Sony Alpha DSLR-A900 (Body Only) review:

Sony Alpha DSLR-A900 (Body Only)

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MSRP: $2,699.99
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The Good High resolution; in-body image stabilization; nice viewfinder; great accessory system.

The Bad Can't lock focus-point selector; Intelligent Preview button much too easy to hit accidentally; some subpar aspects of performance; no Live View; loud mirror.

The Bottom Line A good first try at a pro-level camera, the Sony Alpha DSLR-A900 has the high resolution but unfortunately lacks some of the performance and usability you expect from a model in its price range.

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CNET Editors' Rating

7.4 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 7.0
  • Image quality 8.0

Sony makes a point of not calling this a "professional" camera, instead referring to it as the "flagship" model of its dSLR line. However, it's priced like a pro model, and its full-frame competitors--the Nikon D700 and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II--are widely, though not exclusively, used by professionals. Finally, with such a high-resolution sensor you need a really sharp, preferably fast lens such as the Zeiss 24-70mm f2.8 we tested it with; lenses such as that are expensive and generally out of reach for all but professionals.

Furthermore, Sony provides some of the most innovative and pro-friendly accessories we've seen, such as its sideways rotating HVL-F58AM flash and VG-C90AM battery grip, which almost exactly mimics the control layout of horizontal operation when shooting vertically. As with other Sony models, the A900 remains compatible with Konica Minolta lenses.

The camera's design is reminiscent of, but not identical to, the DSLR-A700. At just more than 2 pounds, 1 ounce it's hefty, though it's lighter than the Nikon D700 and about the same as the 5D Mark II. A small status display on the top provides some limited information--shutter, aperture, battery, and shots remaining--while the rest of the information appears on the back LCD. Like the A700, the A900 lets you access and edit all your settings directly via that display, which I happen to like. The controls take a bit of getting used to, since many of them look and feel the same, making it hard to remember their locations. It does provide three custom setting slots on the mode dial, which is very useful, and the large, bright viewfinder is a pleasure to use.

The A900 has two seriously crazy-making design flaws, however. First, there's no way to lock the navigation joystick, which you use to shuffle around AF-point selection. If you always use the Spot or Wide AF, which don't move, it shouldn't bother you. But if you use the Local AF like I do, the selected AF point frequently gets changed by accident. Second, the Preview button is also far too easy to trigger accidentally, and when set for the Intelligent Preview it switches the camera into a different mode you have to escape. Everyone I handed the camera to accidentally triggered it. Click through the slide show for more analysis of the A900's design. And while it's not really a design flaw, the A900's mirror is unusually loud.

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