Sony A7 vs A850
The Sony Alpha A7 and the Sony Alpha A850 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in October 2013 and August 2009. The A7 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the A850 is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with a full frame sensor. The A7 has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the A850 provides 24.4 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Sony Alpha A7 and the Sony Alpha A850? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony A7 and the Sony A850. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A850 is considerably larger (53 percent) than the Sony A7. Moreover, the A850 is substantially heavier (89 percent) than the A7. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
Concerning battery life, the A7 gets 340 shots out of its NP-FW50 battery, while the A850 can take 880 images on a single charge of its NP-FM500H power pack. The power pack in the A7 can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Sony A7||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||474 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||1,699|
|2.||Sony A850||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Aug 2009||1,999|
|3.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|4.||Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|5.||Panasonic GH4||133 mm||93 mm||84 mm||560 g||500||Y||Feb 2014||1,499|
|6.||Samsung NX1||139 mm||102 mm||66 mm||550 g||500||Y||Sep 2014||1,499|
|7.||Sony A7C||124 mm||71 mm||60 mm||509 g||740||Y||Sep 2020||1,799|
|8.||Sony A7 III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|9.||Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|10.||Sony A7S||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||489 g||380||Y||Apr 2014||2,499|
|11.||Sony A7R||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||465 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||2,299|
|12.||Sony RX1R||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||n||Jun 2013||2,799|
|13.||Sony A99||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799|
|14.||Sony RX1||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||n||Sep 2012||2,799|
|15.||Sony A900||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Sep 2008||2,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The A7 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 15 percent) than the A850, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the A850 is 1 percent bigger. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
In terms of chip-set technology, the A7 uses a more advanced image processing engine (BIONZ X) than the A850 (BIONZ), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
With 24.4MP, the A850 offers a higher resolution than the A7 (24MP), but the A850 has marginally smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 5.97μm for the A7). Yet, the A7 is a much more recent model (by 4 years and 1 month) than the A850, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The A7 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Sony Alpha A7 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 50-51200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A850 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-6400.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under review, the A7 provides substantially higher image quality than the A850, with an overall score that is 11 points higher. This advantage is based on 1 bits higher color depth, 2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.7 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|1.||Sony A7||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90|
|2.||Sony A850||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.8||12.2||1415||79|
|3.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|4.||Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|5.||Panasonic GH4||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||23.2||12.8||791||74|
|7.||Sony A7C||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3407||95|
|8.||Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|9.||Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|10.||Sony A7S||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||1080/60p||23.9||13.2||3702||87|
|11.||Sony A7R||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.6||14.1||2746||95|
|12.||Sony RX1R||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||13.6||2537||91|
|13.||Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
|14.||Sony RX1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.1||14.3||2534||93|
|15.||Sony A900||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.7||12.3||1431||79|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The A7 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the A850 does not. The highest resolution format that the A7 can use is 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A7 has an electronic viewfinder (2400k dots), while the A850 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinder in the A7 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the A850 (98%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. On the other hand, the viewfinder of the A850 has a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.71x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Sony A7 and Sony A850 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Sony A7||2400||n||3.0 / 1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|2.||Sony A850||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||n||Y|
|3.||Nikon D750||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||tilting||n||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n|
|4.||Nikon D610||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n|
|5.||Panasonic GH4||2359||n||3.0 / 1036||swivel||Y||1/8000s||12.0||Y||n|
|6.||Samsung NX1||2360||Y||3.0 / 1036||tilting||Y||1/8000s||15.0||Y||n|
|7.||Sony A7C||2360||n||3.0 / 922||swivel||Y||1/4000s||10.0||n||Y|
|8.||Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|9.||Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0 / 1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|10.||Sony A7S||2400||n||3.0 / 921||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|11.||Sony A7R||2400||n||3.0 / 1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n|
|12.||Sony RX1R||optional||n||3.0 / 1229||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|13.||Sony A99||2359||Y||3.0 / 1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||Y|
|14.||Sony RX1||optional||n||3.0 / 1229||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|15.||Sony A900||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One feature that differentiates the A850 and the A7 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The A850 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the A7 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.
The A7 writes its imaging data to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards, while the A850 uses Compact Flash or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A850 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the A7 only has one slot.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Sony Alpha A7 and Sony Alpha A850 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Sony A7||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|2.||Sony A850||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Nikon D750||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|4.||Nikon D610||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Panasonic GH4||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|6.||Samsung NX1||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.0||Y||Y||Y|
|7.||Sony A7C||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||Y||Y|
|8.||Sony A7 III||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|9.||Sony A7 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|10.||Sony A7S||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|11.||Sony A7R||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|12.||Sony RX1R||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Sony A99||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Sony RX1||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Sony A900||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the A7 offers wifi support, while the A850 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A850 (unlike the A7) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the A7 and the A850 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The A7 was replaced by the Sony A7 II, while the A850 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Sony website.
So how do things add up? Is the Sony A7 better than the Sony A850 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A7:
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (11 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (2 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (BIONZ X vs BIONZ).
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/60p movies.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 98%).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1230k vs 922k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (127x94mm vs 156x117mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 421g or 47 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (15 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 1 month of technical progress since the A850 launch.
Advantages of the Sony Alpha A850:
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.71x).
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (880 versus 340) out of a single battery charge.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2009).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7 is the clear winner of the match-up (19 : 8 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Sony A7 and the Sony A850 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the A7 or the A850 perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Sony A7||5/5||+ +||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,699|
|2.||Sony A850||3/5||..||..||75/100||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||1,999|
|3.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||4/5||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|4.||Nikon D610||4/5||+ +||..||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|5.||Panasonic GH4||5/5||+ +||..||85/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||1,499|
|6.||Samsung NX1||5/5||..||..||87/100||5/5||5/5||Sep 2014||1,499|
|7.||Sony A7C||3.5/5||..||3.5/5||86/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2020||1,799|
|8.||Sony A7 III||..||+ +||4.5/5||89/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|9.||Sony A7 II||5/5||+||4/5||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|10.||Sony A7S||4/5||..||..||86/100||4.5/5||5/5||Apr 2014||2,499|
|11.||Sony A7R||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||2,299|
|12.||Sony RX1R||5/5||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||2,799|
|13.||Sony A99||5/5||..||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|14.||Sony RX1||5/5||..||..||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|15.||Sony A900||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2008||2,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Sony A7 vs Sony A850
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Sony A7||Sony A850|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Sony E mount lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||October 2013||August 2009|
|Launch Price||USD 1,699||USD 1,999|
|Sensor Specs||Sony A7||Sony A850|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.8 x 23.9 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||855.62 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||24.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||6048 x 4032 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.97 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.80 MP/cm2||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||200 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 51,200 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||BIONZ X||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||90||79|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.8||23.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.2||12.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2248||1415|
|Screen Specs||Sony A7||Sony A850|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||98%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2400k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1230k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Sony A7||Sony A850|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||MS or SDXC cards||CF or MS cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Sony A7||Sony A850|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Body Specs||Sony A7||Sony A850|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||340 shots per charge||880 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||no USB charging|
127 x 94 x 48 mm
(5.0 x 3.7 x 1.9 in)
156 x 117 x 82 mm
(6.1 x 4.6 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||474 g (16.7 oz)||895 g (31.6 oz)|
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