Sony announced its second digital SLR earlier this month.
The 12-megapixel Alpha 700 will join the original A100, which stays on the market. With body and lens configurations ranging from $1,400 to $1,900, the new A700 is geared toward the budding market for advanced amateurs and enthusiasts stepping up from consumer-level digital SLRs, said Mark Weir, senior product manager, Sony.
"Many people are on their second or even third digital SLR," Weir said. The A100 will remain on the market to court entry-level users, but Sony has reached for a higher-end consumer to assuage Minolta-lens owners who have been clamoring for a more advanced camera body, Weir said.
The A700 features an APS-sized CMOS sensor and is compatible with both Sony Alpha-brand lenses and Minolta Maxxum and Dynax lenses (Sony purchased Konica-Minolta's digital SLR assets for its entry into the d-SLR market).
The A700 sports burst speeds of 5 fps for an unlimited number of JPEGs or up to eight uncompressed RAW image files. It employs Sony's Bionz image processor, which has been updated to improve camera performance, Weir said.
Like the A100, the A700 offers a CCD-shifting image stabilization system.
It features a 3-inch, 921,600-pixel LCD screen, but no live view functionality. It offers an HDMI output (cable not included) for viewing still images on HDTVs. It also packs a dual memory card slot for Memory Stick Duo and CF cards, including high-speed UDMA CF cards. To complement the launch, Sony will expand its offering of branded CF cards with 2GB and 8GB 300x speed-rated cards.
To reduce dust, the sensor features an anti-static coating and a vibrating motor. The camera offers an 11-point autofocus and a revamped focusing system which also speeds camera performance, Weir noted.
The A700 offers ISO 3200 (expandable to 6400), and 14 "creative style" image settings. The SLR can store up to 28 camera settings in one of three user memories and the A700's custom function button can be assigned to 15 frequently used settings.
A body-only version of the A700 will ship in October and retail for an estimated $1,400. Sony will add two lenses to its system as well in October including the DT 16-105mm f/3.5-5.6 (24mm-157.7mm, 35mm equivalent) which will be sold stand-alone for an estimated $580 or in a kit (A700P) due in November for $1,900. Another kit (A700K) will bundle an 18-70mm lens and ships in October for $1,500.
A DT 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 lens will ship in October for an estimated $550.
While the "advanced amateur" slice of the digital-SLR market is small compared to the popular sub-$1,000 category, a number of manufacturers have recently introduced models for more advanced users, Weir noted. "Everyone sees a lot of potential in this market."