Sony has been getting extreme, with the Alpha range kitting out climber Mike Robertson for a camera adventure. This barmy wall-crawler has been scaling buildings across Britain, including the Blackpool Tower, Newport Transporter Bridge and the rotating Glasgow Tower. At an exhibition to show some of Robertson's dizzying pictures, we felt it wise to keep our feet on the ground and checked out some of the new arrivals to the Alpha range: the Alpha DSLR-A700 and Alpha DSLR-A350.
The A350 is a 14.2-megapixel SLR. Even in our brief time with the model, we were impressed with the speed and accuracy of the autofocus. Even with live view enabled, there wasn't much delay in snapping, thanks to Sony's method of keeping the mirror up while composing using a secondary mirror. Sony claims 2 frames per second with live view running, which sounds about right from the shooting we did.
The A350 is lightweight and sturdy, with image stabilisation and an anti-dust filter, all of which are presumably useful while hanging on to the wrong side of a window 30 stories up in a Birmingham winter. Speaking as someone that comes over all giddy reaching for the liquor shelf, this Craver is happy to leave that sort thing to the professionals.
This side-on view shows the unique fold-out screen. Unlike other cameras with movable screens that adopt the twisty-flexy camcorder form factor, such as the Olympus E-3 or Panasonic DMC-L10, Sony has gone for this concertina-style display. Click through for more on this innovative live view system, and some other Alpha males with a penchant for dangling off buildings. -Rich Trenholm
Here's live view in action on the Alpha DSLR-A350. The fold-out 69mm (2.7-inch) screen gives great coverage when holding the camera down low or up high. This keeps the view reasonably straight down the lens, but it does mean that you can't hold it out to the side. So no snapping around corners.
No live view on the Alpha A700, but the screen does give access to a whole world of features. Here we were investigating the bracketing features, with this menu allowing us to adjust dynamic range across a number of simultaneous shots. Widening dynamic range is a new buzzword in the camera world, and this is just one of the features that saw us so impressed with the A700 in our recent review.
Sony is sticking with the proprietary Memory Stick format, sadly, but if you have a Sony Ericsson phone that's probably no big deal. Still, there's room for CompactFlash in there too.