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

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Sony Alpha 850

AWB Colour:
LCD viewfinder:
Dynamic Range:


Sony Alpha 850 review


Price as reviewed:


Resolution, noise and sensitivity

These images show 72ppi sections of images of a resolution chart, still-life scene and a grey card. We show 
the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately. The higher the number visible in these images, the 
better the camera’s detail resolution is 
at the specified sensitivity setting.

As the resolution chart images show, the Alpha 850 has the same impressive ability to resolve fine detail as the camera it is based on, the Alpha 900. Thanks to its class-leading pixel count it is able to resolve lines further along our chart than almost all other cameras. This makes the Alpha 850 especially attractive to landscape and macro photographers who want to be able to extract the maximum amount of detail from a scene. It’s just a shame that the camera doesn’t offer a Live View image on the LCD screen, as this would really make it a firm favourite with these photographers.

Although the Alpha 850 has a full-frame sensor, a pixel count of 24.6 million 
requires very small photosites and noise 
is therefore an inevitable risk. When the high-sensitivity noise-reduction system 
is turned off, JPEG files taken at ISO 6400 have the highest level of noise in the red channel that we have measured to date.

The other channels are also pretty noisy at this setting. Despite these high levels, though, I prefer the results captured 
when the high-sensitivity noise-reduction system is turned off, as the JPEG images are sharper and have more detail. Although images taken at ISO 6400 have plenty of coloured speckling visible, there is no banding in my images and the Extra Fine JPEG files don’t require any post-capture sharpening.

Interestingly, given our laboratory-based noise measurements, which match the results found with the Alpha 900, my images don’t have significantly more red speckling than 
they do green and blue at ISO 6400.

  1. 1. Sony Alpha 850 at a glance:
  2. 2. Features
  3. 3. Build and handling
  4. 4. White balance and colour
  5. 5. Metering
  6. 6. Autofocus
  7. 7. Resolution, noise and sensitivity
  8. 8. Dynamic range
  9. 9. LCD and viewfinder
  10. 10. The competition
  11. 11. Our verdict
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