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The transition to digital cameras from film hit many of the "lesser" camera makers hard. Minolta, who made some fine cameras - both film and digital - over the years, joined forces with Konica. But even that move didn't save the company, and Konica-Minolta withdrew from the camera business a couple of years ago.
When they did, Sony Corporation bought the rights to their digital camera technology. To my thinking, this wasn't great news. I've never been a big fan of Sony's digital cameras, and didn't believe Sony would make the best use of the technology.
But Sony's "Alpha" digital SLR's have been pretty good contenders... until now. With the Alpha A850, my fears may have been proven wrong once and for all.
You may not consider a $2,000 camera (body only) a bargain. But that's $700 less than Canon's EOS 5D Mark II... and $1,000 less than the the Nikon D700. And they're the leading competition, because the Alpha A850 uses a full-frame 24 MP sensor.
And the A850 delivers, according to a review in a recent issue of "Shutterbug." In fact, the few reviews I've been able to find thus far all agree that the A850 produces gorgeous pictures. And the full-frame sensor - at twice the size of the APS-C sensors found in most "prosumer" DSLR's gives you the ability to make huge enlargements, if you need them.
The A850 boasts pro-level features, it's ruggedly built and it won't break the bank. If you've been thinking of moving up to the higher quality offered by a full-frame sensor, and you're not already locked into another system, Sony's Alpha A850 is worth looking into.