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

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.

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