Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 Reviewed
The mid-ranged A700 gets a lookover by MacWorld. What did they think?
Sony has made some quality steps into the world of digital photographer but they seem to have trouble overcoming the legacy that Canon and Nikon have. Sony cameras don’t have nearly the lens options that the two big companies have.
The Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 is close to being a strong competitor in the DSLR market. It can produce good images, but it’s obvious when using the camera that Sony does not have the legacy of interface development that Canon and Nikon have. The DSLR-A700 has enough handling quirks to frustrate photographers, especially those who suddenly find themselves in a photo opportunity.
And here’s a more in-depth look at what they said.
The DSLR-A700 is well made and sturdy; like the Olympus E-3 that it competes with, it offers weather sealing that helps it withstand dust and moisture. The handgrip has good moldings that make for a firm grip and easy handling. Like the DSLR-A100K, the DSLR-A700 has a good number of external controls and buttons. In general, you won’t have to dive into a menu to adjust basic shooting functions. However, some of the controls, like drive mode, white balance, and ISO, are difficult to reach without changing your grip on the camera, whether you’re looking through the viewfinder or not. This slows down shooting and makes the camera more cumbersome than it needs to be.
A mode dial on the top of the camera lets you change from program mode to priority and manual modes, as well as to custom scene modes. Exposure compensation, ISO, white balance, drive mode, and program shift can all be set from external controls.
Unfortunately, the viewfinder doesn’t show ISO settings. You have to frustratingly move your eye from the viewfinder to change ISO; if you’re looking through the viewfinder, you’ll find that the ISO control is not positioned for easy access.
The camera lacks a top-mounted status display; its 3-inch rear LCD is used to display camera settings. The DSLR-A700’s LCD offers high resolution and a bright display that’s easy to see in sunlight. That said, I still prefer a dedicated status display; they’re easier to see and you don’t have to figure out how to turn them on and off.
The problem with using the LCD for status is that when you look through the viewfinder, there’s a bright screen shining in your eye. Sony addresses this problem with a proximity sensor that automatically turns the screen on and off as you put the camera to your eye. This works well most of the time, but there are still times when the LCD screen becomes a distraction. For example, if you’re looking through the viewfinder and you activate the Exposure Compensation control, the LCD lights up. In low light, the bright screen can obscure your view.
It seems that while Sony is knocking on the door they’ll need a few years before they can seriously challenge Nikon and Canon in the DSLR market.