Sony announces second full-frame DSLR, priced around $2,000

Alpha 850 uses same sensor as 900 and offers identical image quality

When Sony announced the Alpha 850 full-frame DSLR, its second, nearly a year after unveiling its first DSLR, they were able to do so while retaining all of the original camera's features. The 24.6MP sensor is identical—as is image quality, according to lab test results released yesterday by DxoMark. The 850 retains almost all the Sony Alpha 900's features, including Dynamic Range Optimizer, body-integrated anti-shake at the sensor, and a 3-inch, 921,000 LCD monitor.


Slide show: Sony Alpha 850
(Click on icon on lower right to view full-screen)


The compromises are in the camera's burst rate and the optical viewfinder. The burst rate is 3 fps, down from the 900's 5 fps, and the optical viewfinder coverage is 98% instead of 100%. At the same time, Sony also announced a 28-75mm SAM lens that is expected to ship in November around $800. All Sony Alpha 900 accessories will be compatible with the 850, as well as legacy Minolta lenses and flashes. The Sony Alpha 850 will be available in November for around $2,000, making it the least expensive full-frame, 20MP and up DSLR on the market (for now, at least).


For details and complete specifications, read the Sony USA press release:


SAN DIEGO — Aimed at experienced shooters looking for value and sophisticated SLR performance, Sony today introduced the full-frame α (alpha) DSLR-A850 camera and a new 28-75mm F2.8 lens. 

The α850 model shares the same 24.6 megapixel sensor and most features of the flagship α900 camera, introduced last year, but will be available for just under $2000 (body only).

“Sony is bringing the benefits of a full-frame digital SLR camera to a broader group of consumers,” said Kristen Elder, director of the Digital Imaging business at Sony Electronics. “The α850 strengthens Sony’s alpha DSLR line, which now offers models in each step from high-end professional down to the amateur enthusiast.”

The α850 camera is designed to deliver ultra-fine picture quality with a high resolution, 24.6-megapixel, 35-mm full-frame Exmor™ CMOS sensor and fast image processing with dual BIONZ™ processing engines. It also offers high-speed continuous shooting of 24.6 megapixel images at up to three frames per second.

Ultra-Fine Images

The camera’s Exmor CMOS sensor delivers the photographic expressive power of wide angles and perspective that only a 35 mm full-frame sensor can offer, and is designed to take advantage of the resolving power of high-precision alpha lenses. Its high pixel count and large size provide enhanced image detail and a wider dynamic range for natural color reproduction and subtle tonal gradations.

Image processing gets a boost in speed and power from two BIONZ processing engines. Large amounts of data captured by the 24.6-megapixel sensor can be quickly processed to achieve a fast shooting response. Additionally, this dual BIONZ system applies advanced noise reduction algorithms producing images of exceptional quality and detail, especially at high ISO sensitivities.

Capture the Right Shot the First Time

The camera’s innovative intelligent preview function takes the guesswork out of setting up a shot and the hassle of taking multiple shots to achieve a desired effect.

After pressing the depth of field preview button, the camera “grabs” a RAW

preview image which is processed and displayed on the LCD screen. You can then fine tune white balance, determine the best level and effect of dynamic range optimization, adjust exposure compensation and check histogram data, all before you actually take the picture. Preview images are not recorded on the camera’s memory card, thus saving capacity.

The camera’s autofocus system features nine sensors with 10 assist points for improved tracking of moving subjects. A center dual cross sensor comprised of two horizontal and two vertical line sensors as well as a dedicated f/2.8 sensor are included to achieve greater precision, especially when using fast-aperture lenses.

Ultra-Bright Viewfinder with 98 Percent Coverage

The ultra-bright viewfinder with 98 percent field of view coverage and 0.74x magnification enables accurate framing and preview. It features a high-power condenser lens, an eyepiece with high reflective-index glass, and a multi-layer, anti-reflective coating on optical surfaces to deliver its extraordinarily bright view.

A mirror box features a parallel-link mirror mechanism that moves on two horizontal axes to accommodate both the large full frame mirror and the body-integrated image stabilization system without increasing the camera’s size.

Anti-Shake System for a Full-Frame Sensor

With its body-integrated SteadyShot INSIDE™ image stabilization, the camera achieves an anti-shake effect equivalent to shutter speeds faster by 2.5 to 4 stops. The anti-shake system stabilizes all Sony, Minolta and Konica-Minolta compatible lenses even wide angle or large aperture lenses.

Versatility to Unleash Creative Possibilities

Other key features aimed to expand creative options include the Dynamic Range Optimizer (DRO) with five levels of user-selectable correction as well as DRO bracketing for enhanced scene analysis and graduation optimization. EV bracketing with ±2EV range makes it easy to create high dynamic range composite images.

With the camera’s HDMI™ output and Photo TV HD mode, your creative output can be enjoyed on a compatible HD television. This mode brings the look of actual printed photography to the television, by fine-tuning such image parameters as sharpness, gradation, and color reproduction.

The a850 model features a 3-inch (diagonally), Xtra Fine LCD™ screen (921K) making it possible to check focus and image quality with accuracy. It incorporates an easy-to-see display with a quick navigation menu to easily access common functions without interrupting your creative flow. A backlit LCD panel sits on top of the camera and displays key settings.

The camera includes dedicated slots for high-capacity Memory Stick PRO Duo™, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo™, HX series and CompactFlash® media.

Bright Lens  

The choice of full-frame lenses to complement the α850 model is enhanced with the new SAL2875 28-75mm F2.8 SAM lens. This compact, easy-to-carry lens is ideal for photo enthusiasts looking to add a bright, general purpose zoom to their collection of full-frame optics.

Delivering excellent imaging quality at an accessible price, it offers a wide F2.8 aperture over its entire zoom range. Ideal for day-to-day shooting tasks, its bright constant aperture makes the 28-75mm F2.8 SAM particularly valuable for depth-of-field control and available-light portraits.

Pricing and Availability

The a850 (model DSLR-A850) will be available in September for about $2,000 (body only) along with related accessories. All a900 accessories are compatible with the a850 camera, including the dedicated vertical grip (model VG-C90AM). The SAL2875 lens will be available in November for about $800.

Sony A850 DSLR complete specifications

Price (body only)     
• $2,000

Price (with 28-75mm SAM lens)    
• $ 2800

Body material: Magnesium Body
• 35.9 x 24.0 mm CMOS sensor 'Exmor'
• RGB Color Filter Array
• Built-in fixed low-pass filter
• 25.7 million total pixels
• 24.6 million effective pixels
• On-chip Column A/D Conversion & NR

Image sizes [Still]    
• 6048 x 4032 (24M 3:2)
• 4400 x 2936 (13M 3:2)
• 3024 x 2016 (6.1M 3:2)
• 6048 x 3408 (21M 16:9)
• 4400 x 2472 (11M 16:9)
• 3024 x 1704 (5.2M 16:9)
• 3924 x 2656 (11M APSC)
• 2896 x 1928 (5.6M APSC)
• 1984 x 1320 (2.6M APSC)

File qualities / formats    
• RAW (.ARW 2.0)
• Compressed or uncompressed RAW option
• RAW + JPEG Fine
• JPEG Extra Fine
• JPEG Fine
• JPEG Standard

Dust reduction    
• Charge protection coating on low-pass filter
• CCD-shift dust reduction mechanism

• Sony Alpha lenses
(also compatible with Minolta A-type bayonet mount lenses)
• Can be used with DT (1.5x crop) lenses in APS-C mode

FOV crop:     1.0 x

Image Stabilization
• CCD-Shift ' SteadyShot INSIDE' system
• Five level LED shake indicator in viewfinder
• Claimed equivalent to 2.5 EV- 4 EV steps in shutter speed

Auto Focus    
• TTL CCD line sensors (9-points, center dual cross types + 10 assist sensors)
• EV 0 to 18 (ISO 100) detection range
• Predictive focus control for moving subjects

AF area selection    
• Wide AF area
• Spot AF area (center)
• Focus area selection (any of 9)

Focus modes    
• Single-shot AF
• Direct Manual Focus
• Continuous AF
• Automatic AF
• Manual focus
• AF micro adjustment (+/- 20 steps for up to 30 lenses)

AF assist illuminator    
• Yes (built-in LED lamp)
• Range approx 1m - 7m

Eye-start AF:     No

Shooting modes    
• Auto
• Programmed Auto (with shift)
• Aperture priority AE
• Shutter priority AE
• Manual
• MR (memory recall) / Custom

• Auto (200 - 1600) - upper/lower limit selectable *
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800
• ISO 1600
• ISO 3200
• ISO 100,ISO 125,ISO 160, ISO 4000, ISO 5000, ISO 6400 (expanded range)

Metering modes    
• Multi-segment (40 segment Honeycomb pattern)
• Center-weighted
• Spot

Metering range    
• TTL metering
• 40-segment honeycomb-pattern SPC
• EV 0 to 20 (Multi-segment / Center-weighted)
• EV 2 to 20 (Spot metering)
(at ISO 100 with F1.4 lens)

AE Lock    
• AEL button (customizable)
• Half-press shutter release

AE Bracketing    
• Single or continuous bracketing
• 3 or 5 frames
• 0.3, 0.5, 0.7 or 2.0 EV steps*
*2.0 EV steps for 3 frames only

Exposure compen.    
• -3.0 to +3.0 EV
• 0.3 or 0.5 EV steps

Shutter:     Electronically-controlled, vertical-traverse, focal-plane Shutter

Shutter Speed
• 30 to 1/8000 sec
• Bulb

Flash X-sync    
• 1/250 sec
• 1/200 sec (with SteadyShot INSIDE on)

Aperture values:     Depends on lens, 0.3 EV steps
DOF preview:     Yes, dedicated button

White balance    
• Auto
• Daylight
• Shade
• Cloudy
• Tungsten
• Fluorescent
• Flash
• Color temperature (2500 - 9900 K)
• Manual (Custom) - 3 memories

White balance fine tuning    
• Auto (none)
• Preset WB: -3 to +3
• Fluorescent WB: -2 to +4
• Color temperature WB: G9 to M9 (19 step Magenta / Green compensation)

White balance bracketing    
• 3 frames
• Hi or Lo steps

Dynamic range optimizer    
• Off
• Standard
• Advanced Auto
• Advanced
• DRO advanced bracketing (3 frames, High/Low selectable)

Color space    
• sRGB
• Adobe RGB

Color modes    
• Standard
• Vivid
• Neutral
• Clear
• Deep
• Light
• Portrait
• Landscape
• Sunset
• Night view
• Autumn Leaves
• B&W
• Sepia

Image parameters    
• Contrast (-3 to +3)
• Saturation (-3 to +3)
• Sharpness (-3 to +3)
• Zone Matching (-1 to +2 steps)
• Brightness (-3 to +3 steps)
(Available in all color modes)

Noise reduction    
• Long exposure for exposures longer than 1 second (User controllable: On / Off)
• High ISO NR High/Normal/Low/Off at ISO 1600 or higher

• Eye-level fixed optical glass pentaprism
• Spherical Acute Matte focusing screen (interchangeable)
• Magnification approx. 0.74x
• 98% frame coverage*
• Dioptric adjustment (-3 to +1.0)
• Eye-relief 20 mm from eyepiece
• Eyepiece cup removable
• Eyepiece shutter built-in
• Viewfinder info bar

LCD monitor    
• 3.0" 'Xtra Fine' TFT LCD
• 921,600 pixels (640 x 480 x 3 (RGB))
• 100% coverage
• Brightness setting -/+
• Anti-reflective coating

Flash compensation:     -3.0 to +3.0 EV in 0.3, 0.5, 0.7, 2.0 EV steps
Flash Mode:     Auto, Fill-Flash, Rear sync , High Speed Sync

External flash (optional)    
• Sony HVL-F58M
• Sony HVL-F56M
• Sony HVL-F42M
• Sony HVL-F36M
• Macro Twin Flash Kit HVL-MT24AM
• Ring Light HVL-RLAM
• Off camera flash shoe FA-CS1 AM

Drive modes    
• Single-frame
• Continuous (H/L selectable)
• Self-timer (10 or 2 sec)
• Mirror-Up
• Continuous bracket
• Single-frame bracket
• White balance bracket
• DRO bracket
• Mirror Lock-Up
• Remote Commander

Continuous shooting    
• Approx 3 fps max
• RAW: Up to 16 frames
• cRAW (compressed): Up to 18 frames
• RAW+JPEG: Up to12 frames
• cRAW+JPEG : Up to 12 frames
• JPEG (XFINE): Up to 34 frames
• JPEG (STD/FINE): 593/384

• 10 sec
• 2 sec
• Mirror up function (optional)
• Remote control

Orientation sensor:     Yes, for shooting, playback and control panel display

• USB 2.0 Hi-Speed (mass storage, Multi-LUN or PTP)
• Video out (NTSC or PAL)
• HDMI type C mini jack
• Remote terminal
• PC control (with supplied software)

Remote control
• Wired: with optional RM-S1AM or RM-L1AM
• Wireless: with optional RM-DSLR1)

Video out     • AV (Selectable NTSC or PAL)
• HDMI (1920 x 1080i, 1280 x 720p, 720 x 580p, 720 x 576p)
• 'PhotoTV' HD settings applied with BRAVIA.

• Compact Flash Type I/II, UDMA Mode 5 compliant
• Memory Stick Duo / Pro Duo, PRO-HG Duo
• Supports FAT12 / FAT16 / FAT32

• NP-FM500H Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery (1650 mAh)
• CR2025 Wireless remote
• Battery charger included
• Optional AC adapter
• Battery life Approx 880 shots (CIPA standard)

Vertical grip    
• Vertical Grip VG-C90AM
• One or Two NP-FM500H batteries with auto switchover for power (additional battery is optional).

Dimensions     6.1 x 4.6 x 3.2 inches
Weight (body)     29.9 ounces



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