Sony Debuts Compact Hybrid Cameras

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SAN DIEGO — Sony introduced last week its first hybrid cameras designed to offer the creative flexibility of an interchangeable lens D-SLR and the compact form factor of a point-and-shoot.

And, as an added surprise, Sony said it will provide a firmware update shortly after the cameras ship in July that will give them the ability to take panoramic images in stereoscopic 3D.

Sony is calling its new NEX-5 and NEX-3 “the world’s smallest interchangeable lens cameras.” Both hybrids are Sony’s first mirrorless interchangeable lens models. They use the largearea Exmor APS HD CMOS image sensors with 14.2 megapixel still image resolution and HD video resolution.

The sensors were said to have been optimized for both picture quality and speed of readout. The cameras are also among Sony’s first interchangeable lens cameras with HD video recording functionality.

The NEX-5 recorders in Full HD 1080 in AVCHD with continuous Auto Focus. The NEX-3 records in 720p HD resolution. Both models also include HDMI output.

Both cameras will accept Sony’s Emount lenses when used with a special optional adapter, making them compatible with a full range of the company’s D-SLR lenses. However, the cameras will ship in kits with one of two special compact lenses that incorporate builtin optical image stabilization. That capability is not supported by the NEX cameras using other Alpha camera lenses.

The new lenses also use Sony optics, instead of the Carl Zeiss optics used by the other Alpha family lenses.

Both cameras will support the full range of Memory Stick and SD storage cards, including the new SDXC format, the company said.

The cameras will ship in kits with a choice of either an E-mount 16mm/ f2.8 lens (NEX-5 $650 suggested retail, and NEX-3 $550) or an Emount 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens (NEX-5 $700, and NEX-3 $600). A clip on external flash is supplied with both camera versions.

Both models will be in stores in early July.

Shortly after the cameras ship, Sony said it is planning to release a firmware update that will give the cameras 3D panorama still image shooting capability.


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