Sony announced the a700 on September 6, 2007. The new a700 is available in body only, kit w/ 18-70mm lens or kit w/ 16-105mm lens. You can find the original press release here.
Sony A700 Key Features
- 12.24 megapixel CMOS sensor
- BIONZ image processor
- 11 point autofocus system
- ISO 6400
- 5fps (for 17 shots in RAW mode)
- 1/8000th shutter speed
- 3 inch LCD screen (with 921,000 pixels)
- Optional battery grip
- Wireless Flash support
- Both MemoryStick and CompactFlash cards supported w/ dual slots
Sony A700 Reviews
Don’t be fooled by the hype that Nikon and Canon are the only two ‘serious’ competitors in the DSLR market because with the Alpha A700, Sony are undoubtedly making a push for the front.
This camera has the ergonomics, ease of use, and overall quality I have always had with Minolta’s high end film cameras.
Professional Photographer Magazine
The The Sony ? (Alpha) DSLR-A700 is a solid piece of equipment that combines strong performance with affordability. I reviewed the Sony’s original DSLR, the A100, and liked it, and the A700 is a step up. It has a higher-resolution sensor, is more responsive and feels better built.
Offering a compelling combination of intuitive design and handling, sophisticated functionality and excellent image quality, the Sony A700 is an easy DSLR camera to recommend. Being based so clearly upon a previous Konica Minolta camera has given Sony the benefits of an already installed user-base, eager for a new body to use their lenses with, and a proven design on which to build.
A major advancement for Sony over the last year has been the development of the ‘Exmor’ CMOS sensor. You can expect great images from the Sony DSLR-A700 from ISO 100 through ISO 800, and ISO 1600 is more than useable. The noise at ISO 3200 is not great however, becoming fairly useless when pushed to the ISO 6400 limit. It’s not so much the noise that’s an issue at this ultra high sensitivity – it’s the colour shift being much bluer and flatter due to the excess noise.
Overall then the A700 is a good performer with good overall image quality with a nice range of features – even if on the negative side there are some quirky design decisions which may or may not affect you. Best of all though is the fact that it weighs in at the lower end of the price band for this category of DSLR, that makes it about $400 less than the Nikon D300 and $300 less than the Olympus E-3.
It’s fast 5 fps frame rate and focus acquisition are easily on par with the 20/30D (which is my reference for comparison as I have used them for years) making it a joy to use for fast paced sports or news coverage. The A700 has a great viewfinder – large and bright, it’s also easy to see the outer frame with the information overlay through the eyepiece even with glasses and most importantly, with sunglasses. The camera is heavy, and very solid, inspiring confidence in its long-term durability, and comfortable to hold for extended shoots.
With their Alpha DSLR-A700, Sony has created a midrange digital SLR that keeps up with the “big boys”. The A700 offers an excellent mix of photo quality, performance, features, and build quality — not to mention support for legacy Minolta lenses. Yes, it’s lacking the live view feature of its competitors, but I don’t really miss it, to be honest. While I don’t see Canon and Nikon owners rushing to eBay to sell their gear to buy the A700, it’s a great D-SLR for those with a collection of Minolta lenses. I enjoyed my time with the DSLR-A700, and can recommend it without hesitation.
While the Alpha 100 was Sony’s first dSLR camera and the result of its acquisition of Konica Minolta’s camera division, the A700 is much more stamped as a Sony camera, and probably indicates the company’s intention to anchor itself solidly in the dSLR market segment. Still, although Sony products tend to command a premium, the A700’s price point places it in direct competition with very well established dSLR systems and lacks the Live View function adopted by most others, things that could hinder its success.
Having produced what is arguably the best entry-level DSLR on the market in the A100, Sony has followed it up with another outstanding camera. The A700 is a superb tool for the enthusiast or semi-professional photographer, providing high quality results in almost any conditions. The combination of rugged durability, fast performance, a class-leading AF system, on-board image stabilisation and great handling will prove hard to beat.
It also focuses faster than the Canon EOS 40D, Nikon D80, and Nikon D200 down to EV 4, then gives up a fraction of a second at EV 2 through -1. It’s slower than the Canon at EV -2, but faster than the Nikons. And it focuses faster at all light levels than either the Pentax K10D or the Olympus Evolt E-510.
My conclusion after extensively using the Sony DSLR-A700 in practice and testing it thoroughly can be short. Sony’s Alpha 700 is a beautiful DSLR and offers the demanding photographer as well as the amateur a perfect tool to practice photography on a high level. The camera is not perfect but if you put some effort in getting to know the camera and making it part of your digital work environment, you will soon find that you have a refined DSLR camera in your hands. If you are looking for a new DSLR or ready to get acquainted with an advanced camera system you definitely ought to put the Sony Alpha 700 on your wish list.
A top-of-the-line amateur digital SLR camera, the Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 will delight Konica Minolta diehards and makes a great choice if you don’t already have a stake in other lens systems.
Even though Sony says the “DSLR-A700 is the perfect DSLR for serious amateurs” I found nothing amateur about this camera. In fact it elevates the “Prosumer” definition and will have the other manufactures working to catch up.
What do I mean by that you say? How about the continuous 5 FPS advance at full 12.24 megapixel resolution? And what about the high-speed processing power of the Bionz™ engine, a quick-response coreless motor to drive the shutter, and dual mirror stoppers to prevent mirror bounce? All this enables the a 700 to shoot continuously to the limit of available memory in JPEG Fine mode. Not too amateur at that.
Despite taking a while to produce this camera, in the DSLR-A700 Sony has delivered a camera that enthusiasts can enjoy with features that will be of value to many professional photographers. A nice step up from the A100, it goes head-to-head against Canon’s recently-released EOS 40D and Nikon’s D300, which is expected in November.
e-Photographia hands-on preview (with test shots):
I’m not really convinced by the image quality. Nevertheless, this is not the final production firmware, so let’s not judge too hastily.
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It seems to mee that there’s just too much noise reduction.
When we later viewed some of the images (unenhanced) on big HDTV screens, it was clear from the sharp, saturated images that the cameras were working very well.
DPReview.com has a thorough hands-on preview of the new a700.
Camera Labs (pre-production preview)
The Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 is certainly an impressive DSLR and a significant step-up from the debut A100. It proves Sony can produce a camera tailored for higher-end enthusiasts while also incorporating the neat gadgets we’ve come to expect from the electronics giant.
Sony A700 Sample Images
Sony Japan sample images.
Photoclub Alpha – More High ISO Samples (ISO 3200-6400)
Real World Sample Set (includes ISO 6400 shots)
Official Sony A700 Resources
Sony a700 product page.
Sony A700 Accessories
Sony VG-C70AM Alpha Vertical Grip
Where to Buy
If you’re buying online, I recommend sticking with Amazon, B&H Photo or Adorama. These three vendors are reliable, trustworthy and generally have the best (legitimate) prices.
The A700 has performed fantastically for me sincecoming from the Sony A100 and KM5D. The A700 is simply in a league above those two cameras.
If you would like to see the A700 real world performance on hundreds of photographic situations feel free to take a look at my A700 images, many of them with 100% crops.