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Thread: Help on a decision - Sony A900 or D3x

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    Help on a decision - Sony A900 or D3x

    I unfortunately need to get another DSLR system again, for action & concert work. I love my MF system, but it is just not the tool for this work. On the plus side, my Hassy system is staying.

    Previously, I was always a Nikon shooter when it came to DSLR. I love the ergonomics and menu system.

    I did own a D3 prior to moving into MF, so am very familiar with it.

    Can anyone who has owned or shoot both the Nikon Pro body and the new Sony, give me some pros and cons of the two vs. each other?

    Sony just doesn't seem to available to rent so that I could compare it myself.

    Thanks,

    Ray

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    Re: Help on a decision - Sony A900 or D3x

    Quote Originally Posted by harmsr View Post
    for action & concert work.

    Thanks,

    Ray
    Allthough I will not win a price with my answer I will tell you Sony's AF has improved with the latest camera but still is not as good as the best Canon or Nikon cameras.
    Low light performance is not Sony's strength as well.
    For other things it's a very good camera.

    You wrote that you did own a Nikon D3 so you know what camera to buy..or a Canon?

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    Re: Help on a decision - Sony A900 or D3x

    Yeah, it sounds like you need another D3. Better AF system (especially outside of center AF point,) more features, better high ISO, etc. The A900 would be good for you if you wanted a slimmed down, faster MF replacement for some scenarios, but for action/ concert Id go D3 all the way.

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    Re: Help on a decision - Sony A900 or D3x

    Quote Originally Posted by harmsr View Post
    I unfortunately need to get another DSLR system again, for action & concert work. I love my MF system, but it is just not the tool for this work. On the plus side, my Hassy system is staying.

    Previously, I was always a Nikon shooter when it came to DSLR. I love the ergonomics and menu system.

    I did own a D3 prior to moving into MF, so am very familiar with it.

    Can anyone who has owned or shoot both the Nikon Pro body and the new Sony, give me some pros and cons of the two vs. each other?

    Sony just doesn't seem to available to rent so that I could compare it myself.

    Thanks,

    Ray
    I agree. For your specific needs I'd get a D3. While I haven't experienced focusing issues with the A900, and it seems to work well enough in lower light like shooting a wedding reception dance, I'd opt for my D3 for any true action work. Plus, the D3 shoots to two cards for redundant capture, the Sony doesn't. And, the D3 is more weather proof.

    I will say that unless you use a VR lens, the Sony and 85/1.4 & 135/1.8 may be better for the stage work due to the built in image stabilization ... but on the other hand the Nikon can shoot higher ISOs.

    If you didn't already have a high meg MF system, I'd lean to the Sony. But you do have the Hassey for the times you need more resolution.

    Not a cut and dry decision ... but I'd reco the Nikon in your case.

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    Re: Help on a decision - Sony A900 or D3x

    Quote Originally Posted by harmsr View Post
    I unfortunately need to get another DSLR system again, for action & concert work. I love my MF system, but it is just not the tool for this work. On the plus side, my Hassy system is staying.

    Previously, I was always a Nikon shooter when it came to DSLR. I love the ergonomics and menu system.

    I did own a D3 prior to moving into MF, so am very familiar with it.

    Can anyone who has owned or shoot both the Nikon Pro body and the new Sony, give me some pros and cons of the two vs. each other?

    Sony just doesn't seem to available to rent so that I could compare it myself.

    Thanks,

    Ray
    Hi Ray
    Why the D3x? why not a D3 - better for action and concert by far. I've sold all my Nikon gear for a number of reasons, but for action and concerts I would have thought the D3 / D700 rather a no-brainer.

    There are lots of advantages to the A900, but these aren't they!

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: Help on a decision - Sony A900 or D3x

    Agree with the others. I would choose the A900 if I had to pick one 35mm system because of the low-iso quality and Zeiss lenses. But if I shot specifically at high-iso, it is definitely not the A900 strong point.

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    Re: Help on a decision - Sony A900 or D3x

    It might be worth waiting a little while until Sony release a firmware update for the A900 before you dismiss it outright due to high ISO performance.
    From what I've read there was a marked improvement with the A700 after the FW update.
    But irrespective of of the A900's ability to produce super clean ISO beyond 1200 when compared to other D3(x) it's still very usable at this point in time. It's also relatively cheap, has some lovely Zeiss glass and seems from my point of view to have excellent ergonomics and menu system.

    However, lack of a defined support / service structure for Pro shooters is I'm sure would be a major concern for some.

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    Re: Help on a decision - Sony A900 or D3x

    Having tested the A900 and D700, if low light good detail and speed is your criteria (which it would be) - D3. For good light, low ISO uber-detail work - A900 with Zeiss glass - or D3X/D700x if budget permits. Ideally a two-camera combo would do the trick. An A900, even with SSS giving a two-stop advantage, in the situation your talking about is NOT the best choice. A generation or two form now, you never know.

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    Re: Help on a decision - Sony A900 or D3x

    FWIW, I don't see a firmware upgrade helping much in the noise department on RAW. The A700 firmware change improved noise because Sony was applying NR to the Raw, and they added an option to turn it off. There seems to be two main reasons that the D3x is better than the A900, and those are the somewhat controversial 14bit mode, and a slightly weaker color filter. 5dii has a much weaker color filter, apparently. As was mentioned above, the A900s high ISO performance, while not class leading, is still ok.

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    Re: Help on a decision - Sony A900 or D3x

    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    Having tested the A900 and D700, if low light good detail and speed is your criteria (which it would be) - D3. For good light, low ISO uber-detail work - A900 with Zeiss glass - or D3X/D700x if budget permits. Ideally a two-camera combo would do the trick. An A900, even with SSS giving a two-stop advantage, in the situation your talking about is NOT the best choice. A generation or two form now, you never know.
    Are you talking about the test you did in the Sony store? The one with less than ideal lenses (no Zeiss or G type optics)? Did you happen to have a D3 there with you to compare?

    I have both cameras (D3 or D700, and a A900s) with me on the job when shooting weddings. Side-by-side, shooting the same subject in the same light only seconds between each other, hundreds of shots, lots of weddings.

    So far, I can offer this opinion: The high ISO of the A900 is generally underrated, and the high ISO of the D3/D700 is bit overstated on the internet by users. Now this opinion is based on intended use of cameras of this type, usually in less than ideal lighting conditions, not shooting tests in controlled conditions.

    The Sony is a relatively new camera and we all are still learning how to get the most out of it. Right now, I've gotten to the point that I can use ISO 1250 to good effect, where when I first got the camera I thought it to be a ISO 640-800 max camera.

    So, if shooting stage work, I think the A900 would do very well using the Zeiss 85/1.4, 135/1.8 and Sony 50/1.4 ... all of which are Image Stabilized where equivalent Canon/Nikon primes are not. Depends on how much action has to be captured on stage and how good one is at timing their shots.

    I would not take the A900 on the job if I was a sport shooter ... in the first place it'd be overkill, and it's exactly what the D3 was designed for.

    As I understand it, the D3x isn't a high ISO camera either with a native cap of ISO 1600. But I'll refrain from commenting because I have not used this camera on the job, only screwed around with it at my local camera store. I can say it's fast! But at $8,000. ... well ... no!

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    Re: Help on a decision - Sony A900 or D3x

    Quote Originally Posted by douglasf13 View Post
    FWIW, I don't see a firmware upgrade helping much in the noise department on RAW. The A700 firmware change improved noise because Sony was applying NR to the Raw, and they added an option to turn it off. There seems to be two main reasons that the D3x is better than the A900, and those are the somewhat controversial 14bit mode, and a slightly weaker color filter. 5dii has a much weaker color filter, apparently. As was mentioned above, the A900s high ISO performance, while not class leading, is still ok.
    I'm not so sure about that. They continously have improved the ISO performance of the MF cameras with firmware/software updates and those cameras ONLY shoot RAW files.

    Hasselblad just boosted the ISO max of my H3D-II/31 to 1600, and the ISO 800 noise improved quite a bit from the previous 800. No hardware change, just new firmware.

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    Re: Help on a decision - Sony A900 or D3x

    I agree about the A900 being underrated in the noise department

    As far as the firmware is concerned, I've been under the impression that ISO boosting in MFDB is a result of boosting the base ISO with software, rather than hardware like most DSLRs, so software fixes would make more sense for digital backs.

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    Re: Help on a decision - Sony A900 or D3x

    Well, I may have only screwed around with it in the store as you say, but noise is noise - no matter how good the lens is (or not). My D700 tests were with better glass but under just as crappy conditions -- but noise is noise. Haven't see a lens yet that helped much in that regard. Yup, SSS will help w/o question and is sweet to have on any lens, but if the performers/subjects are moving around, it ain't going to help you one iota.

    It's also not earth shattering news to anyone here that the D3/700 is a better high iso performer than the D3x, 5DII, 1Ds3 or A900 - no matter how underrated the A900 might be in that regard or the D3_ over-rated. The reponses to the OP's question so far pretty well reflect that. Unless the OP has REALLY good light I don't think either the A900 or D3X would be ideally suited. They don't have the ISO range of the D3/700/5D nor the fps for "...action..".

    I like the 900 and I like the D3/700, doesn't mean they're best suited for the same work.

    I used the camera under the only conditions available at the time and under the assumption that the more unbiased opinions/experiences the OP could hear the more informed the decision they could make. If the A900 had impressed me with it's low-light ability (forget IQ - now ay to tell that with coke bottles I had at hand) I'd have sung it's praises accordingly. That said, I am curious -- would your reaction to my comments have been the same in that case?

    If the OP doesn't value my opinion as worthy, s/he is free to ignore it - just like you're free to de-value it.

    I came to getdpi for the maturity level and unbiased nature of the user feedback from folks that had used a multitude of gear -- be it for an hr, a day, a month or 10 yrs. If I can't test X or haven't done so yet and you've used it or similar, I don't care if it's for 1 snapshot - I want to hear it. Folks that don't sugar coat (or unjustly tear apart) what a body/lens could do and who would respect (not necessarily agree with) other's opinions. I had assumed the Sony forum behaved accordingly. I must have been mistaken. Enough said.
    Last edited by robmac; 15th March 2009 at 13:51.

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    Re: Help on a decision - Sony A900 or D3x

    I played with the Sony at PMA, and preferred the ergonomics of the Nikon which I'm used to.

    As the concert stages are in reality fairly bright, 1600 ISO is actually more than enough. I actually tried the P30+ with a fast lens and was happy with the exposures and noise. The issue was that, shutter lag and slow speed (frame rate) were killers.

    I'm not shooting, aviation or car races anymore (still doing garage / pit shots at Nascar). This lead me to really want the resolution vs. blinding speed. Therefore, a D3X vs. D3. For speed, a frame rate of 4.5 FPS is fine.

    What I'm really struggling with, is the price of the D3X vs. the Sony or even a D3. I'm wondering if the Sony can do the job, for a lot less money. I know the D3 could do the job, but I was tempted by the resolution.

    The other point, as mentioned above, I don't know how Sony is about service. I am a member of NPS.

    What this is really probably telling me is that the true answer is the D3.

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    Re: Help on a decision - Sony A900 or D3x

    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    Well, I may have only screwed around with it in the store as you say, but noise is noise - no matter how good the lens is (or not). My D700 tests were with better glass but under just as crappy conditions -- but noise is noise. Haven't see a lens yet that helped much in that regard. Yup, SSS will help w/o question and is sweet to have on any lens, but if the performers/subjects are moving around, it ain't going to help you one iota.

    It's also not earth shattering news to anyone here that the D3/700 is a better high iso performer than the D3x, 5DII, 1Ds3 or A900 - no matter how underrated the A900 might be in that regard or the D3_ over-rated. The reponses to the OP's question so far pretty well reflect that. Unless the OP has REALLY good light I don't think either the A900 or D3X would be ideally suited. They don't have the ISO range of the D3/700/5D nor the fps for "...action..".

    I like the 900 and I like the D3/700, doesn't mean they're best suited for the same work.

    I used the camera under the only conditions available at the time and under the assumption that the more unbiased opinions/experiences the OP could hear the more informed the decision they could make. If the A900 had impressed me with it's low-light ability (forget IQ - now ay to tell that with coke bottles I had at hand) I'd have sung it's praises accordingly. That said, I am curious -- would your reaction to my comments have been the same in that case?

    If the OP doesn't value my opinion as worthy, s/he is free to ignore it - just like you're free to de-value it.

    I came to getdpi for the maturity level and unbiased nature of the user feedback from folks that had used a multitude of gear -- be it for an hr, a day, a month or 10 yrs. If I can't test X or haven't done so yet and you've used it or similar, I don't care if it's for 1 snapshot - I want to hear it. Folks that don't sugar coat (or unjustly tear apart) what a body/lens could do and who would respect (not necessarily agree with) other's opinions. I had assumed the Sony forum behaved accordingly. I must have been mistaken. Enough said.
    Jeeze, relax already ... all I did was ask a question. Wasn't sure if you had tested the A900 more extensively or not. It sounded like you had.

    Do you really think someone can just pick up a camera these days and get the best performance out of it instantly? Personally I don't. It takes some work with it IMO. It took a lot of people awhile before the M8 really started to deliver. I think this camera is the same. And as more and more people share their settings and post techniques, I think the high ISO performance will get better (like it already has) which this forum is great at providing ... so I disagree that "noise is noise."

    This is a new camera. it takes time.

    (BTW, I already acknowledged that the Nikon would probably be the best choice given the poster's criteria.)

    Peace.

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    Re: Help on a decision - Sony A900 or D3x

    I thoroughly agree that the longer you use gear and the more people share in-use and PP techniques, the better a shooter will get at maximizing a kit's strengths and minimizing its weaknesses -- however you have to work within the limits of the technology at hand.

    For lower ISO high-res work, etc - the 900 would obviously outperform one of the 12MP FX Nikons (assuming better lenses than I had access to). An A900 plus D700/used D3 kit would be a nice budgetary best-of-both-worlds kit vs. the current price of the D3x -- glass compatibility issues aside.

    For it's first foray (under its name) into the pro DSLR world, for Sony to have brought the 900 to market for the price listed is stellar. I don't impress easily and the A900's handling, features, VF, interface, resolution potential, etc impressed me. Sony should pat themselves on the back for 'only' having to work on improving low-effort 'higher' ISO performance. The latter point entirely dependent on your concept of 'high ISO' and what you are willing to accept for noise and PP work at say 800-1600.

    I agree - peace
    Last edited by robmac; 15th March 2009 at 18:17.

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