A900: Second impressions from an A77 owner

In my first post regarding my use of the A900, I was a little confused and a little excited at the same time. I was excited to have the A900 in my hands. The legendary 100% coverage of the big beautiful Optical Viewfinder. I had been spoiled by the A77 Electronic Viewfinder, which is my own personal HD monitor for framing photographs. I knew I wasn’t going to get the full “what you see is what you get” experience anymore with the A900. I also knew I wasn’t going to have the translucent mirror in the way of my light, so the high-ISO shots of the A900 were almost guaranteed to be better. And I was truly excited to see the edges of my 85mm f/1.4 Z lens.

The day I got the A900 I broke my A77. I lost a handle on it while I was changing lenses and put my thumbnail through the translucent mirror. Now my A77 is being delivered to the Sony service center. Luckily I had the A900.

As much as I may miss the features the A77 has to offer over the A900, I don’t use them as much. If anything, the features are nice to have, but not mandatory. The A77 has great IQ in good light, and it is blazing fast.

The A900 is no slouch either. My A77 has the luxury of a 32GB card, whereas I only have an 8GB card in the A900 and the A900 RAW files are about 50% larger. So until I buy another card, I am constrained to about 210 RAW shots. I may have to pick and choose my battles if I don’t pick up another card. The A900 in continuous burst mode is really fast. It is super loud and the mirror does slap a bit, but it is fast enough. I went through the exercise of taking the same types of shots with the A900 as I would with the A77 and the card filled up quicker than I knew it.

Here is a shot taken of some porcelain berries with my A77:

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This was shot at 150mm, f/5.6, and ISO 200 on my 70-300 G lens.

Now a similar type of shot with the A900:

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This shot was 300mm on the 70-300 G at f/5.6 and ISO 400. One thing I have noticed is I have had to get used to the distance I am shooting at for the shot I am framing. Especially on my 85mm lens. The 85mm lens has a minimum distance of about 3 feet. Since the A77 has 50% of the frame size, I want to get closer with the A900 and I can’t because the lens doesn’t discriminate. As a result, more gets in to the shot. This can be a good thing or a great thing as you can see above, as I have to be a little more conscious of what I am framing.

Here is the same shot, cropped 66.67% of the size to reflect what would happen if I took the same shot with the A77 standing in the same place.

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One of my favorite subjects in my front yard is my Japanese maple trees. They are completely different than the other trees I have as they are bright beautiful red or orange in the spring and a bold green in the fall. This contrast makes them a great candidate for shooting. One of my favorite shots of all time is this shot taken with my A77.

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This was taken with my 85mm lens at f/4.5 and ISO 100 in the middle of May with my A77.

I took this shot yesterday in the middle of October with the same lens mounted on the A900.

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This was shot at f/2.5 at ISO 200. Other than the leaves being partially eaten by insects, the subject is the same. But I probably stood a little closer with the A900 as I took this shot and reduced it to 66.67% of it’s original size to show what the A77 would have gotten frame-wise from the same shot.

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This is more or less the same shot the A77 would have produced had I been standing in the same place. Chances are, I would have taken a half step back so the leaves would be in the frame.

Another sample is this shot taken with the 70-300G with my A77:

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This was at f/5.6, 120mm and ISO 200. I took a different shot with the A900 with the same lens of another part of the same subject.

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This was also taken at f/5.6 and ISO 200, but at 210mm. Had I used the A77, I would have needed to shoot at 140mm.

So far I am enjoying the A900. The quick-navi feature is slick and I hope to find something similar in the A77 when I get it back. It just seems like something I didn’t know the A77 had. Basically you hit the Fn button and then you can joystick to change any of the settings. I do not miss the position of the Movie record button. I kind of miss the flexible LCD screen. The real test will be when I break it out to shoot something moving. I hope to put the high-ISO settings to the test this weekend. Until then, have a good Friday.

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