A900: First Impressions from an A77 owner

My tumultuous weekend is over. The Charlotte Race for the Cure turned out to be a shooter’s dream. Perfect light, vivid colors. We started early, 5:30am. Here is one of my first shots, a picture of Meg – a breast cancer survivor, pinning a pink ribbon on her husband Jeff.

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Not bad for 5:30am. No flash. It was 1/30s handheld at f/1.4 and ISO 200 with my 85mm f/1.4 lens.

Here is my favorite shot of the day, this is Hope, Meg’s daughter. Meg was diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant with Hope. This was shot with my 85mm f/1.4 at f/2.5, ISO 100.

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I then went to Talladega, which didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. I didn’t move around as much as I probably should have, but I didn’t want to have to pack up my camera bag, my cooler, and a souvenir bag to move around. It didn’t help the place was packed and there weren’t many cautions until the end of the race. It was also cloudy for most of the day. For the most part, I tried to use aperture to get through the catch fence. I did get a good shot of the flyover with the 70-300 G at 300mm f/8, ISO 100:

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And I got 1-2 shots I could use to show people I was there, but nothing I could publish. Here is a driver catching a ride with another driver after the race, I shot with my 70-300 G at 300mm f/5.6, ISO 100.

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You can see the catch fence. Next time I go to Talladega I will get seats higher up.

So now the reason for the post title. I couldn’t pass it up. I saw an A900 for less than what I got my A77 for with about 6000 clicks on it. Almost brand new.

I pulled it out of the box and I was surprised by how big and heavy it really was. I grab the big boy and start moving my finger around the shutter button. Lesson one: the on-off switch is on the back of the body. I turn it on and look through the giant viewfinder. Huge, dark and gloomy. Definitely an optical viewfinder. Lesson two: optical viewfinders need light. I turn on the light in my room. The viewfinder is wide and big. I slap my 85mm lens on and it isn’t my 85mm lens anymore. It is wider. This will take some getting used to.

I snap a couple of shots of my chess board. Loud clicks, shot is blurry. Maybe SteadyShot is off. I look for it in the menu. It is not in the menu. I find the button on the back of the body. Lesson three: SteadyShot has a switch on the back.

Immediately I can see why some of the things on the A77 and upcoming A99 are where they are.

I want to compare the two, both have 24+ MP sensors, but one is Full Frame and one is APS-C. I could try to shoot using the 85mm, use the A77 at 3 meters and the A900 at 2 meters. Instead I start with the 70-300 G lens. I shoot with the A77 at 100mm and the A900 at 150mm. Here are the resulting samples.

Not a scientific test by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe I can do something a little more scientific later. I shot both at ISO 200, f/5.6.

A900 Original:

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A900 Cropped:

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A77 Original:

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A77 Cropped:

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Immediately it is hard to see the differences. The dust on the pieces shows up well on both shots! The red on the A77 looks a little more crimson and the A99 looks more red. The contrast looks slightly different. There is a reflection on the A900 shot which doesn’t show up on the A77 shot. I need more of an apples-to-apples comparison next time.

I decided to shoot something a little different. I like to shoot my little boy in the bathtub. We have a really good light in the bathroom and my little boy is contained.

This is ISO 3200!!

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Very usable, very fixable! Definitely promising.

This is ISO 800.

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Very very clean ISO 800. I haven’t gotten the white balance all the way right yet. Lesson four: White balance is harder with an OVF.

A few more observations. The A77 strap says “A77” and seems to be a bit softer. It may be the amount of use I’ve put into the A77. The continuous drive in the A900 is the real deal, even with the mirror in the way. I’ll be able to live with the 6FPS the A99 has to offer. The A900 RAW shots are 50% larger than the A77 in file size. Not sure why yet. The placement of the buttons is hard to get used to. The A77 makes a ton of sense to me and the button placement on the A900 is confusing to me, but the A77 wasn’t exactly easy for me in the beginning. Hopefully in the days to come I will get an opportunity to get a little more used to the A900.

Next time I will do a comparison of the A77 and A900 and hopefully incorporate a little more scientific means for comparison. I’m thinking yardsticks and the plumb-bob, or something like that. I’ll turn SteadyShot off, set the white balance to the same value, turn all of the settings for correction off, and do apples-to-apples comparisons.

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3 comments on “A900: First Impressions from an A77 owner

  1. Michel Brien says:

    If you shoot A900 in cRaw format, the file size will be much closer to the A77 file size.
    My guess is since there is no cRaw option on A77, it’s RAW format is actually closer to the cRAW of the A900.

    • Everything I read about cRAW made me want to shoot in RAW. I wonder if the A77 isn’t the same RAW? 12 FPS would be a ton harder with 36 MB RAW files. And the A99 files at 14 bits, will they be high too?

  2. […] my first post regarding my use of the A900, I was a little confused and a little excited at the same time. I was […]

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