The Sony a850 is a pro-spec, stripped-down version of the Sony a900. As the most affordable full-frame DSLR to the market, does the Sony Alpha a850 really open full-frame shooting to the masses? The What Digital Camera Sony Alpha DSLR-a850 review finds out...

Product Overview

Overall rating:


Sony Alpha a850

Overall score:87%
Image Quality:90%


  • Most affordable full-frame DSLR to market, Intelligent Preview


  • Too closely priced to a900, Intelligent Preview button poorly placed, auto white balance inconsistent, no in-built flash/live view/video mode


Sony Alpha a850 Review


Price as reviewed:



Sony a850 product shot front leftThe a850 pleases yet perplexes in equal measure. It’s certainly a fine camera, like the a900 before (and still currently above) it, yet one that seems a little misplaced in the market place.

If its price point really undercut the competition then it’d be a genius proposition to full-frame hungry consumers. But despite the removal of the in-camera remote, lowering the burst rate and shaving 2% from the viewfinder’s field of view the effective monetary compensation is somewhat paltry.

The a900 was, by and large, a superb studio camera thanks to its 24.6MP count, but lacked low-light capabilities to the same standard of some of the competition. What the next generation of Sony DSLR is really waiting for is the implementation of the Sony’s backlit ‘Exmor R’ technology – something that lacks here and leaves the a850 in a curious position of offering nothing ‘new’.

In effect there’s an argument to bag an a900 over this newer, less-equipped venture each and every time. That is unless, of course, your savvy shopping locates it at a sensible price that trounces its initial RRP.

The a850 is a solid piece of kit that pulls down the full-frame DSLR price-point by a whisker, but otherwise sadly lacks that anticipated next-level punch and, as such, feels like a bit of a gap-filler in Sony’s newly and rapidly expanding DSLR range.


ISO:200-3200 (100-6400 extendable)
White Balance:Auto / Daylight / Shade / Cloudy / Tungsten / Fluorescent / Flash / Custom
Lens Mount:Sony a mount, Compatible with A-Mount Minolta/Konica Minolta lenses
Exposure Comp:±3EV, 1/3 or 1/2 steps
Memory Card:CF / Memory Stick (not simultaneous use)
Built-in Flash:No, hotshoe for external flash or commander only
PC Socket:Yes
Compression:Std / Fine / X.Fine (JPEG) // cRaw (compressed Raw) also available
Cable Release:Yes
Viewfinder Type:Fixed eye-level system with optical glass type pentaprism
White Balance Bracket:Yes, 3 frames, selectable 2 steps
AF Points:9-point
Colour Temp Control:2500 – 9900 Kelvin
Field of View:98% approx, 0.74x magnification
LCD:3in 921K-dot tilt screen
Output Size:6048 x 4032 pixels
Sensor:24.6MP Full-frame (35.9 x 24mm) Exmor CMOS
Max Flash Sync:1/250th second
Dust Reduction:Yes, Double anti dust system (anti-static coating and sensor shift mechanism
Focal Length Mag:1x
DoF Prview:Yes
Built-in Image Stabilisation:Yes, sensor-shift SteadyShot
Metering System:40-segment honeycomb-pattern SPC
Movie Mode:No
Live Mode:No
Exposure Modes:PASM, Auto, 3 user-defined slots available (13 in-camera Creative Styles)
Weight:Approx. 850g
Connectivity:HDMI (c-type port), USB 2.0
Power:NP-FM500H rechargeable li-ion battery
File Format:JPEG, Raw, cRaw, Raw + JPEG, cRaw + JPEG
Dimensions:156.3 x 116.9 x 81.9 mm
Focusing Modes:AF-S, AF-A, AF-C, MF
Shutter Speeds:30 – 1/8000th second, plus Bulb
Drive Mode:Single, Continuous, 10sec. / 2sec. Self-timer, Single AE bracketing, Continuous AE bracketing, White Balance Bracketing, DRO Advanced Bracketing, Mirror lock up, Remote commander (external)
Colour Space:sRGB, Adobe RGB
  1. 1. Sony Alpha a850 review - Features
  2. 2. Design
  3. 3. Performance
  4. 4. Image Quality & Value
  5. 5. Verdict
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