Sony released a whopping number of cameras on the 24th of August 2010 – the DSLR-A560, DSLR-A580, SLT-A33 and SLT-A55!
(Click image for a bigger view. There are a few missing bodies – the white NEX-3 and the Sony A450 launched early 2010, and the discontinued Sony 500mm F8 AF Reflex, Sony 55-200mm F4-5.6 DT (I) and Sony 24-105mm F3.5-4.5.)
I’d usually blog about the latest Sony Alphas and stuff but somehow while I am still very excited and very much intent on buying a Sony SLT-A55, I am not so sure what would be the purpose in blogging about stuff people already know (I am having a hard time compiling it as I’ve gotten information overload since it launched!)
I would rather blog about these once I’ve had a hands-on, so pardon me if I miss out anything in this, as the A560 and A580 have little information known about them.
I would definitely be better served by a 7-series Single Lens Translucent camera (SLT) but I could buy the A55 and sell it when the A77 comes (or if it’s merged in the A700 replacement, even better!)
The A55 and NEX-5 will come with me to gigs since both do video, and the A55 and A900 will come with me for photography work (the NEX-5 doesn’t support an external bounced flash yet.)
I would probably pick the A55 for travel as it has a pop-up flash that is always there, and it supports AF with A-mount lenses and video.
The A560 and A580 are unfortunately not getting the love they deserve from review sites. I could understand why – the A5xx series is more of an inbetween than anything now – it has a small optical viewfinder, doesn’t have phase detect autofocus in video, and is bigger.
However, the A560 and A580 add Hand-held Twilight, Multi-frame NR (and an Auto+ mode to know when to use these), Sweep Panorama, 3D Sweep Panorama and 15 AF points to the A450/A500/A550 series. Oh and contrast-detect AF in Focus Check Live View – the first ever in a Sony Alpha dSLR! (The NEX bodies use contrast-detect AF but are not dSLRs.)
The A560 and A580 apparently cannot use contrast-detect AF when recording video (I may edit this later if other reports prove otherwise.)
So what’s the big deal about contrast-detect AF and phase-detect AF?
The A55 uses phase-detect, while the Canon 550D uses contrast-detect, and the difference is obvious in Focus Numerique’s video below:
There is a downside to using phase-detect AF in video – the lens needs to be shooting wide open, so a F1.4 lens might need a ND filter in daylight. You can choose to shoot at any other aperture but AF will be disabled (from http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/sony-a55-preview.shtml.)
The A560, although being cheaper, still gets 7 frames per second continuous shooting.
The A580 and A55 both get 16 megapixels, instead of the A560 and A33’s 14 megapixels. The A55 also gets 10 frames per second with phase-detect autofocus!
The A33 and A55 can use on-sensor SteadyShot while recording videos but it makes the recording limited to 9 minutes to prevent overheating. With SteadyShot off it can do 29 minutes (darn EU regulations taxing cameras that record 30 minutes or more!)
The A55V has built-in GPS, a first for any dSLR! Note that this is different from the regular A55 which does not have GPS (and this might be the only option in certain countries.)
The A33 and A55 have an electronic viewfinder similiar in size to the A900’s optical viewfinder, at 100% coverage, 0.73x magnification (the A900 does 100% 0.74x.)
And here’s the official trailer for the A33 and A55:
Here’s a video of the A55 doing 10 frames per second:
And here’s a video of the A55 with a Sony 35mm F1.4G showing continuous auto-focus:
Here’s yet another video – I don’t know what lens was used:
Tranlucent Mirror Technology
The translucent mirror on the A33 and A55 will reflect some light up to the phase-detect AF sensors up where the pentaprism used to be, even when recording video or taking pictures, so there are concerns that the 1/3rd of a stop of light loss will cause more noise.
What is 1/3rd of a stop? The difference between F3.5 and F4.0. The difference between F1.4 and F1.6. Not much eh?
Progressive, Not Interlaced
It is very nice to know that Sony now acknowledges that they record progressive video in an interlaced container. I quote Sony Style:
“The DSLR-A560L captures Full HD video at 1920×1080/30p and records in 1920×1080/60i and is one of the very few DSLRs with exactly the same resolution and frame rate as most broadcast and cable HDTV channels. You also have the option of recording HD video in 720p in web friendly MP4 format. ”
I took the stock photos from:
http://www.pbase.com/anserum/alphacams (good work compiling, thanks!)