Sony A850 Comparison Review
The Sony Alpha A850 is a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera that was revealed to the public in August 2009 and is equipped with a full frame sensor. It offers a resolution of 24.4 megapixel.
Is the Sony A850 a good camera? The A850 has a Camera Elo of 1822. This rating puts the A850 among the top 50 percent of all digital single lens reflex cameras. In terms of its sensor size category (full frame cameras), the A850 ranks below average. Based on its within category standings, the camera earns a 3-star performance rating.
|Digital single lens reflex|
|Sony A mount lenses|
|24.4 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|ISO 200-3200 (100-6400)|
|3.0" LCD, 922k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|3 shutter flaps per second|
|880 shots per battery charge|
|156 x 117 x 82 mm, 895 g|
Read on to find out more about the camera's size, sensor, features, reception by expert reviewers, and how it compares to other digital cameras.
Body comparison with a credit card
An illustration of the physical dimensions of the Sony A850 vis-à-vis a credit card is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the Sony A850 alongside a set of comparators. If you want to review a camera pair side-by-side, just select a right-side comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.
|Sony A850||6.1 in||4.6 in||3.2 in||31.6 oz||880||Y||Aug 2009||1,999||-||Sony A850|
|Nikon D750« »||5.6 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||26.5 oz||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299||Nikon D750|
|Pentax K-1« »||5.4 in||4.3 in||3.4 in||35.6 oz||760||Y||Feb 2016||1,799||-||Pentax K-1|
|Sony A7 III« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A9« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||23.7 oz||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499||Sony A9|
|Sony A99 II« »||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||29.9 oz||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199||Sony A99 II|
|Sony A7 II« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||21.1 oz||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999||-||Sony A7 II|
|Sony A7« »||5.0 in||3.7 in||1.9 in||16.7 oz||340||Y||Oct 2013||1,699||-||Sony A7|
|Sony A99« »||5.8 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||28.6 oz||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799||-||Sony A99|
|Sony A77« »||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.2 in||25.8 oz||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399||-||Sony A77|
|Sony A900« »||6.1 in||4.6 in||3.2 in||31.6 oz||880||Y||Sep 2008||2,999||-||Sony A900|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Sony A850 was launched in the US market at a price of $1,999. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
Sensor comparison with a 35mm slide
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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.
The Sony A850 features a full frame sensor and has a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the Sony A850 among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Sony A850||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||-||23.8||12.2||1415||79||Sony A850|
|Nikon D750« »||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93||Nikon D750|
|Pentax K-1« »||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60i||25.4||14.6||3280||96||Pentax K-1|
|Sony A7 III« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A9« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92||Sony A9|
|Sony A99 II« »||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92||Sony A99 II|
|Sony A7 II« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90||Sony A7 II|
|Sony A7« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90||Sony A7|
|Sony A99« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89||Sony A99|
|Sony A77« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.0||13.2||801||78||Sony A77|
|Sony A900« »||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||-||23.7||12.3||1431||79||Sony A900|
It should be noted that unlike many modern cameras, the A850 does not provide the possibility to capture videos.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A850 has an optical viewfinder that provides a field of view of 98% and a magnification of 0.74x. The adjacent tables list some of the other core features of the Sony A850 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Sony A850||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||n||Y||Sony A850|
|Nikon D750« »||optical||Y||3.2||1229||tilting||n||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n||Nikon D750|
|Pentax K-1« »||optical||Y||3.2||1037||full-flex||n||1/8000s||4.4||n||Y||Pentax K-1|
|Sony A7 III« »||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A9« »||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||20.0||n||Y||Sony A9|
|Sony A99 II« »||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y||Sony A99 II|
|Sony A7 II« »||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y||Sony A7 II|
|Sony A7« »||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n||Sony A7|
|Sony A99« »||2359||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||Y||Sony A99|
|Sony A77« »||2359||Y||3.0||921||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||Y||Y||Sony A77|
|Sony A900« »||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y||Sony A900|
One useful feature of the A850 is a presence of a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.
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 A850 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Sony A850||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony A850|
|Nikon D750« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||-||-||Nikon D750|
|Pentax K-1« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Pentax K-1|
|Sony A7 III« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A9« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Sony A9|
|Sony A99 II« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Sony A99 II|
|Sony A7 II« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A7 II|
|Sony A7« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A7|
|Sony A99« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony A99|
|Sony A77« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony A77|
|Sony A900« »||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony A900|
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 A850 handle or perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is why expert reviews are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog).
|Sony A850||-||75/100||-||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2009||1,999||-||Sony A850|
|Nikon D750« »||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299||Nikon D750|
|Pentax K-1« »||-||84/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||1,799||-||Pentax K-1|
|Sony A7 III« »||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A9« »||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499||Sony A9|
|Sony A99 II« »||-||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199||Sony A99 II|
|Sony A7 II« »||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999||-||Sony A7 II|
|Sony A7« »||+ +||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,699||-||Sony A7|
|Sony A99« »||-||84/100||4.5/5||o||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799||-||Sony A99|
|Sony A77« »||91/100||81/100||-||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399||-||Sony A77|
|Sony A900« »||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||4/5||5/5||Sep 2008||2,999||-||Sony A900|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (-) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Sony A850 FAQ
Below are some additional questions and answers concerning some particular features of the A850.
What technology is the imaging sensor in the A850 based on?
The camera features a CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensor.
Which image processing chip is used to convert the raw signal into an image file and perform noise reduction and image sharpening?
Sony equipped the A850 with the BIONZ image processor.
What is the ISO sensitivity range of the A850?
The camera has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 100-6400.
What is the life expectancy of the shutter in the Sony Alpha A850?
Sony does not publish a shutter rating for the A850. Yet, shutters in comparable cameras from other manufacturers are said to be good for at least 150 000 actuations. It should be noted, though, that this number represents a Mean Time before Failure. The shutter might fail earlier, or it might last longer. Anyway, in order to exhaust an expected shutter life of 150 000 shots over, say, three years, one would have to take about 150 pictures each and every day.
How do I find the shutter count on my Sony A850?
Sony embeds the number of shutter actuations in image metadata. You can check the number of shots that your A850 has taken up to now by uploading a recent image to the online shutter count app.
Does the Sony A850 feature an autofocus assist light?
Yes, the camera has a lamp built-in that can illuminate the subject and improve autofocus in low-light settings.
What is the fastest shutter speed that can be used with flash?
The A850's flash sync speed is 1/250 sec.
Which battery does the A850 use?
The camera gets its power from the NP-FM500H (here at amazon), which is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack.
Is there a vertical grip available for the A850?
Yes, Sony offers the VG-C90AM as an optional accessory to facilitate shooting in portrait orientation and to provide additional battery power.
Camera to camera comparisons
In case you are interested in seeing how this camera compares to another one, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 1D Mark III vs Sony A850
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- Canon 5D Mark III vs Sony A850
- Canon 5D Mark IV vs Sony A850
- Canon 77D vs Sony A850
- Canon M3 vs Credit Card
- Leica Digilux 3 vs Sony A850
- Panasonic GH5 vs Sony A850
- Panasonic S1 vs Sony A850
- Sony A7 III vs Sony A850
- Sony A850 vs Sony WX800
|Camera Model||Sony A850|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2009|
|Launch Price||USD 1999|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6048 x 4032 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video|
|ISO Setting||200-3200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100-6400 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||79|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1415|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||98%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen|
|Autofocus System||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||No Peaking Feature|
|Maximum Shutter Speed||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||150 000 actuations|
|Silent Shooting||no E-Shutter|
|Time Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or MS cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Type||NP-FM500H power pack|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||880 shots per charge|
156 x 117 x 82 mm
(6.1 x 4.6 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||895 g (31.6 oz)|
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