In an exclusive interview, Sony’s Marketing Manager for Digital Imaging (Europe), Yann Salmon-Legagneur, told us that the Japanese electronic giant considers Live View and video modes in DSLRs to be functions for ‘entry-level users’.
The new Sony Alpha 550 features the same innovative ‘Quick AF Live View’ mode as the Sony A380 and now discontinued Sony A350. It is also the first Sony DSLR to feature a more conventional Live View mode, where the camera’s mirror is raised to expose the main imaging sensor. However, the 24-million pixel Alpha 850, which was launched at the same time and is expected to cost around £2,000, lacks some features available in competitive models, most notably, any form of Live View and video recording option.
When asked why Sony has decided to take such a conservative approach to the feature set of its latest top-end Alpha DSLR, Salmon-Legagneur responded by saying that with the Sony A850, ‘we didn’t want to lose time by adding more specification’. He went on, ‘we wanted to be very quick to launch this product, and be the first brand to launch a full-frame 24-million pixel camera under 2,000 Euros’.
Salmon-Legagneur was quick to dismiss the possibility of Sony moving into the professional DSLR sector, explaining that ‘Canon and Nikon [have been] occupying that territory for almost 100 years now’. He went on to say that ‘they are so strong in this market that it makes no sense to fight frontally [against them]’. He added ‘we don’t compare ourselves to those brands in the professional field’. However, he stressed, the Sony A900 is used by professional photographers that ‘get better quality than [competitive DSLRs] in studio shooting, landscape and wedding photography’.
When asked specifically why Sony has decided to omit Live View and video capture from the Sony A900 and Sony A850, Salmon-Legagneur explained that ‘our vision of Live View and video is very clear – we believe that these are functions for entry-level users’. He added ‘we still believe our ‘Quick AF’ Live View is better at the entry-level, and we could have brought Live View to the Sony A850, but it would have meant more development time and [more cost]’.
He went on, ‘our target was to launch the Alpha 850 quickly to satisfy the Alpha 700 user that has been waiting for full-frame at a reasonable price’. He explained ‘that was the target and that is why we believe it is more important to bring this camera [to the market] quickly rather than losing time with Live View’.
Salmon-Legagneur concluded ‘Live View is a useful function, but not absolutely necessary without proper autofocus’. The next step in putting Live View into Sony’s top-end Alpha DSLRs is to improve contrast detection AF, but we don’t have this technology ready yet’.