Sony Unveils Compact Hybrid Camera Pair

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formally introduced Tuesday 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.

In fact, Sony is calling its new NEX-5 and NEX-3 cameras "the world's smallest interchangeable lens cameras. Both hybrids are Sony's first mirrorless interchangeable lens models. They  use the large-area 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 - important for both still image capture and HD movie taking.

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.

The large-area APS HD CMOS sensors permit images with professional looking de-focused backgrounds that are difficult to achieve with most point-and-shoot digital cameras - in both stills and videos, Sony said.

The sensors are also 60 percent larger than sensors used on Micro Four Thirds cameras, Sony said.

The sensors also enable extended ISOs without degradation.

Both cameras will accept Sony's E-mount 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 built-in 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 NEX-5 features a more stylish body design, with a magnesium alloy body, while the NEX-3 features a more rounded design.

The cameras are said to have about half the size and weight of Sony's smallest D-SLR model.

The NEX-5 will shoot at 7 frames per second in speed priority mode and 2.3 frames per second with continues AF tracking data.

Both cameras include 3-inch wide format tilting LCD viewscreens with True Black technology.

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 E-mount 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.


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