Blocky in appearance, weather-sealed against the elements, what the Sony Alpha A900 lacks in prettiness it makes up for in specification, to a point. What's notably missing, apart from an incorporated flash, is the ability to utilise the rear 3in, 920k dot LCD screen for composing shots when getting your eye level to the viewfinder is awkward.
While we missed this facility, Sony's £2,000+ Sony Alpha A900 is no tortoise in the speed stakes, delivering a respectable 5fps at full resolution thanks, in part, to a dual processor setup.
The Sony Alpha A900 automatically selects whichever processor is least busy at the time, so the speed at which the image is committed to memory is as fast as possible. One area in which it doesn't push boundaries, however, is light sensitivity, topping out at a maximum ISO6400.
This is perfectly adequate but no match for the best from Canon and Nikon. Controls are large and evenly spaced, which isn't always the case on top-end models.
The Sony Alpha A900 benefits from built-in anti-shake - the internal sensor shifting to counter balance external hand wobble - with any attached lens becoming immediately stabilised. Although not 100 percent infallible, a soft image is rare. Speaking of lenses, Sony did us proud by bundling our unit with a versatile 24-70mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss optic, the premium lenses in the Alpha range - an unfair advantage perhaps.
Unsurprisingly, the Sony Alpha A900 produces huge files but there are dual storage slots for both CompactFlash and Memory Stick Duo. With its lens attached razor sharp images are the norm, with the caveat that image noise starts to intrude at ISO3200 and above.
In trickier contrast situations, the on-board Dynamic Range Optimiser helps to retrieve shadow detail while maintaining highlights, with several successively enhanced options to select from. Creative Style modes - similar to scene modes on a compact - also allow the user to point and shoot and let the camera choose the optimal setting.
All in all, the Sony Alpha A900 is a very capable heavyweight option for those not already wedded to either Canon or Nikon.