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Old Mar 13, 2009, 8:15 PM   #1
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I hope this isn't a repeat, I looked but couldn't find the information I was looking for. I posted a question on the what camera should I buy thread and got some good information there, but thought that these follow ups are probably better here than in that forum...

I currently have the A100 and am looking to upgrade (I think). If I do, it would be to the 700 or to another brand.

The key areas where I need better performance are focusing speed and better performance/less noise at higher ISO.

Does anyone have any comparison information for these areas between the 100 and the 700?

I am able to get good shots up to 200ISO, and start getting noise at 400. I think I'm probably OK at 400 if I'm careful to get everything else right on, but beyond that I get too much noise. About how many stops of usable additional ISO would I get with the 700 vs the 100?

I also find that the auto-focus seems to not beas fast or as accurate as I would like it to be. I know a lot of that is on the lens, but again, if anyone has any experience here I'd appreciate it. Would I see any improvement here? A lot? some?

I'm trying to decide if going lens first or body first in my upgrade plans makes more sense.

Thanks in advance!

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Old Mar 15, 2009, 9:01 AM   #2
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The A700 has a much faster AF system. Sony claims it's 1.7x as fast as the A100. But, from my experience with a KM Maxxum 5D (that the A100 was mostly based on), as compared to my A700, I think it's probably a greater increase in speed with some lenses. As for speed, at the time they tested it, Pop Photo's tests found that the A700 locked focus faster than any other dSLR made in most lighting (down to around EV 4, which is dimmer than most home interiors at night with typical room lighting). You can see that discussed in this thread:


Here's a thread about a test in a magazine using an approaching vehicle to test AF tracking and accuracy:

Magazine Review: K20D/SDM AF.C performance vs. 8 competitors

As for noise, my guess would be at least one stop (probably closer to 2 stops). I do not have the A100 to compare them (I've got a KM Maxxum 5D and Sony A700).

Here's a thread with some crude comparison photos I found with a quick google search. This is page 3 of a 3 page forum thread (it has some A100/A350/A700 comparison images). If you go to the first page, you'll see a post with some ISO 5000 images shot in raw and converted with Bibble. Note that this would have been using older A700 firmware (Sony has released 4 versions so far, with the later versions improving higher ISO speed noise levels).


Note that like the A100, the newer A200 also uses a Sony 10MP CCD Sensor. But, it's got much lower noise levels. Here's a comparison I found with a quick google search that shows the differences between the A200, A350 and A700. Note that the lastest Version 4 firmware was used with the A700. Many of the tests you may find are using an older firmware version (with more visible noise). You'll see them mention the newer V4 firmware in the last paragraph on the page:


Like the A700, the Nikon D300 and D90 also use a Sony 12MP CMOS sensor. Nikon probably has the edge on retained detail at higher ISO speeds, since they've got very good noise reduction algorithms in their newer cameras' image processing pipeline.

But, the latest V4 firmware for the A700 puts it much closer if you shoot jpeg. Also, if you shoot in raw with noise reduction turned off, you can bypass the in camera processing and get better results than the camera's jpeg images will provide. I usually shoot raw + jpeg for more flexbility (if the jpeg is good enough, I use it, otherwise I can process the raw files).

I skipped the A100 (I thought noise was a bit higher than I'd be willing to tolerate, as compared to my Maxxum 5D). So, perhaps some members that have both the A100 and A700 will see this thread and respond with more first hand experience from upgrading.

Right now, I'd say the D3 (or D700) probably have the lowest noise levels around with their full frame 12MP sensor, and the AF system used by these models is superb. But, these cameras are priced much higher than the Sony A700 (around $3000 for the D700 body, and around $4300 for the D3 body). The Nikon D300 uses a Sony 12MP CMOS sensor (as does the Sony A700), and it probably has a slight edge in some areas. It's also a higher priced camera compared to the A700.

Personally, I'm quite happy with the A700, and I wouldn't trade it for any other model using an APS-C size sensor.

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Old Mar 15, 2009, 5:25 PM   #3
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I would agree with everything JimC says about the A700 V4. It's a great camera. I'm very impressed with the high ISO results. even without any noise reduction.

I too came from using a 5D (still use it a lot) and there's no comparison with the high performance that you'll get from the A700. Great camera!
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Old Mar 19, 2009, 3:36 PM   #4
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Thanks for the info!

Ultimately, I think I will need to upgrade both camera body and lenses. I was hoping to be able to start with the Alpha body, and get part of the way where I want to be, to be able to get the kind of shots I want. My biggest challenges are not enough light, not enough focal length, and not fast enough focusing. Really all 3 are factors that can be affected by the lens and the body, so I need to start somewhere since I can't do both right now.

So, I think I'm going to go with the A700 and see where that gets me, and then work on glass. I'm pretty comfortable with what I've read here that I'm not going to regret going with/continuing withthe Sony system rather than switching to Canon or Nikon.

It'll probably be a couple months before I can get the 700, I'll let you know what I think!

Thanks again!

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Old Apr 30, 2009, 4:44 PM   #5
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A bit late in the day but for another perspective from a knowledgeable source, try here -
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