What does “Crop Factor” mean?

. . . and why does it matter?  Crop factor is a term used loosely in the DSLR world when referring to lens focal length.  There’s often a lot of confusion and misunderstanding surrounding the term for folks that are new shoppers or users of DSLR cameras.

It’s not so scary folks.  If you want a no nonsense explanation of what it means and why it may be important to you, head on over to Rich Legg’s recent post on the topic.  He explains it for the average Joe and even gives us some photos to illustrate what crop factor does.  What are you waiting for?  GoNow.

Photo Mosaics

Cades Cove Mosaic

I learned something new today. I stumbled upon a mosaic maker. It was pretty simple to do. I upload my image file and the mosaic generator pulls images from flickr to create a mosaic of my original image. I imagine that there are some real copyright problems with this use of the photos from flickr even though the mosaic generator puts a copyright notice on the Image Mosaic Generator site.

IMAGES USED IN THE MAKING OF IMAGE MOSAICS ARE COLLECTED FROM FLICKR AND COPYRIGHT OF THEIR RESPECTIVE OWNERS.


That said, you may want to go about creating your mosaic from your own photos. There are several ways to do it. There’s online tools that you can use your own flickr photos with (or any other online photos). Also, take a look at the popular software, Mosaic Creator, at aolej.com or ArcSoft Photo Montage. Want to learn more about photo mosaics? Start with the wealth of info on Wikipedia.

UPDATED 3/15/07:  See also, Rich Legg’s colored pencil mosaic post.

RAW vs. JPEG

I’m going to address a debate that there is no clear answer to . . . actually, there is an answer: “It depends.”

Ask a handful of photographers which file format you should shoot with and you’ll get some strong opinions on both sides of the debate. Each side has some good points. The problem with the debate is that some folks with strong opinions believe there is only one way – JPEG or RAW. I tend to think that this depends on each photographer’s particular circumstances. [Read more...]

How to Take Better Photos

2006 WERA Grand National Finals

I see a lot of folks on photography forums or letters written in to photo magazines asking where they should start. It seems like I see roughly the same question every day. Lots of times folks know how to point and shoot with their digital camera but don’t necessarily understand what it takes to make a good photograph. [Read more...]

Sony Alpha A700 Reviews and Resources

Sony announced the a700 on September 6, 2007. The new a700 is available in body only, kit w/ 18-70mm lens or kit w/ 16-105mm lens. You can find the original press release here.

Sony A700 Key Features

  • 12.24 megapixel CMOS sensor
  • BIONZ image processor
  • 11 point autofocus system
  • ISO 6400
  • 5fps (for 17 shots in RAW mode)
  • 1/8000th shutter speed
  • 3 inch LCD screen (with 921,000 pixels)
  • Optional battery grip
  • Wireless Flash support
  • Both MemoryStick and CompactFlash cards supported w/ dual slots

Sony A700 Reviews

Buy-n-Shoot

Don’t be fooled by the hype that Nikon and Canon are the only two ‘serious’ competitors in the DSLR market because with the Alpha A700, Sony are undoubtedly making a push for the front.

Photography Review

This camera has the ergonomics, ease of use, and overall quality I have always had with Minolta’s high end film cameras.

Professional Photographer Magazine

The The Sony α (Alpha) DSLR-A700 is a solid piece of equipment that combines strong performance with affordability. I reviewed the Sony’s original DSLR, the A100, and liked it, and the A700 is a step up. It has a higher-resolution sensor, is more responsive and feels better built.

PhotographyBLOG

Offering a compelling combination of intuitive design and handling, sophisticated functionality and excellent image quality, the Sony A700 is an easy DSLR camera to recommend. Being based so clearly upon a previous Konica Minolta camera has given Sony the benefits of an already installed user-base, eager for a new body to use their lenses with, and a proven design on which to build.

Think Camera

A major advancement for Sony over the last year has been the development of the ‘Exmor’ CMOS sensor. You can expect great images from the Sony DSLR-A700 from ISO 100 through ISO 800, and ISO 1600 is more than useable. The noise at ISO 3200 is not great however, becoming fairly useless when pushed to the ISO 6400 limit. It’s not so much the noise that’s an issue at this ultra high sensitivity – it’s the colour shift being much bluer and flatter due to the excess noise.

DP Review

Overall then the A700 is a good performer with good overall image quality with a nice range of features – even if on the negative side there are some quirky design decisions which may or may not affect you. Best of all though is the fact that it weighs in at the lower end of the price band for this category of DSLR, that makes it about $400 less than the Nikon D300 and $300 less than the Olympus E-3.

Luminous Landscape

It’s fast 5 fps frame rate and focus acquisition are easily on par with the 20/30D (which is my reference for comparison as I have used them for years) making it a joy to use for fast paced sports or news coverage. The A700 has a great viewfinder – large and bright, it’s also easy to see the outer frame with the information overlay through the eyepiece even with glasses and most importantly, with sunglasses. The camera is heavy, and very solid, inspiring confidence in its long-term durability, and comfortable to hold for extended shoots.

DC Resource

With their Alpha DSLR-A700, Sony has created a midrange digital SLR that keeps up with the “big boys”. The A700 offers an excellent mix of photo quality, performance, features, and build quality — not to mention support for legacy Minolta lenses. Yes, it’s lacking the live view feature of its competitors, but I don’t really miss it, to be honest. While I don’t see Canon and Nikon owners rushing to eBay to sell their gear to buy the A700, it’s a great D-SLR for those with a collection of Minolta lenses. I enjoyed my time with the DSLR-A700, and can recommend it without hesitation.

Megapixel

While the Alpha 100 was Sony’s first dSLR camera and the result of its acquisition of Konica Minolta’s camera division, the A700 is much more stamped as a Sony camera, and probably indicates the company’s intention to anchor itself solidly in the dSLR market segment. Still, although Sony products tend to command a premium, the A700′s price point places it in direct competition with very well established dSLR systems and lacks the Live View function adopted by most others, things that could hinder its success.

Trusted Reviews

Having produced what is arguably the best entry-level DSLR on the market in the A100, Sony has followed it up with another outstanding camera. The A700 is a superb tool for the enthusiast or semi-professional photographer, providing high quality results in almost any conditions. The combination of rugged durability, fast performance, a class-leading AF system, on-board image stabilisation and great handling will prove hard to beat.

Popular Photography

It also focuses faster than the Canon EOS 40D, Nikon D80, and Nikon D200 down to EV 4, then gives up a fraction of a second at EV 2 through -1. It’s slower than the Canon at EV -2, but faster than the Nikons. And it focuses faster at all light levels than either the Pentax K10D or the Olympus Evolt E-510.

Let’s Go Digital

My conclusion after extensively using the Sony DSLR-A700 in practice and testing it thoroughly can be short. Sony’s Alpha 700 is a beautiful DSLR and offers the demanding photographer as well as the amateur a perfect tool to practice photography on a high level. The camera is not perfect but if you put some effort in getting to know the camera and making it part of your digital work environment, you will soon find that you have a refined DSLR camera in your hands. If you are looking for a new DSLR or ready to get acquainted with an advanced camera system you definitely ought to put the Sony Alpha 700 on your wish list.

Cnet

A top-of-the-line amateur digital SLR camera, the Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 will delight Konica Minolta diehards and makes a great choice if you don’t already have a stake in other lens systems.

Steve’s Digicams

Even though Sony says the “DSLR-A700 is the perfect DSLR for serious amateurs” I found nothing amateur about this camera. In fact it elevates the “Prosumer” definition and will have the other manufactures working to catch up.

What do I mean by that you say? How about the continuous 5 FPS advance at full 12.24 megapixel resolution? And what about the high-speed processing power of the Bionz™ engine, a quick-response coreless motor to drive the shutter, and dual mirror stoppers to prevent mirror bounce? All this enables the a 700 to shoot continuously to the limit of available memory in JPEG Fine mode. Not too amateur at that.

FAQ on Dyxum Forum

PhotoReview

Despite taking a while to produce this camera, in the DSLR-A700 Sony has delivered a camera that enthusiasts can enjoy with features that will be of value to many professional photographers. A nice step up from the A100, it goes head-to-head against Canon’s recently-released EOS 40D and Nikon’s D300, which is expected in November.

e-Photographia hands-on preview (with test shots):

I’m not really convinced by the image quality. Nevertheless, this is not the final production firmware, so let’s not judge too hastily.

. . . .

It seems to mee that there’s just too much noise reduction.

PopPhoto.com field test:

When we later viewed some of the images (unenhanced) on big HDTV screens, it was clear from the sharp, saturated images that the cameras were working very well.

DPReview.com has a thorough hands-on preview of the new a700.

Camera Labs (pre-production preview)

The Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 is certainly an impressive DSLR and a significant step-up from the debut A100. It proves Sony can produce a camera tailored for higher-end enthusiasts while also incorporating the neat gadgets we’ve come to expect from the electronics giant.

Sony A700 Sample Images

Sony Japan sample images.

Photoclub Alpha – More High ISO Samples (ISO 3200-6400)

Real World Sample Set (includes ISO 6400 shots)

Official Sony A700 Resources

Sony a700 product page.

Firmware version 3

Sony A700 Accessories

Sony VG-C70AM Alpha Vertical Grip

Sony HVL-56AM Speedlight

Sony HVL-36AM Speedlight

Sony A700 Magic Lantern Guide

Where to Buy

If you’re buying online, I recommend sticking with Amazon, B&H Photo or Adorama. These three vendors are reliable, trustworthy and generally have the best (legitimate) prices.