less sample images compared to what they used to do, or is it me?
  8. MickLL

    MickLL In the Stop Bath


    I understand and respect your view but, to me, comparisons with Nikon and Canon are completely irrelevant. The reason, as I've often said in this forum, is that I own a few of Minolta's very best lenses - and they were NOT cheap. There's no way that I could afford or justify replicating them in another system.

    What I would really like to see is a comparison with other Minolta/Sony models so I can truly judge whether a change to this body would be worth the money. Obviously I'd be keeping and using my existing lenses.

  9. TallPaul

    TallPaul Well-Known Member

    Hi Mick,

    I completely see your point, I own the 70-200/2.8 G SSM and it was a massive investment on the assumption I would not be changing mounts. I guess the angle I was coming from was that the review comments are clearly in comparison with other manufacturers.

    But for me its horses for courses, as the competitors like the D700 may have better AF but the sensor is only half the res and its a different camera.

    I have used an A900 in a shop for a few minutes and I can say that the AF is very fast (even with non SSM lenses) and a lot more accurate than my Minolta 5D in my opinion.

    I think the main challenge is that a lot of reviewers know the other brands inside out, and handle and use the Sony cameras but don't shoot with them personally so don't have the intimate knowledge that only a long term owner builds up (generic comment about all reviews not just AP). I think if someone reviewing the A900 was a A700 shooter for the past year you would get that detailed upgrade comparison you desire.

    I know exactly what you mean though, I am on the brink of fully committing to Sony by buying some more lenses, I might not buy an A900 now (personal finance reasons not the camera itself) but the big question is do I buy A-Mount lenses and if so what does the future hold for camera bodies? This is what I want a review to tell me, so come on AP, get out the crystal ball :rolleyes:
  10. LargeFormat

    LargeFormat Well-Known Member

    Certainly if you remember the debacle with the EOS 1d III and even the EOS 1DS III managed to stick the viewfinders on misaligned.
    Again, the 1DS III uses the same AF array as the 1D III with similar results.

    My problem is different from Mick and Paul in that I have no legacy equipment apart from a flashgun left over from my A2. However, when I find myself drifting (blindly at the moment in view of the lack of reviews) towards the Canon 5D II the a900's in body stabilisation keeps dragging me back, that and the CZ glass.

    Anyone any idea when reviews might appear?
  11. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    But the 1D Mk III isn't an APS-C camera...
  12. LargeFormat

    LargeFormat Well-Known Member

    I didn't say it is but 28.1 x 18.7 is smaller than full frame which is why I said similar results.

    AP 2nd February 2008:

    Other key specifications, again, shared with the EOS 1D Mark III ...... 1Ds Mark III also features the same 63-zone evaluative metering system and wide area 45-point AF array, but because of the larger format sensor, the AF array covers a proportionally smaller area of the frame ...
  13. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    OK, you've simply defined "similar" rather more broadly than I would. Fair enough. Still, doesn't hurt to clarify it for others.
  14. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    P.S. Of course the EOS 1x focusing system is simply a development of the 1v/3 35mm film camera system, for the record.
  15. Roger_Provins

    Roger_Provins Well-Known Member

    ... and yet when asked (I've put the question at least twice on these forums) most people say they only use the centre focus point.

    ... I don't have a crystal ball any more than AP has but, considering Sony's shown commitment over the last 18 months, I would say the future's very bright for the A mount.
  16. TallPaul

    TallPaul Well-Known Member

    Of the A900 or the 5D Mk2?

    I have a friend waiting for his 5D Mk2 and warehouseexpress were expecting to deliver it to him Friday (I think this one), but they told him now Canon have a delay and its end of the month, so a while for reviews if that's what you meant.

    I know what you mean on the +/- points, its a difficult one, there are several unique things about the Sony system, unfortunately some of them are not good things like they discontinued certain flash accessories and the ring flash (the current Sony offering is a ring LIGHT not a flash). Some of them like the G glass ans Zeiss optics go the other way of course...
  17. TallPaul

    TallPaul Well-Known Member

    Ah... but I am a sceptic when it comes to Sony based on past experience. They always throw themselves into new areas with great interest and development, but after a while if the profit is not what they want they will cut back to just the areas that make margin at the expense of a range.

    10 or 15 years ago Sony launched into the car audio (stereo) market, and made a range of products from the most basic to the most high end audiophile offerings. The high end was something very special, unlike anything else on the market. After a time though they decided that the low end was what they wanted, and stopped all top end development completely. Its the photo equivalence of deciding they only want to sell A200-A350, and only in Jessops, and are only going to produce APS-C lenses to support it.

    And then there is the Sony tendency to ignore the market and only go in their own often propriety direction with the blinkers on. Something that should have dominated becomes an evolution dead end overtaken by less blinkered alternatives. Minidisc anyone?

    By the future for the bodies, I really didn't mean I want a A700 or A900 replacement, what I mean is I want to know that there are wireless flash triggers coming (or the adapters Sony dropped that let you use third party ones), the ring flash is coming back, some of the fixed focal length lenses that you can no longer get are re-introduced, in fact I should not have said "camera bodies" at all, I should have said "Camera System"! ;)

    If I know Sony were committed to filling the gaps in what makes a system, I would be out buying a 85/1.4 or 24-70/2.8 Zeiss lens tomorrow comfortable in the knowledge its a safe investment.

    At the moment all I know is they announced a 16-35 Zeiss lens (nice, but very expensive) and a 70-400G (I already have a 70-200 so no interest to me) but that's it. What is strange to me is that the 24-105/4 G that was rumoured did not appear, and I can't understand why a lens like this that makes a perfect "kit" with the A900 does not appear when the two lenses above do.

    I think its the Sony way though, they start with high end and low end, then fill in the middle. I seem to remember 4 years ago when I bought a flatscreen TV the Sony ones were 15% more for the same thing on the assumption people would pay for the brand. I have it on good authority from a friend that just bought one however they are now head to head in the midrange with Panasonic, Samsung etc... Perhaps when they have a complete 16-35, 24-70 Zeiss lineup with a 70-400 or 70-200G options they will start to fill in the slower mid-range glass.

    Rant ends. In summary I am getting old and grumpy in my old age maybe, and only seeing the negative?!
  18. Roger_Provins

    Roger_Provins Well-Known Member

    Despite assumptions by some on this forum - justifiably given my posts :) I'm not and out and out Sony fan (or of any of other brand for that matter) but, as most of us have found, one soon gets financially sucked into a system.

    I think Sony can listen to their customers. A good example is V4 firmware for the a700 ... a year after the camera was released and after much moaning from owners.

    As for dead ends ... well the Betamax and Minidisc debacles are a somewhat balanced by CD's (jointly with Philips) and more recently Blue-Ray.

    a100 ... a700 ... a200/300/350 ... a900 :D
  19. Flint

    Flint New Member

    Hi everyone, new to AP.co forums and a new a900 user tho' I do have the a700.
    re the review, I do have a few problems with it's conclusions but then I do with most mag reviews.
    Mainly it relates to the 'standard' system they use which seems more irrelevant as DSLRs increase in sophistication.
    I'll give you an example:
    If you've spent £2000 on a camera body with the highest dslr pixel count available which is aimed at the semi-pro user - how likely is it that you would use jpegs to show off your best work? I can only say I haven't used a (dslr)camera supplied jpeg for about 3 years and I'm sure that I'm not alone. AP may well argue that that is what readers want but is it relevant to a 24MP semi-pro dslr?
    Certainly, it's not at all clear that AP's review uses camera jpegs or from raw. There is a world of difference between the two sorts. From the a900 directly, they are not good and Sony needs to release a firmware patch to increase quality. If camera jpegs were used for the review then that would account for some of the remarks about resolution. On the same subject, why do they use an iso 100 raw file - it's an interpolated iso setting from the actual base 200. The same is true at the other end of the scale - 6400 is not a true iso setting, but they make a lot of it which rather skews their findings. And what's with the comments about noise reduction on raws? You can turn it off for raw only which is it's forte. With this resolution why would you need a medium quality jpeg as well?. Have they mixed up the quality settings? - Sony best quality is 'extra fine' which are not available generated with a raw file. It would be nice to know since if you are not familiar with Sony cameras, you might assume otherwise.
    I'm not saying they did mess up, but there is nothing in their methodology that suggests they appreciate a FF 24MP sensor will provide radically different results from a FF 12MP sensor both in terms of noise and pixel structure. You can't for instance directly compare the output from the a900 with the D700's 12MP unless you downsize the higher rez files to 12MP. Did they do this?... well we don't know without some greater transparency. Certainly comments like '...relatively high noise levels across it's iso span...' seem to have been made in ignorance of the laws of physics and sensor pixel density.

    Enough, I hear you say, tho' I could easily deconstruct most of the review starting with the front cover which is almost exclusively Nikon/Canon territory where even the lowliest of their products gets plastered over the cover come review time. And before I get shot down as a 'fanboy' I should mention I also own a Canon 5D and a D2X but the plethora of reviews/comparisons/getting the best of articles using just those marques over the last 6 months, is little short of embarrassing. You would be forgiven for thinking there were no other camera manufacturers - that may well happen if Joe public can't get a balanced view.

    Does the a900 deliver? Quit simply - in spades. Printed up 20" x 30" on my HP Z3100, the seamless quality is staggering - it's really at these sizes you see what the a900 can do. I wouldn't recommend such large prints from the 5D by comparison.
    Another aspect not addressed by the review.... you need a top spec computer to deal with the files. My 2 year old 4 core MacPro is coping but once the library of shots grows, I will need to upgrade.

    Where does it shine? for me it's the perfect landscape and studio solution.

  20. LargeFormat

    LargeFormat Well-Known Member

    Hi Flint and welcome, I think we are going to enjoy having you around. Keep the info on the a900 coming for us waverers.

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