Hands-on with the Sony Alpha 900

There's something about the 24-megapix Sony Alpha 900 DSLR, which hits stores in Japan on October 23rd for about 330,000 yen ($3,150), that feels great. It might have been the two lovely models in Hawaiian wraps that the electronics giant had posing for shutterbugs at CEATEC outside Tokyo, or it might be the 900's 35mm full-frame CMOS Exmor sensor and the tester's Carl Zeiss Sonnar 135/1.8 lens, a combination which delivered outstanding performance. I found myself uttering the word "amazing" several times while shooting with it.

Hands-on with the Sony Alpha 900

Hands-on with the Sony Alpha 900

Hands-on with the Sony Alpha 900

Hands-on with the Sony Alpha 900

After all, this is the highest resolution DSLR in its class on the market. The dual Bionz processors allow 5 frames per second burst, but the enormous file sizes can eat up memory on your cards—you'll fit only 105 RAW images on a 4-gig compact flash card. Another great feature is that the SteadyShot anti-vibration feature is in the camera—not the lens—which helps if you're using older Minolta lenses on it. I also liked the large, comfortable eyepiece—it makes my ancient Nikon D70 feel like a pinhole camera—and the very bright,100% coverage viewfinder. The controls around the 3-inch, 270dpi LCD screen were quite intuitive. A handy preview function activated with the depth of field button allows you to adjust white balance and other aspects before taking the actual photo. But make no mistake, this camera is a brick—the magnesium alloy body and rubber housing alone (minus batteries and accessories) weighs 850 g, and will strain your arms if you're not used to lugging heavy lenses and bodies. Still, the Alpha 900 should win over some film die-hards who have been waiting for full-frame sensors in DSLR cameras.

Sony Alpha 900 full specs available here.

Photos and story by Tim Hornyak.