Sony A700 Review

 
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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.

 

Viewfinder Test Results

Coverage
Good accuracy from the optical viewfinder. The Sony A700 has no LCD Live View mode.

16mm, Optical 105mm, Optical

The Sony AA700 optical viewfinder is slightly tight, showing approximately 95% coverage at wide angle, and 94% at telephoto when using the 16-105mm kit lens. These results are typical for a non-pro SLR, although as usual, we wonder why manufacturers don't make SLR viewfinders that cover 100% of the frame.

While the A700 is rumored to use the same CCD as the new Nikon D300, the A700 does not offer a live view mode.

 

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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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