Sony a850, a550 & a500 Alpha DSLRs

Three new Sony Alpha digital SLRs and a new 28-75mm f2.8 lens have emerged, making today a bumper release from Sony. Leading the charge is the new affordable full-frame Sony digital SLR: The Alpha A850. Exciting!

Sony A850 Digital SLR

The new Sony Alpha A850 digital SLR is essentially a baby A900, the spec changes allowing Sony to position the A850 at an extremely aggressive price point, which will make it the most affordable full-frame digital SLR on the market today.

The new Sony A850: Affordable Full-FrameThe new Sony A850: Affordable Full-Frame

Full-frame DSLR shooting at a real-world price - Sony A850 Press Release

Sony a850 digital SLR with 3 inch Xtra Fine LCDSony a850 digital SLR with 3 inch Xtra Fine LCD

Take a look at how the A850 stacks up versus the competition:

  Megapixels Launch Price Current Price
Sony A850 24.6 £1,759*  
Sony A900 24.6 £1,995 £1,899
Canon 5D Mark II 21.0 £2,299 £1,929
Nikon D700 12.1 £1,999 £1,729

* The UK RRP hasn’t been released; however the EU RRP of €1,999 is roughly £1,759. It would be reasonable to expect the A850 to eventually break the £1500 full-frame barrier!

Top view of the new A850Top view of the new A850

Quick Comparison: Sony A850 vs A900

The Sony A850 has a 24.6 megapixel CMOS sensor like the A900, however the viewfinder coverage is reduced to 98% (from 100%) and the maximum frame rate drops to 3 frames per second (from 5fps).

Sony Alpha 850 owners will still enjoy integrated SteadyShot image stabilisation (effective up to 4 stops), a high resolution 3 inch LCD screen (with 921k pixels), and fast autofocus with 9 AF points & 10 AF-assist points.

If you need to capture big 6048x4032 pixel images on a small budget then the new Sony A850 is a serious contender...

Sony A550 & A500 Digital SLRs

The new Sony A550 & A500 slot in above the A380, bringing new CMOS sensors to the party, and 5 frames per second continuous shooting. Both the Alpha 550 and 500 will be available ‘body only’ or with an 18-55mm kit lens.

Sony Alpah a500 DSLRSony Alpha a500 DSLR with an Exmor CMOS sensor

  Alpha A550 Alpha A500 Alpha A380
Megapixels 14.2 12.3 14.2
Sensor Type Exmor CMOS Exmor CMOS CCD
ISO Range* 200 - 12,800 200 - 12,800 100 - 3200
LCD Screen 3.0" @ 921k pixels 3.0" @ 230k pixels 2.7" @ 230k pixels
Max FPS 5 5 2.5
Image Buffer 14 RAW, 35 JPEG** 6 RAW, 12 JPEG** Unavailable
Weight 599g 597g 519g
Dimensions 137 x 104 x 84mm 137 x 104 x 84mm 128 x 97 x 71mm

* The ISO values include the full extended range. ** Highest quality ‘Fine’ JPEG files.

The Sony A500 and A550 have a new Auto HDR mode that combines two frames taken at different exposures, producing a single image with an extended tonal range. The processing takes less than 10 seconds and even corrects any misalignment between the two contributing images. The alignment correction is an interesting feature because it opens the door to handheld HDR photography.

Sony 28-75mm f2.8 Lens

The new Sony 28-75mm f2.8 is an alternative to the premium Sony 24-70mm f2.8 SSM Carl Zeiss lens, making it the perfect partner for low(er) cost full-frame photography with the A850. The 28-75mm features Sony’s relatively new Smooth Autofocus Motor (SAM), as found in their nifty 50mm f1.8 DT lens.

Sony 28-75mm f2.8 lens with Smooth Autofocus MotorSony 28-75mm f2.8 lens with Smooth Autofocus Motor

The new 28-75mm's vital stats include a 38cm minimum focus distance, 67mm filter thread and 565g weight. The weight and filter thread size are suprising; standard focal length 2.8 zooms usually weigh a fair amount and include a 77mm filter thread (for example, even Nikon’s 17-55mm f2.8 DX lens weighs 755g & takes 77mm filters). The Sony 28-75mm f2.8 SAM is quite compact too: Just 77.5mm in diameter and 94mm long.