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Sony's Alpha DSLR-A200. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Sony announces successor to its first DSLR (with preview)
By Michael R. Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Sunday, January 6, 2008 - 19:45 EST)

A year and seven months after Japan's Sony Corp. announced its first single-lens reflex digital camera, the company has announced the model which is to be its replacement.

In the wake of Konica Minolta's withdrawal from the consumer imaging market, Sony absorbed the company's camera business, and in June 2006 the Sony Alpha DSLR-A100 became the first fruit of the merger. Today, Sony has unveiled its successor in the form of the Alpha DSLR-A200. Externally, the most obvious change on the totally redesigned body is that the Sony A200 no longer has two dials on its top surface. Instead, the Function dial has been dropped from the design, and the Mode dial moved to the position the Function dial previously occupied. The LCD display is also just slightly larger at 2.7" instead of 2.5", and has a wider aspect ratio that better matches the 3:2 aspect of the camera's images.

Internally, the most significant change is in burst shooting. Whereas the original Sony A100 offered 2.4 frames per second for 19 frames, the Sony DSLR-A200 can deliver a full 3.0 fps to the maximum capacity of the memory card, there no longer being a specific burst depth limitation in JPEG mode. Raw shooters will want to bear in mind that the burst depth in Raw mode is six frames, and when shooting Raw + JPEG you'll find yourself limited to just three shots before the buffer fills. Sony has also worked on noise and ISO sensitivity with the Sony A200 capable of ISO 100 - 3200 equivalent, where the original A100 offered ISO 80 - 1600 equivalent. Likely of concern to some potential buyers, we understand that noise reduction is applied even to Raw files in the Sony A200.

Sony has dropped the adapter from its bundle which allowed A100 owners to use Memory Stick PRO / PRO Duo cards in their DSLR - instead, the DSLR-A200 accepts only CompactFlash Type-I or Type-II media including Microdrives. One other change of note is that where the DSLR-A100 accepted an NP-FM66H battery, the A200 uses an NP-FM500H.

Perhaps the most impressive change, however, is the pricing. The Sony Alpha DSLR-A200 will ship priced at $700 with a DT 18-70mm f3.5-5.6 lens, over 20% cheaper than the $900 body only price of the A100. A second Sony DSLR-A200 kit will include the DT 18-70mm f3.5-5.6 lens and a 75–300mm f4.5-5.6 lens, and will cost $900 - meaning you get a camera and two lenses for the same price that you got the camera body alone less than two years ago!

Full specifications and product photos courtesy of Sony follow below. We're also have a Sony A200 preview underway, and you can expect further updates to this tonight.

Sony Alpha DSLR-A200
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A200. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
General
Camera Type SLR
Manufacturer Sony
Model Number DSLR-A200
Dimensions 5.2 x 3.7 x 2.8"
133.0 x 95.0 x 71.0mm
Weight 545.0 g
19.1 oz
Planned Price $700.00
Planned Availability 2008
Warranty 1 years
Image Capture
Sensor Type APS-C Sony CCD
10.80 megapixels (total)
10.20 megapixels (effective)
Filter Type RGBG
Aspect Ratio 3:2
Image Dimensions 3872 x 2592 (10.0 megapixels)
2896 x 1936 (5.6 megapixels)
1920 x 1280 (2.5 megapixels)
Capture Speed Continuous: 3.0 frames per second for 9999 frames
Image Preview / Review
Viewfinder Yes, SLR type; eye-level pentamirror, 95% coverage, 0.83x magnification
LCD 2.7", 230,000 pixels
Playback Zoom 12.0x max
Lens
Lens Type Interchangeable Lens
3.9x optical zoom
55mm lens thread
Lens Mount Sony Alpha (Minolta A) mount
Image Stabilization Yes
Focal Length 18.0 - 70.0mm (actual)
27 - 105mm (35mm equivalent)
Aperture Range f/3.5 - 22 (W), f/5.6 - 36 (T)
Focusing System 9-point TTL phase detection (one cross-type sensor) with eye-start AF with AF assist lamp
Manual Focus possible (0) steps
Focusing Range Normal: 16" - infinity (38 cm - infinity)
Exposure
IS O Sensitivity Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
Shutter Speed 30 - 1/4000 second
Exposure Modes Aperture, Shutter, Manual
Metering Modes 40-segment honeycomb pattern, center-weighted, spot
Exposure Compensation +/- 2.0EV in 1/3EV increments
White Balance Image Sensor - Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Flash, Color temperature/Color filter, Custom, Manual
Internal Flash Guide Number: 12
Modes: Auto, Fill-flash, Rear sync, Wireless, High-Speed sync, Slow sync, Red-eye reduction: On/Off
Range: Lens dependent
Flash Exposure Compensation +/- 2.0EV in 1/3EV increments
Creative
Scene Modes Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Sports, Sunset, Night Portrait/Night View
Self Timer Yes, 2 or 10 seconds
Storage
Recording Medium CompactFlash Type 1, CompactFlash Type 2
File System FAT16, FAT32, complies with Design Rule for Camera File System (DCF)
File Format CCD-RAW, RAW, JPEG
Connectivity
Video Yes, NTSC / PAL switchable
Computer USB 2.0 High Speed
Other Wired remote, DC input
Power
Battery Type Lithium Ion rechargeable
Battery Form Factor Proprietary NP-FM500H
Product Bundle
Battery / Charger 1 x Proprietary NP-FM500H Lithium Ion rechargeable battery and charger
Flash Memory 0.0MB
Other
Digital Print Order Format (DPOF) compliant Yes
PictBridge Compliant Yes
Internal Microphone No
Tripod Mount Yes
Remote Control Yes, Optional
More Photos
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A200. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A200. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A200. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A200. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A200. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A200. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
 

Original Source Press Release:

SONY UNVEILS NEW MAINSTREAM DSLR CAMERA

LAS VEGAS (CES BOOTH 14200), Jan. 6, 2008 – Sony is advancing the digital SLR category for mainstream photographers with today’s introduction of the new a (alpha) DSLR-A200 camera.

The DSLR-A200 model features upgrades influenced by the recently-introduced, enthusiast-class DSLR-A700 camera and replaces the former Sony DSLR-A100 model, which was Sony’s first in the DSLR class.

The new model is designed to be faster, lighter and easier to use. Upgraded features include a wider, 2.7-inch Clear Photo LCDTM screen for easy playback viewing; a more compact body and an easily-accessible mode dial; an easy-to-use function menu (camera function display); improved noise control for higher quality images; an auto focus speed 1.7x faster than the previous model; improved predictive control performance; quieter shutter sound; automatic pop-up flash; and a battery life indicator that displays the percentage of battery life remaining so you know exactly when to recharge.

As seen in all a (alpha) camera bodies, the DSLR-A200 camera incorporates Super SteadyShot® image stabilization in the body to allow shooting at shutter speeds of 2.5 to 3.5 steps slower than otherwise possible – a benefit realized with every compatible lens attached to the camera. Compatible lenses encompass all Minolta Maxxum® mount lenses, in addition to Sony ? (alpha) lens lineup ? including Carl Zeiss® lenses.

“With the DSLR-A200, we are helping consumers capture high-quality images with advanced technology that’s practical and easy to use,” said Phil Lubell, director of marketing for digital cameras at Sony Electronics. “This model is an ideal step-up for point-and-shoot users who are looking for a camera that can capture virtually all of the photographs they want.”

High-Quality Images
With its 10.2-megapixel (effective) APS CCD image sensor, the DSLR-A200 camera continues to offer high-quality images by allowing more light to pass through to each pixel – increasing sensitivity, reducing noise, and providing greater detail.

Clean, reduced-noise signals are sent from the image sensor to Sony’s BIONZ™ processing engine, which processes data-rich picture information at high speeds and reduces picture noise in the RAW data stage before image JPEG conversion. The results are high-resolution, detailed images with rich tonal reproduction.

The DSLR-A200 model supports JPEG and RAW file format support. It has a slot for CompactFlash™ Type I/II media cards. An adaptor for Memory Stick Duo™ media cards is sold separately as an accessory.

Get The Photo Results You Want
In addition to Super SteadyShot image stabilization for virtually blur-free photos, the new model incorporates Sony’s D-Range Optimizer (DRO). It helps you capture well-exposed images, especially when shooting high-contrast or backlit scenes that often lead to loss of highlight and shadow detail. Sony’s DRO modifies the range from highlights to shadows, including gain and contrast, through its in-camera hardware processing to produce more natural, evenly exposed pictures. The camera’s image analysis technology studies the captured image data and instantly determines the best exposure and color tonality for the image before JPEG compression.

The BIONZ image processing engine powers the camera up immediately and the eye-start autofocus starts the focusing system before you even press the shutter. The camera can shoot up to three continuous frames per second at 10.2-megapixels at the finest JPEG compression level.

As seen in previous a (alpha) models, the new model carries a static-free anti-dust coating on the CCD filter which is gently vibrated to dislodge any dust that might have collected each time the camera is powered off.

Additionally, the DSLR-A200 camera’s supplied lithium ion battery offers up to 750 shots per full charge.

Bright and Easy Playback
The camera’s smaller, more compact body along with its wider, 2.7-inch Clear Photo LCD TM screen and a new on-screen navigation interface make it easier to carry and to use. The vibrant, easy-to-view screen features 230K-pixel resolution, an anti-reflection coating and glare-reducing layer assures vivid, accurate colors with a wide viewing angle, even in daylight. The on-screen navigation display shows camera settings and key shooting information in large, easy-to-read text. The display’s orientation automatically switches from landscape to portrait position when the camera is turned on its side.

Accessories Expand Creative Possibilities
Sony is providing a full line of accessories for the model, including flashes, rechargeable battery packs and several carrying cases. An interesting addition is the VG-B30AM ergonomic vertical grip equipped with the most essential controls for portrait orientation shooting. It also allows for the use of two InfoLITHIUM® batteries (sold separately) for up to 1,500 shots on a single, full charge.

The DSLR-A200K kit includes the camera body and a DT 18-70mm f3.5-5.6 3.9x zoom lens for about $700. The DSLR-A200W kit includes the camera body, the DT 18-70mm lens and a 75–300mm f4.5-5.6 lens for about $900. Both will ship in February and will be available at sonystyle.com, Sony Style® retail stores (www.sonystyle.com/retail), military base exchanges, and authorized dealers nationwide. Pre-orders begin online on Jan. 7 at www.sonystyle.com/dslr .

# # #

Editors Notes: Camera performance is measured using Camera Imaging Product Association (CIPA) standards. Battery life depends on usage patterns and environmental conditions. The viewable area of LCD displays is measured diagonally. For additional information about Sony products, your readers can call toll-free (888) 222-SONY, or visit Sony's web site at www.sonystyle.com. Press releases and digital images are available for the news media at Sony Electronics’ news and information web site at www.sony.com/news.

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