Sony is poised to launch its first full-frame translucent mirror camera, the SLT-A99.
Set to replace Sony’s flagship A900 DSLR, launched four years ago, the A99 features a new 24.3- million-pixel Exmor imaging sensor.
Boasting the world’s lightest body for an interchangeable-lens 35mm full-frame camera, the 733g newcomer weighs 117g less than the A900.
Key features include a new Dual AF system that houses two phase-detection sensors.
The first is a traditional 19-point sensor (with 11 cross sensors), and the second a 102-point ‘focal plane phase detection AF sensor’ that overlays the main image sensor.
In a meeting with Amateur Photographer, Hideto Jimbo, a senior manager at Sony’s Digital Imaging Business Group said this enables the camera to achieve ‘much wider AF coverage’, while delivering the same focusing accuracy as a traditional sensor.
In a statement Sony claims: ‘Harnessing the power of Translucent Mirror Technology, this unique Dual AF System permits ultra-fast, accurate autofocusing that maintains tracking focus even if the subject leaves the 19-point AF frame’.
Also new is an AF-D, continuous AF, mode for tracking moving subjects. This should make it easier to focus on moving wildlife, for example.
And the A99 includes AF range control – designed to make it easier to focus on subjects ‘without interference’ from background or foreground.
This allows the AF to be adjusted to operate within a certain distance range and works in all AF modes, including AF-S and AF-A. This is particularly useful when shooting sports action from behind a net, or mesh-fence, according to Sony.
Features also include a maximum, expanded, equivalent ISO sensitivity of 25,600.
The sensor uses larger, thinner photo diodes – claimed to be 1.5x more sensitive than the A900, and generate half as much noise.
This is aided by an improved Bionz processor to achieve ‘14-bit raw output, rich gradation and low noise’.
The A99 is claimed to shoot six frames per second, or 10fps in tele-zoom high speed shooting mode.
Borrowing technology from Sony’s high-end compact, the RX100, the A99 includes ‘adaptive noise reduction’. This analyses characteristics of an image such as ‘edge’ and ‘texture’ and aims to suppress noise when shooting at high sensitivity.
The 2.4m-dot XGA OLED Tru-Finder [EVF] includes colour-tone adjustment, a manual focus assistance function and is also compatible with the APS-C format, in terms of providing a 100% field of view.
Designed to be ‘rigid and durable’, the camera body is made from magnesium alloy and to help resist dust and moisture.
The A99 features a three-way, 3in, tiltable 1.2m-dot LCD screen and WhiteMagic technology (also featured in the RX100) – claimed to double brightness.
Sony hopes to attract movie-makers by incorporating technology from its high-end camcorders, such as Full HD at 50p/25p – switchable to 60p/24p to meet AVCHD Version 2.0 specifications.
There is also an audio-level display and adjustable audio record levels.
A dial on the body allows access to a ‘multi-controller’, for ‘smooth, silent’ adjustment of variables, such as exposure compensation.
A re-designed grip also aims to improve handling.
Sony claims users can shoot without looking at the controls, thanks to an improved shape of switches and buttons.
The A99 is expected to cost around £2,500 body only and is due in shops in early November.
A vertical grip will be available separately, priced about £320.
A multi-interface hotshoe allows attachment of the new HVL-F60M (guide number 60) flash.
Photokina is set to see the debut of a 300mm f/2.8G SSM II, a lens revamped to resist moisture and dust and with ‘faster AF’.
It is expected to cost around £6,700 and go on sale at the end of this month.
Sony debuts NEX-6 and three CSC lenses (UK prices)
Mid-November is set to see the UK release of the Sony NEX-6, a 16.1-million-pixel [APS-C size sensor] compact system camera with built-in Wi-Fi.
Expected to cost around £830 with a new 16-50mm lens (see below), the NEX-6 features two ‘DSLR-like’ dials and a top equivalent ISO sensitivity of 25,600.
The OLED Tru-Finder [EVF] carries a screen resolution of 2.4m dots and the 3in (921,000-dot) LCD monitor is designed to tilt upwards by 90 degrees and down 45 degrees.
Wi-Fi connectivity allows photographers to download new features via Sony’s PlayMemories Camera Apps.
Claimed to ‘put DSLR power in your pocket’ the NEX-6 shares many features with the recently announced NEX-5R, such as a ‘Fast Hybrid AF’ system, combining contrast and phase detection.
Sony has also unleashed three new E-mount lenses: a 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 ‘power zoom’ (costing around £300 but not due out separately until January 2013); a 10-18mm f/4 (£750 and due in November); and a 35mm f/1.8 prime lens (expected in December, priced £400).
Amateur Photographer understands that the NEX-6 will cost around £710, body only.