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Past Article Calendar

February 2008
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Alpha 900 may (not!) have Live View

The prototype ‘Flagship’ Alpha DSLR, with its 24 megapixel sensor, may offer live view – almost certainly off the sensor. Sony prototype (it is still officially in that state) product photographs reveal what looks like an extra button or sliding switch – and at least one rumour states that this is definitely for live view.

Flagship Alpha live view button

This image is a section of the studio shot distorted vertically in Photoshop to show, more accurately, the sliding switch and the icon next to it.

But… this could all be nonsense, as the symbol also looks suspiciously like one for TURNING ON THE TOP LCD LIGHT…

So much for rumours!

Here is the original shot (not to full size, go to Sony’s websites to download one of those).

Flagship with 24-70mm

How about the rest of the good news? The redesign looks good, better shape to the prism. The top plate LCD is not the cramped, crippled travesty of an information display found on most current DSLRs. It uses BIG clear information to show basic settings, not a host of tiny symbols and hard to read info (and that button is for illumination, allowing you to work in dark situations without needing the visible light of the rear screen to give your position away). It’s in real Minolta vintage tradition. And so is that mode dial, featuring the 1-2-3 Memory settings from the 7/7D. Nothing could be more useful to the professional – I use the memory positions on my 7D and they make studio work a cinch. I have memory 1 set to my studio-table average meter readings for flash-lit product shots and it saves any worry at all about getting it wrong.

As for the rest, we must wait and see. SSS is included, and given that the 24-70mm has a 77mm front filter thread, you will realise this is a big mother of a DSLR body despite not being a brick. I don’t like bricks (1D etc) where the grip can not be removed. This big body may be needed because the shutter is oversized to allow true full frame SSS. If the shutter is a proprietary unit (Seikosha, etc) then there is either some ‘vignetting’ likely when using SSS or there is a cropped frame mode down to something like 1.1X, maybe even tighter, to allow SSS with a regular 24 x 36mm ‘gate’. The original Minolta AS claimed 5mm maximum movement off axis in all directions. That would mean having a shutter about the same size as a 6 x 4.5cm rollfilm camera. Such shutters exist (clue: they are already used in rollfilm cameras!) and maybe Sony has sourced an assembly like the Mamiya ZD shutter unit to allow full frame SSS. The Pentax 645 shutter unit is probably smaller overall and better suited to inclusion in a 35mm sized body.

But – it probably looks as if the ‘Alpha 900’ (imaginary name for a very real product which will compete at Canon 5D successor price level) will have the mandatory live view. Or a nice greeny light for that LCD.

– David Kilpatrick

6 comments to Alpha 900 may (not!) have Live View

  • admin

    Canon 5D replacement level would be more accurate. The 5D has dropped in price to almost half since its launch, and of course no-one expects the A900 to compete at that – the 5D barely costs more than the A700 right now. But the 5D is due for an update, and that should come in at $3500 or so. This is the suggest body price hinted at by Sony for the flagship camera.


  • Stef

    David- thanks for the article.
    You are saying “…it probably looks as if the ‘Alpha 900′ (imaginary name for a very real product which will compete at Canon 5D successor price level)”. This is very good news but I had thought that they would price the A900 much higher than the Canon 5D?

  • admin

    I think it may be an 80-400mm f4 or perhaps f3.5-4.5 variable aperture. I don’t think it will be f6.3 but the dimensions might just mean an f4-5.6. It looks big enough to be an f4, which would require 105mm filters. An f5.6 would still be much faster than the previous 100-400mm f4.5-6.3, and would take (presumably) 77mm filters. But it really looks pretty large, and f4.5 is at least a realistic possibility (92mm filters).

    Bear in mind we are seeing a lens without a tripod mount/handgrip. That implies you can hang it off the camera. The impression of size may be misplaced. If it is light enough to hang of the camera, and small enough to hand hold, maybe 80-100mm f4-5.6 is a realistic expectation.


  • alexramos

    Hi David, good article…

    David, do you know the dimensions of the super telezoom (black) that Sony show us??

    Do you think that this super telezoom would be a 100-400mm f/4 SSM?? or what do yo think about it??

  • braeside

    Surely a nice orangey light for the LCD 😉

  • It does look sorta like a push w/slidelock backlight switch…My main concern is price point as I am sure this baby will be nice. You had to know Sony would do FF SSS!