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A900 AP Review

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

  1. TallPaul

    TallPaul Well-Known Member

    Thanks, I understand now.

    Sounds like an excellent plan to me! :D
     
  2. barney britton

    barney britton Well-Known Member

    Sorry, yes, I was thinking specifically of Live View tethering. I should have made that clearer!

    And thanks, I did have a good holiday, I went to the USA to experience the election at first hand. For some reason they wouldn't let me vote though, even though we used to own the country!

    pictures are here if anyone is interested.
     
  3. LargeFormat

    LargeFormat Well-Known Member

    Not a good example. The E3 was scored under the old system. Extrapolating from Barney's recalibration of the D300
    the E3 would score 74% today so three stars.

    Comparison with star ratings doesn't take us very far, The advantage with percentages is that it gives a gradation between four stars (80%?) and five stars (100%) which Nick quite rightly says shouldn't happen in an imperfect world. Four stars could, presumably, be anywhere between 80% and 99%.

    Great credit to Barney by the way for his patience and good humour in dealing with this thread.
     
  4. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    No, 4 stars out of 5 can only EVER be 80% of the total number of stars, thus cannot be reasonably translated as other than 80% (a star-based scoring system simply doesn't cater for odd percentage points). Which is less than 82%. Yet people seem to accept 4 stars out of 5 as a decent score, yet got unaccountably irritated about 82%.

    I wasn't comparing the actual scores of the E-3 with the A900, merely the reactions of people to the scores.
     
  5. barney britton

    barney britton Well-Known Member

    I'm screaming inside... ;)
     
  6. joe2000

    joe2000 New Member

    Hi Barney, not having been on (or even looked at) these forums before, its quite a pleasant surprise to be able to chat to the actual reviewer. Ok, I still stand by most of my comments I'm afraid, the explanation of the autofocus testing was very welcome and I concede that there may be some issues (but at least its got to be better than the infuriating 1D MK3!). I managed to get hold of the Alpha 700 the other day and I'm not sure whats happened with the A900 but the A700 AF was extremely good in both sensitivity and speed especially as the lens used was not of the USM/SSW type. My target of choice for photography is nocturnal creatures and the 700 is the first one which managed to AF in the limited peripheral light. I also got to use the Minolta 400 F4.5G..that is one incredible piece of glass!

    To cut a long story short, to me much of the review seemed to rely on personal preference, rather than objective assessment. For example, your comments about eye relief which may be something that most users wouldn't encounter at all. Not sure whether you know it but this was a problem which used to get the occasional comment on the EOS 1V. IIRC there were some comparisons with the EOS 1Ds MK3 in the review, well, the difference in price would buy a shed-load of Lasik eye surgery :). Now seriously, as someone how works as an Engineer doing R&D for a large electronics company (NOT Sony!!) they have my sympathies, we'd dearly love to make products which are perfectly suited to everyone, but the simple fact is that if we did, you wouldn't be able to afford them! Therefore there will always be a proportion of the populace for whom a given product will not be ideal. I'm sure there are those whos physical limitations would rule out many other cameras in this class, but thats not a reflection on the ability of the product to perform its task.

    i've done a little further examination of the noise issue on various web sites and it seems as though the high iso shots clear up pretty well. Iso 6400 is definately an "only if you have to" but 1600 and 3200 look fine after a little PP. With regards to the pixel peeping though on any camera, be careful with this, at 72dpi (your probable screen res) that 24 MP image when viewed at 100% is actually about 7 feet wide x 4.5 feet high and your viewing it from about 2 feet away....not really typical viewing distance for an image that size.

    On to the criticism of the available system. Ok, if you're tastes in equipment stretch to the lesser used end of the spectrum (tilt/shift etc), fair comment. But looking through their current line up it seems as though they have the requirements of most photographers pretty much covered. Great lenses upto 300mm, TCs, very nice flash guns etc etc. If you want longer right now, you'll need to go second-hand and search out the older but apparently excellent minolta G lenses. What they don't have is half a dozen versions of each lens at different price brackets with endless confusing acronyms. All in good time though :)

    Nearly there!, although this camera is of primary interest to existing Sony/Minolta shooters ( in the same way that an EOS 5D MK2 is to existing Canon users). I'm sure that its good enough to encourage others into the brand also.

    And finally, a previous commenter made a statement that 80% makes it sound rubbish, I'm afraid I have to agree. No this is not your fault but that of reviewers in general. When was the last time you saw a camera (however bad) get 23% or 54%, it simply doesn't happen. Consumers nowadays basically think anything below about 85% is not worth bothering with. To them the useful range of values within that 0-100% scale is the top 20% because thats all reviewers usually use. 95% is great, 98% extraordinary, 85% very good and definately worth buying, but 80% means ok if there's no other option and someones got a gun to your head. I'm afraid thats simply the way it has become. I appreciate that you're trying to change this mindset and on the revised scale its probably a very good mark, but at this point the change is recent and we've yet to see enough figures from other cameras to judge.

    regards

    Joe2000
     
  7. Malcolm_Stewart

    Malcolm_Stewart Well-Known Member


    And what's wrong with the 1D MkIII? Or am I the lucky one?
     
  8. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    I don't know about you Malcolm but I found it infuriating that with f/2.8 or faster lenses (like a 50/1.4 ;)) the off centre AF points on the 1D mk3 seemed to work just aswell as the centre. (FWIW one of my test subjects was a moving black lab pup, indoors and in dull light)
    :D
     
  9. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    I suspect he means it's infuriating if you're a Sony fanboy... ;)
     
  10. joe2000

    joe2000 New Member

    or maybe i just meant that in order for 1D MK3 autofocus to work in any way correctly it required 2 firmware fixes and a recall for mirror sub-assembly replacement. You may have the patience for that, but sorry some of us dont have the time.
     
  11. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    I wonder what it will take to get the Alpha 900 autofocus to work in any way correctly, then? :D
     
  12. barney britton

    barney britton Well-Known Member

    For the record, (I don't want to add much more to what I've already said) the A900's focusing system is perfectly adequate for most use, but it is less responsive and more erratic (off-centre points especially) than I would expect from other professional DSLRs, like the EOS 1D/s Mark III and Nikon D700. That's all I'm saying.

    Also, I fully expected to get hassle for pointing out the viewfinder vignetting in the A900, but when a company makes claims about something, I have to test those claims and challenge them if necessary. The fact that the entire viewfinder area of the A900 is difficult to see without moving my eye is a fact. I have seen the same thing with some other cameras (the original EOS 1 for example) but the A900 is the only current DSLR with which I've had this experience.

    It's important to stress though that when I point that out, I'm not damning the camera, I'm just raising something that readers might not be aware of, and might like to know.

    Ditto system support - it is a statement of fact that the Sony Alpha system is smaller than those systems offered by other manufacturers. Whether this is a problem or not depends on your point of view/budget/expectations/experience.
     
  13. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    The serious point is this - are Sony prepared to be also-rans in the AF performance stakes? I somehow doubt that's the limit of their ambition, but it appears they've a way to go yet to match the best.
     
  14. TallPaul

    TallPaul Well-Known Member

    I think its just they are using an APS-C AF system with these "assist" points, which is why the off centre areas are not as high performance.

    Its not a problem on their APS-C cameras like the A700 from what I can tell?
     
  15. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    That may well be the cause, and if so, it's not easy to see how they could make a significant improvement to the existing camera. As Barney says, it's probably adequate in most cases, it just doesn't strike me that that's where Sony want to be - "probably adequate". I would expect them to be very busy on development of new AF modules.
     
  16. Angela_Nicholson

    Angela_Nicholson Well-Known Member

    By that reckoning I failed my A-levels really badly!

    Seriously, 80% is not a bad score. In fact it puts the Alpha 900 in to our 'Good' bracket. We will be making it clearer how we judge a camera by including this kind of rating very shortly.

    There are very few really bad cameras that would deserve a score of 23%, I certainly have never tested one that would get anything near that figure. However, (as has been said elsewhere) we have decided to revise our scoring system to give more separation and make it clearer where are camera fails or excels.

    If a camera does deserve a score of 23% I will be the first to award it! :)

    Angela
     
  17. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    I give it 5 minutes before someone says that "Good" really means "don't touch it with a bargepole", and anything less than "Super-Duper Outstandingly Excellent Top Notch Plus Plus Plus With Knobs On" isn't worth thinking about... :D
     
  18. Malcolm_Stewart

    Malcolm_Stewart Well-Known Member

    For the record, seeing that you've raised this aspect, do you wear spectacles?

    From not needing them at all, I've been wearing bifocals since I was 40, 30 years ago, and it really does make a difference with most things with eyepieces of any sort. Eye relief suddenly matters, seriously - whereas before I wore specs, I didn't even recognise what it was - despite having a physics degree!
     
  19. barney britton

    barney britton Well-Known Member

    I do. In the past year I've gone from needing them for reading and screen work to needing them all the time. Viewfinder vignetting isn't unusual for glasses wearers using some full-frame DSLRs, but the A900 is unusual in that even without my glasses on, I find the viewfinder image is 'clipped' very slightly in the corners.
     
  20. Angela_Nicholson

    Angela_Nicholson Well-Known Member

    Actually I made an error there, it is in our Very Good bracket.

    We were planning on just having Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor; but now I think about it, we may need to introduce a Super-Duper Outstandingly Excellent Top Notch Plus Plus Plus With Knobs On category.


    Angela
     

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