2008 Photokina Tradeshow
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Sony's Alpha DSLR-A900 digital SLR. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Sony: new full-frame pro DSLR, reviewed
By Michael R. Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, September 9, 2008 - 09:00 EDT)

Sony Corp. has today announced its first digital SLR to feature a full 35mm frame-sized image sensor, the Sony Alpha DSLR-A900.

To coincide with the announcement, we've just posted a full Sony A900 review based on an early production sample camera - and for that reason, this news item has been abbreviated from our usual in-depth analysis, instead hitting just a few of the key points. We'd encourage readers who're interested in the camera to jump straight over to our Sony DSLR-A900 review instead, and get the full story!

The Sony DSLR-A900's full-frame imager is an Exmor CMOS type, with a whopping 24.6 megapixel resolution. Impressively, Sony has also incorporated its SteadyShot in-body image stabilization, making the Sony A900 the world's first full-frame DSLR to offer the capability. The Alpha A900's sensor-shift image stabilization is said to offer a 2.5 to 4 stop improvement. To handle all the data produced by the high-res imager, the Sony Alpha A900 sports dual Bionz image processors, allowing for five frames-per-second shooting for up to 11 JPEG or 13 RAW frames (figures as per in-house testing conducted for our Sony Alpha A900 review).

The Sony A900 has a magnesium alloy body with moisture-resistant sealing, offers ISO sensitivity from 200 to 3200 equivalent (expandable to ISO 100 - 6400), shutter speeds from 30 - 1/8000 second plus bulb, and features a nine-point autofocus system with ten supplemental AF assist points. The Sony Alpha A900 also has a very large, bright pentaprism viewfinder with 100% frame coverage and 0.74x magnification. As well as a small top-panel status LCD, there's also a large 3.0" rear LCD panel with a resolution of 921,600 dots. Note that there's no live view on the Sony Alpha DSLR-A900 though - the rear LCD display is for menus, status display and image review only.

The Sony Alpha DSLR-A900 stores images on either CompactFlash / Microdrive or Memory Stick Duo cards courtesy of dual slots, and draws power from a proprietary Lithium Ion rechargeable battery. The Sony A900's connectivity options include USB 2.0 High Speed for computer connection, and can handle either NTSC / PAL composite standard definition, or HDMI high definition video output. Pricing for the Sony Alpha A900 is set at about US$3,000, with availability slated for late October 2008. Pre-orders will be accepted online from September 10th.

For vastly more in-depth information, head on over to our Sony Alpha DSLR-A900 review now. Product specifications and the official press release can be found below. We've opted not to include our usual array of press images of the camera, given that we have our own in-house product photography in the Sony Alpha A900 review - so to see the camera from every angle, take a look at the review...

Sony Alpha DSLR-A900
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A900 digital SLR. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
General
Camera Type Pro SLR
Manufacturer Sony
Model Number A900
Dimensions 6.2 x 4.6 x 3.2"
156.3 x 116.9 x 81.9mm
Weight 939.0 g
32.8 oz
Planned Price $2999.99
Planned Availability Oct 2008
Image Capture
Sensor Type 35mm Sony CMOS
25.70 megapixels (total)
24.60 megapixels (effective)
Filter Type RGBG
Focal Length Multiplier 1.00
Aspect Ratio 3:2, 16:9
Image Dimensions 6048 x 4032 (24.4 megapixels)
6048 x 3408 (20.6 megapixels)
4400 x 2936 (12.9 megapixels)
4400 x 2472 (10.9 megapixels)
3984 x 2656 (10.6 megapixels)
3024 x 2016 (6.1 megapixels)
2896 x 1928 (5.6 megapixels)
3024 x 1704 (5.2 megapixels)
1984 x 1320 (2.6 megapixels)
Capture Speed Standard: 2.5 frames per second for 9999 frames
Continuous: 5.0 frames per second for 11 frames
Image Preview / Review
Viewfinder Yes, SLR type; eye-level pentaprism with 100% coverage, 0.74x mag., 20mm eyepoint, -3 to +1 diopter
99% field of view
LCD 3.0", 921,600 pixels
Playback Zoom 19.0x max
Lens
Lens Type Interchangeable Lens
Lens Mount Sony Alpha (Minolta A) mount
Image Stabilization Yes
Focusing System 9-point TTL phase detection with 10 assist points, center dual-cross at f/2.8. with AF assist lamp
Manual Focus possible (0) steps
Exposure
ISO Sensitivity Auto, 200-3200, Extensions to 100 and 6400
Shutter Speed 30 - 1/8000 second
Exposure Modes Aperture, Shutter, Manual
Metering Modes 40-segment Honeycomb Pattern, Center-weighted, Spot
Exposure Compensation +/- 3.0EV in 1/3EV increments
White Balance Image Sensor - Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Flash, Color Temperature from 2,500K to 9,900K, Custom (3), Manual
Flash Exposure Compensation +/- 3.0EV in 1/3EV increments
Creative
Self Timer Yes, 2 or 10 seconds
Storage
Recording Medium CompactFlash Type 1, CompactFlash Type 2, Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick PRO Duo, Microdrive
File System FAT16, FAT32, complies with Design Rule for Camera File System (DCF)
File Format CCD-RAW, RAW, cRAW, RAW+JPEG; (ARW 2.0), JPEG (EXIF 2.21)
Connectivity
Video Yes, NTSC / PAL switchable
Computer USB 2.0 High Speed
Other DC input, Multi-connector, Sync termimal, Remote terminal, HDMI Type-C minijack
Power
Battery Type NP-FM500H Lithium-ion rechargeable
Battery Form Factor Proprietary
Product Bundle
Software Image Data Converter SR, Image Data Lightbox SR, Remote Camera Control (all Windows & Macintosh), Picture Motion Browser (Windows only).
Battery / Charger 1 x Proprietary NP-FM500H Lithium-ion rechargeable battery and charger
Flash Memory 0.0MB
Other
Digital Print Order Format (DPOF) compliant Yes
PictBridge Compliant Yes
Tripod Mount Yes, Metal
Remote Control Yes
 

Original Source Press Release:

SONY UNVEILS FIRST FULL-FRAME ALPHA DSLR MODEL

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 9, 2008 — Sony is introducing its full-frame α (alpha) DSLR-A900 camera, aimed at serious photo enthusiasts looking for traditional SLR performance with the added benefits of digital photography.

It is designed to deliver ultra-fine picture quality with the world’s highest resolution, 24.6-megapixel, 35 mm full-frame CMOS sensor and fast image processing with a new dual BIONZ® processing engines. The camera is also the first to have a body-integrated image stabilization system for a full-frame sensor with Sony’s SteadyShot® Inside anti-shake system.

One look at the camera’s distinctive pentaprism and nostalgic body design will evoke its full-frame optical performance. It features a bright, clear optical viewfinder with 100% field of view coverage that would impress even film photography loyalists.

“The α (alpha) DSLR-A900 introduction solidifies Sony’s position as a leading camera manufacturer that can meet the demands of serious enthusiasts,” said Phil Lubell, director of digital camera marketing at Sony Electronics. “It represents the best in sensor and image processing technologies and offers enhanced functions, performance and reliability so photographers can push their creativity to the limit.”

Ultra-Fine Images As The Human Eye Perceives Them
The camera’s Exmor™ CMOS sensor delivers the photographic expressive power of wide angles and perspective that only a 35 mm full-frame sensor can offer, and is designed to take advantage of the resolving power of high-precision α (alpha) lenses. Its high pixel count and large size provide enhanced image detail and a wider dynamic range for natural color reproduction and subtle tonal gradations.

The sensor is produced using proprietary Sony planarization technologies to ensure an ultra-flat surface across the entire imaging area. Instead of a single analog/digital convertor, the sensor uses over 6,000 on-chip, column-parallel A/D converters to convert analog signals to noise-resistant digital signals at the earliest possible stage. The result is reduced noise and high-speed transfer of data.

Image processing gets a boost in speed and power from the application of two BIONZ image processing engines. Large amounts of data captured by the 24.6-megapixel sensor can be quickly processed to achieve a fast shooting response. Additionally, this dual BIONZ processing system applies advanced noise reduction algorithms producing images of exceptional quality and detail, especially at high ISO sensitivities.

World’s First Anti-Shake System for a Full-Frame Sensor
The camera’s newly-developed, body-integrated SteadyShot Inside unit achieves an anti-shake effect equivalent to shutter speeds faster by 2.5 to 4 stops. This new unit provides stabilization for Sony, Minolta and Konica-Minolta wide angle, large-aperture lenses, which is difficult for lens-integrated systems.

State-of-the Art Optical Performance and Responsiveness
The ultra-bright viewfinder with 100% field of view coverage and 0.74x magnification enables accurate framing and preview. It features a high-power condenser lens, an eyepiece with high reflective-index glass, and a multi-layer, anti-reflective coating on every optical surface to deliver its extraordinarily bright and accurate view.

Additionally, the focusing screen is user-replaceable, with additional L-type (grid pattern) and M-type (super spherical acute matte) screens sold separately.

The camera’s newly-developed autofocus system consists of nine wide-area sensors with 10 assist points for improved tracking of moving subjects. A center dual cross sensor comprised of two horizontal and two vertical line sensors as well as a dedicated f/2.8 sensor are included to achieve greater precision, especially when using fast-aperture lenses.

It also offers high-speed continuous shooting of 24.6 megapixel images at five frames per second. A newly-designed mirror box features a unique parallel-link mirror mechanism that moves on two horizontal axes to accommodate both 100% viewfinder coverage and the body-integrated image stabilization system without increasing the camera’s size. The mirror box also has a new moving magnet actuator, a high-powered coreless motor for a faster shutter charge, and a magnet catcher to minimize mirror bounce and light refraction within the box.

Versatility to Unleash Creative Possibilities
The model’s innovative intelligent preview function takes the guesswork out of setting up a shot and the hassle of taking multiple shots to achieve a desired effect.

After pressing the depth of field preview button, the camera “grabs” a RAW preview image which is processed and displayed on the LCD screen. You can then fine tune white balance, determine the best level and effect of dynamic range optimization, adjust exposure compensation and check histogram data, all before you actually take the picture. Preview images are not recorded on the camera’s memory card, thus saving capacity.

Other key features aimed to expand creative options include the Dynamic Range Optimizer (DRO) with five levels of user-selectable correction as well as DRO bracketing for enhanced scene analysis and graduation optimization. EV bracketing with ±2EV range makes it easy to create high dynamic range composite images.

Thirteen creative styles can be selected to enhance images and then fine-tuned by customizing contrast, sharpness, zone matching and other parameters, while 3 user-programmable memories provide instant access to as many as 26 different mode settings.

Powerful RAW file processing control is put in the photographer’s hands with the included Image Data Converter SR3 software that delivers faster file processing speeds, easy adjustment of image parameters, Dynamic Range Optimization and a new Peripheral Illumination function that compensates for corner light fall off.

With the camera’s HDMI output and Photo TV HD mode, your creative output can be enjoyed on a compatible HD television. This mode brings the look of actual printed photography to the television, by fine-tuning such image parameters as sharpness, gradation and color.

Comfort in Your Hands
Its construction features rugged, lightweight magnesium alloy with moisture-resistant, rubber seals for buttons and dials, an anti-static coating to prevent dust adherence to the imager, and a high-endurance shutter rated for more than 100,000 release cycles.

It has a 3-inch, Xtra Fine LCD screen (921K) makes it possible to check focus and image quality with accuracy. It incorporates an easy-to-see display with a quick navigation menu to easily access common functions without interrupting your creative flow. A backlit LCD panel sits on top of the camera and displays key settings.

System Expansion with New Accessories
The A900 camera will be accompanied with an array of accessories like the recently-announced Sony HVL-F58AM flash unit with its innovative Quick Shift Bounce system, powerful performance with a guide number of 58, and wireless auto flash ratio control.

The Sony® VG-C90AM vertical grip offers the same ease of operation when shooting vertically as horizontally, with its button layout and low-position shutter-release button. It also houses two InfoLITHIUM® batteries (sold separately) for longer shooting and playback.

The DSLR-A900 body will be available in November for about $3,000 along with related accessories. All will be available at authorized dealers, at military base exchanges, Sony Style retail stores (www.sonystyle.com/retail) and at sonystyle.com. Online pre-orders begin online on Sept. 10.

#   #   #

Editor’s Notes: Camera performance is measured using Camera Imaging Product Association (CIPA) standards. The viewable area of LCD displays is measured diagonally. The camera requires a Sony HD component cable or Sony HD Cyber-shot® cradle for viewing on an HDTV set (both sold separately). Available storage capacity of Memory Stick Duo™ and CompactFlash™ media may vary. A portion of the memory is used for data management functions. For additional information about Sony products, your readers can call toll-free (888) 222-SONY or visit Sony's web site at: www.sonystyle.com. Press releases and digital images are available for the news media at Sony Electronics’ news and information web site at: www.sony.com/news.

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Top 3 photos this month win:

1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate