The Sony Alpha Range for Professionals
In order for the Alpha range to be taken seriously, Sony had to make sure that it catered to all photographers. This meant that professional digital cameras were an important and necessary addition. The introduction of the Sony A900 and the recent Sony A850, ensured just that. Nikon and Canon had long dominated this sector of the market, so it was important that Sony could offer a credible alternative to what was available, in order to try and persuade professional photographers to adopt the Sony Alpha line of cameras and lenses.
Sony Alpha 900
Unveiled in September 2008, the A900 was the first Sony Alpha pro camera to be introduced to the Sony range of digital cameras. Its headline feature was a huge 24.6 megapixel full frame sensor that offers near unbeatable resolution, especially at low ISOs. The all metal body encases two image processors that help process those high resolution files quickly and efficiently, and ensure a respectable 5 frame per second continuous shooting rate. Weather sealing is included so the camera can be used in a variety of outdoor conditions. The Sony A900 has a great 3 inch high resolution LCD screen on the back of the camera, and a useful LCD on top of the body for a quick check of the camera settings. However, unlike some of the top of the range Nikons, or pro level Canons, there is no live view, HD movie mode or pop up flash included with the Sony A900. This is more of an issue to some types of photographers than others, but if this is something you cannot live without, you will need to look at other manufacturers. Otherwise, this is still a fine pro camera.
Sony Alpha 850
A year later, in September of 2009, a second model was added to the Sony Alpha pro line of cameras - the Sony A850. At $2000 for the body only, it was the lowest price from any manufacturer for a full frame digital camera. The Sony A850 is based on the Sony A900, but with a few compromises to help lower the price of this model. How is it different? The continuous shooting mode is reduced from 5fps to 3fps, the viewfinder now has a 98% coverage instead of 100% on the Sony A900, and no wireless remote trigger is included as standard. Otherwise, these cameras are very much the same, and that means that the Sony A850 represents great value for money, because you will save around $700 compared to the A900. So, if you are looking for the best value pro Sony camera, then this could well be it.
Both the Sony A900 and A850 represent a significant step up from midrange Alphas, the A500, A550 and A700, but they may not meet the needs of all photographers. Sports photographers, for example, will likely demand more than the 5fps offered by the A900. However, landscape and studio photographers will very much appreciate the high resolution images that these professional cameras can deliver. So, while the Sony A850 and A900 may not appeal to all professionals, there will still likely be enough interest in these cameras to ensure the continued success of the Sony Alpha pro range of DSLRs.
This post is part of the series: A Sony Alpha DSLR Buyer’s Guide: Entry Level Models
A review of the most recent digital SLRs from the Sony Alpha lineup. Everything from the original A100, to the top of the range A900, is included in this digital camera buyer’s guide.