Sony has released a firmware update for the Alpha 700, from version 1.00 (as supplied) to version 2.00, and an updater for Image Data Converter 2.0 SR.
The update is available as either Mac or Windows archive, and unpacks to an application file about 4.5MB in size which must be copied on to a blank memory card formatted in the camera. The presence of any image folders or the MISC folder on this card will prevent the upgrade running; you should format a card then use it to copy the upgrade app straight on to the root directory (not inside the DCIM folder). It is also possible to upgrade via USB. We recommend always upgrading firmware using the memory card method.
The link for the European firmware version is:
The upgrade process, from an Extreme IV card, took exactly one minute to complete.
Sony claim three main areas of improvement:
* The picture sharpness is better under low contrast conditions.
* Noise is reduced when working at high sensitivity ISO setting.
* The flash control is better at close range with a non-ADI control lens.
We can confirm that ISO 3200 and 6400 JPEGs seem improved. ISO 1600 has a slightly finer noise pattern but it is hard to say positively that this is better. ISO 400 and 800 appear either unchanged, or slightly modified without significanltly lowering the visual level of JPEG noise. The raw file, when processed using Adobe Camera Raw, was not altered in terms of the problems ACR4.2 creates with anything over ISO 800.
In the comparison above, the new firmware 6400 speed version is on the left, the old version 1.00 on the right. In both cases LOW high ISO NR is set on the camera. When loaded, the new firmware will reset the frame counter to zero. For ISO 6400 on neutrals/shadows these quick before and after shots show decent quality. The main benefit appears to be lower chroma noise in neutral midtones.
The other aspects are not so easily tested and we will take Sony’s word for them.
The upgrade for IDC 2.0 is at:
On specific issue it corrects is the appearance of ‘mosaic patterns’ with higher ISO shots. It also improves colour rendering with different creative styles and gives a more accurate before-after split screen comparison mode.