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"IMHO": A fair go for the a700

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brettania View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote brettania Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: "IMHO": A fair go for the a700
    Posted: 11 October 2007 at 22:06

pic by Davey


A fair go for the a700
by Cameron Hill -- aka brettania


In some ways the reaction to the arrival of the a700 has reminded me of the reaction to the KM 7D when it finally arrived.

There was a rush by some to be first off the block to get it. Some of the first shots to appear were hardly encouraging. And the debate that had been going before the camera's introduction was possibly even more vigorous after it's arrival.

So, it seems, these things have started again with the a700, but the reactions have become perhaps more intense, more strident, and in a worrisome way, more divisive.

Let's start by declaring my own intentions towards the camera. I started by thinking I would wait for the full “pro” release. Now I am undecided and see that the a700 could offer advantages over my 7D, not that the 7D has given me any real reason to want to replace it. So put me down as “wavering” and, as yet, uncommitted.

Do I want to see the camera succeed? Yes. I bear no enmity towards it and have no problems about it being a product of the “will of Sony” rather than “the mind of Minolta” (my camera of choice since the mid-1980s).

Do I want it to fail? No. It may at the end of the day not be the camera for me, but I can think of no reason for ill-will towards it. If it is not for me, then I hope that it makes others happy.

So what have I learnt to date? In terms of the pics I have seen there has been the same mix of bad and good that followed the 7D, with perhaps more bad than good. Put some of that down to photographic skills, but the bulk down to working out what is the best processing method/workflow to use.

Have a look at “Show us your best a700 pics” in Themed Views and you will see some of the better pics. I am sure that the ratio will improve significantly in the near future. Let's remember that this camera has only been in many people's hands for about three weeks or less. I lean very heavily towards Maffe's conclusion that a new style of working with files, and updated software, will significantly improve the hit/miss ratio for many owners.

Conclusion on IQ? Well it is still suspended, but seems to be heading towards a “favourable”.

Handling issues continue to be thrashed around, and in this area some of the major knockers have included those who don't own the camera and probably will never get it. Some have been so willing to find faults based entirely on the specs, that at times I have had a hard job holding my tongue.

But others who are not happy with IQ and handling include senior members of Dyxum whose opinion we all tend to value, and value highly.

So how do we put their views into perspective?

I have seen many of these members grow their skills considerably in the last three years. They mainly come from the same 7D crowd that I joined at DPR, and I believe that I too have learnt a lot from my time with the 7D.

The a700's market segment is perceived by Sony as “advanced amateur” -- exactly where the 7D was pitched. To me it meets that designation well – I have never hoped for it to be light-years ahead of it's predecessors or indeed the opposition.

Some of the now senior statesmen of Dyxum, IMHO, may be trying to write down something that – in truth – they subconsciously think is below their current skill levels. To re-phrase, for those people who grew up digitally with the 7D (and successors), the a700 may not the tool to further their growth if they want to take their development significantly further.

Now I am not trying to argue that the a700 is perfection in an orange box, only that its weaker points are being unduly emphasised. Check out the pages of DPR and for any major camera model there are always knockers, and vigorous ones – not only trolls.

The a700 is fait accompli aside from firmware updates. So we have to live with it.

Bring this all back to Dyxum.com. It has been put to me that this camera could wreck the future of the forum, if its many knockers prevail. This is definitely something I don't want to see, and if it were to happen it would be outright stupidity.

Blind acceptance would be equally wrong.

All I really hope for is that the a700 will find acceptance for what it is, not what it should or could have been. The increasing pool of “adoptees” will in the near future, I believe, convince us that it has a valid position in the hallowed halls of Dyxum.

And keep your fingers and toes crossed for me in the hope that an a900 will solve truly major issues such as the flash system, and make ever further enhancements to the metering and AF systems, and high ISO noise.

As the title of this series says, all this is IMHO.

      This is the second of a series. We will be coercing or cajoling other members to write future articles -- call them think-pieces or editorials -- covering a wide range of topics. Some will be personal opinion, others will be of the same type as Turerkan provided in the first of this series. Part 1 is here
        - brettania



Edited by brettania - 29 February 2008 at 01:55
 



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eddyizm View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote eddyizm Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 October 2007 at 22:15
this is an excellent summary brettania. Thanks for writing it.
I too think the camera is great and will either buy it or the a900 depending on the differences and my wallet. ;-)



Edited by eddyizm - 11 October 2007 at 22:16
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Post Options Post Options   Quote brettania Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 October 2007 at 22:28
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Post Options Post Options   Quote cezarL Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 October 2007 at 22:37
Great little piece of writing Cam!
I'm one of the A700 supporters, probably because I don't come from a 7D background.
Even though I never touched it, or see it "in the flesh". I want to believe in it, and I have faith in Sony.



Just one small question: where's part 1 of this IMHO thingie? :)
“Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long.” - Walker Evans

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Post Options Post Options   Quote brettania Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 October 2007 at 22:40

Part 1 is here and you will enjoy it.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote gsaronni Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 October 2007 at 22:43
I agree.

There was a terrible expectation for this camera, and now we have it, but only for a couple of weeks. I am looking to the pics the best photographers around here are posting and I have realised this camera will be mine, maybe in one year. I waited two years to get my 7D since it was for sale, and I used this time to learn with my KM A2 and save money for it.

I will do the same with the A700, learn, see pics and save money for it. I would like to pay more or less the same I paid for my 7D: 870€

Regards
35/1.8 | 50/1.4 | 50M | 100/2
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cezarL View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote cezarL Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 October 2007 at 23:26
Ooooh me stupid... I already knew Turerkan's article, just forgot (or better said, never noticed) the IMHO in the title :)
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Post Options Post Options   Quote bharnois Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 October 2007 at 23:35
Thanks Cam. It's always good when cooler heads prevail. I'm hoping for the best and think I'm getting the (MY!) bugs worked out. I'm hoping as you do that any IQ issues can be handles with software. I jumped through some hoops to arrange financing and there is NO WAY I'm going to return this one. Heck, I even ordered up the grip. Hopefully I can post some more soon.

As you can see by some of the posted pics it is definitely not all bad.
Just luvin' DYXUM.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Bass Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 October 2007 at 23:59
Cameron, a brilliantly written and well timed piece. You have highlighted all the issues and worries that have been niggling me recently.

I have been surprised (as I think others have) at the amount of negative / biased posts and threads in circulation. This is understandable due the the lack of a professional review for the a700 but it started to feel like some folks wanted Sony and the a700 to fail. I find this hard to understand. We all have a vested interest in the continuation of the 'A' mount, regardless of whether we intend to buy the camera or not. For those members who's skill and requirements are no longer met by the 7 series, the 9 is around the corner and more to follow I'm sure.

Interestingly, more postive posts have been surfacing in the last week or so as more people actually have the camera and start using it. There have been some great images posted recently, proving that with skill and care the IQ and NR questions have a positive outcome. This can only be a good thing and long may it continue.

MB
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Post Options Post Options   Quote brettania Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 October 2007 at 05:08

Thanks for the favourable reactions to date, and here's hoping that I have no need to keep repeating the "message".
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Post Options Post Options   Quote zk-cessnaguy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 October 2007 at 11:19
Gather round, people, and I will tell you a litte story.
I’ve been a Minolta user since 1994, and like many others, was disturbed, to say the least, when KM sold out to Sony. My beloved manufacturer had turned to the dark side. So when the a100 was released I was very sceptical. It seemed too plasticky, too… PlayStation-like, compared to my Dynax 5D.
Then, I upgraded my primary film body to the Dynax 7. The 7000AF was put out to pasture at the back of the camera drawer and the 7000i became my back-up. For those of you who don’t know, I’m a reactionary, luddite film guy and I fell in love with my 7. But the path of (camera) love never runs true. I began to look at my 5D and wish it was the 7D.
And so the a700 was released.
I looked and read the forums and contemplated it and decided I would rather buy a second-hand 7D.
Bretannia is right: some of the major knockers have included those who don't own the camera and probably will never get it. Some have been so willing to find faults based entirely on the specs    In my case I looked at it and judged the camera by the product shot. I wasn’t going to buy that. I didn’t like it. It looked… ugly.
Then, last week, I saw it. There, in the cabinet at my favourite camera store, was a real, live, a700. Once it was in my hands, all of my past concerns about this body were gone. It felt right. The heft of it. The size of the grip. The Minolta Force is strong in the a700.
I won’t be buying a 7D now, at least, not as an upgrade from my 5D. That’s the a700’s job. I think I’m ready for the step up in capabilites that the a700 offers, and having handled the camera, I feel it’s the right decision.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Swoopy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 October 2007 at 12:29
For me the most important thing to know is that if my 7D dies, my beloved lens collection has a future on a more than acceptable platform: the a700.
For that alone, I am thankful to Sony. (Up to a point, lest they not overcharge for the new body )

Edited by Swoopy - 13 October 2007 at 12:31
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Post Options Post Options   Quote revdocjim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 October 2007 at 13:00
Thanks Cam! Well spoken.

The a100 was my first dslr too, so I didn't come into it with a big emotional attachment. But I was amazed at the harshness with which the a100 was greeted in the various forums. It's as if people were expecting a miracle maker every time a new product is released.

I think it makes more sense to take new products into consideration with a sense of balance. Certain features are bound to be improvements over previous products. But every product will have it's weak points too. Why be surprised, or act like it's the end of the world.

There will always be a few for whom the particular weakness of a given product will be a deal buster. For instance people who rely heavily on low light shooting would have found the a100 limiting. Okay... that's life. There may also be a segment of the Minolta user world for whom something about the a700 is unacceptably limiting. That's life too.

But the chances that a company like Sony is going to release a product that has some major fault or weakness that is so big and so unavoidable that a large segment of the user base will find the camera unusable seems highly unlikely to me.

Don't get me wrong. I think it's great that everyone is testing all the ins and outs of this new product and reporting their findings here and in other forums. I appreciate the info and find the insights into strengths and weaknesses helpful as I prepare to upgrade from the a100.

But why it has to evolve into an emotional battle of the wills is beyond me. Good grief! Cameras are cameras, not magic wands. And as long as the free market is in place every single user has the right to say yes or no to a product.

Lets just enjoy our equipment and enjoy photography. After all, that's why we're here in the first place, right?

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Mark L Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 October 2007 at 13:13
Thanks for that very thoughtful and informative piece, Brettania. I'm in the same situation as you -- wondering whether to replace one of my 7Ds with an A700 now or wait until spring.

I haven't really taken much notice of the 'knockers', as most of the gripes seemed to me to be somewhat unimportant. There's probably no such beast as the perfect camera -- if there was we'd all buy one -- if we could afford it. On another forum someone (a Canon or Nikon user, of course) expressed the view that the A700 is "ugly", to which my reaction was "So?!!". Beauty is not my first concern -- and actually I don't find the A700 at all ugly. And if that's the worst thing that can be said about it, then it must be good.

What interests me is the A700's handling (by all accounts excellent) and image quality (good, it seems, but the jury still seems to be out as to whether it's a vast improvement). And what really appeals to me is the high ISO and DRO -- those things alone are tempting me to buy one right now.

When Sony took over, I for one was delighted that the A-mount had gone to a company renowned for their electronics. I felt sure that they wouldn't have taken on this mount unless they fully intended to develop it further. The A100 was a good start and it was very encouraging to see the excellent new lenses that appeared with it. The A700 seems to be another step forward.
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