Sony A68 Review
|Full model name:||Sony Alpha ILCA-A68|
(23.5mm x 15.6mm)
|Viewfinder:||EVF / LCD|
|Native ISO:||100 - 25,600|
|Extended ISO:||100 - 25,600|
|Shutter:||1/4000 - 30 seconds|
|Max Aperture:||3.5 (kit lens)|
5.6 x 4.1 x 3.2 in.
(143 x 104 x 81 mm)
includes batteries, kit lens
|Full specs:||Sony A68 specifications|
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Sony A68 Review -- First Impressions
by Zig Weidelich
Surprise! Well over a year since the last SLT A-mount body was unveiled (the A77 II), Sony Europe unveiled the new Sony A68, a mid-level translucent mirror interchangeable lens camera with an interesting mix of tech borrowed from the A77 II as well as inherited from its predecessor, the A58.
That announcement was made November 5, and on December 17, Sony Electronics announced the A68 will also be available in the US and Canada starting in the spring of 2016.
The Sony A68 is built around a stabilized 24.2-megapixel APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor with a sensitive range of ISO 100 to 25,600 equivalent. The sensor is coupled to Sony's powerful BIONZ X image processor which boasts "Detail Reproduction" and diffraction-reducing technologies, in addition to area-specific noise reduction.
Exposure modes include full PASM (Programmed, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority, Manual), full Auto (with Intelligent and Superior options), Scene selection (Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Sports Action, Sunset, Night Portrait, Night Scene and Hand-held Twilight), Tele-zoom Continuous AE, Movie, Sweep Panorama, and three Custom settings for quick recall of your favorite settings.
Metering modes provided are 1200-zone multi-segment, center-weighted and spot. +/-5 EV of exposure compensation is available, as well as AE lock and and exposure bracketing (3 or 5 frames with up to 3.0 EV increments). DRO and WB bracketing modes are also available.
Shutter speeds range from 1/4000 to 30 seconds, plus a Bulb option. The Sony ILCA-68's full-resolution Continuous Hi mode is rated at up to 5 frames per second, and Continuous Lo is rated at 2.5 fps, both with continuous AF. No word yet on buffer depths.
The Alpha A68 features Sony's 4D FOCUS system which the company claims delivers extraordinary autofocus performance under a wide variety of shooting conditions, and in lighting as low as EV-2. The AF system offers a wide coverage area with a whopping 79 autofocus points using a dedicated phase-detect CCD AF module, likely the same one found in Sony's flagship A77 II model. Of the 79 AF points, 15 are cross-type sensors, the center point has an additional f/2.8 vertical line sensor for low light, and AF fine tuning is supported for up to 30 lenses, just like on the A77 Mark II.
Just like its Translucent Mirror predecessors, the Sony A68 can take advantage of this sensor not just for still imaging, but also for movies. The partially-reflective Translucent Mirror redirects only a portion of incoming light to the autofocus sensor, with the remainder available for capture by the image sensor. The camera can thus continue to focus at all times, even during live view or movie capture. The downside is that you have to rely on an electronic viewfinder, as there's not sufficient light for an optical viewfinder.
Autofocus modes offered are: Single-shot AF (AF-S), Continuous AF (AF-C) and Automatic AF (AF-A), and Focus Area options are: Wide, Zone, Center, Flexible Spot, Expanded Flexible Spot and Lock-On AF (Wide, Zone, Center, Flexible Spot, Expanded Flexible Spot). Additional autofocus features include Eye-start AF, Eye AF, Predictive control, Focus lock and AF On.
The Sony A68 can continuously track focus at up to 8 frames per second in Tele-zoom Continuous AE mode, however that mode captures cropped, 6-megapixel images using a maximum of 25 active AF points. As mentioned previously, focus tracking is supported at up to 5 fps in full-resolution Continuous Hi mode using the full AF sensor array.
The built-in flash strobe also seems to be borrowed from the A77 II. It has a guide number of 12 meters at ISO 100, up from 10 meters on the A58. X-sync is still 1/160s, though. The Sony A68 continues to support wireless flash with the built-in flash capable of acting as a commander to compatible remote units.
The Sony A68's Tru-Finder electronic viewfinder utilizes a 0.39"-type 1,440k-dot OLED panel, and includes an eye sensor. Coverage is 100%, magnification is 0.57x (35mm-equilvalent), eyepoint is 26.5mm from the eyepiece lens / 23mm from the eyepiece frame, and a diopter adjustment of -4.0 to +3.0m-1 is provided.
The rear monitor is only a modest 2.7-inch 461k-dot TFT LCD, but it can tilt up to 135 degrees or down to 55 degrees for shooting at odd angles, and unusually for this class, the Sony A68 includes an illuminated top panel status display as well.
The Sony A68 has a control wheel on the back that allows quick fingertip adjustment of camera settings, as well as 10 customizable buttons that frequently-used functions can be assigned to. There is also a front control dial for quick adjustments of settings, and a generous grip to help balance with heavy lenses.
The Sony A68 captures Full HD movies at up to 60p with stereo sound, and includes support for the efficient XAVC S format, enabling high bit rate recordings at up to 50 Mbps. Movie functions include PASM exposure control, AF drive speed, AF tracking duration, audio level display, audio rec level, wind filter, auto slow shutter and HDMI info display.
Images and movies are stored on Sony's proprietary Memory Stick PRO Duo and Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo flash cards or on Secure Digital cards. The latter include not only the higher-capacity SDHC and SDXC types, but also the higher-speed UHS-I compliant cards.
Connectivity features include Sony's Multi Interface Hot Shoe, a 3.5mm external mic jack, a DC input terminal, a Micro (Type-D) HDMI port, and a Multi/Micro USB port which also supports a wired remote. There is however no built-in Wi-Fi, though Eye-Fi SD cards are supported.
Power is derived from a proprietary NP-FM500H lithium-ion battery pack, and a dedicated charger is included in the bundle. Battery life is CIPA-rated for 580 shots per charge using the LCD, and 540 shots per charge with the EVF.
The Sony A68 will be available in the US starting in April 2016, and will list for around US$600 body-only, and for about US$700 kitted with the DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM II lens. Availability will also be from April in Canada, priced at about $800 and $950 CAD respectively.
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