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)|
|Sensitivity||ISO 100-6400||ISO 100-6400||ISO 100-6400|
|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|