Sony focuses on full-frame snappers with tasty tech
Flagship Alpha gets SLT treatment
Sony snapped into action today with a wide range of camera launches including a fresh NEX, a snazzy full-frame compact and apparently the world's first full-frame SLT with a dual AF system.
The latest NEX-6 mirrorless compact camera system features a 16.1Mp Exmor APS HD Cmos sensor, with ISO sensitivity of up to 25600. The snapper supports Sony's E-mount interchangeable lens system, churns out 1080p video and packs a similar set up to its NEX-5R sibling.
This model also features a new hybrid AF system that combines phase- and contrast-detection methods for a finer focus, while switching automatically when needed to pure phase-detection for speed priority.
Also on board, for the socially aware, is Wi-Fi with apps for photo sharing. The Sony NEX-6 is set for release this November, with prices yet to be announced.
Meanwhile, the Alpha A99 becomes Sony's new flagship A-mount camera. The reflex mechanism has been ditched in favour of the firm's Single-Lens Translucent (SLT) mirror tech. Indeed, it's the first full-frame 35mm image sensor model to utilise SLT. Unlike DSLRs, this means the mirror lets light through rather than flips it aside during capture.
The 24.3Mp Cmos sensor, coupled with a Bionz processing engine, provides bursts of full-res images at up to 6fps, or 10fps in Tele-zoom mode.
However it's all about the dual auto-focus here, with the company keen to highlight its 'world's first' credentials. A 19-point AF system with 11 cross sensors is bolstered by a focal plane phase-detection AF sensor, with 102 AF points. This combination enables a subject to remain in focus, even if it leaves the 19-point AF frame.
The system can be applied to video as well, with the snapper's 1080p and 60fps capabilities. All very nice, but it will cost you two and a half grand lens-free when it hits the shelves later this year.
If that's all too big for you to lug around, Sony has also announced the RX1, which squeezes the same 24.3Mp full-frame sensor into a compact shell, weighing a mere 482g.
The professional point-and-shoot comes equipped with a 35mm f/2.0 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* fixed lens, an ISO range of between 100 and 25,600 and 1080p video capabilities at 24fps.
If you thought the first announcement was pricey, then you'll probably gasp at the cost of this badboy. The Sony RX1 will set punters back a whopping £2600 when it launches.
Last but not least is the company's latest full-frame videocamera, which again features the 24.3Mp image sensor mentioned above. The Sony VG900 uses Sony's E-mount NEX lens range, although A-mounts can be applied with an adaptor.
The camcorder packs a "quad capsule spatial array mic" along the top, which records 5.1 channel sound. It'll cost around £3000 for the body only.
All three models should launch towards the end of the year, so you'd better start filling up those piggy banks soon if you want to splash out for Christmas. ®
Does this not mean that the amounts of light reaching both the viewfinder and the sensor is cut roughly in half? In dim light, this would be a drawback. Though we do not need a bright viewfinder to focus any more, framing an image nicely in dim light might be a problem. Less light hitting the sensor lower the signal-to-noise ratio.
No. About 30% (half a stop) is reflected up to the AF phase-detect sensors. The rest goes to the main sensor. The main sensor is read continuously for the electronic viewfinder (just like a compact). This does mean a slight reduction in high-ISO performance, so noise at ISO 1600 would be the same as noise at about ISO 2400 on a non-SLT camera (like the Sony NEX, and Nikon, Pentax cameras that use the same Sony sensors. The benefits for most people (full-time AF, WYSIWYG viewfinder) outweigh that small increase in noise, but it depends what you shoot. Also some people don't like the EVF, either because they're hyper-sensitive to flicker, or the 1/50th second update lag is critical. I have a first gen SLT (Sony A55) and think it's great. YMMV.
Re: @Antony Jones
The A55 uses a sequential display so the LCD is one colour with an alternating red/green/blue LED. So yes, if you blink or move the camera too quickly you'll get some false colour effects. I've just grown to ignore it, but when picking up the camera after not using it for a while it is noticeable. It's the same as with DLP projectors that use a colour wheel. Some people are really sensitive to it, but most don't notice.
The latest high-end models (like the A99) use OLEDs, so don't have this issue.