Sony today introduced two new α cameras (models SLT-A55V and SLT-A33) that adopt Sony’s newly-developed Translucent Mirror Technology, which achieves the high level of auto focus speed for both still image and movie shooting.
Translucent Mirror Technology provides performance previously unattainable with traditional DSLR technology, Sony claims. Using the new technology, the α55 and α33 models can continuously and quickly focus (with TTL phase-detection) while shooting stills and recording video—even in full HD, allowing desired moments to be captured in tack sharp focus, high-definition video. They can shoot continuously at up to 10 frames per second on the α55 (and up to seven on the α33), achieving shooting speeds that are the fastest in the industry for an APS-C size sensor-equipped interchangeable lens cameras under $1000.
By displaying the images received by the Exmor APS HD CMOS Sensor, picture quality of the camera’s live view image has enhanced drastically. Coupled with the phase detect AF and 100 percent coverage Tru-Finder electronic viewfinder, the Quick AF Live View feature has been further advanced.
Both cameras are equipped with a translucent mirror, which enables light passing through the lens to be simultaneously received by the image sensor and the auto focus sensor, allowing continuous shooting and continuous focusing at speeds never before possible. The α55 offers the world's fastest 10 fps high-speed burst shooting with continuous AF (TTL phase-detection) in an interchangeable-lens digital camera with APS-C sensor.
Because of its structure, the Translucent Mirror Technology does away with the motion of raising and lowering the mirror. The absence of the moving mirror mechanism contributes to making the whole body size significantly compact compared to traditional DSLR cameras.
By eliminating the need to raise and lower the mirror between shots, the technology makes it possible to achieve focusing while images are captured. Existing systems can only focus in the interval between image capture, limiting the ability to track fast moving subjects. The cameras also have continuous Advance Priority AE Mode and will automatically adjust for the best exposure to help you get the most professional looking results.
The continuous phase detect AF also works in movie shooting for the first time in the world. The Translucent Mirror Technology also allows the α55 and α33 to be the first cameras to maintain continuous phase detection AF while recording Full HD AVCHD video.
With a 16.2 megapixel (for the α55) and 14.2 megapixel (for the α33) Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor, background defocusing effects can be easily captured. The APS-C sensor size is nearly 20 times larger than a traditional compact camcorders’ 1/2.88 type image sensor, providing more creative control.
Compatible with all A-mount lenses, video and photography enthusiasts alike can choose from macro to telephoto lenses to achieve their desired artistic effect.
Full-time Live View offers freestyle shooting versatility with fast, precise AF using either the viewfinder or LCD monitor. The α55 and α33 have a fully articulated 3-inch 921,600 Xtra Fine LCD with TruBlack technology with 100 percent coverage.
The Tru-Finder eye-level viewfinder provides a combination of 100 percent coverage and 1.1x magnification for easy and natural framing. By combining Translucent Mirror and Tru-Finder technologies, α33 and α55 are the first interchangeable lens digital cameras to offer movie recording with the familiar eye-level shooting style – a significant advantage in fast moving and extreme lighting conditions (bright sunlight and low-light situations).
The variable angle tilt LCD is adjustable to accommodate shooting from low or high angles. The electronic view finder has a high-resolution effective 1.15 million dots conversion Xtra Fine LCD display, is bright and easy to see even in low light, has a selectable shooting parameter display and shows the effects of exposure and white balance adjustments.
With an Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor, BIONZ high-speed image processing engine and ultra-high ISO sensitivity (ISO 100-12,800), the α55 and α33 cameras offer advanced shooting features.
Auto HDR shoots and combines three frames into a single high dynamic range (HDR) photo with rich shadow and highlight detail. Multi frame NR shoots and combines six frames into a single photo, enabling smooth low-light imaging at half the noise level. Hand-held Twilight shoots and combines six frames into a single photo, suppressing blur to enable clear night-scene imaging without a tripod or flash.
3D Sweep Panorama technology creates two images from a single frame, enabling panoramic photos to be viewed in 3D on compatible 3D systems and other devices that support 3D technology. Using the α55 model, built-in GPS capability enables global positioning coordinates to be recorded along with the date and time. HDMI connectivity enables PhotoTV HD display of images on compatible TVs.
AUTO+ (Advanced Auto) mode offers the same benefits as Auto mode and more, resulting in cleaner, more dynamic pictures and fewer missed shots. The camera automatically recognizes the correct scene mode, then quickly shoots and combines up to six shots to produce images with greater clarity, optimum dynamic range using Auto HDR technology and lower image noise using 6 shots layering technology.
The α55 and α33 cameras will cost about $750 and $650 (respectively) for the body only and about $850 and $750 (respectively) for the body and 18-55mm zoom lens. Theα33 camera will be available in September and theα55 model will be available in October at Sony Style retail stores www.Sonystyle.com/retail) and at authorized dealers in the U.S.
New α (alpha) SLR-a560 DSLR camera
Sony also today introduced an α (alpha) DSLR camera (model SLR-a560) that leverages Sony’s Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor. Along with the a33 and a55 cameras, the α560 model is one of the only DSLR cameras with Multi-frame Noise Reduction, Sweep Panorama mode, 3D Sweep Panorama and Full HD 1920x1080 60i video capture.
This 14.2 megapixel α560 camera offers the same features of its predecessor, the α550, which introduced Quick AF Live View, 7fps continuous shooting and Auto HDR to the step-up DSLR class.
A new generation of Sony Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor employs low-noise processing for high-quality pictures. The BIONZ image processor has color-noise reduction that helps achieve low noise up to ISO 12800, without sacrificing fine detail. Multi-frame Noise Reduction stacks a high-speed burst of six frames, creating a single low-noise exposure that boosts effective sensitivity as high as ISO 25600.
With Quick AF Live View, the α560 camera can focus just as quickly in Live View as when shooting through the eye-level viewfinder.
Sony has equipped this camera with two Live View functions and a 3-inch (measured diagonally) LCD screen that tilts 90 degrees up or down. The α560 has a high resolution 921,600 pixel Xtra Fine LCD display.
Sony’s Quick AF Live View uses two sensors to maintain the same focusing speed as with the optical viewfinder. While the speed of Quick AF Live View is ideal for every day shooting, Focus Check Live View enables critical framing and magnification for setting precise focus in macro and tripod shooting.
Focus Check Live View mode simplifies critical assessment of the finest image details. A real-time 'feed' from the main sensor can be viewed on the LCD monitor, with switchable magnification allowing close-up confirmation of delicate manual focus adjustments. Contrast AF method is selectable in focus check Live View mode.
Temporary 7x and 14x zoom views enable you to focus on extremely fine detail while the 1x view shows 100 percent framing in the LCD.
The α560 α camera offers the extra convenience of high-definition video recording. This model also captures Full HD (1920 x 1080i) video in high-quality AVCHD files that can be easily enjoyed on a compatible HD television via the cameras built-in HDMI terminal (cable not included). The camera includes built-in stereo microphones.
With multi-shot technology, the α560 camera’s high-speed sensor and processor rapidly captures and assembles many frames to realize wide panoramas and 3D images.
Featuring Sweep Panorama technology, the α560 model captures shots up to 180 degree horizontal or 126-degree vertical shots (18 mm focal length).
With 3D Sweep Panorama mode, the camera can shoot 3D panoramic still images with a single lens. The high-speed burst of frames is stitched together using innovative processing techniques to automatically create detail-packed 3D panoramas. These files can be enjoyed in 3D on compatible 3D televisions.
In-camera High Dynamic Range (HDR) has been further enhanced incorporating three shots. It can capture highlights, midtones and shadows. Sony’s positional interpolation technology can overcome slight changes in camera position and align individual shots so that a tripod is not required.
The feature handles severe backlighting and other high-contrast scenes like looking out a window into bright daylight. The in-camera auto HDR technology combines the highlight, midtone and shadow detail of three separate captures into one image. The α560 offers a maximum Auto HDR range of 6EV.
Multi Frame NR is a new function where, when the shutter is released, the camera automatically takes 6 frames at the currently selected shutter speed, aperture, and ISO setting, and then combines them into a single JPEG image with a reduction in noise at the selected aperture and shutter speed that is equivalent to approximately two ISO steps. In addition, ISO expansion achieves high sensitivity equivalent to ISO25600, while accurate subject detection assures high-precision alignment of the 6 frames during compositing.
The α560 model with the camera body and 18-55mm kit lens will cost about $750 and will be available in October. With the body only, it will cost about $650. The Carl Zeiss Distagon T 24mm F2 SSM (model SAL24F20Z), DT 35mm F1.8 SAM (model SAL35F18) and 85mm F2.8 SAM (model SAL85F28) lenses will be available in October for about $1,250, $200, $250 respectively.