Sony’s really going for it. The company set a goal of being a dominant player in the DSLR camera field, and here’s another step along the way: the Alpha 850. This is a full-frame DSLR, meaning its imaging sensor is the same size as a 35 mm film frame.
The a850 model shares the same 24.6 megapixel sensor and most features of the flagship a900 camera, introduced last year, but will be available for about $2500 (body only).
The a850 camera is designed to deliver ultra-fine picture quality out of the Exmor CMOS sensor and fast image processing with dual Bionz processing engines. Sony says the high pixel count and large size of the Exmor CMOS sensor provide enhanced image detail and a wider dynamic range for natural colour reproduction and subtle tonal gradations. The dual processors apply advanced noise reduction algorithms producing images of exceptional quality and detail, especially at high ISO sensitivities, says Sony.
The camera also offers high-speed continuous shooting of 24.6 megapixel images at up to three frames per second.
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.
The camera’s autofocus system features nine sensors with 10 assist points for improved tracking of moving subjects. A centre 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.
The ultra-bright viewfinder delivers 98 percent field of view coverage.
A mirror box features a parallel-link mirror mechanism that moves on two horizontal axes to accommodate both the large full frame mirror and the body-integrated image stabilization system without increasing the camera’s size.
With its body-integrated SteadyShot Inside image stabilization, the camera achieves an anti-shake effect equivalent to shutter speeds faster by 2.5 to 4 stops, says Sony. The anti-shake system stabilizes all Sony, Minolta and Konica-Minolta compatible lenses – even wide angle or large aperture lenses.
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.
With the camera’s HDMI output and Photo TV HD mode, output can be enjoyed on a compatible HD television.
The a850 has a 3-inch, Xtra Fine LCD screen. It incorporates an easy-to-see display with a quick navigation menu to easily access common functions without interrupting the creative flow. A backlit LCD panel sits on top of the camera and displays key settings.
The camera includes dedicated slots for high-capacity Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, HX series and CompactFlash media.
The a850 is due in stores this month. All a900 accessories are compatible with it.
Sony 28-75 mm lens
Sony has a new full-frame lens for both the new a850 and a900 DSLRs, the 28-75 mm f/2.8 SAM lens. It’s a compact, general purpose zoom that Sony says delivers excellent imaging quality. The lens will be available in November for about $1,000.