Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sony announce the world's first full-frame DSLR with 24.6 megapixels

Just when you thought it was safe to take a breather from all the recent announcements from Canon and Nikon, along comes Sony and trumps both of them!

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The 24.6 megapixel DSLR-A900 comes with a full-frame CMOS sensor with Exmor™ technology. It has a high-performance pentaprism viewfinder with 100% coverage, a high-speed 9-point AF, SteadyShot and a photo quality 3.0-inch 921k dot LCD.

With 5 fps continuous shooting at full resolution 24.6 MP, it certainly offers a strong challenge to anything Canon or Nikon can offer. Allowing up to 105 JPEGS or 12 RAW images is what its competitors can manage. Bear in mind however, that the Sony is doing this at 24.6 MP!

Its 9-point centre cross AF system has 10 focus assist points and is claimed to be fast and accurate. We have every reason to accept Sony's claim here but the final verdict will have to wait for comparative tests.

With the usual SteadyShot image stabilisation offering 2.5 - 4.0 extra steps of performance, it certainly compares well with Nikon and Canon's offerings.

The Dual anti-dust systems and the D-Range Optimiser are two other features that make this an attractive proposition and compare well with the similar systems in Nikon's and Canon's offerings.

What differs, surprisingly, is the lack of Live View or a built-in pop-up flash. Sony's implementation of Live View in the A350 was widely praised and so its absence here is something of a surprise. The lack of built-in pop-up flash is less of a problem. What the market will make of this remains to be seen. For professional photographers this may be less of an issue than for the enthusiast or semi-pro. However, one of the benefits of the Live View system is in low-level photography, such as macro-photography out in the field.

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Another feature lacking is video, which in light of the Nikon D90 offering HD video (5 mins recording at a time), may be a minus point for some. It does, however, offer HDMI output at 1920 x 1081i, which is better than the 720p offered by the Nikon.

The α900 full-frame digital SLR will be available from October 2008. The Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 16-35mm F2.8 ZA SSM and 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM lenses will be available from early 2009. Price TBC

UPDATE: Thinkcamera is stating that the price will be £2,200 (body only) when the camera is available, which makes it very competitive with the likes of Nikon's D3 (£2,679.00 inc. VAT, body only, street price), which has only 12.2 MP sensor. The Canon EOS-1 Mk III offers 21 MP and is available for around £4,739.99 inc. VAT.

Prices on the new 70-400mm f/4-5.6 and 16-35mm f/2.8 lenses to go with the camera are yet to be confirmed. Note: These are professional lenses though and not the usual kit lenses you get with the cheaper cameras lower down the range (such as A200 and A350). Expect prices to be in the region of £400+ per lens.

The Daily Telegraph is reporting the list price will be £1,195 (body only) when the A900 comes out in October. If true, we could see a price war starting out with Canon and Nikon having to make substantial cuts to compete. Especially as the price may well drop from the list price by Christmas, maybe to £995.

Latest News:
British Journal of Photography is reporting the following on the issue of price:
The A900 will be available early next month, officially retailing at £2100. However, according to Sony, some retailers have indicated that they will be selling the body at £1800 - an extremely aggressive price for a camera of this resolution.

So, its looking like the Daily telegraph made a typo!

Sony is quoting £ 2,089.00 Incl Vat in their website for body only.

Compatible Lenses:

SAL-85F14Z - 85mm F1.4 ZA Carl Zeiss Planar T* lens priced at £ 1,039.01 Incl Vat

SAL-135F18Z - 135mm F1.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* high performance telephoto lens at £ 1,089.00 Incl Vat

SAL-2470Z - 24-70mm F2.8 ZA SSM Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* zoom lens at £ 1,289.00 Incl Vat

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