2008 Photo Marketing Association Tradeshow
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Sony's Alpha DSLR-A350 digital SLR. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Sony: Two live view Alpha-series DSLRs
By Michael R. Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Wednesday, January 30, 2008 - 15:01 EST)

Sony has today announced two new single-lens reflex digital cameras that implement live view functionality.

The Sony Alpha DSLR-A350 and Sony Alpha DSLR-A300 are very closely related designs, sharing basically the same body which features a tilting 2.7" LCD display to take advantage of the live view mode. As you'd expect, the design also includes a Sony Alpha lens mount, and there's a CompactFlash Type-I or Type-II storage slot which is also compatible with Microdrives. Power comes from a proprietary NP-FM500H Lithium Ion rechargeable battery. Where the cameras differ is in their choice of image sensors (and of course, in their pricetags). The Sony Alpha A350 is the more expensive model and includes an APS-C sized 14.2 megapixel CCD image sensor. The Sony Alpha A300 meanwhile keeps the cost down just slightly with a 10.2 megapixel CCD image sensor which is also an APS-C type. One further difference most likely relates to the difference in imagers - with more data to throw around, the Sony A350 is limited to a burst rate of two frames per second, whereas the lower-res Sony A300 can manage a useful three frames per second.

The most interesting feature of both cameras is Sony's new Live View mode. Implemented in a manner reminiscent of early Olympus EVOLT digital SLRs, Sony has chosen to use a second sensor in the viewfinder's optical path, allowing the cameras' phase detection autofocus systems to function normally during live view mode. A tilting mirror in the viewfinder path directs light to either the optical viewfinder or the secondary live view image sensor. Sony has provided us with diagrams and some neat cutaways demonstrating this:

Sony's Alpha Live View Implementation
Sony's Live View system as implemented in the Alpha-series digital SLRs. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Live View system as implemented in the Alpha-series digital SLRs. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Live View system as implemented in the Alpha-series digital SLRs. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
 

Full specifications and product photos for Sony's new duo of Alpha-series digital SLRs follow below. The Sony DSLR-A350 will be the first to ship this March, priced at about $800 body-only or as a $900 kit with a bundled DT 18-70mm f3.5-5.6 zoom lens. The Sony DSLR-A300 will follow from April priced at $800, and will be sold only in kit form with the DT 18-70mm f3.5-5.6 lens.

Sony Alpha DSLR-A300
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A300 digital SLR. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
General
Camera Type SLR
Manufacturer Sony
Model Number DSLR-A350
Dimensions 5.1 x 3.9 x 2.9"
130.8 x 98.5 x 74.7mm
Weight 582.0 g
20.3 oz
Planned Price $800.00
Planned Availability 2008
Image Capture
Sensor Type APS-C Sony CCD
10.20 megapixels (effective)
Filter Type RGBG
Focal Length Multiplier 1.50
Aspect Ratio 3:2, 16:9
Capture Speed Continuous: 3.0 frames per second for 9999 frames
Image Quality 3 levels
Image Preview / Review
Viewfinder Yes, SLR type; eye-level pentamirror, 95% coverage, 0.74x magnification
LCD 2.7", 230,000 pixels
Lens
Lens Type Interchangeable Lens
Bundled lens has 3.9x optical zoom and 55mm lens thread
Lens Mount Sony Alpha (Minolta A) mount
Image Stabilization Yes
Focal Length (bundled lens) 18.0 - 70.0mm (actual)
27 - 105mm (35mm equivalent)
Aperture Range (bundled lens) f/3.5 - 22 (W), f/5.6 - 36 (T)
Focusing System 9-point, center cross TTL phase detection with eye-start and "Quick AF" for Live View with AF assist lamp
Manual Focus possible (0) steps
Focusing Range Normal: 16" - infinity (38 cm - infinity)
Exposure
ISO Sensitivity 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; (1200 zone metering in Live View mode)
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: Built-in Auto Popup: Auto, Fill-flash, Rear flash sync, Slow Sync, High Speed, Sync, Wireless off camera flash (with Flash HVL-F56AM, F36AM)
Range: Lens dependent
Flash Exposure Compensation +/- 3.0EV in 1/3EV increments
Creative
Scene Modes Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Sports action, Sunset, Night portrait, Night view
Digital Zoom Up to 2x
Self Timer Yes, 2 or 10 seconds
Storage
Recording Medium CompactFlash Type 1, CompactFlash Type 2, Microdrive
File System FAT16, FAT32, complies with Design Rule for Camera File System (DCF)
File Format CCD-RAW, RAW, RAW+JPEG; (.ARW), JPEG (EXIF 2.21)
Connectivity
Video Yes, NTSC / PAL switchable
Computer USB 2.0 High Speed
Power
Battery Type Lithium Ion rechargeable
Battery Form Factor Proprietary NP-FM500H
Product Bundle
Battery / Charger 1 x Proprietary NP-FM500H Lithium Ion rechargeabl battery and charger
Flash Memory 0.0MB
Other
Digital Print Order Format (DPOF) compliant Yes
PictBridge Compliant Yes
Tripod Mount Yes, Metal
Remote Control Yes, Wireless
More Photos
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A300 digital SLR. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A300 digital SLR. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A300 digital SLR. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A300 digital SLR. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A300 digital SLR. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A300 digital SLR. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A300 digital SLR. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A300 digital SLR. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A300 digital SLR. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A300 digital SLR. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
 

Sony Alpha DSLR-A350
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A350 digital SLR. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
General
Camera Type SLR
Manufacturer Sony
Model Number DSLR-A350
Dimensions 5.1 x 3.9 x 2.9"
130.8 x 98.5 x 74.7mm
Weight 582.0 g
20.3 oz
Planned Price $900.00
Planned Availability 2008
Image Capture
Sensor Type APS-C Sony CCD
14.20 megapixels (effective)
Filter Type RGBG
Focal Length Multiplier 1.50
Aspect Ratio 3:2, 16:9
Image Dimensions 12.2 megapixels
10.3 megapixels
6.4 megapixels
5.4 megapixels
3.0 megapixels
2.6 megapixels
Capture Speed Continuous: 2.0 frames per second for 9999 frames
Image Quality 3 levels
Image Preview / Review
Viewfinder Yes, SLR type; eye-level pentamirror, 95% coverage, 0.74x magnification
LCD 2.7", 230,000 pixels
Lens
Lens Type Interchangeable Lens
Bundled lens has 3.9x optical zoom and 55mm lens thread
Lens Mount Sony Alpha (Minolta A) mount
Image Stabilization Yes
Focal Length (bundled lens) 18.0 - 70.0mm (actual)
27 - 105mm (35mm equivalent)
Aperture Range (bundled lens) f/3.5 - 22 (W), f/5.6 - 36 (T)
Focusing System 9-point, center cross TTL phase detection with eye-start and "Quick AF" for Live View with AF assist lamp
Manual Focus possible (0) steps
Focusing Range Normal: 16" - infinity (38 cm - infinity)
Exposure
ISO Sensitivity 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; (1200 zone metering in Live View mode)
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: Built-in Auto Popup: Auto, Fill-flash, Rear flash sync, Slow Sync, High Speed, Sync, Wireless off camera flash (with Flash HVL-F56AM, F36AM)
Range: Lens dependent
Flash Exposure Compensation +/- 3.0EV in 1/3EV increments
Creative
Scene Modes Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Sports action, Sunset, Night portrait, No flash
Digital Zoom Up to 2x
Self Timer Yes, 2 or 10 seconds
Storage
Recording Medium CompactFlash Type 1, CompactFlash Type 2, Microdrive
File System FAT16, FAT32, complies with Design Rule for Camera File System (DCF)
File Format CCD-RAW, RAW, RAW+JPEG; (.ARW), JPEG (EXIF 2.21)
Connectivity
Video Yes, NTSC / PAL switchable
Computer USB 2.0 High Speed
Other DC Input, Wired Remote
Power
Battery Type Lithium Ion rechargeable
Battery Form Factor Proprietary NP-FM500H
Product Bundle
Battery / Charger 1 x Proprietary NP-FM500H Lithium Ion rechargeabl battery and charger
Flash Memory 0.0MB
Other
Digital Print Order Format (DPOF) compliant Yes
PictBridge Compliant Yes
Tripod Mount Yes, Metal
Remote Control Yes, Wireless
More Photos
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A350 digital SLR. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A350 digital SLR. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A350 digital SLR. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A350 digital SLR. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A350 digital SLR. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A350 digital SLR. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A350 digital SLR. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A350 digital SLR. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A350 digital SLR. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Sony's Alpha DSLR-A350 digital SLR. Courtesy of Sony, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
 

Original Source Press Release:

Sony Introduces Two Mainstream DSLR Cameras With Unique “Quick AF Live” View System

SAN DIEGO, Jan. 30, 2008 – Sony is bringing live-view shooting to its digital SLR camera line with today’s introduction of a 14.2-megapixel α (alpha) DSLR-A350 camera and 10.2-megapixel α (alpha) DSLR-A300 model. Both cameras feature new technologies that make picture taking faster, easier, and more familiar for first-time DSLR users.

Quick AF Live View System
They both offer Sony’s new “Quick AF Live View” technology so you can frame photos on the camera’s LCD without sacrificing auto-focusing speed common to other live-view systems.

Sony’s innovative Pentamirror Tilt mechanism directs light to a dedicated live view image sensor, enabling fast and responsive TTL phase-detection auto-focusing, even during live view.

Eliminating the focus delay of other systems, the new models are equally responsive whether using live view or optical viewfinder.

With its two sensor design, Quick AF Live View can even continuously focus-track the subject and provide live view during burst shooting, helping you capture that special moment.

Taking further advantage of Quick AF Live View is the models’ variable angle 2.7-inch Clear Photo LCD ™ screen. This makes it easy to frame scenes from high or low positions difficult to reach when using an eye-level viewfinder.

With Live View and an adjustable LCD, the cameras do not need to be in front of the user’s face, allowing parents, for example, to maintain eye-contact when photographing their children.

“Mainstream users stepping up to DSLRs are looking for a similar experience to their point and shoot cameras, but without compromise in speed or performance” said Phil Lubell, director of marketing for digital cameras at Sony Electronics. “Quick AF Live View gives these new models a familiar shooting style without compromising speed – ideal for the growing market of first-time SLR users.”

Exceptional Image Quality
The new models produce images with fine detail, rich tonality and vibrant color due to their APS-C CCD image sensors and BIONZ® processing engine. To aid shooting in low light, Super SteadyShot® image stabilization enables shutter speeds 2.5 to 3.5 steps slower than otherwise possible, with every compatible Minolta Maxxum® and Sony a (alpha) lens (sold separately) attached to the camera.

High sensitivity operation at ISO 1600 and 3200 and very low noise are made possible by the user-selectable high-ISO noise reduction features. Sony’s D-Range Optimizer delivers suitable tonality and exposures with rich shadow and highlight detail, even under high contrast situations.

Powerful Performance, Easy to Use
The DSLR-A300 model can shoot about three continuous frames per second and the DSLR-A350 model can shoot up to two-and-a-half continuous frames per second, when using the optical viewfinder. Both are powered by the Bionz processing engine and supplied InfoLITHIUMTM battery for fast start-up times, quick response and long battery life – up to 730 shots per full charge when using the optical viewfinder and up to 410 shots per full charge in live-view mode.

Both models feature lighter, slimmer bodies for easy handling; an improved user interface; an automatic pop-up flash; a comfortable camera grip with an easily accessible mode dial; an anti-dust system to keep the CCD image sensor clean for spot-free pictures; and JPEG and RAW file format support. Both have a slot for CompactFlash™ Type I/II media cards.

An adaptor for Memory Stick Duo™ media cards is also available for the cameras and sold separately.

The new DSLR-A300 and DSLR-A350 cameras are compatible with a range of accessories, including the ergonomic Sony VG-B30AM vertical grip. Also available as an option is the new Sony HVL-F42AM flash unit. It offers advanced features such as automatic white balance adjustment with color temperature information, adjustable bounce angles, ADI metering and wireless remote operation to suit the needs of most photographers.

Price and Availability
The DSLR-A300 kit with a DT 18-70mm f3.5-5.6 standard zoom lens will ship in April for about $800. The DSLR-A350 camera body will be available in March for about $800, and the DSLR-A350 kit with a DT 18-70mm f3.5-5.6 3.9x zoom lens will be available for about $900 at the same time. Both models 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 today at www.sonystyle.com/dslr.

# # #

Editors Notes: Camera performance is measured using Camera Imaging Product Association (CIPA) standards. The viewable area of LCD displays is measured diagonally. Battery life will vary based on cameras settings, battery and environmental conditions. 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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