Sony Unveils Alpha, NEX Series Cameras

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unveiled Wednesday a pair of new NEX series compact interchangeable lens cameras and a pair of Alpha series d-SLRs for advanced photo enthusiasts.

The company also announced a second-generation model of its consumer-level interchangeable lens camcorders - the NEX-VG20 (shipping in November at a $1,599 suggested retail), which takes E-mount lenses designed for the NEX camera family.


The new Alpha d-SLRs include the A65 and A77 models, both of which incorporate Sony's unique Translucent Mirror technology and are scheduled to see fall market introductions.

The translucent mirror technology, which was introduced last year, allows the camera to continuously track and adjust exposure and focus through to image capture. Other d-SLRs lose the ability to continuously adjust focus and exposure after the reflex mirror is raised prior to exposure.

The camera also includes an electronic first curtain technology that significantly reduces release lag time and lets the camera go directly from live view to an exposure without cycling the focal plane shutter.

The A77, which is the successor to the popular A70, is scheduled to fit in the $1,200-$2,000 price point class when it ships in October. Amazon is showing the body only at a $1,400 price point. It features a full-time continuous AF system with tracking focus at high speed, and phase detect AF in movie mode.

It includes a new 19-point AF system with 11 cross sensors and enables high-speed shooting in up to 12fps with full resolution.

The camera includes an ultra-high resolution 24.3-megapixel APS-C Exmor R CMOS image sensor, Bionz image processor and records video in up to Full HD 1080/60p and 24p format with improved sound.

As with several Alpha models introduced last year, the A77 includes an electronic viewfinder, but is one of the first cameras to use OLED (2.5 million dots) technology in a eye-level viewfinder instead of LCD. Sony calls the feature an XGA OLED Tru-Finder.

The company also employs a 3-way tiltable LCD and includes built-in image stabilization.

Low-light shooting is supported with an ultra-high ISO range from 100-16,000. Also included is a built-in flash, extensive weather sealing throughout the camera, multi-frame A-HDR capability and a cropped zoom (12M, 1.4x crop factor) function.

The Alpha A65 d-SLR, which will ship in October  at $899 (body only), or $999 (with 18-55mm lens) is positioned at the top of the entry d-SLR class, Sony said.

It features the same 24.3-megapixel Exmor R CMOS imager as the in the A77, but steps down to 10fps shooting with continuous AF and object tracking.

The AF system steps down to 15 sensor points with three cross sensors.

It also uses a new Bionz video processor, includes an electronic first curtain feature and captures video in 1080/60p in AVCHD Progressive compression format.

 The A65 also features an eye-level 921,000-dot OLED EVF, articulating LCD screen, full-time continuous AF, ISO range from 100-16,000, and built-in image stabilization.

Both the A65 and A77 also include Sweep Panorama and 3D Sweep Panorama functions, GPS geo-tagging capability and D-Range optimization.

Sony's new additions to the NEX series compact mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras include the NEX 5N and NEX 7 models, to fill out a three-model lineup for 2011.

The NEX 5 is expected to ship in September at a $600 suggested retail for the body only or $700 with an 18-55mm lens. The NEX 7 is expected in November at a $1,200 suggested retail for the body or $1,350 with an 18-55mm lens.

The NEX 5N, which is the successor to the NEX 5, features a 16.1-megapixel APS-C EXMOR R CMOS image sensor, new Bionz image processing, electronic first curtain technology for a release lag time of 20ms (.02 seconds) and up to 10fps continuous burst shooting.

The AF system has been advanced with object tracking, where an object is tracked by touch.

The camera shoots Full HD 1080/60p and 24p video in AVCHD Progressive or MP4 formats with full exposure control flexibility in program, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual exposure modes.

The 5N is said to employ an intuitive easy touch-sensitive operation that is complemented by hard and soft key controls as well. The camera includes a tilting 3-inch high-resolution touchscreen LCD with True-Black technology.

Other features include 15-different picture effects. It will be available in a choice of black, silver or white body colors.

In NEX E-mount lens accessories, Sony also introduced the LA-EA2 second mount adapter and focusing system that includes the translucent mirror technology in an adapter. The adapter will permit the camera to work with any A-mount series lens from Sony or Konica/Minolta, whether or not it has focus motor built-in because the EA2 has a focus motor built in it to drive non-AF motor lenses.

Sony also introduced an OLED eye-level electronic viewfinder accessory attachment with XGA resolution for the 5N.

Meanwhile, the new NEX-7 compact interchangeable lens camera will feature a built-in eye level OLED EVF, a new 24.3-megapixel APS-C image sensor, new Bionz image processor, electronic first curtain release for reduced lag time, and a new Tri-Navi three-dial control (two on top one on the back) interface for very detailed control.

Video is captured at 1080/60p and 24p in AVCHD Pro with extensive exposure control.

It will shoot in up to 10fps continuous shooting mode at full resolution, and includes object tracking AF with face registration.

Sony also announced three new E-mount series lenses to support the NEX camera line. These include a 55-210mm f4.5 telezoom, a 50mm f1.8 wide aperture portrait lens, and a Carl Zeiss 24mm F1.8 Sonnar T* lens.

In E-mount camcorders, Sony introduced the NEX-VG20 body only (shipping in November at a $1,599 suggested retail) and the NEX-VG20H body and lens bundle (shipping in November $2,199 suggested retail), second-generation interchangeable lens camcorder. The NEX-VG20H bundles an 18-200mm lens with the camcorder body.

The VG20 will replace the NEX-VG10 introduced last year.

The concept combines the benefits of a large sensor (APS-C sized) interchangeable lens still camera, such as a d-SLR or mirrorless hybrid, with the superior audio recording quality and easier video operability of a Handycam camcorder.

 The VG20 continues to feature Sony's Quadcapsule recording mic and adds 5.1-channel surround sound and audio-level control.

It also adds a 16.1-megapixel APS-C image sensor (up from a 14.2MP version in the VG10), 1080/24p and 60p frame rate recording capability, RAW still image format capture,  270-degree articulating LCD touchscreen, improved grip design, additional record button on the handle, remote control, and HDMI output that works while the LCD is on.


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