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Archive for December, 2007

Christmas day was a balmy 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the the DC area…with lots of sunshine. A far cry from the bitter cold of the mid-west, I must say. We miss the snow on the ground, but a body (especially me) could get used to this milder winter weather.

Sunayana and I headed out to Germantown park so she could work off the excess energy, and I took the Alpha 700 along with my Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 prime lens. On the Sony Alpha 700, the 50mm is equivalent to a mild telephoto 75mm (the 1.5x crop factor), and makes an excellent portrait lens. Even better, it is an excellent lens for natural light photography, even at very low light levels.

The light was failing by the time we got to Germantown park, and over the course of the time we were there, it got quite dark. The Minolta 50mm lens handled the failing light very well. I left the Alpha in ISO auto select (ISO 800) and opened up the lens to f/2. The almost dark condition was no sweat at all at those settings, and if I wasn’t there, I would swear that the pictures were taken much earlier in the evening.

By the way, if some of the pictures seem slightly blurry, it’s because she moves at lightning speed. NO camera’s AF can possibly keep up with a 5 year old with pent up energy!

Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 on A700
Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 on A700
Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 on A700
Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 on A700
Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 on A700
Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 on A700

Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 on A700
Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 on A700
Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 on A700
Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 on A700
Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 on A700
Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 on A700

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 and Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 Lens. Camera was set to AUTO mode and ISO 800.



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Alphamagic by Ajoy Muralidhar is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
text and images © 2007-2008 ajoy muralidhar. all product names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners. thank you for visiting alphamagic, have a great day!

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These 2 pictures were of Sunny on the steps holding her striped tiger. I was still figuring out the camera – still on AUTO mode, with Flash turned on.

Alpha 700 – Sunny
Alpha 700 – Sunny

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 and Sony 18-200 f/3.5-6.3 Lens. Camera was set to AUTO mode and ISO 800 with Image Stabilization ON, Flash ON.



Creative Commons License
Alphamagic by Ajoy Muralidhar is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
text and images © 2007-2008 ajoy muralidhar. all product names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners. thank you for visiting alphamagic, have a great day!

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These were the first batch of pictures taken with the Alpha 700 – my wife took the camera to my daughter’s school for the obligatory Santa visit. She just used it on the full Auto setting, letting the camera do it’s thing. This is pretty much right out of the box, and she did not even have the chance to even go through the “quick” version of the manual. We’re both familiar with the operation of our Minolta Dynax 800si, and that was enough.

The lighting in the building was Fluorescent, but she did not compensate for that in the White Balance – this is just the Alpha 700 doing its thing. The lens was the Sony 18-200mm. The Auto setting used ISO 800. As can be seen, it’ll take a while to get to learn and use all the menus and features, but the camera can be used pretty much right out of the box (allowing for a little time to at least partially charge the battery, of course!)

Santa’s Visit
Santa’s Visit
Santa’s Visit

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 and Sony 18-200 f/3.5-6.3 Lens. Camera was set to AUTO mode (ISO 800) with Image Stabilization ON.



Creative Commons License
Alphamagic by Ajoy Muralidhar is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
text and images © 2007-2008 ajoy muralidhar. all product names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners. thank you for visiting alphamagic, have a great day!

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I thought I’d share my experience regarding the Alpha 700 firmware update.. I was updating from Version 1.0 to 3.0, and I was a little nervous (naturally), but I need not have worried. It went smooth as silk. I took the precaution of using a new CF card though, formatted ‘in camera’. I transferred the APP file to the formatted CF card using my computer and card reader device.

The update procedure is very simple – just put in the Card in the camera CF slot, close it, and turn the camera on while holding the menu button down. The camera reads the card, and opens the upgrade dialog. Select OK and the upgrade starts. It takes a couple of minutes, and then the camera reboots. That’s it. Its upgraded to Version 3. Happy shooting!



Creative Commons License
Alphamagic by Ajoy Muralidhar is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
text and images © 2007-2008 ajoy muralidhar. all product names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners. thank you for visiting alphamagic, have a great day!

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I had heard about the Alpha 700 Version 2.0 firmware update even before I bought the camera and accordingly, I dutifully formatted a Compact Flash card in in the camera, downloaded the Version 2 into a folder on my computer, extracted it and transferred the APP file to the CF Card. I was going to make the firmware updated over the weekend. Anyway, this morning, I was on the Dyxum site and noticed that their Sony Alpha 700 site mentioned a Version 3.0 firmware upgrade. I thought it might be a typo, but I did go over to the Sony eSupport Site – and sure enough, they had posted the new upgrade instructions and download for Version 3.0 on Dec 20th. I’m glad I checked. I’d have updated to Version 2.0 and then have to do it all over again to Version 3.0. Thanks, Dyxum!



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Alphamagic by Ajoy Muralidhar is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
text and images © 2007-2008 ajoy muralidhar. all product names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners. thank you for visiting alphamagic, have a great day!

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I went ahead and purchased the Sony Alpha 700 today, along with the Sony 18-200mm lens. I toyed with the idea of purchasing it from the Sony store, but finally ended up buying it at the local Best Buy since they had the exact same price.

I had seriously looked at the Alpha 100 earlier this year, but was put off by the fact that it looked (and felt) so plasticky and flimsy. The body was made in Malaysia and the little kit lens they were bundling it with (the Sony 18-70mm SAL1870) was made in China. Not exactly the stuff dreams are made of. However, the fact that I own several Minolta AF mount lenses, both Maxxum and third party, had already narrowed my choices in DSLRS down to the Sony or its Konica Minolta predecessor.

For a while, the great difference in price between the α 100 and the α 700 did not make sense to me, and I had put it down to the “brand new product” hype, but I was impressed with the fact that the Alpha 700 had a much more sturdy body – it has an aluminum chassis and a magnesium alloy body – there is a great picture on the DP review site. I finally felt confident that this camera would be able to handle all my Minolta AF lenses, as well as my heavy manual lenses.

Now, anyone who know me and is familiar with my Olympuszuiko blog knows I am also a great fan of Olympus Zuiko lenses. I wanted a DSLR that could could handle my Zuikos and T-mount lenses. Zuiko lenses are traditionally lightweight, but my other Olympus mount lenses are not. The Vivitars, Kiron, Panagor, Spiratone, Panagor, Toyo and Soligor lenses quite heavy.

Other than the mount, the Alpha 700 has very little in common with the Alpha 100. It looks and feels different, and I’ve heard that there are no common components used. The Alpha 700 has a real optical prism, and a newly designed CMOS sensor in contrast to the Alpha 100’s Penta Mirror and noise prone sensor. I am sure that Sony’s next camera (the Alpha 900 will be full frame and have a lot more pixels, but that’s for the professional. As an amateur, I have trouble justifying even the purchase of the Alpha 700!

Which begs the question – why did I purchase the Alpha 700 now, when I know that the price will be several hundred dollars cheaper in a couple of months? My original plan was to buy it during the 08 Easter sales or maybe even during the Father’s day sales. My reasoning was simple… the Alpha 700 is currently made in Japan. I am afraid that Sony will switch the manufacturing to Malaysia or China in order to realize the savings that will enable them to drop the price. I have a great deal of respect for the ability of Chinese manufacturers, and I know that Sony has their own assembly plant in China. But I am willing to pay full price for the “Made in Japan” version.

All in all, I’m okay with the price. The advertised price on the Sony site was $1599 for the 700 body with the Sony 18-200mm lens (27-300mm equivalent on 35mm). I am sure I will wince at the price I paid in a few months, but such is life (and consumer electronics). I remember when the Konica Minolta 7D was selling for $1600 in 2004 with all of 6 megapixels.

As for the Sony Alpha 700, Best Buy matched the price on the Sony website. The best part? The sales personnel – they know so little about the advanced features that they just let me alone to happily fiddle with the cameras. I purchased a Lexar 2Gig Compactflash Card – I figure that should be good enough for now. Add the taxes etc, and it came to a pretty penny.

Sigh. I love my manual cameras and film, but considering the number of rolls of film I shoot, it is getting prohibitively expensive.

Pardon the terrible lighting, I’ll have some pictures on here soon.


Sony Alpha 700
Sony Alpha 700
Sony Alpha 700
Sony Alpha 700

Sony Alpha 700
Sony Alpha 700
Sony Alpha 700


Creative Commons License
Alphamagic by Ajoy Muralidhar is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
text and images © 2007-2008 ajoy muralidhar. all product names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners. thank you for visiting alphamagic, have a great day!

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