The 24.6-megapixel Alpha A900 is Sony's first full-frame digital SLR and is aimed at professional photographers, especially studio-based pros looking for the ultimate in high resolution.
Similarities to A700
Cosmetically, the A900 treads much the same path as its A700 sibling, and again not straying too far from the Konica Minolta template. In fact, you could almost mistake the back of the Dynax 7D for that of the A900, given how little Sony has deviated from the former’s control and button arrangement. Standard operational controls – such as menu, display and playback – sit along the left of the LCD screen, while the metering mode lever, power switch and Super SteadyShot button are both similarly placed and orientated to previous models. The changes Sony has made from the A700 are slight at best, such as with the design of the thumb rest and labelling of functions, though the camera is slightly wider and its connective ports now encroach slightly further onto the rear from the left-hand side.
The jewel in the crown is the viewfinder, and being the largest we’ve seen yet on an Alpha model we’d expect it to make an impression on the top plate. Bucking the smoother and more organic contours of similar models, the prism sits proudly in a pyramid-like fashion, with defined edges and a peak at its apex. Next to this we see a small LCD screen, which displays basic exposure information, while the other side plays host to a mode dial, offering basic exposure modes and three customisable settings.
How this all translates to handling is a varied matter. The camera isn’t exactly heavy, but feels no less solid than its competitors, while all buttons are clearly defined and access to main functions is either direct or pretty close. The A900’s connective port covers are more solid than the slightly flimsy ones of the Nikon D700, and it’s hard not to appreciate how extensively the body has been rubberised in order to provide a secure hold.
The grip has, however, been contoured to fit only two fingers, which can place more strain than usual on your little finger after a day’s shooting. We also found the camera not entirely accommodating to left-eye shooting, spectacle wearers, in that to see both the entire viewfinder and the exposure information along its base requires one to press one’s face right up against the back of the viewfinder, which puts the nose in close contact with the rear command wheel, thereby increasing the chances of accidentally changing the autofocus point while using the Local AF mode.