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Sony Unveils Alpha-Series d-SLR Trio

San Diego — Looking to draw consumers used to more basic digital still cameras, Sony introduced Sunday three new d-SLRs targeting first-time users.

The three new cameras are part of Sony’s “α” (Alpha) line and include models DSLR-A380, DSLR-A330 and DSLR-A230. Also introduced were four new lenses, a flash and accessories to complement the cameras.

Sold as kits, the α380L, α330L and α230L will carry estimated street retails of $850, $650 and $550,

respectively. The L-series models include an SAL-1855 standard zoom lens.

The α380Y, α330Y and α230Y kits will carry estimated street retails of $1050, $850 and $750, respectively, and will include the SAL-1855 standard zoom and SAL-55200 telephoto zoom lenses.

Sony said all three d-SLR cameras were designed first and foremost around simplicity of use, and should help novices “overcome challenges faced by many customers taking their first steps in d-SLR photography.”

All three have scaled back the camera body size and offer what Sony said are “expansion options not found in other systems.”

“Our new alpha cameras, lenses and accessories make it easier for new users to get the great photos they expect without the steep learning curve that d-SLRs have traditionally required,” stated Kristen Elder, senior manager for the Alpha business at Sony Electronics. “By overcoming the obstacles, we’ve made it much easier for newcomers to take great pictures with d-SLRs.”

The 10.2-megapixel α230 camera body weighs 15.9 ounces, while the 10.2-megapixel α330 and the 14.2-megapixel α380 cameras “are also smaller and lighter than their predecessor models (the d-SLR-A300 and d-SLR-A350, respectively).”

All employ what Sony calls an “intuitive control layout that allows for easy single-handed operation.”

Key features included in the models are as follows:

·          SteadyShot Inside, which is an in-camera image stabilization system allowing every α-mount lens and camera to minimize image blur due to camera shake.

·          Quick AF live-view, which is a system that in both the α380 and α330 cameras offers the ability to frame photos on the camera’s LCD screen as well as in the optical viewfinder, maintaining the rapid response of a d-SLR without the focus delay of other live view systems.

·          2.7-inch Clear Photo LCD screen reduces sunlight glare, while the α380 and α330 models can be tilted up or down for simplified subject framing from high or low positions.

·          HDMI input enables the use of an optional HDMI cable to connect the camera to compatible HDTVs to play back images in HD resolution. The included Bravia Sync (HDMI-CEC) technology allows controlling camera playback using most Sony Bravia TVs and supplied remote controls.

·          Dedicated slots for high-capacity Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo and SD/SDHC media allows the use of multiple flash-memory card formats.

·          A Graphical User Interface (GUI) gives the α380, α330 and α230 cameras an easy navigation template plus a built-in onscreen help guide.

Accessories for the cameras include new standard zoom and telephoto lenses that are offered in two kit options with the camera bodies, plus new portrait and macro lenses offered as after-sale add-ons. Sony said the lenses were designed to simplify the process of taking professional-looking photos.

Optimized for use with APS-C-sized image sensors, the lenses feature a Smooth Autofocus Motor (SAM) that enables in-lens AF drive for smooth, quiet operation, and high optical performance in a compact size.

The DT 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 standard zoom lens (model SAL-1855) incorporates aspherical and extra-low dispersion (ED) elements for all-purpose shooting. The DT 55-200mm F/4-5.6 telephoto zoom lens (model SAL-55200/2) features an ED glass element and helps bring distant subjects closer. Both the SAL-1855 and SAL-55200 lenses are available separately, or packaged as kits with the new cameras.

To make the benefits of portrait and macro photography easier and more accessible, Sony is introducing a DT 50mm F/1.8 portrait lens (model SAL-50F18) and DT 30mm F/2.8 (model SAL-30M28) macro lens.  The wide-aperture SAL-50F18 lens helps users capture beautiful portraits with gently defocused backgrounds while the SAL-30M28 macro lens captures intricate close-ups. Both techniques are difficult to achieve with standard lenses. 

For better pictures in low-light settings the HVL-F20AM compact external flash unit was also designed for simple operation, Sony said. The external flash offers higher light output than typical built-in flash systems, and enables photographers to bounce light off the ceiling to eliminate harsh shadows and achieve more even illumination when shooting indoors.

Pricing on the accessory items are as follows:

·          The SAL-1855 standard zoom lens will cost about $200.

·          The SAL-55200 telephoto zoom lens will cost about $230.

·          The SAL-50F18 portrait lens will cost about $150.

·          The HVL-F20AM flash will cost about $130.

Sony said it will begin taking pre-orders on the cameras today at the Sony Style Web site and at selected retailers nationwide.

The cameras and most accessories are expected to be available in July at Sony Style retail stores, at military base exchanges and at authorized dealers.