By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
San Diego – Sony introduced Wednesday a pair of Wi-Fi-enabled cameras including an updated mirrorless compact system camera for its NEX line and the company’s first foray into the action video camera, a growing camcorder sub-category.
The NEX-5R mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera features a 16.1-megapixel APS-C Exmor R CMOS image sensor and a new fast hybrid AF system. It also marks the company’s first NEX model to incorporate Wi-Fi capability.
The Sony Action Cam, which was previously hinted at the recent Summer CE Week, was formally unveiled in the HDR-AS10 Action Cam and the HDR-AS15 Action Cam with Wi-Fi, which will both be available in September at suggested retails of $200 and $270, respectively.
The wearable point-of-view video cameras were designed to go up against Go Pro’s popular family of action cams, targeting young, outdoor-loving thrill-seekers looking to record their adventures under the toughest conditions in FullHD 1080p video or quality still images.
The cameras will ship with a rechargeable battery, adhesive mounts, and a ruggedized waterproof case (to 197 feet) featuring a universal tripod mount, built to handle extreme environments.
The HDR-AS15 Wi-Fi version will work with Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile app to allow users to instantly share their content to a smartphone and send images over the Internet via 3G or 4G cell networks.
It can also tether to a smartphone to use the phone’s LCD screen as a remote viewfinder to frame a shot.
Both models include Sony’s SteadyShot image stabilization, ultra-wide-angle Carl Zeiss Tessar lenses, five video modes with an exclusive 4x slow mode in 720p HD, and Interval Still Recording mode for photo capture.
When activated, the device automatically takes still images at preset intervals for impressive time-lapse photography.
The camera is equipped with a 16-megapixel Exmor R CMOS image sensor, and expandable memory with a Memory Stick Micro and Micro SD/SDHC card slot. It records stereo via a built-in mic and will output images to a TV set via an HDMI connection.
In addition to the adhesive mounts to secure the Action Cam easily to flat and curved surfaces, Sony will offer a suite of mounting attachments, including a waterproof head mount kit, a headband mount, a handlebar mount and a suction cup mount.
Sony plans to shortly add other accessories, such as a tilt adaptor, a handheld grip with a 2.7-inch rotating LCD screen, anti-fog sheets, and a replacement door pack that offers three different housing door options for different shooting applications.
Meanwhile, the NEX-5R compact system camera will be available in October in a choice of silver, black or white body colors for about $750 with an 18-55mm kit zoom lens as well as body-only for about $650.
Like earlier NEX models, the NEX-5R accepts the full-range or Sony E-mount lenses, and will also accept Sony’s α-mount DSLR lenses with an adapter.
The NEX-5R also includes an improved Bionz image processor deliver crisp Full HD 1080 videos and stills in a wide range of lighting conditions.
The camera’s “Fast Hybrid AF” autofocus technology combines phase-detection and contrast-detection methods to ensure rapid, accurate autofocus, even in difficult shooting situations.
It uses 99 phase-detection AF points arrayed on the image sensor to detect a subject’s distance and quickly lock focus, and then uses contrast-detection AF to confirm fine, precise focus details.
In Speed Priority Continuous shooting mode, the camera will switch automatically to phase detection tracking AF and can track fast-moving action in each frame up to 10 fps, Sony said.
The integrated Wi-Fi capability will allow users to tether their cameras to spots to send images over the Internet to anyone from virtually any location.
The capability is ideally suited to the new class of smartphones that have mobile Wi-Fi hotpot apps.
Sony has also developed a PlayMemories Mobile app for both Android and Apple iOS platforms to directly uploaded images from the camera to Facebook using a phone’s Wi-Fi connection.
The PlayMemories Camera apps will also enable a download service to install new camera features and functions on demand. The service can be accessed over Wi-Fi or when the camera is connected directly to a PC via USB.
Available apps at launch include Picture Effect+, Bracket Pro, Multi Frame NR, Photo Retouch and Smart Remote Control. A variety of other apps, including Time-Lapse and Cinematic Photo, are also planned for release.
“With the NEX-5R camera, Sony brings the core strength of our consumer electronics business into play to fully support our digital imaging business. This unique combination of technology and style results in a compelling new product that strikes the ultimate balance between size and performance,” said Mike Kahn, Sony alpha interchangeable-lens camera business group director. “With a host of exciting, innovative new features and the same outstanding image and HD video quality that our E-mount line has become known for, the NEX-5R is an ideal choice for step-up point-and-shoot users or more serious photo enthusiasts who don’t want to compromise on image quality and connectivity while traveling light.”
The NEX-5R also features a more DSLR-like fully programmable control dial and function button, and has a switchable onscreen digital level gauge to keep horizons level.
Also included is a 180-degree-tiltable LCD touchscreen, including a Touch Shutter function.
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