posted on Jul 3, 2009 at 2:46AM
Sony Unveils Three New DSLRsBy Emily Raymond
On May 17, Sony announced three new models to its α (alpha) digital SLR lineup that are smaller and easier to use than their predecessors. The manufacturer has included a graphic help guide and a more intuitive layout In hopes of attracting consumers who are outgrowing their pocket-sized digital cameras and want the same ease of use from a DSLR. In addition to the DSLR-A380, A330, and A230 announcements, Sony unveiled four new lenses, a flash unit, and a handful of accessories.
“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., in the company’s press release. “By overcoming the obstacles, we’ve made it easier for newcomers to take great pictures with DSLRs.”
The Sony Cyber-shot DSLR-A900 remains the flagship of the series as the three newly announced models will replace the more consumer-oriented A300 and A350. The Sony A380 heads up the newer models with its 14.2-megapixel resolution, while the A330 and A230 have 10.2 megapixels just like the older A300.
The Sony A380 and A330, which replace the A350 and A300 respectively, have compact bodies with tiltable 2.7-inch LCD monitors. These are handy with the accompanying Live View, where users can preview auto focus just as they would on a point-and-shoot. The bodies are built small so they are more convenient to pack and easier to adjust singlehandedly.
According to Sony, the A230 is “the lightest, most compact alpha DSLR camera body ever,” weighing just 15.9 ounces. It too has a 2.7-inch LCD screen, but it cannot fold or tilt like the screens on its pricier siblings. The A230 will cost only $550, and this price includes an 18-55mm kit lens. The A380 will retail for $850 and the A330 for $650, both prices reflecting the inclusion of the kit lens.
All three of the DSLRs come with 9-point auto focus, which can be set to startup when their users bring their eyes to the optical viewfinders. All three DSLRs shoot at speeds of up to 2.5 fps. Sony’s SteadyShot Inside image stabilization system is built into the camera bodies, so blur is reduced no matter which lens is attached. They accept Memory Stick Pro Duo, Pro-HG Duo, and SD/SDHC media and have HDMI terminals for outputting high-definition images to HDTVs.
Sony also announced three updated lenses to go along with its consumer-friendly alpha DSLRs. The lenses are specially made for the APS-C-sized image sensors in the cameras. They feature “SAM,” or Smooth Autofocus Motors, that deliver quiet yet “high optical performance in a compact size,” according to Sony’s press release. The new lenses include the DT 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 standard zoom lens, the DT 55-200mm f/4-5.6 telephoto zoom lens, and DT 50mm f/1.8 portrait lens.
The 18-55mm lens is included with all three of the Sony DSLRs announced. Sony is selling the cameras packaged with either the 18-55mm lens or the 18-55mm and the 55-200mm lens. The double-lens packages sell for $750 with the A230, $850 for the A330, and $1,050 with the A380. The 50mm portrait lens will sell for a budget-friendly $149.
Finally, Sony announced a compact flash unit that aims to be simpler than most and more compact too. The Sony HVL-F20AM allows a little more flexibility with lighting, as it has more output than the included flash on the Sony DSLRs and allows photographers to bounce light from a ceiling or wall. The flash unit will retail for $130.