Prior to September 2008, the only options for owners of Konica Minolta Alpha-mount lenses were APS-C DSLRs like Sony’s DSLR-A700 (Sony acquired KM’s camera business in 2006).
Then came the DSLR-A900, Sony’s first full-frame DSLR, which had an expansive feature set for the relatively low price of $ 3000. The A900, whose large magnesium alloy body could practically drive nails, had a 24.6MP full-frame CMOS sensor paired with two Bionz processors. That combination gave users a fully expanded ISO range of 100-6400 and burst shooting that topped out at 5 fps.
|The A900 with its optional battery grip. As you can see, even the grip is full of buttons.|
The A900 was one of those cameras with buttons for everything. Heck, there was even a switch for turning its in-body image stabilization system on and off. It also had a joystick which you could use to set the focus point – something that’s a big new feature on the a9. Back then the A900’s 9-point AF system was pretty exciting, though it pales in comparison to what you’ll find on a modern camera. Still, my colleague Rishi would be pleased that the A900 had AF micro-adjustment way back in 2008.
As you can see above, the A900 had a large pentaprism optical viewfinder, with 100% coverage and a magnification of 0.74x. The specs for its 3″, 921k-dot fixed LCD are the same as you’d see today. For those wondering: no, the A900 did not have live view.
|The A900 had CompactFlash and Memory Stick Duo (groan) card slots.|
Being a Sony camera of that era, the A900 had a few quirks. It had two memory card slots (good), but one of them was for Memory Stick Duo cards. The A900 carried over Minolta’s proprietary hot shoe, so if you wanted to use a flash with standard connectors, you’d need to use an adapter.
|The A900 sits between its full-frame peers: the Canon EOS 5D and Nikon D700|
As far as image quality goes, I think this quote from our review speaks for itself:
The Alpha 900 sets a new standard for resolution, edging past the EOS-1Ds Mark III by a whisker, and leaving its 12-ish megapixel competitors in a cloud of dust. Next to the Canon models the output looks soft, but in terms of sheer detail capture it’s now the one to beat in the full-frame DSLR market.
The main downsides were that the camera applied noise reduction to its Raw images and that things got pretty noisy once you passed ISO 400.
Despite that, the Sony A900 was quite a camera for Sony’s first attempt at a full-frame DSLR. It fell behind some of its competitors in some areas, such as autofocus speed, but that wasn’t enough to keep it from earning a ‘Highly Recommended’ award.
Have any fond memories of the A900? Share them below in the comments. If you have any ideas for a future TBT, be sure to let us know!
Read our Sony Alpha DSLR-A900 review
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