9. Cruising Controls
Metering and exposure controls are extensive. Menu controls for many of the important functions-such as meter pattern, AF mode, white balance, and drive settings-can be activated quickly using the large multifunction dial to the left of the viewfinder. Shutter speeds range from 30 sec to 1/4000 sec in 1⁄3-step increments, and metering choices include multipattern (40 segments), center-weighted, and spot. Below the lens, there's a depth-of-field preview button, and on the back, a jack for a wired remote control. Ergonomically, only the self timer/drive button seems out of place, on the top right side of the camera-a better place for the exposure compensation button.
10. programmable Buttons
The A100's menus don't have custom functions, but several external buttons can be customized, and it has many advanced image-quality settings: white balance bracketing, color space presets for Adobe RGB, and seven other shooting modes, like Night and Portrait. Also: menu slider controls for sharpness, tone, and contrast, and a mirror lockup activated in self-timer.
11. Unusual ISO
ISO settings range from "Lo80" to 1600, with an additional "Hi200". The base ISO is actually 100-the Lo80 and Hi200 are unique to the Alpha 100. Lo80 optimizes exposure and tonal curve to emphasize shadow detail, albeit at the expense of highlight detail. It's designed to improve low-key images with lots of shadow detail, without affecting midtone areas such as skin tones. Hi200 optimizes tone reproduction for a high-key image with lots of highlight detail, as in a snow or beach scene, although dense shadow areas may block up.
12. Setting a Tone
A new feature called Density Range Optimizer (DRO) is billed as improving tonal rendition across the entire image. Also new, the DRO+ setting analyzes an image and locally adjusts its gamma and tone (similar to digital burning and dodging). This happens rapidly in-camera, saving adjustment time later. We'll tell you more once we test a production unit.
13. Flash Forward
The pop-up flash has redeye reduction and a guide number of 39 (in feet, at ISO 100). The hot-shoe should work with older KM 3600HS and 5600HS flash units, though Sony won't guarantee it. It isn't compatible with Sony HVL-F1000 or HVL-F32X dedicated flashes, a good indication that Sony is headed toward KM flash technology.
14. Save the Lenses
The A100 appears to be compatible with all existing KM and older Minolta lenses (with no formal guarantee), but remember that 1.5X 35mm lens factor.
15 Battery Power
Sony claims the rechargeable Li-ion M-class battery lasts up to 750 exposures, half made using the pop-up flash.
To read the full article and a look at "The Competitive Set" check out the coming August 2006 issue of Popular Photography & Imaging.
Field Test: Sony Alpha 100 DSLR
Inside Story: Testing Sony's Alpha 100 DSLR