Sony Alpha 850 review

January 9, 2010

Overall Rating:


Sony Alpha 850

  • Metering:
  • Features:
  • AWB Colour:
  • LCD viewfinder:
  • Dynamic Range:
  • Build/Handling:
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Price as Reviewed:


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

Sony Alpha 850 at a glance:

  • 24.6 million effective pixels
  • Full-frame CMOS sensor
  • Approx 98% viewfinder
  • 3in, 921,600-dot LCD screen
  • SteadyShot Inside
  • Dynamic range optimisation with bracketing
  • Street price approximately £1,650

Sony isn’t in the habit of dabbling in markets, so when it decided to start manufacturing DSLRs it gave itself a head start by acquiring Konica Minolta’s photographic business. Since then it has had an aggressive pricing policy, which has helped it achieve the number three position in the DSLR sales league table.

It is an especially popular brand with young photographers who respect the Sony name having spent their adolescence using PlayStations, listening to Walkmans and watching Sony televisions.

However, as well as feeding the expectations of Sony devotees, the company wants to please the Minolta followers who have continued with the Minolta A mount (now rebranded as the Sony Alpha mount), while at the same time enticing experienced photographers away from its competitors.

Sony hopes that the new full-frame Alpha 850 will be a significant step towards winning a larger slice of the DSLR market.

This camera is remarkably similar to the company’s top-of-the-range model, the Alpha 900, but the price is significantly lower.

  • White Balance: Auto, 6 presets, plus 3 custom settings and Kelvin adjustment
  • Dioptre Adjustment: -3 to +1 dioptre
  • Built-in Flash: No
  • Shutter Type: Electronically controlled focal-plane
  • Viewfinder Type: Pentaprism
  • Memory Card: CompactFlash (inc UDMA)/MemoryStick Duo
  • Output Size: 6048x4032 pixels
  • Field of View: Approx 100%
  • LCD: 3in TFT with 921,600 dots and 160° viewing angle
  • Sensor: Sony CMOS with 24.6 million effective pixels
  • White Balance Bracket: 3 exposures, Hi/Lo level selectable
  • AF Points: 9 points selectable individually or automatically (in wide area mode)
  • Focal Length Mag: 1x (full frame)
  • Max Flash Sync: 1/200 (with SteadyShot Inside) 1/250sec (without SteadyShot Inside)
  • Exposure Modes: PASM, plus 3 custom modes
  • Weight: 850g (without battery or card/s)
  • Power: Rechargeable Li-Ion battery NP-FM500H (supplied)
  • Dimensions: 156.3x116.9x81.9mm
  • DoF Preview: Yes
  • Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB
  • Drive Mode: Single, continuous (Hi/Lo selectable, 5fps/3fps), self-timer (10/2secs selectable) mirror lock-up
  • Shutter Speeds: 30-1/8000sec in 1⁄3,1⁄2 or 1EV steps plus B
  • File Format: 14-bit raw, JPEG (3 levels of compression available) JPEG + raw simultaneously
  • Metering System: 40-zone evaluated, centreweighted, spot (approx 1.5%)
  • Exposure Comp: ±3EV in 1⁄3 or 1/2EV steps
  • Connectivity / Interface: USB 2.0 Hi-Speed/HDMI
  • Compression: 3-stage JPEG
  • RRP: £1,999.99
  • Lens Mount: Sony Alpha (+Konica Minolta Dynax)
  • ISO: 100-6400 in 1EV steps
  • Focusing Modes: Manual, single shot, automatic AF, continuous AF, direct manual focus
  • Tested as: Semi-professional DSLR

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