Summary:

How ironic is it that Sony introduces new digital SLR cameras on the day I upgraded my Canon from one model to another? None of the refreshed Sony Alpha models offer high-definition video recording like my T1i will, but these are worth a look nonetheless. There […]

A230-Bk_right_18-55How ironic is it that Sony introduces new digital SLR cameras on the day I upgraded my Canon from one model to another? None of the refreshed Sony Alpha models offer high-definition video recording like my T1i will, but these are worth a look nonetheless. There are three new Alpha models available for pre-order today, ranging in price from $550 to $850 and supplied with a standard 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 lens.

The α230L offers 10.2 megapixels and weighs a few grams under 16 ounces, making it relatively light. Stepping up to the α330 doesn’t gain you pixels on the sensor but does offer Sony’s Quick Autofocus (AF) Live View functionality, which allows you to see the shot on the camera’s 2.7-inch LCD with perfect focus. You get that same function on the α380, but also get a sensor-boost up to 14.2 megapixels. I like how the LCD is adjustable so you can tilt it and not limit the angles of your shot; that’s something I don’t have on the Canon.

A380_TiltScreen_BThe updated Alpha camera bodies are complemented with some new lenses, too. The SAL-55200 is a telephoto, offering a focal range of 55-200mm for around $230. Sony also outed a new 50mm prime lens, the SAL-50F18, for around $150. I have Canon’s version of this lens with the same fairly open and fixed F/1.8 aperture and find it to be a great lens for portraits and close scenes in all different lighting environments.

Full press release and more photos follow.

 

SONY INTRODUCES THREE MAINSTREAM ALPHA CAMERAS

DESIGNED FOR FIRST-TIME DIGITAL SLR BUYERS

SAN DIEGO, May 17, 2009 – Sony is making it easy for first-time digital SLR buyers to step up from point-and-shoot digital still cameras with the introduction today of three new easy-to-use α (alpha) cameras (models DSLR-A380, DSLR-A330 and DSLR-A230), four new lenses, a flash and accessories.

Uniquely Matched to Customers’ Needs

The new cameras are designed to overcome challenges faced by many customers taking their first steps in DSLR photography. Without compromising performance and versatility, the new models are smaller, lighter, easier to use and offer innovative 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 DSLRs have traditionally required,” said Kristen Elder, senior manager for the alpha business at Sony Electronics Inc. “By overcoming the obstacles, we’ve made it much easier for newcomers to take great pictures with DSLRs.”

Light and Compact

The 10.2 megapixel α230 camera is the lightest, most compact alpha DSLR camera body ever at 15.9 ounces. The 10.2 megapixel α330 and the 14.2 megapixel α380 cameras are also smaller and lighter than their predecessor models (the DSLR-A300 and DSLR-A350, respectively). These cameras are also more compact and feature an intuitive control layout that allows for easy single-handed operation.

SteadyShot INSIDE™ in-camera image stabilization is built into each camera body, so every α-mount lens benefits from the ability to minimize blur due to camera shake.

Quick AF Live View System

Both the α380 and α330 cameras offer Sony’s Quick Autofocus (AF) Live View technology, so you can frame photos on the camera’s LCD screen as well as in the optical viewfinder. Through the use of a dedicated image sensor, Quick AF Live View maintains the rapid response of a DSLR, while avoiding the focus delay common to other live view systems.

The new cameras feature a 2.7-inch (diagonally) Clear Photo LCD™ screen that is easy to view even in bright sunlight. Additionally, the LCD on the α380 and α330 models can be tilted up or down, making it easy to frame your subject from high or low positions, otherwise difficult to see using an eye-level viewfinder. The range of adjustment has been increased from their predecessors, making it even easier to get shots from difficult angles.

By combining Quick AF Live View and an adjustable LCD, users can frame the scene without holding the camera in front of their face, allowing parents, for example, to maintain eye-contact when photographing their children for more natural expressions.

An HDMI™ terminal gives you the option of connecting your camera to a compatible HDTV and playing back your images in high definition quality (HDMI cable required, sold separately). Additionally, BRAVIA® Sync™ works with compatible Sony® BRAVIA HDTVs to let you control camera playback using the television’s remote (HDMI cable and BRAVIA Sync capable HDTV required, sold separately).

The new cameras include dedicated slots for high-capacity Memory Stick PRO Duo™, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo™ and SD/SDHC media (sold separately).

Built-in Help Guide

The α380, α330 and α230 models are Sony’s first DSLR cameras to feature a graphical user interface (GUI) with built-in on-screen Help Guide.

The Help Guide offers clear, concise explanations of various modes and settings, while the Graphic Display helps you understand the relationship between aperture and shutter speed, as well as the effect each has on photographic results.

Systems, Lenses and Flash

Making it easier for first-time DSLR users to get started, the new Sony cameras come in camera-and-lens packages. In addition to the two new standard zoom and telephoto lenses that are offered with the camera bodies, the company introduced new portrait and macro lenses. These purpose-built lenses make it much easier to obtain professional-looking, creative results.

Optimized for use with APS-C sized image sensors, these lenses feature a Smooth Autofocus Motor (SAM) that enables in-lens auto focus (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 to provide an all purpose lens with outstanding image quality. 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, ideal for capturing sports. 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.

To help users take better shots with flash, Sony offers an affordable, compact external flash unit (model HVL-F20AM) that is simple to operate. Unlike a camera’s built-in flash, this external flash provides higher output (Guide Number 20), and enables users to bounce light off the ceiling to eliminate harsh shadows and achieve more even illumination when shooting indoors.

Pricing and Availability

Pre-orders will begin on May 18, 2009 at http://www.sonystyle.com/retail and at selected retailers nationwide. The cameras and a range of accessories will be available in July at Sony Style® retail stores (www.sonystyle.com/retail), at military base exchanges and at authorized dealers nationwide.

The α380L, α330L and α230L will cost about $850, $650 and $550, respectively. The L series one-lens kit comes with the SAL-1855 standard zoom lens.

The α380Y, α330Y and α230Y will cost about $1050, $850 and $750, respectively. The Y series two-lens kit comes with both the SAL-1855 standard zoom and SAL-55200 telephoto zoom lenses.

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.

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