Sony Alpha 900: First analysis

Master Chong, in Malaysia, recently published photos of the future Sony Alpha 900, high-end D-SLR not yet officially announced by Sony, but that should be the pro pilar of the Japanese brand with a Full-Frame (24x36mm) sensor of 20 to 24 millions of pixels.

Sony Alpha 900 - Copyright (C) 2007 Master Chong (Ivan) - All rights reserved  Sony Alpha 900 - Copyright (C) 2007 Master Chong (Ivan) - All rights reserved

There are only images to judge, but it leaves some possibilities for (preliminary) analysis.

Sony Alpha 900 - Copyright (C) 2007 Master Chong (Ivan) - All rights reserved

The back face of the camera shows an interface impressively similar to the usual one found previously on the Konica-Minolta Maxxum/Dynax 7D and the Sony Alpha 700. Position and meaning of the buttons seems to be nearly identical. I would just point at the will to mark the presence of the HDMI interface by engraving on the connector caps (on the left-hand side as on the A-700). But this is no news.

Notice the complementary/optional grip that really includes a full set of commands to ease moving to vertical position of the camera. Those adepts of optional battery grips will definitely appreciate.


Sony Alpha 900 - Copyright (C) 2007 Master Chong (Ivan) - All rights reserved

On the top face, the same comments will be made, but nobody could miss the additional LCD screen. Usually removed from the cheap cameras for economic reasons, the price of the Alpha 900 will visibly authorize it. I know many people who were deeply regretting its removal from cheaper cameras.

Data displayed here include all the basics:

  • Shutter speed and diaphragm aperture
  • Possible exposure correction
  • White balance
  • Battery status

But, really, I don’t grock the new button with a logo looking like the little flower.

Last, look at the rotating button on the left-hand side. It has all the usual basic exposure modes but none of the result modes found on other Sony Alpha cameras (most pros wouldn’t care loosing them). However, the 3 distinct positions for 3 user modes are back. I have to admit that the MR position of the Sony Alpha 700 was less pleasant than Konica-Minolta Dynax 7D 1/2/3.

Sony Alpha 900 - Copyright (C) 2007 Master Chong (Ivan) - All rights reserved

Is it still needed to remind you that? This flagship must host the new Sony CMOS sensor of 24 million pixels. This will probably translate in 20 or 22 million usable pixels, but it will be a big amount. Less clear is the resulting image quality. Other Full Frame cameras (from Canon and Nikon) do not reach that (merely 1/2 of it). They should have the advantage of larger individual pixel sizes, but technology is progressing quickly and Nikon may be tempted to use this new sensor in a future 20MP Nikon D3x.

Sony Alpha 900 - Copyright (C) 2007 Master Chong (Ivan) - All rights reserved

High-end or not, it is clear that the Sony Alpha 900 will have a LiveView function to shoot without taking the camera to your eye. I am still unconvinced, but this is the the fashion of 2008. As the Alpha 900 will probably arrive in August or September, it will have LiveView.

Sony Alpha 900 - Copyright (C) 2007 Master Chong (Ivan) - All rights reserved

A point to notice on this Carl Zeiss lens: There is the usual AF-lock button, but with an additional ring to stop on AF or MF. This is probably becoming a trend in high-end lenses for Sony-Carl Zeiss.

Sony Alpha 900 - Copyright (C) 2007 Master Chong (Ivan) - All rights reserved  Sony Alpha 900 - Copyright (C) 2007 Master Chong (Ivan) - All rights reserved

All this is good. But it is clear that the most important part is not visible. Even clear views will not cut to it: sensor quality, processing power and algorithmic prowess will tell if this will be a revolution for the high end D-SLR market or it will merely be a copycat for Canon and Nikon (I think that Sony has enough to kick butts, but I can’t prove it yet… just that they said that they would go up to 25.600 ISO).

All in all, I invite you to also visit Master Chong web site.

6 comments for “Sony Alpha 900: First analysis

  1. April 6, 2008 at 08:18

    Two possible explanations I was given for the “little flower” button on top of the camera:

    + This is the control to switch on/off the top LCD. The location is right, but I would not add such a switch on the camera.

    + this is the control switch for LiveView. Looks a little more credible.

    Both are credible, but the “little flower” does not look right for the LiveView switch.

  2. ekovalsky
    April 7, 2008 at 09:31

    Two observations:

    I would think the “little flower” button is a backlight for the top LCD, based on the symbol and its location.

    Also, I’m not convinced the A900 will have live view. I see basically no difference from the A700, with the same fixed 3″ primary LCD and absent live view switch. The live view diagram sure looks like it was part of the A300/350 exhibit — showing a pentamirror with one tilting mirror moving the viewfinder image onto a secondary sensor for contrast-AF. And the shape of the finder roof — sloping up towards the eyepiece and with a flash shoe — is consistent with the A300/350 also.

    It would be great if Sony has figured out a way to implement their very good live view system with an uncompromised pentaprism finder, but seems unlikely. Perhaps it will have live view like some of the Canon cameras, with phase-AF done off the main sensor and enabled via the menu controls or custom function…

    I look forward to the final product. With or without live view, this should be an amazing camera particularly if it comes under well below the price of the D3 as rumored.

  3. April 8, 2008 at 10:09

    Ekovalsky, I like your evaluation of the image of the LiveView. The fact that the pentaprism will be very difficult to handle in order to get the same results as for the A300/350 is also a good argument.

    Maybe I shot too quickly on this one.

  4. Arne Olesen
    May 9, 2010 at 15:44

    Fukuslås er ikke noget nyt, jeg har et flere år gammel 200 mm objektiv med fokuslås

  5. May 9, 2010 at 16:16

    Arne,
    I recommend you ask your question or post your comment in English if you want to maximize the answers.

  6. dimitryushakov
    September 8, 2011 at 03:21

    hi, folks. i am a esperienced photogrpaher, it takes time in order to put up a camera that is
    going to compete with nikon/canon..looks like
    alfa900 is going to be real uptodate…brazilian
    photographers have a hard time tgo be updated
    because cameras on sale overseas not always are
    being exported to brazil…i still am unsure
    of how the alfa900 is going to be accepted by
    professional/advanced photographers,if to believe
    the pictures of the camera on google site, the
    alfa900 will be much more advanced thanmark of canon because nikon doesnt have yeta model
    similar to mark. any comments pls mail to
    BYDEMETRYOUS@GMAIL.COM dimitryushakov

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