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
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.
This camera has the ergonomics, ease of use, and overall quality I have always had with Minolta’s high end film cameras.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sony A700 Accessories
Where to Buy
Finally, the Nikon D3 has been announced. This page will be ground zero for all the latest details on the Nikon D3 (e.g., reviews, sample images, availability, and more). For now, check out the preview below along with the official links from Nikon. Additionally, you can view the official press release here and check out all the press release images of the Nikon D3 in this slideshow.
The first impression from the D3 comes from its size and weight. At around 1.5kg (3 lbs) with battery, this is one of the heaviest DSLR. Its integrated vertical grip and large pentaprism make this camera one of the biggest. It feels built-like-a-tank.
Photo.net (by Shun Cheung)
For those who would like a DSLR optimized for sports, news, and wedding photography, the D3 is probably the top choice. Since the D3 can handle ISO 3200 easily and provides very acceptable 6400 results, it changes the approach to indoor and low-light photography.
Unparalleled ISO performance, a 9 fps full resolution shooting rate, exceptional color and image quality, a superb monitor, robust construction, outstanding build quality and a full frame sensor offering wide angle and depth of field lens performance like a 35mm film camera are some of the attributes that makes Nikon’s latest pro model a must-have for serious Nikon shooters.
The Nikon D3 has got to be the top choice for anyone wanting high quality, rapid-fire image capture, or extremely low light photography without flash, who is not otherwise wedded to the Canon system. Press – sports and news – photographers are the ones who are going to get the most out of its capabilities, which stretch beyond those needed by the average photo hobbyist, and these professionals are also the ones most likely to be able to stomach that price tag without complaint.
One thing that became very clear when first looking at a D3 RAW file is just how much you can push them exposure wise. The latitude available is astounding and I actually have to try to blow highlights in most situations when shooting raw.
Even at ISO 200, the added light-gathering capability of the larger pixels on the D3’s full-frame sensor beats the D300. Shooting RAW takes advantage of its lower noise and 14-bits-per-color capture. And it gives you much more flexibility, especially when using the supplied Capture NX 1.3 software to convert NEF RAW to 16-bit TIFF files.
Luminous Landscape (Combined Essay on D3 and D300)
We now have a bit of a sea change happening. Nikon has flexed its considerable muscle and with the D3 produced a camera that sends a clear challenge to Canon’s nearly decade-long dominance of the digital arena. The D300, though in many ways simply a logical progression from the D200, is a much better camera than its predecessor, and along with its superior sensor offers the pro and advanced amateur a set of features and functionality that is unmatched at the moment in Canon’s line up.
Photo Business Forum (Comparison to Canon 1Ds Mark III)
For large commercial jobs, where I am thinking I want a higher native resolution, it’ll be the Canon I reach for. For low light situations, which are all too common, it will, without a doubt, be Nikon. In fact, with the noise issue out of the way, and most client deliverables needing to be down-rezzed anyway, I can see that the Nikon not only would be a better solution to speeding up my post-production process, but moreover, storing the RAW/DNG files will save me significant hard-drive space in my archives over the larger Canon files.
Call me a sucker for beauty, as all photographers should be, but I think half of why I want a D3 isn’t logic or the photos I could make with it, but simply because it is so beautiful. It makes me want to have and to hold it.
My conclusion is that you will get image quality from D3 to satisfy even the critical needs, for almost any application to which the 35 mm systems can be used.
I NEVER shoot on auto exposure. In fact I don’t think I have even used autoexposure on the Contax or Canons more than once, but since Nikon handed me this camera set on Auto I just thought I would see what happens, and it was dead on perfect, almost to the point I couldn’t trick it unless I was in extreme 5 stop backlight. Set to Matrix metering it just completely surprised me how accurate it was. From time to time I would moved the little +/- dial from .3 to .7 but usually the meter was dead on, even in mixed lighting.
My first impressions, as expected, were mind blowing. To be brief, I’m stunned at how responsive this camera is and I didn’t believe there was much room for improvement to the way the D2xs handled. I was clearly wrong. The Focus, feel of the shutter, focus point selection, enormous LCD, auto white balance, dynamic range, color rendition, and a few other things have all been written about and touted, but nothing prepared me for the incredible quality of the files out of camera. In addition, the high ISO performance, which was also talked about, is nothing short of revolutionary.
This camera literally changes the rules of photography and will simply allow me to capture things like never before.
Q. Is the D3 really usable at very high ISO (6400 and more), as promised in the advertisements?
A. I didn’t actually try it at higher than 6400 ISO, but the test shots I took at 6400 ISO were absolutely usable. In fact, they were shockingly usable, and I think you’ll see working pros shooting at 6400 ISO with the D3. When you zoom in, you can definitely see noise, so it’s by no means “noise free,” but the amount of noise at 6400 ISO was dramatically less that I would have expected. In reality, I don’t know how often any of us will be shooting at 6400 ISO (but it’s nice to know that in a pinch; you can), but I can say with certainly that on the D3 I would shoot at 1200 ISO without hesitation.
Important headline improvements include high sensitivity support by default, up to ISO 6400 with 25600 available as a boost option, 14-bit A/D conversion, a new standard image processor, a new shutter, new auto focus sensor, focus tracking by color, nine frames per second continuous, dual compact flash support, DX lens support (albeit at lower resolution) and a 3.0″ 922,000 pixel LCD monitor (which it has to be said is lovely).
Moose Peterson has some hands-on time with the Nikon D3 along with some brilliant sample images:
What is amazing to me is the color retention of the new color engine and what you can’t see here, the beautifully crisp, sharp files the D3 produces. The files truly are a work of art. The new LCD while not the best at color & exposure rendition, it does show sharpness better than any other LCD I’ve used.
Here’s a 10 minute interview with Lindsay Silverman, Nikon’s Senior Technical Manager, about the new Nikon D3.
Check out some sample images from the Nikon D3 at ISO 3200.
Check out Rob Galbraith’s initial impressions of the Nikon D3:
“We can say that in limited testing of a prototype body, the D3’s ability to hold and repeat focus on static subjects is impressive, but whether the Multi-CAM 3500 will be what helps Nikon replace a few white lenses on the sidelines is an open question”
“based on a look at ISO 1600 – ISO 25,600 frames produced by prototype D3 bodies, including a handful we shot ourselves, the camera looks like it will produce low light photos that are both massively cleaner and more usable than the D2Xs and in the same ballpark as Canon’s EOS-1D Mark III (which is the D3’s primary competition)……We’ll need to shoot with a production D3 under real-world conditions to find out whether it approaches, meets or exceeds the EOS-1D Mark III in high ISO image quality. But based on what we’ve seen so far, it’s safe to say that the D3 will produce photos of dramatically better quality than the D2Xs at ISO 1600 and up.”
“A 3-inch (diagonal), 170 degree viewing angle rear LCD that is so crisp and clear you’ll never want to use another rear LCD to review your pictures again. Its 920,000-dot resolution makes it possible to judge critical focus when zoomed in to nearly full magnification. In fact, it’s like looking at a screen without pixels; they’re so small as to be invisible when looking at photos at even abnormally close viewing distances”
Shiny Video has a hands on video preview of the Nikon D3.
Imaging Resource has a report from the Tokyo press announcement with initial impressions of the Nikon D3 and D300.
Gizmodo has an initial hands on impression of the Nikon D3 and D300 with a ton of images of the new cameras.
I did have a bit of trouble navigating the D3’s controls despite the emphatically touted Italian design and had to ask for some help, but I wasn’t overly familiar with its predecessor, which could be why I had some trouble. The D300 has a simpler layout, so I had an easier time.
Official Nikon Pages
Nikon D3 “Special Site” from Nikon Global.
Nikon D3 Instruction Manual (.PDF).
Nikon D3 Digitutor Videos and more.
The Nikon D3 product page from Nikon Global.
Here is the Official Nikon D3 brochure/spec sheet (.PDF).
Nikon D3 Accessories
Where to Buy
First off, consider going to your local camera store (and I don’t necessarily mean Wolf Camera at the mall). By going to your local camera store, you’re supporting your community and you just might build a lasting relationship with people you can rely on when you need some help or answers. 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. Additionally, purchasing your camera through these links helps support this site.
New large image sensor developed by Nikon; 12.1 effective megapixels
The D3 employs an FX-format CMOS image sensor with a sensor area of 36.0 (H) x 23.9 (V) mm. It offers superior picture quality throughout a wide sensitivity range with such advantages as a large pixel size to ensure high S/N ratio and wide dynamic range, adoption of an element structure that improves light-utilization efficiency. In addition, high-speed 12-channel readout enables fast continuous shooting for 12.1-megapixel images at approximately 9 frames per second, as well as high-speed performance to ensure shooting in Liveview modes.
Wide sensitivity range
Sensitivity range is extremely wide, from ISO 200 to 6400 at normal setting. High picture quality without noise is realized not only at low sensitivity setting, but also at high settings such as ISO 6,400. Even in dark conditions in which satisfactory results were almost impossible to obtain before, high-quality pictures can be taken. Furthermore, sensitivity can be increased to HI 0.3, HI 0.5, HI 0.7, HI 1 (ISO 12,800 equivalent), HI 2 (ISO 25,600 equivalent), and decreased to Lo 1 (ISO 100 equivalent), Lo 0.7, Lo 0.5 and Lo 0.3. All these settings expand the shooting possibilities.
Shutter release time lag is only 37 ms*, equivalent to the Nikon D2XS, which is generally regarded as a mechanical limit. Continuous shooting speed is approximately 9 frames per second with FX format (36 x 24) or 5:4 (30 x 24), approximately 11 frames per second with DX format (24 x 16). The Nikon D3 is also the first digital SLR compliant with next-generation high-speed card UDMA, that enables 35-Mbyte recording speed, approximately 4 times as fast as the Nikon D2XS. Approximately 6-megapixel JPEG-Large-Fine image data taken with the FX format can be recorded at a speed higher than 5 frames per second. Startup time is approximately 0.12 second, shorter than the D2XS by 0.08 second.
* 41 ms if based on the new CIPA guideline to be established around August 4, 2007.
EXPEED — Nikon’s image processing concept embodied
As Nikon’s new digital image-processing concept — featuring the core ideas of our image creation and processing — EXPEED incorporates the optimized knowhow and technologies we have accumulated throughout our long history while receiving users’ requirements. It realizes diversified functions to ensure high picture quality and high-speed image processing.
Picture Control System
Picture Control System is a new function to enable selection and adjustment to create pictures easily according to skills of users from novices to professionals. When settings are the same, even with different cameras, you can get the same picture tone. Picture Control System offers four fundamental setting options — Standard, Neutral, Vivid and Monochrome — enabling image parameters (sharpening, tone compensation, brightness, tone and saturation) to be easily adjusted and customized.
AF system employing high-density 51-point AF
Multi-CAM 3500FX autofocus sensor module featuring 51 AF points is incorporated. 15 cross-type sensors located in the center provide subject detection capability with lens apertures as small as f/5.6. 51 AF points can be utilized in various focus area modes selected according to subject condition. In many aspects, the functions of AF points are linked with the Scene Recognition System to offer superior subject detection and focus tracking performance. A single AF point can be selected from 51 or 11 focus points. Dynamic AF mode enables appropriate focusing by detecting subjects with a zone containing many AF points located densely. In this mode, the number of AF areas, including user selected AF points and backup points, can be selected from either 9, 21 or 51. In addition, newly employed “3D tracking” mode shifts the focus point automatically to respond to the subject’s movements. Auto-area AF mode gives greater priority to the subject’s position in selecting AF points.
Scene Recognition System
By improving the 1,005-pixel RGB sensor, which was first incorporated in the Nikon F5, information from the sensor can be utilized for auto exposure, auto white balance and autofocus. For example, 3D tracking in AF realized by using the Scene Recognition System tracks subject position, and automatically shifts AF points to be used according to the subject’s movement within the frame. This system also contributes to improved accuracy of auto exposure and auto white balance.
Three image areas available
With the Nikon D3, users can select one of the three image areas — FX format (36 x 24), DX format (24 x 16) or 5:4 (30 x 24).
When a DX NIKKOR lens is attached, DX format is automatically selected. With DX format or 5:4 format, an area not covered by the sensor is automatically masked in the viewfinder. High-definition, 3-inch VGA, TFT LCD monitor with wide-viewing angle Ultrahigh-definition [920,000-dot VGA (640 x 480)], 3-inch LCD monitor with tempered glass provides 170° viewing angle. Large monitor is quite effective when confirming focus with enlarged playback images. Wide-viewing angle enables easy recomposing of the frame in Handheld mode of Liveview.
Two Liveview modes available
Liveview function enables shooting while confirming subjects in the LCD monitor.
In Handheld mode, which allows recomposing of the frame prior to actual shooting, ordinary TTL phase-difference AF using all 51 AF points including 15 cross-type points is activated.
Tripod mode is designed for precise focus accuracy with still subjects and tripod stabilization. In this mode, focal-plane contrast AF on a desired point within a specific area is possible. Remote view, focusing and shooting are also made possible on a PC (wired or wirelessly).
Optical finder with 100% frame coverage and 0.7x magnification in FX format
SLR-type viewfinder featuring eye-level pentaprism with high refraction index provides 100% frame coverage and 0.7x magnification. Large and bright viewfinder image ensures comfortable focusing, which is one of the advantages of the FX format.
Eyepoint is 18 mm (at –0.1 m-1), and diopter can be adjusted within the range from –3 to +1 m-1.
Magnesium alloy is used for exterior cover, chassis and mirror box to ensure both lightweight and ruggedness. Also, strict sealing with O-rings at various connected parts effectively resists dust and moisture.
Shutter unit developed and manufactured by Nikon employs shutter blades made of new materials (hybrid of carbon fiber and Kelver). Excellent durability is guaranteed with 300,000-cycle release tests with the shutter actually loaded. Precision is also maintained with shutter monitor.
CF card double slot
Two CF cards can be set, realizing consecutive recording, simultaneous recording, RAW + JPEG separate recording, and copying of data between two cards. Because two cards of the same kind can be used, users do not have to prepare different kinds of storage media.
Exclusive Wireless Transmitter WT-4 (optional)
The WT-4 supports wired LAN (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX) and wireless LAN (IEEE 802.11b/g, 11a), and incorporates thumbnail mode as a new function.
It realizes wireless connection of cameras with a PC, enabling thumbnail display of images taken with up to five of them and downloading of images selected. Also, by using Camera Control Pro 2 (optional), wireless remote view/control shooting is made possible with the D3’s Liveview function.
D-Lighting incorporated in the conventional digital SLRs enables editing after the image is taken. In addition to the D-Lighting, newly developed Active D-Lighting is employed in the Nikon D3.
Active D-Lighting lets users choose the intensity from among “High”, “Normal”, “Low” or “Unchanged” prior to shooting. The conventional method of simply expanding dynamic range is not employed in compensation. Instead, localized tone control technology is utilized to prevent images from looking flat with low contrast. As a result, “lost highlights” and “lost shadows” are well compensated while maintaining proper contrast.
Fine adjustment function for AF
If there is a slight difference in focusing point among lenses, users can finely adjust it.
Two methods are available. In specific adjustment, a certain level of compensation set for each registered lens is applied when the lens of the same type is attached. In uniform adjustment, the same level of compensation is applied regardless of the lens used. Up to 20 lenses can be registered.
Improved Function button feature
Besides the exclusive Function button, this feature can be assigned to the Preview button and AE/AF Lock button, giving photographers optimum operability in a flexible way.
HDMI output (High-Definition TV) supported
The Nikon D3 is compliant with HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) Ver. 1.3a which enables transfer of world-standard video and audio signals. Standard Type A connector is employed.
Various shooting information such as shutter speed, aperture is displayed in the LCD monitor. Color of characters can be selected according to lighting condition — black for light locations, white for dark locations. Auto switch mode can also be set.
Digital level incorporated
By utilizing a sensor incorporated in the body, the inclination of the camera is detected and displayed in the top control panel and viewfinder.
Image-management software ViewNX/Nikon Transfer included in the Software Suite CD-ROM
ViewNX is a viewer application to offer quick display of images, while Nikon Transfer provides simple transfer of taken images to a PC.
Designed by Giugiaro
“Ergonomic” is a new design theme that will be a standard of Nikon’s new-generation digital SLRs. This is applied to every detail including inclination of command dial and top control panel as well as comfortable holding and handling, e.g. shape of a grip. To support photographers’ concentration, curves of the pentaprism top, grip and side panels are directed to the center of lens’ optical axis, and the red, triangular motif has been redesigned to project a sharper image.
[tags]nikon, d3, d3x, d3h, review, rumors, news, norm olsen, concept, announcement, price, availability[/tags]