Things I’d Like to See on an a700 Replacement.

Sony’s working on a new a700-level camera. As a current a700 owner, I’d be interested in upgrading to this camera sometime. I’m hoping they do several things to this camera in terms of feature set. We know the camera’s going to have video recording and some kind of live view, so let’s take that as a given.

a700 Replacement Concept

a700 Replacement Concept

Improve the Autofocus: This is a given. The AF has to be a big step forward. It’s a bridge too far to expect it to be the better of the D300’s system, but it has to be competitive. Add in more cross sensors, make the sensitive area larger, and improve the tracking. Not only that, improve the detection of focus distance for the least amount of effort and allow grouping of AF points.

Improve the metering (flash and ambient): Another given. The 500 series already improved on this a bit, but one again, we can never have too accurate of a meter.

Incorporate flash improvements: Allow the a700 replacement to use the HVL-F58AM as a commander in CTRL-2 mode to use older Minolta flashguns in ratio mode. Also allow the popup flash to act as a ratio commander. How about a Flash Value lock to fire a preflash early? Also, include the a550’s full time slow sync mode.

Improve dual card slot functionality: Allow for the splitting of RAW/JPEG to different card slots, or use mirroring on the slots to act as a backup. Allow us to change this via QuickNavi, too. Or allow for automatic switchover when one card is full.

Add an AF Point Lock: I don’t really care HOW they do it, be it a physical switch or some other method. Just put it in there.

Add AF Microadjust: Bring it over from the a900 for fun and profit.

Rerwrite the drive menu: Most of the drive menu options are OK, but we need more bracketing options. More than three frames in a bracket, more than 2 EV difference, with or without mirror lockup for HDR. Give us more drive modes!

Include Copyright Information: Although I use Lightroom to set this information, some guys don’t do imports. Let them apply copyright metadata directly to images.

A Transparent LCD Focusing Screen: Along with configurable AF points, this will allow for more information on the viewfinder, like grid lines, battery info, et cetera.

More Info in the Viewfinder: Specifically, put the freakin’ ISO in there. It’s about damn time.

More Body Button Configurability: For instance, let the EV button control flash compensation if I want it to. Hold down a combination of buttons (e.g. Delete and Fn for 3 seconds) to prompt for a format of the primary memory card. Let me set that FV Lock feature I just talked about to DOF preview. How about enabling AF-MF to act like an AF ON button?

Put the Sync port on the front: Like the a900. Basically, make all of the ports clear of potential L-brackets.

Tiltable Screen: If this thing has live view and no tilting screen, I’ll be disappointed.

More functions for the DOF Preview/Lens Button: Allow the button to enable MF Check Live View, enable intelligent preview, DOF preview, focus hold, focus start, memory adjustment, quick focus mode change (AF-A/S to AF-C while held, for instance).

Make Custom White Balance Faster: Give us some shortcut to set a custom WB to the current register.

Bring in the Auto HDR mode from the a5x0 series: This works amazingly well and should be part of DRO on this new camera.

Create an automatic multi-exposure mode: Slightly different than the auto HDR in end result, but a similar idea in and of itself. Allow the user to take multiple exposures and merge them together into one file on the camera.

Include a built-in Eyepiece Shutter: Bring this feature along from the a900. I hate using the clip on one.

Allow the use of non-ROM lenses in Aperture Priority Mode: Keep the a700’s behavior the same. Don’t make it like the a900 or the consumer cameras.

Illuminate the new extra LCD panel via metered light: If the metered light is under a certain EV, light it up, just like on the old Minolta film cameras. Use an efficient light that doesn’t drain excessive battery power.

In-body level: It would be really cool to have an auto-level when using the camera so that bubble levels are unnecessary.

Add Help Screens for custom functions: The lower level cameras have help screens for basic functions, but IMO the higher level cameras can eschew that in favor of help screens that can detail info about what each custom setting in the menu does.

Allow saving of custom settings to memory card/PC: this also means allow us to do custom settings configuration from, say, Remote Camera Control.

Allow precise clock setting: This means setting a time zone and setting the time in the cemera by seconds to synchronize clocks. If Sony ever adds a GPS attachment, allow the camera to determine the time via GPS time.

Create custom menus: Allow the user to create a list of frequently used menu items, a la My Menu.

That should be enough from me for now. I know nobody at Sony will actually read this, so into the great internet circular file it goes.

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