Sony released three new entry-level Alpha digital SLR models yesterday – the Alpha 230, Alpha 330 and Alpha 380!
This is the Alpha 230. Note the infrared sensor for the remote control – apparently, you can now use the RMT-DSLR1 accessory to trigger the Alphas remotely! Also, note the recessed command dial, and longer pop-up flash (unlike the shortened flash on the A200/A300/A350.)
The lens on it, the Sony SAM 30mm F2.8 DT Macro, is another interesting lens – I can’t tell from the picture but it probably can focus to 13 cm close! (This is measured from the sensor plane; the actual working distance between the front of the lens and subject is supposed to be 2cm!)
This is the Alpha 330, which can be identified by its cross-stitch rubber texture and silver top. Note that there is also a copper-topped version as shown here! Also note the new Sony SAM 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 DT (SAM stands for Smooth Autofocus Motor, to differentiate it from SSM which stands for Super Sonic Motor and allows full-time manual focus.)
An interesting thing about having a lens with less telephoto range, is that its minimum focus distance can get a lot closer:
The Sony SAM 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 DT focuses to 25cm close and gives 1:2.94x maximum magnification.
The Sony SAL 18-70mm F3.5-5.6 DT focuses to 38cm close and gives 1:4x maximum magnification.
This is the Alpha 380. It has a tilting screen to shoot tricky angles with Quick AF Live View (other brands have Live View but AF is horribly slow when in Live View!)
I like how they made the design very streamlined; the Drive and ISO buttons are gone, moved to the keypad; the AEL button is unfortunately gone (though very few understand it, and EV compensation works as well.) I suspect that the relatively “Slow Navi” of the A200/A300/A350 series has been replaced as the buttons have been reworked.
There are clear explanations on screen about what each mode does. Ah, built in help! And yes, you can choose background colors for the pink lover in you.
Interesting that there is a light meter on the right of the screen, to auto-adjust brightness in different conditions.
The frame rate for all three cameras are now 2.5 FPS and 2.0 FPS in Live View where applicable.
Three new lenses; from left to right:
1) Sony SAM 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 DT
2) Sony SAM 50mm F1.8 DT
3) Sony SAM 55-200mm F4-5.6 DT
What is very exciting about the SAM 50mm F1.8 DT, is that it can focus to 34cm close! This gives a decent 1:5x maximum magnification.
All other autofocus 50mm lenses that are brighter than F2.0, can only focus to 45cm close! This is a new record, which I am glad that Sony beat!
(There are, of course, manual focus Carl Zeiss/Pentacon 50mm F1.8 M42 lenses that go 33cm close, and the Olympus ZD 50mm F2.0 Macro which goes 20cm close, and the Sony 50mm F2.8 Macro which goes 20cm close.)
The 55-200mm seems unchanged with the previous SAL 55-200mm F4-5.6 DT, still focusing to 95cm close and giving a 1:3.45x maximum magnification.
Interestingly, the CF card slot has been removed, and in its place, a Memory Stick HG Duo slot and a SD/SDHC slot! There is also a USB Mini-B port, instead of the USB Micro-B port on all previous Alphas which was a lot rarer. There is also a HDMI port and a MS/SD switch.
I much appreciate the graphical DUH display (the new grip strap is pictured hooked onto the camera.)
Accessories! That’s a new bag in the top-left corner; the transforming, LCS-WR1AM wrapping cloth in the top-right corner, pouches for lens caps in the bottom-right corner, a magnifier loupe, the new NP-FH50 (shared with Handicams and the Sony Cybershot HX-1), a little pop-up screen protector good for viewing in sunlight, and of course the grip straps.
Yes, a funky wrapping cloth!
Oh, and of course this cute little thing, the Sony HVL-F20AM – a new tiny flash to complement the A900 which has no pop-up flash. In other words, a pop-up flash that can be removed, and can rotate upwards for bounce mode. Exactly what I wanted!
To add to that, when on the A900, it can be used as a wireless controller! That’s all Sony literature says – whether it will also work as a wireless controller on the KM5D/KM7D/A100/A200/A230/A300/A330/A350/A380/A700 is not known.
I am already looking forward to putting this on the A900 as a main bounce light, with my F58 and F42 making two hair lights.
I really don’t need that much power when using this flash in social events and clubs. (Though I am wary of clubs now boohoo.)
The flash turns on when you pull it up, and turns off when you push it down.
Unfortunately though, this uses 2 AAA batteries instead. Fortunately the batteries I got for my Sunpak PF20XD are still full of charge!
Finally, some lens pr0n. These are all the 21 Sony full-frame lenses, apparently; from left to right, top to bottom:
Sony 2x APO teleconverter, Sony 50mm F1.4, Sony 70-200mm F2.8G SSM, Sony 300mm F2.8G SSM
Sony 1.4x APO teleconverter, Sony 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G SSM, Sony 35mm F1.4G, Sony 24-105mmm F3.5-4.5, Sony 75-300mm F4.5-5.6
Sony 50mm F2.8 Macro, Sony 20mm F2.8, Sony Carl Zeiss Planar T* 85mm F1.4 ZA, Sony 70-400mm F4-5.6G SSM
Sony 100mm F2.8 Macro, Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8 ZA, Sony Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 16-35mm F2.8 ZA SSM, Sony Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 24-70mm F2.8 ZA SSM
Sony 500mm F8 Reflex, Sony 16mm F2.8 diagonal fisheye, Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus, Sony 28mm F2.8
And this is a whole family lineup. Interestingly, the Sony 24-105mm F3.5-4.5 is omitted from this lineup! So we don’t know if it’s discontinued or not. The Sony 16-105mm F3.5-5.6 DT only sits on the A700 instead of standing by itself. The original Sony 55-200mm F4-5.6 DT seems to be omitted as well, although the old Sony 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DT is still in the picture!
Now here’s the Japanese lineup – it comes with a ladies’ bag! Yes, Sony sells a bag to go with your camera!
(This also shows how big a Sony 300mm F2.8G SSM really is… honestly, ladies’ bags are huge.)