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Moving from Sony A100 to A700 DSLR

Posted on Feb 6, 2009 by Paul White

Sony A100Considering Sony's first DSLR camera was the a100, you can imagine that every Sony Fan ( including myself ) bought one.  It was the first DSLR camera for thousands of people. It was what we learned on.  At first I used to think the A100 was awesome. Of course I had never picked up anything from Cannon or Nikon, so I had no frame of reference.  All I knew was it took better pictures than my point and shoot camera, and definately better pictures than my cell phone.  Like myself thousands of people will reach a point where they want more power and performance out of their DSLR.  Many will consider if moving from the A100 to the A700 is a wise choice.  Let me assure you it is a great choice.

The Destiny of a first time DSLR owner

Of course initially you are just shooting in Automatic mode.  That is until you get into some situation where the pictures don't look right. Usually this is at a night club where the lighting is not consistent, and the people are not still.  All your shots are uder exposed or blurry.  So you switch the camera into manual mode and start messing with settings until things start looking better.  But they never get where you want them.

The quest for faster and better glass

Eventually you realize the that stock 18-70 lense, just can't do some things.  So you go on a quest to buy the best used glass ebay has to offer. Why do you go on ebay?  Because you don't feel like spending $600 / lense, when you can find them on ebay for half the price. So you upgrade to a faster lense, and your pictures start looking better. But they still don't look like the pros on flickr.

Advanced camera settings

By now you have shot thousands of pictures and you have come close to mastering the A100's advanced settings ( ISO, Aperature, Shutter Speed, White Balance ).  But you have also realized what could be improved with this camera, and where its weak.

To ditch Sony or not

Of course when you go online and read all the blogs and forums,  It seems every pro is using either a Cannon, or a Nikon.  There are endless threads of guys blasting Sony, and talking about how much better their cameras are.  You start to think maybe you should get a Nikon or Cannon.  But then you already have a bunch of lenses and gear to fit your A100.  If you could just get a better camera body that would fit the same gear.

Sony A700 or Sony A900

The logical choice would be to stick with Sony, All the Alpha cameras will fit the sony and minolta lenses.  But the A900 being a full frame DSLR will not work with the lenses that were optimized for the smaller sensor sizes of the A100 - A700.  Plus the high price tag of the A900 puts it out of reach.

Wait for the A800?

I thought about this too.  Its rumored that middle of 2009 the A800 will be out.  This would be a beefed up version of the A700. 15.2 MP.  12800 ISO.  Better ISO performance. Faster. Lighter,  Everything you would expect.  But of course this unit will cost upwards of $2000 when it hits shelves.  It is also unknown if this would be a full frame or not, but currently the rumors are pointing to not.
Sony A700

Got the A700

The prices of the A700 have dropped alot.  Its original retail price was over $1500,  and I was able to pick one up ( with 28-70 2.8-4 sigma glass ) for around $800 off ebay.  I will be soon selling my A100 on ebay.

Notes about the A700

First of all your A100 batteries won't work with the A700.  Sony put a groove into the A700 batteries so that they aren't compatible with the A100 batteries.

First impressions comparing the A100 to the A700

Lets just say this.  The A100 is like a single Action pistol.  The A700 is like an 9mm semi automatic pistol.  First I noticed the grip on the a 100 is more comfortable.  Then when I sqweezed the trigger, I was impressed.  The shutter was fast.  no delay.  So I tried it fast.  Click click click click....  It would get shots almost as fast as I could pull the trigger, and this was in RAW mode too.  With the A100, I could shoot this fast. 

Faster Focus

The A700 also seems to have a much more powerful light meter.  The same lenses focus much faster on my A700 than they did on my A100. Even in low light, the A700 was still fast.

Better high ISO performance

Being able to manually set an ISO of 6400 on the A700 was awesome.  Even though there is some noise at this level.  I would definately consider the photos useable.

Flash Recharge Weakness discovered

After only taking a few hundred shots, I discovered that even though you can shoot very fast when not shooting with the Flash.  If you want to use the flash, this will dramatically slow you down.  I guess the capacitor for the Flash is not quite that big.  Forcing it to recharge after one or two shots.  I found this very annoying.  I am not sure if buying a vertical grip so I could have two batteries online would help this or not.  If anyone has a work around for this let me know.


First if you are like me and already had an Sony A100, and are wondering if its worth it to upgrade to the A700, let me assure you it will be one of the best decisions you will ever make.  

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barbara abshire | Aug 26, 2009 10:04 AM
I upgraded from the canon A640 (which is a nice little camera, by the way) to the Sony A300--I did not keep with canon--I saw what the Rebel can do and was not impressed--but, like you, I wondered if I made the right choice by going with Sony--all of my camera buff friends were aghast at my choice and i thought I was going to be ostracized from the local amatuer photographer gang! I love "picture taking"--it is a wonderful creative place to be, but I have a long way to go with this camera and I can see that lens buying is in my future--enjoyed your blog--Barbara
dkim | Jan 26, 2010 8:49 PM
Great article.  It mirrored my own experience of going from the A100 to the A700.  I was also tempted to go to Nikon, but all of the reviews will show that the A700 is comparable to it's competition with Nikon and Canon.  I love the A700, it's built like a tank and the menu system is the best there is.  The hand-feel of the A700 is also great for me.  Even though the A700 is a great camera, it still needs good glass and the kit lenses of Sony are slightly soft.  Hence, I'm looking into getting some Zeiss lenses.  Sony is a solid player in the DSLR field and will only get stronger.
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