Sony Alpha A700 Operation

Sony A700 Viewfinder

The Sony A700 features a digital SLR design, so the optical viewfinder offers a true, through-the-lens (TTL) display. A dioptric adjustment dial accommodates eyeglass wearers, letting them adjust the viewfinder optics betwee -3 to +1 diopters. The viewfinder eyepiece has a fairly high eyepoint (specified at 25mm from the eyepiece, 21mm from the eyepiece frame with the dioptric adjustment set to -1 diopter), an improvement over the A100's 20mm/16mm eyepoint. Magnification has also improved, to 0.9x, up from 0.83x for a 50mm lens and -1 diopter of dioptric correction.

The Sony A700 uses a true pentaprism optics for its viewfinder, rather than the pentamirror design found in the A100. The advantage of a pentaprism is that it delivers more light to the viewfinder eyepiece, thanks to its 100% internal reflection. As a result, the Sony A700's viewfinder image is noticeably brighter than those of many lower-end DSLR models.

The Sony A700's extensive information display features a series of focus and exposure target marks in the center of the view that highlight briefly when the AF system is activated. Camera information appears beneath the image area in a small strip, and reports all of the major camera settings, such as shutter speed, aperture, flash mode, EV compensation, etc. To the far right side of the strip is the Super SteadyShot (anti-shake) scale, indicating the degree of stabilization whenever anti-shake mode is activated. The information readout in the viewfinder activates whenever you half-press the Shutter button, and remains active for a few seconds afterward.

A pair of horizontal infrared sensors just below the viewfinder (we've high-lighted with a green rectangle) detects your eye as it approaches the viewfinder, and deactivates the LCD information display if you have the auto-display option enabled. Through the Custom menu, you can also set these sensors to enable the autofocus whenever your eye is in range of the eyepiece. New to the A700 is a grip sensor which optionally requires you to hold the grip as well as look into the viewfinder to enable Eye-Start AF, useful if you normally hang the camera around your neck. It too can be enabled in the Custom menu.


Sony A700 Record Mode Displays

The Sony A700's rear-panel, 3.0-inch, TFT color LCD monitor is for image review, status display, and menu display. Unlike recent DSLRs from some of its competitors of late though, the Alpha A700 doesn't offer any form of live view mode, so the LCD can't be used to frame shots. Since the A700 does not have a top status LCD panel, the large, high resolution (640 x 480 full-color pixels, 921,600 dot) color LCD is put to good use to display various camera settings. We do have somewhat mixed feelings about using the rear panel LCD for setting readouts. While it provides a much larger area than the more typical small black & white data readouts, it necessarily also consumes more power. While the Sony A700's battery life is quite good, it'd arguably be even better if it didn't require the main LCD screen to be lit so much of the time. That said though, we do really like the wealth of camera information that the A700 makes available on its rear screen.

Sony A700 LCD Display Screen Info

1 - Shutter Speed
2 - Exposure Mode
3 - Register Number
4 - Exposure Compensation
5 - Flash Mode
6 - Flash Exposure Compensation
7 - Drive Mode
8 - Focus Mode
9 - Creative Style, Image Parameters
10 - Image Quality
11 - Battery Status
12 - Image Size
13 - Operation Guide

14 - Aperture Value
15 - Exposure
16 - AE Lock
17 - EV Scale
18 - ISO (Sensitivity)
19 - AF Area
20 - D-Range Optimizer
21 - Metering Mode
22 - White Balance
23 - Remaining Shots (Buffer Space)
24 - Memory Card

Display Rotation
Here's a nice ergonomic touch, carried over from the A100: The Sony A700 has an orientation sensor inside, and uses it to keep the display oriented in the right direction so the information will appear right-side up when viewed by the photographer, whether shooting horizontally, or in either vertical orientation. (For those who might be wondering though, no, it won't turn completely upside-down.)

Large- and Small-Type Options
Sometimes you don't need to see every last detail about the camera's operation, but rather prefer to concentrate on just the most important settings. The Sony A700 has two different display options, that apply to both the horizontal and vertical formatted data screens. The large-type/low-density option drops the details on metering mode, AF mode, Creative Style, Flash mode, and Contrast, Saturation, and Brightness settings.


Sony A700 Playback Mode Displays

The Playback button on the rear panel accesses Playback mode, where you can review captured images. Pressing the DISP button cycles through displays with information overlay on or off. The Histogram button displays a RGB+L histogram along with recording data and any areas with lost highlights or shadows are illuminated. Pressing the Index button cycles through 25, 9 or 4 frame index views and individual images can be selected using the multi-selector joystick. Images can be zoomed by using the Enlarge button, and magnification can be adjusted up to 13x (depending on image size) using the rear control dial, or a zoom box can be defined using the multi-selector joystick. Enlarged images can also be scrolled in the X or Y direction using the joystick.


Sony Alpha A700 Modes and Menus

Capture Modes: When powered on, the camera is automatically placed into Record mode. The Exposure Mode dial on top of the camera sets the main shooting mode, with the following options:

  •  Full Auto: This mode places the camera entirely in control of the exposure, though the user can adjust the exposure compensation and determine the flash mode.
  •  Program AE (with Shift): This mode places the camera in control over both aperture and shutter speed, while the user has access to all other menu functions. Turning the Control dial with or without shifting the Exposure Compensation button cycles through a range of equivalent exposure settings, enabling the Program Shift mode.
  •  Aperture Priority: The opposite of Shutter Priority, this mode puts the user in control of the aperture setting while the camera selects the best shutter speed. (The aperture range varies with the lens in use.)
  •  Shutter Priority: Allows the user to set the shutter speed, from 1/8,000 to 30 seconds, while the camera selects the most appropriate aperture setting.
  •  Manual: Provides complete user control over the exposure, including both aperture and shutter speed settings. A Bulb shutter setting also becomes available in this mode, allowing variable length exposures for as long as you hold down the shutter button.
  •  Memory Recall: Up to three sets of shooting modes and settings can be stored, and are accessed quickly in this mode.
  •  Portrait: Optimizes camera settings to reproduce warm, soft skin tones against a slightly blurred background.
  •  Landscape: Optimizes settings to produce sharp, colorful landscapes.
  •  Macro: This mode is for close-up pictures of small objects, enhancing color in flowers, etc.
  •  Sports Action: Enables continuous AF and continuous drive modes while favoring faster shutter speeds to capture moving subjects.
  •  Sunset: Optimizes settings to capture rich, warm sunsets.
  •  Night View/Portrait: Allows slower shutter speeds. Balances the foreground subject illuminated by flash with the ambient light of the background.


Sony A700 Menus

Pressing the Menu button provides access to the camera's full menu system. The following options are available in most camera modes as menu tabs at the top of the display:


Record Menu 1 Options
Image Size
3:2 aspect mode:

- L:12M
- M:6.4M
- S:3.0M

16:9 aspect mode:

- L:10M
- M:5.4M
- S:2.6M

Sets the pixel dimensions of captured still images.

L=(4,272 x 2,848)
M=(3,104 x 2,064)
S=(2,128 x 1,424)

L=(4,272 x 2,400)
M=(3,104 x 1,744)
S=(2,128 x 1,200)

Aspect Ratio

- 3:2
- 16:9

Select normal or HDTV wide screen aspect ratios for images.
- cRAW
- Extra fine
- Fine
- Standard
Specifies the compression level and file type of images. cRAW is compressed RAW. JPEG is Fine when saved with RAW or cRAW.
- Off
- Standard
- Advanced Auto
- Advance with 5-step level adjustment.
Dynamic Range Optimization settings.
Creative Style
- Standard
- Vivid
- Neutral
- Adobe RGB
- 1
- 2
- 3

Customizable styles 1-3:

- Standard
- Vivid
- Neutral
- AdobeRGB
- Clear
- Deep
- Light
- Portrait
- Landscape
- Sunset
- Night View
- Autumn Leaves
- B/W
- Sepia

Color mode. First four are preset styles with adjustable contrast, saturation, sharpness.

Customizable styles 1-3 start with a preset style, but allow contrast, saturation, sharpness,brightness and zone adjustments (B/W and Sepia styles exclude saturation adjustment).

Custom button
- AF lock
- AF/MF control
- D.O.F. preview
- White balance
- Exposure comp.
- Flash compens.
- Drive mode
- AF area
- Image size
- Quality
- Creative Style
- D-RangeOptimizer
- Flash mode
- Memory
Defines the function of the Custom button.
Exposure step
- 0.5 EV
- 0.3 EV
Exposure compensation increment.


Record Menu 2 Options
Flash mode
- Autoflash
- Fill-flash
- Rear sync.
- Wireless
Wireless flash shooting requires HVL-F56AM or HVL-F36AM external flash.
Flash control
- ADI Flash
- Pre-flash TTL
- Manual flash
Selects the flash metering method. ADI uses pre-flash, but includes distance info provided by lens. Pre-flash TTL uses exposure calculated with pre-flash only, and Manual uses specific power output (5 level settings 1/1 - 1/16).
Flash compens.
- +/-3 EV scale
Sets the flash exposure compensation level in EV.
ISO Auto max.
- 800
- 400
Sets the upper limit for Auto ISO.
ISO Auto min.
- 400
- 200
Sets the lower limit for Auto ISO.


Record Menu 3 Options
AF-A setup
- AF-A
Automatic AF or Direct Manual Focus which allows fine manual adjustment after AF.
AF area
- Wide
- Spot
- Local
Wide option lets the camera choose AF area, Spot uses center focus area, Local allows user to choose which of the 11 AF sensors to use.
Priority setup
- AF
- Release
The AF option will not release the shutter unless focus is set, while the Release setting trips the shutter even if AF is not established.
AF illuminator
- Auto
- Off
Enables the LED AF illuminator, for use in very dark shooting conditions.
AF with shutter
- On
- Off
Enables AF when shutter button is half-depressed. When Off, autofocus by pressing center of multiselector, or a programmed button.
Long exp.NR
- On
- Off
Enables dark frame subtraction noise reduction for exposures longer than one second.
- High
- Normal
- Low
Noise reduction levels at high ISOs. Max frame rate drops to ~3.5fps.When ISO is 1600 or higher, High NR is automatically selected.


Record Menu 4 Options
Select settings for register:
- 1
- 2
- 3
Allows three sets of shooting modes and parameters to be saved for quick recall in MR capture mode.
Rec mode reset
- OK
- Cancel
Resets record mode settings to factory defaults.


Playback Menu 1 Options
- Marked images
- All images
Lets you delete all photos on the card, or only marked photos.
- OK
- Cancel
Formats the selected memory card, erasing all files (even protected ones).
- Marked images
- All images
- Cancel all
Write protects images, or removes protection.
DPOF setup
- Marked images
- All images
- Cancel all
Sets up photos for DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) printing on a compatible standalone printer.
Date imprint
- On
- Off
Chooses whether or not to print the date on all photos in your DPOF order.
Index print
- Create index
- Delete index
Chooses whether to create or delete an index print of all photos in your DPOF order.
- Auto rotate
- Manual rotate
Sets whether the camera automatically rotates vertically-shot images in Playback mode.


Playback Menu 2 Options
Slide show
Press center of multi-selector to start/stop slide show.
Display slide show of captured images.
- 30 sec
- 10 sec
- 5 sec
- 3 sec
- 1 sec
Sets the slide show interval.


Custom Menu 1 Options
Eye-Start AF

- On
- Off

Enables AF when you look into the viewfinder.

EyeStart trigr.

- w/ GripSensor
- w/o GripSensor

Enables grip sensor, which requires you to hold the grip as well as look into the viewfinder to enable Eye-Start AF.
AF/MF button
- AF/MF control
- AF lock
Use AF/MF for AF lock instead of switching between auto focus and manual focus.
AF/MF control

- Hold
- Toggle

Hold requires button to be held down to switch, while toggle switches modes every time it's pressed.
AF drive speed

- Fast
- Slow

Speed of AF. Slow is useful for macro work.
AF area disp.
- 0.6 sec
- 0.3 sec
- Off
Duration of AF area illumination in viewfinder.
- Focus hold
- D.O.F. preview
For lenses with a Focus Hold button, you can change it to enable depth-of-field preview.


Custom Menu 2 Options
AEL button

- AEL hold
- AEL toggle
- Spot AE, AEL hold
- Spot AE, AEL toggle

Changes the behavior of the AE Lock button. Spot AE can be performed before AEL hold or toggle, regardless of metering mode.

Ctrl dial setup

- Front shutter speed / back aperture
- Front aperture / back shutter speed

Adjust the shutter speed with the front dial and aperture with the rear, or vice vera.
Dial exp.comp
- Off
- Front dial
- Rear dial
Selects which dial adjusts exposure compensation. Has no effect in Manual exposure mode.
Ctrl dial lock

- On
- Off

On only allows dials to function while shutter speed and aperture are displayed. Off allows changes even when not displayed.
Button ops.

- Exclusive disp
- Quick Navi

Display exclusive screen, or Quick Navi screen when pressing ISO, WB, Drive, EV comp or C (custom) button .
Release w/oCard
- Enable
- Disable
Allows shutter release without card installed.
Release w/oLens
- Enable
- Disable
Allows shutter release without lens mounted.


Custom Menu 3 Options
Red eye reduc.

- On
- Off

Enables red-eye reduction flash mode.


- Ambient&flash
- Ambient only

Sets whether Exposure Compensation adjusts the ambient exposure only, or the ambient exposure and the flash (if flash is in use).
Bracket order
- 0 to - to +
- - to 0 to +
Sets the order in bracket sequence. Does not apply to DRO advanced bracket.
Auto review

- 10 sec
- 5 sec
- 2 sec
- Off

Amount of time newly captured image is displayed on LCD.
Auto off w/ VF

- On
- Off

When On, turns LCD off when eye is detected at viewfinder.
- Auto rotate
- Horizontal
LCD record mode display rotates automatically to match camera orientation.
- Record
- Not record
Enables image orientation to be recorded with each image.


Custom Menu 4 Options
Custom reset

- OK
- Cancel

Resets custom settings to factory defaults.


Setup Menu 1 Options
LCD brightness

Select level (-5 to +5)

Adjust LCD brightness.


- 1 min
- 30 sec
- 10 sec
- 5 sec

Length of time record information is displayed on LCD in record mode.
Power save
- 30 min
- 10 min
- 5 min
- 3 min
- 1 min
Determines the amount of inactivity time that will cause camera to enter a low power mode. Pressing shutter button half-way exits power save mode.
Video output


Selects composite video out standard.
HDMI ouput

- HD(1080i)prior.
- HD(720p)prior.
- SD priority

Selects type of signal over HDMI interface (normally automatic).
- English
- French
- Spanish
- Italian
- Japanese
- Chinese
Menu language setup.
Date/Time setup
Fields for:
- Date
- Time
- Date format
Set the cameras internal clock and calander.


Setup Menu 2 Options
Memory card

- Memory stick
- CompactFlash

Select type of memory card.

File number

- Series
- Reset

Set whether filename continues to increment from last image, regardless of whether folder or card has changed, or the card has been formatted.
Folder name
- Standard form
- Date form
Select standard folder names (ie., 100MSDCF), or include the date in the folder name (ie., 10170101).
Select folder

Select from a list of folders.

Selects current folder.
New folder

- OK

Create a new folder with a number incremented from the largest previous number.
USB connection
- Mass Storage
- Remote PC
Sets USB mode.
- Both cards
- Selected card
Display both the memory stick duo and CF cards, (requires Windows 2000 SP3 or higher) or just the selected card when connected to a computer.


Setup Menu 3 Options
Menu start

- Top
- Previous

Diplay the first or previous menu when menu button is pressed.

Delete confirm

- "Delete" first
- "Cancel" first

Selects default action for Delete.
Audio signals
- On
- Off
Enables sound during self-timer countdown, etc.
Cleaning mode

After cleaning, turn camera off. Continue?
- OK
- Cancel

Enables sensor cleaning mode, which vibrates the sensor, then flips the mirror up and opens the shutter for access with a blower or swab. Can be performed only when battery is at least 3/4 charged.
Reset default

- OK
- Cancel

Restore factory defaults.



Sony A700

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