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My new camera - Sony a700

Just last year in Sep 2006, Konica Minolta(my camera brand) sold off its entire camera and lens division to Sony. Wat lau, that time really shocked by the news. Amid all those uncertainties, I did not change system (dun want to go back to Canon leh). Reason behind this is that Sony did promised to continue the use of A-mount (Minolta's AF mount) and Carl Zeiss Optics. The latter reason is the main reason for me to stay as CZ are just wonderful lens. But the bad thing is of course the price. Sony's marketing is as good as Canon which means their product will also be expensive. Nevertheless, after a year's wait, Sony came out an advance amateur model. Which is in fact a replacement of the KM's Dynax 7D, the Sony Alpha 700 or a700 for short.

The Specs and Features
There are many improvements from 7D to a700 besides more Megapixels. First, there's a new interface. I still prefer 7D's compensation dial but the new interface also ok. Much like my old 800si. So not much of a problem for me. The infrared AF assist beam is back which is a blessing as the 7D does not have it. Which means I can focus well even in low light condition (up to 7m). Good enough as its pretty essential for events or weddings using flash. Another thing to note is the beautiful 3in LCD. Shiok man, can see whether photos are sharp anot by just zooming to 13x.
The shutter sound is also more pleasing and quieter. There's also a Dynamic Range Optimizer(DRO) but I don't think I will be using it as most probably I will shoot in cRaw. The autofocus motor is much faster and more accurate then the 7D. AF-C really works well now. Could track moving objects accurately.
Overall a lot of good improvement in the specifications and features.

Image Quality
Sony sensors are infamous for their noise issues on high iso. This time the switch to CMOS seems to be better. Noise control is good up to 800. 1600 and 3200 is usable too in bright scenes. Low ambient light will suffer a bit though. But overall still an improvement from 7D. Raw and cRaw (compressed raw) are outstanding. But the in build jpeg kinds of sucks. Even at the highest setting at XFine. Seems not as sharp as 7D. I knew about this from the other online reviews and so dun feel so bad. But its a setback as I normally shoot in Jpeg. 7D's direct out of camera jpeg is one of the main reason I switched from Canon to KM. Now kind of return to Square one liao. Lucky nowadays Photoshop CS3 got a better Raw to jpeg image processor. So I just have to get used to the new workflow. Hopefully Sony will come up with a firmware update to improve on the jpeg quality.

Surprisingly, the price is ok. Consider the package includes a remote control and more important, body built in anti-shake(another main reason for the switch from Canon to KM). Sony renamed it to Super Steady Shot (SSS) liao. Basically its the same thing. So all my lens got some Image Stabilizer, unlike Canon or Nikon users who need to buy IS or VR lenses.

Good upgrade and Sony did pulled this off quite well. Now just hope their price for their lenses will drop and maybe more people will join the Alpha camp.

Now most of the Minolta users are waiting for Sony's flagship A900. Speculated to be a Fullframe camera.

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