Sony's new Alpha DSLR-A850: First full-frame dSLR under $2,000

Sony's new Alpha DSLR-A850: First full-frame dSLR under $2,000

Summary: A year after introducing its first full-frame dSLR, the Sony Alpha DSLR-A900, Sony has announced the least expensive full-frame dSLR to date: the Alpha DSLR-A850, which will be priced at $1,999.99 when it ships in September.

TOPICS: Processors, Hardware

About a year after Sony introduced its first full-frame digital SLR, the Alpha DSLR-A900,  the electronics giant is making news by unveiling the least expensive full-frame dSLR to date: The recently announced Sony Alpha DSLR-A850 is the first 35mm full-frame dSLR to break the $2,000 mark, and will be priced at $1,999.99 when it ships in September.

Though Sony originally pitched the A900 as a camera for "serious photo enthusiasts" rather than professionals, it seems to have changed its tune now that it's coming out with a camera that's actually priced within reach of consumers. Deep-pocketed, extremely motivated consumers, perhaps, but I had a hard time believing that non-professionals would be willing to plunk down $3,000 (the A900's original body-only price). Now that its lineup includes two full-frame dSLRs (both 24.6 megapixels), Sony is talking about how it "offers models in each step from high-end professional down to the amateur enthusiast."

The only problem is that after comparing the specs, any true professional would be hard pressed to justify the extra $700 a A900 costs (especially considering you can get a Canon EOS 5D Mark II for the same $2,700 and get Live View and HD video recording to boot).

The A850, though, is the now the least expensive way to get a full 35mm-size sensor along with the high resolution and image quality (particularly in low light) that it affords.

For a early hands-on take of the A850, check out Imaging Resource's full review.

For a quick specs comparison between the A850, its predecessor the A900, and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II:

Sony Alpha DSLR-A850 Sony Alpha DSLR-A900 Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Price $1999.99 (body only), ships in September $2,699.99 (body only) $2,699 (body only)
Sensor 24.6 megapixels, 35mm full-frame CMOS 24.6 megapixels, 35mm full-frame CMOS 21.1 megapixels, 35mm full-frame CMOS
Continuous Shooting Speed 3 fps 5 fps 3.9 fps
LCD 3-inch, 921,600 pixels (fixed) 3-inch, 921,000 pixels (fixed) 3-inch, 920,000 pixels (fixed)
Autofocus 9-point 9-point 9-point
Sensitivity ISO 100-6400 ISO 100-6400 ISO 100-6400
Live View No No Yes
Storage Media Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, Compact Flash Type I/II Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, Compact Flash Type I/II Compact Flash Type I/II
Movie Mode None None 1920x1080 (30 fps)/640x480 (30 fps)
Dimensions 6.1x4.6x3.3 inches 6.1x4.6x3.3 inches 6.0x4.5x3.0 inches
Weight (body) 30 oz 31.6 oz 28.6 oz

Topics: Processors, Hardware

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  • Folks it's the photographer not the camera.

    Though in the US digital seems to be king I find it difficult to plunk down
    such money to have instant gratification to see my photos and delete
    ones I don't want. Yes I have a Nikon D80 using it professionally.

    Also I have a Nikon N80 and F100, 35 mm SLR. The N80 used cost less
    than $80, the F100 about $300ish. There's my full frame, also scanning
    the 35 mm produces high quality files. Slides to my eyes produce
    superior images to digital. During the past year I've shot more film than
    digital producing high quality photos for clients.
    • Folks it's the photographer

      yes, I agree its always the photographer.
  • I'll never buy another Sony camera.

    Sony's lack of support and drivers has eliminated them
    from my list of companies I will consider a future
    purchase from. Olympus has done the same. I will never
    buy another Camera from either. For me, it boils down to
    Canon and Nikon. I agree with RicD above that it's more
    about the skills of the person and not the camera, but
    that's all a wash if you cant get a working driver for
    the computer you are trying to transfer pics to.
    • Hi I8thecat,

      If you're referring to raw (not RAW) files I agree. Raw is a proprietary
      file format to the particular camera model, not a digital negative. For
      my D70, D70s and D80 raw file reader came with the camera from
      Nikon. Other vendors, Adobe and the like, took a while to create the
      ability to read those Nikon raw files. If you're saying that Sony didn't
      provide a raw file reader/converter then certainly I understand your

      You most likely know this, use a card reader to transfer the files to
      your computer. When you shoot using JPG, JPEG all image programs
      will read those files. When using a DSLR I shoot JPG 99.44% of the

      As for film, when the negatives or slides are processed I have a CD
      created at the same time. Sometimes with negative film I don't have
      the prints created, however I do have a large-file CD created. It
      amazes me that for photos I might have deleted while looking on a
      DSLR 2-3 inch LCD I've found quite interesting pictures in pictures in

      Most folks I know using digital are machine gun shooters. Gosh give a
      monkey a digital camera they will come back with something worth
      while with their hundreds of shutter clicks; skill not needed.

      Digital is fun, fast, shortens the learning curve. After ten years of
      digital I've moved back to film. Oh well to each his own.
  • Sony's Alpha DSLR-A900..........379$

    nice work. But i'm fan of Sony's Alpha DSLR-A900. i found it cheaper. i got it of 379$..

    Any better opinion plzzz share??
  • It's not realy under $2000.00 now is it?

    The recently announced
    Sony Alpha DSLR-A850 is the first 35mm full-frame dSLR to break the $2,000 mark, and will be priced at $1,999.99 when it ships in September.

    Man, when it comes to pricing requirements your not very critical are you?

    At $1999.99, the price is still over $2000.00 once you add the sales tax.

    Personally, I always include tax in a price because that is the real out the door price of a product. So when this camera is below $1800.00, then it is can be said to be under $2000.00 as most State sales tax will not bring it over $2000.00.

    Take care.
  • RE: Sony's Alpha A850: full-frame $2K - but how good is it?

    After 25+ years of lugging around Pentax 6x7s I am transitioning to digital. The latest full frame DSLRs should provide medium-format quality images - at least on paper! The one thing I've noticed is in short supply are head-to-head comparisons for image quality (resolution, color, contrast, aberration) between the DSLRs and 2 or 3 medium-format film cameras. As a final test how about an optimized 20" by 30" of the same challenging scene for each with a report in detail on the results? That would be remarkably useful...
    If you want to go for a grand-slam, compare images using the 'Pro' lenses from Sigma, Tamaron, and Tokina with the in-house lenses from Canon, Nikon, and anyone else that seems to fit... On paper the 35% to 95% more you pay for that Canon 'L' or Nikon lens appears a bit of a stretch if your finances are tight, but then I have some fast Canon FD lenses that remain flawless after 30 years...