Sony A700 Review

 
Camera Reviews > Sony Cameras > Sony Alpha i Initial Test

Sony Alpha A700 Performance

Updated with results from a production unit.


Timing and Performance

Average to above average speed for a semi-pro level SLR.

Startup/Shutdown
Power on
to first shot
0.6 second
Time it takes for LCD to turn on and capture the first picture.
Shutdown
1.7 seconds
Time to shut down, if buffer is empty.
Buffer clearing time
Continuous LEF JPEG
133x CF card
15 seconds
(After 13 shots)
Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card. Card used was Kingston 133x CF.
Buffer clearing time
Continuous RAW
266x CF card
6 seconds
(After 13 shots)
Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card. Card used was Kingston 266x CF.
Buffer clearing time
Continuous RAW
133x CF card
8 seconds
(After 11 shots)
Slightly longer buffer clearing with a Kingston 133x CF card vs a 266x one.
Buffer clearing time
Continuous RAW
Sony Memory Stick PRO Duo
25 seconds
(After 10 shots)
Sony Memory Stick PRO Duo increased buffer clearing time to 25 seconds.
Mode switching
Play to Record,
first shot
0.6 second
Time until first shot is captured.
Record to play
0.9 second
Time to display a large/fine file immediately after capture.
Display
recorded image
0.6 second
Time to display a large/fine file already on the memory card.
Shutter response (Lag Time)
Full Autofocus Wide
0.18 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture. Lens used was Sony 16-105mm f/3.5-5.6 DT at full wide angle.
Full Autofocus Tele
0.18 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture. Lens used was Sony 16-105mm f/3.5-5.6 DT at full telephoto.
Full Autofocus,
with SteadyShot active
0.208 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, including time required for the system to determine the vibration and compensate.
Prefocused
0.075 second
Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.
Continuous AF
0.22 second
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.
Manual focus
0.20 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".
Cycle time (shot to shot)
Single Shot mode
Large Extra Fine JPEG
0.41 second
Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots.
Single Shot mode
Small/Basic JPEG
0.40 second
Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots.
Single Shot mode
RAW
0.48 second
Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots.
Early shutter
penalty?
No
Some cameras refuse to snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer. If we hit the shutter immediately after a shot was captured, before the mirror had time to slap back down, it wouldn't re-trigger. A very slight pause in re-pressing the shutter button would cause it to fire again right away.
Continuous mode
Large Extra Fine JPEG
(133x CF)
0.20 second (4.91 frames per second);
13 frames total;
15 seconds to clear
Time per shot, averaged over buffer length or 20 shots, whichever came first.
Continuous mode
Small Basic JPEG

(133x CF)
0.20 second (4.91 frames per second);
8 seconds to clear
Time per shot, averaged over buffer length or 20 shots, whichever came first.
Continuous mode
RAW
(133x CF)
0.20 second (4.90 frames per second);
11 frames total;
8 seconds to clear
Time per shot, averaged over buffer length or 20 shots, whichever came first.
Continuous mode
RAW
(266x CF)
0.20 second (4.94 frames per second);
13 frames total;
6 seconds to clear
Time per shot, averaged over buffer length or 20 shots, whichever came first.
Continuous mode
RAW
(Memory Stick PRO Duo)
0.20 second (4.95 frames per second);
10 frames total;
25 seconds to clear
Time per shot, averaged over buffer length or 20 shots, whichever came first.
Flash recycling
2.5 seconds
Flash at maximum output.
Download speed
Windows Computer, USB 2.0
10,726 KBytes/sec
Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-770=USB 2.0 Low;
more than 770=USB 2.0 High (Extremely fast)

The original Alpha A100 was no slouch, but the new Sony A700 clearly bests it just about every parameter. Sony's claimed significantly improved AF performance for the A700, but we have no direct way of measuring that. One key measure though, is how quickly the camera figures out whether it's in focus or not, the governing factor for the shutter lag time in full-autofocus mode. In this area, the Sony A700 is a good 33% (over 1/10 second) faster than the A100, which bodes well for people interested in action photography.

In continuous mode, where the A100 struggled to get to 3 frames/second (it routinely tested out at 2.85 fps in our lab), the Sony A700 nudges the bar at just a shade under 5 frames/second (4.90 to 4.95 frames/second, depending on the shooting mode).

The Sony A700 is very fast internally too, able to take good advantage of the fastest memory card we threw at it, a 266x Kingston 2GB card. Often, cameras will "top out" as you increase the speed of the memory cards used with them: At some point, the buffer clearing time gets no shorter despite increases in card speed. In the case of the Sony A700 though, while the difference was slight, we did find a noticeable difference in buffer clearing speed as we went from a 133x to 266x Kingston CF card. Download speed to a host PC was blazingly fast, easily among the very fastest (if not the fastest) we've seen on any camera to date, at over 10 megabytes/second. (No card reader needed here!)

Things slowed markedly when we switched to a Sony MemoryStick PRO Duo card though. Not the continuous mode frame rate of course, as that's governed by the camera's processor and buffer memory bandwidth. But buffer capacity slipped to 10 RAW frames (from a high of 13), and it took 25 seconds to write those 10 RAW images to the Memory Stick card. Sandisk's Extreme III PRO Duo and Sony's PRO HG Duo cards are both faster than the Memory Stick PRO Duo we tested with, at least on paper, but we haven't had a chance to try them out with the A700 yet.

Battery and Storage Capacity

Battery

Good battery life for an SLR lithium-ion design.

Test Conditions
Number of Shots
Lithium-ion rechargeable battery,
LCD on
650

The Sony A700 uses a custom rechargeable Lithium-ion battery for power, and comes with both a single battery and charger. Though runtime is good, we do recommend picking up a spare battery and keeping it freshly charged and on-hand for extended outings.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on either a fresh set of disposable batteries or a fully-charged rechargeable battery as appropriate), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

Storage
The Sony Alpha A700 stores its photos on CompactFlash or Memory Stick Duo cards (card not included).

Image Capacity with 512 MB CompactFlash Card
Extra Fine
Fine
Standard
cRAW RAW RAW + JPEG
4272 x 2848
Images
(Avg size)
47
10.9 MB
88
5.8 MB
130
3.9 MB
39
13.1 MB
26
19.3 MB
20
25.6 MB
Approx.
Compression
3:1
6:1
9:1
1.4:1
0.9:1
-
3104 x 2064
Images
(Avg size)
81
6.3 MB
145
3.5 MB
204
2.5 MB
-
-
22
23.3 MB
Approx.
Compression
3:1
6:1
8:1
-
-
-
2128 x 1424
Images
(Avg size)
135
3.8 MB
230
2.2 MB
300
1.7 MB
-
-
23
21.8 MB
Approx.
Compression
2:1
4:1
5:1
-
-
-

We strongly recommend buying a large capacity CompactFlash or Memory Stick PRO Duo card, at least a 2GB card, preferably a 4 or 8GB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings and raw files. (Check the shopping link above, cards are very reasonable these days, so no reason to skimp.)

 

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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