Sony A850 Review

November 19, 2010 | Mark Goldstein | |

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#1 Thomas

It seems that Sony needs a bit of advertising, because you can find all kind reviews of this somewhat quite “old” DSLR on the net. Sony offers only 6 Zeiss lenses - perhaps this is the reason why the camera sells not so good. It’s a nice camera, so maybe some kind words from Sony about the future of the Alpha line would help…

7:04 pm - Friday, November 19, 2010

#2 emopunk

I agree with Thomas that both the lack of advertising and the not clear future of Alpha mount scares people when willing to invest in such a nice camera. Who wouldn’t be scared of spending this serious amount of money when you see Sony busy with a completely new lens mount? I am one of those who would seriously save some money and buy an A850 when safe that there will be always more lenses and accessories to choose in the future.

7:32 pm - Friday, November 19, 2010

#3 roberto

Hi Mark, pretty cool review, like always! I want to know how big can be a print at maximum quality or resolution with this camera and what kind of printer would be needed for the job. Thanks.

9:00 pm - Friday, November 19, 2010

#5 roberto

Thanks Thomas! Very usefull and practical tools.

9:04 pm - Monday, November 22, 2010

#6 Daemonius

Quite ok review. Btw. you had bit of dust on sensor (I played bit with RAWs which showed that).

Your RAW samples are quite nice thing, one can test how much PP it can survive. And it can a lot, at least from terms of detail and DR.

Only disappointing thing on this camera is, that ISO 800 is really off-limits if you like details. Maybe new FW will help, when they release it.

1:18 am - Tuesday, November 23, 2010

#7 Rae Merrill

I fancy one of these combined with the Zeiss 24-70 2.8 Better phone the bank manager. On second thoughts I wont bother. I can’t stand rejection.

1:37 am - Tuesday, November 23, 2010


As a Konica-Minolta Dynax 7D user since 2005, I can see this camera a bit more similar to the KM than any other SONY DSLR camera before, in any respect except in that it is Full Frame. I tough SONY is conservative cutting down features the people would like in order to gain “serious” appearance, or even to reduce cost.
Sadly, SONY lies behind Canon and Nikon in Full-Frames because of these lack of features (mainly the video capture option), a moveable rear screen or the Live View.
So I was happy complementing my old, reliable KM 7D instead with an inexpensive SONY A33 SLT full of the desired features and still with the KM/Alpha mount.

9:49 am - Wednesday, November 24, 2010

#9 Dave

Hey, nice review. I have had my eye on the 850 or 900 for a while.

I too like that you supply the RAW files. Playing with them in CS5 and ACR 6 I dont see any problem with ISO800 or 1600, 3200 is moving more to where I would not be happy but it would depend on the shot.


12:04 pm - Tuesday, November 30, 2010

#10 roweraay

Thomas, when you state “Sony only offers 6 Zeiss lenses” what ?  Sony offers several other top-notch full-frame lenses too, right, in addition to other mid-priced full-frame lenses ?

Case in point are Sony’s class-leading 70-400mm f/4-5.6 G SSM, 70-200 f/2.8 G SSM, 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 G SSM, 300mm f/2.8 G SSM, 24-75 f/2.8 SAM, 35mm f/1.4 G, 50mm f/1.4, 100mm f/2.8 Macro, 50mm f/2.8 Macro, 85mm f/2.8 SAM, the upcoming 500mm f/4 G SSM and a variety of others.  Of course all of the legacy Minolta and Konica-Minolta Auto-focus lenses work like a charm too, in the Sony system.

These are of course in addition to the ones you mentioned, like the Carl Zeiss 16-35 f/2.8 SSM, Carl Zeiss 24-70 f/2.8 SSM, Carl Zeiss 24mm f/2 SSM Distagon, Carl Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 Planar, Carl Zeiss 135mm f/1.8 Sonnar…..all of these Carl Zeiss lenses with Auto-focus, mind you !

Thus when you state “only 6 CZ lenses”, it might be mis-leading to others who might think those are the only lenses available in the Sony mount.

12:56 pm - Tuesday, November 30, 2010

#11 Daemonius

Funny thing about “only 6 CZ lenses” is..

..all have AF cant have them on other camera than Sony Alpha/NEX/KM. :D

So yes, Sony has only 6 CZ lenses, which pretty much outperform every comparable lens from other manufacturers. It doesnt sound like bad thing, does it?

3:52 pm - Tuesday, November 30, 2010

#12 marc

regarding the flash the very small HVL 20AM costing around 120€ can pilot distant flash no need of the high end HVL 58AM for this purpose
It really also does a nice job for indoor portrait

regarding the lenses lineup I have all zeiss (except the new 24mm) and the 50 1,4, 70-200 , 70-400 which are superb lens
The 135mm Smooth tran focus is also wonderful with its unique double asperture for smoothy bokeh

Leica lenses can also be adapted to Alpha mount (I have 2 summicron adapted)

Except if you are looking for advanced sports , wildlife where you would need 400 2.8, 500 F4 (coming) or 600 F4 (that cost a fortune)
you pretty have plenty of choice with in addition AF Zeiss lenses than only exist in Alpha mount

The A850/900 is also terrific in studio
I use it most with the Zeiss 85mm 1.4

check here

9:09 pm - Tuesday, November 30, 2010

#13 Les Arnott

I think one real big point to make about the Sony a850 is the actual size of the image. A lot of Nikon cameras are shooting at 12MP compared to the Sony’s 24MP. When people mention that there is a lot of grain in the image at high ISO’s remember that if you printed an image with a 12MP camera on say A4 the Sony image would have to reduce down by half to fit the same area. Therefore the grain is also reduced by half. Making a judgement by looking at a 100% crop really is a bit unfair. I use an a850 and what’s more I shopped around and got it new, on the day of release more or less for £1350. In the original sealed box. You won’t get better at that price!

2:52 am - Saturday, January 22, 2011

Entry Tags

review, 3 inch LCD, sony, DSLR, digital SLR, Full Frame, 3fps, 24.6 Megapixel, a850, Sony A850 Review

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