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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 4:46 am 
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NEW! Sony Alpha SLT-A33 full review!!


DSLR REDEFINED: SONY INTRODUCES NEW CAMERAS POWERED BY WORLD’S FIRST TRANSLUCENT MIRROR TECHNOLOGY ENABLING SIMULTANEOUS AUTO FOCUS AND CAPTURE IN AN INTERCHANGEABLE LENS DIGITAL CAMERA

New Models Offer Continuous Phase Detect AF During 10 fps High-Speed Shooting and Full HD Movie Shooting


SAN DIEGO, August 23, 2010 –Sony today introduced two new α cameras (models SLT-A55V and SLT-A33) that adopt Sony’s newly-developed Translucent Mirror Technology™, which achieves the highest-level of auto focus speed for both still image and movie shooting.

Translucent Mirror Technology™ provides performance previously unattainable with traditional DSLR technology. Using the new technology, theα55 andα33 models can continuously and quickly focus (with TTL phase-detection) while shooting stills and recording video—even in full HD, allowing desired moments to be captured in tack sharp focus, high-definition video. They can shoot continuously at up to 10 frames per second on theα55 (and up to seven on theα33), achieving shooting speeds that are the fastest in the industry for an APS-C size sensor-equipped interchangeable lens cameras under $1000.

“This is the most innovative Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera that Sony has ever created,” said Kristen Elder, director of the digital imaging business group. “Our Translucent Mirror Technology is one of the most significant SLR structural changes in more than a decade.”

By displaying the images received by the Exmor™ APS HD CMOS Sensor, picture quality of the camera’s live view image has enhanced drastically. Coupled with the quick and accurate phase detect AF and 100 percent coverage Tru-Finder™ electronic viewfinder, the Quick AF Live View feature has been further advanced.

Translucent Mirror Technology

Both cameras are equipped with a translucent mirror, which enables light passing through the lens to be simultaneously received by the image sensor and the auto focus sensor, allowing continuous shooting and continuous focusing at speeds never before possible. The α55 offers the world's fastest 10 fps high-speed burst shooting with continuous AF (TTL phase-detection) in an interchangeable-lens digital camera with APS-C sensor.

Because of its structure, the Translucent Mirror Technology™ does away with the motion of raising and lowering the mirror. The absence of the moving mirror mechanism contributes to making the whole body size significantly compact compared to traditional DSLR cameras.

By eliminating the need to raise and lower the mirror between shots, the technology makes it possible to achieve focusing while images are captured. Existing systems can only focus in the interval between image capture, limiting the ability to track fast moving subjects. The cameras also have continuous Advance Priority AE Mode and will automatically adjust for the best exposure to help you get the most professional looking results.

High-Speed Capture with Auto Focus

Additionally, a newly developed 15-point AF system assures ultra-fast, high precision focusing. The high-speed shooting with continuous Phase Detect AF tracks rapidly moving subjects accurately. You can capture the decisive moments that you might have otherwise missed.

Creative Video Capture

The continuous phase detect AF also works in movie shooting for the first time in the world. The Translucent Mirror Technology™ also allows the α55 and α33 to be the first cameras to ever maintain continuous phase detection AF while recording Full HD AVCHD video. With fast, precise phase detection AF continually tracking subject movement, even fast action and subjects that move quickly towards or away from the camera are easy to keep in focus.

With a large 16.2 megapixel (for the α55) and 14.2 megapixel (for the α33) Exmor™ APS HD CMOS sensor, background defocusing effects can be easily captured. The APS-C sensor size is nearly 20 times larger than a traditional compact camcorders’ 1/2.88 type image sensor, providing more creative control.

Compatible with all A-mount lenses, video and photography enthusiasts alike can choose from macro to telephoto lenses to achieve their desired artistic effect.

Full-time Live View

Full-time Live View offers unprecedented freestyle shooting versatility with fast, precise AF using either the viewfinder or LCD monitor. The α55 and α33 have a fully articulated 3-inch 921,600 Xtra Fine LCD with TruBlack™ technology with 100 percent coverage.

The Tru-Finder eye-level viewfinder provides an unprecedented combination of 100 percent coverage and 1.1x magnification for easy and natural framing. By combining Translucent Mirror and Tru-Finder technologies, α33 and α55 are the first interchangeable lens digital cameras to offer movie recording with the familiar eye-level shooting style – a significant advantage in fast moving and extreme lighting conditions (bright sunlight and low-light situations).

The variable angle tilt LCD is adjustable to accommodate shooting from low or high angles. The electronic view finder has a high-resolution effective 1.15 million dots conversion Xtra Fine LCD™ display, is bright and easy to see even in low light, has a selectable shooting parameter display and shows the effects of exposure and white balance adjustments.

Advanced Shooting Features

With an Exmor™ APS HD CMOS sensor, BIONZ® high-speed image processing engine and ultra-high ISO sensitivity (ISO 100-12,800), the α55 and α33 cameras offer advanced shooting features. These make it easy to get the best shot, even in difficult lighting conditions.

Auto HDR shoots and combines three frames into a single high dynamic range (HDR) photo with rich shadow and highlight detail. Multi frame NR shoots and combines six frames into a single photo, enabling smooth low-light imaging at half the noise level. Hand-held Twilight shoots and combines six frames into a single photo, suppressing blur to enable clear night-scene imaging without a tripod or flash.

3D Sweep Panorama™ technology creates two images from a single frame, enabling panoramic photos to be viewed in 3D on compatible 3D systems and other devices that support 3D technology. Using the α55 model, built-in GPS capability enables global positioning coordinates to be recorded along with the date and time. HDMI™ connectivity enables stunningly beautiful PhotoTV HD display of images on compatible Sony BRAVIA® TVs.

AUTO+ (Advanced Auto) mode offers the same benefits as Auto mode and more, resulting in cleaner, more dynamic pictures and fewer missed shots. The camera automatically recognizes the correct scene mode, then quickly shoots and combines up to six shots to produce images with greater clarity, optimum dynamic range using Auto HDR technology and lower image noise using 6 shots layering technology. 

Accessories

The new cameras accept both Memory Stick PRO Duo™ (including Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo™) and SD (including both SDHC and SDXC formats) media (all sold separately). With a 30MB per second transfer rate, Sony’s Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo HX offers the best performance of all memory cards whether in continuous shooting mode or transferring data to other media.

A new dedicated microphone (models ECM-ALST1 and ECM-CG50) will also be available.

Pricing and Availability

The α55 and α33 cameras will cost about $750 and $650 (respectively) for the body only and about $850 and $750 (respectively) for the body and 18-55mm zoom lens. Theα33 camera will be available in September and theα55 model will be available in October at Sony Style® retail stores www.Sonystyle.com/retail) and at authorized dealers nationwide


Last edited by Gordon Laing on Sun Nov 20, 2011 7:51 am, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 7:19 am 
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I just found one major flaw, in terms of video with direct audio recording using a microphone. Sony has gone for a plug-in power mic jack which means that unless you're using a powered condenser microphone, you can't use condenser microphones at all. That's a real shame and it makes it much more expensive buying certain microphone types.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:23 am 
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After some years in the wilderness, Sony actually looks like they've found their way again.

Good job! I haven't seen a Sony with this much attention and whole hearted recommendations (from initial reviews) since the A900, and from all indications, this camera may be a new benchmark for others to follow. I won't be buying one :D , but I've been recommending Canon cameras to friends looking for a low end - mid range DSLR, and now, I can recommend the A55/A580 to them (2 are looking to get a DSLR in October, which should see models in stores by then).

It might just be the natural cycle of things, but this may be the point in which Sony at least gains a more comfortable foothold in the market (8-10% isn't for the faint of heart), with the NEX apparently doing really well. So, assuming the A55 does the same, I can definitely see some significant market share gain at the expense of Nikon and Canon (Panasonic is also on a roll).

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:30 am 
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All very interesting, even if the surprise has been lost from the long leaked rumours on this.

I wonder how the continuous AF performs over conventional DSLRs. The AF sensor has more time to keep track so could it be more accurate?

I think this might be very interesting for the casual film maker, or possibly high rate shooters. The question is how will the EVF be received on this type of camera?

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 10:42 am 
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Done some reading up on it elsewhere. Sounds like the high rate mode isn't as great as it could be after all. 10fps requires a dedicated mode so you're limited on the settings. The 6fps mode gets you access to the usual settings. In either mode the viewfinder doesn't give a continuous live view, only recent shots, so tracking erratic subjects will be even more difficult than normal. So for high shooting rate, a conventional DSLR arrangement is likely better.

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Lenses: EF 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 15-85 IS
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 11:41 am 
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First translucent mirror? Didn't Olympus do that with the E-1. That aside, this looks to be one of the more interesting announcements of the year, I hope the sensor performs well.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 5:20 pm 
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The Alpha 33 could be the ultimate “back-up” regardless if I eventually move up to a more robust pro 7xx or not.

At $650 I would think it’s a steal. This will have me looking at Boxing-day sales and probably a $100 off the current introduction price.

Much better than the NEX, for me anyway.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 2:32 am 
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So Gordon, when can we expect a review :D . As you are no doubt aware, most other review sites suck :D

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:41 pm 
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popo wrote:
So for high shooting rate, a conventional DSLR arrangement is likely better.

But far more expensive if you want 10 fps...for 5 frames per second there are fairly affordable models like the A580 and A560 fortunately.

If I read well on some sites, it seems like the movie recording is done with the aperture fully opened and only in this case it has autofocus. If you want more depth of field and close the aperture, it won't autofocus.

Am I mistaken or is the above correct ?

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Last edited by Joris Van den Berghe on Wed Aug 25, 2010 6:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 6:15 pm 
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Joris, from comments elsewhere, the high rate on the Axx is great unless the subject is moving, as the EVF doesn't give you a continuous live view during the process. In my opinion that is a big negative to its usefulness. Also apparently the 10 fps mode has significant limitations in settings, and you need to go to the 6fps mode to regain control.

I haven't looked at the AF limitation, but given on most normal DSLRs the phase AF is only rated to f/5.6, or f/6.3 at a push, it would make sense if that follows to the new cameras unless they specifically made AF sensors sensitive to bigger apertures.

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Lenses: EF 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 15-85 IS
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 6:20 pm 
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That's exactly what I thought, Popo. Despite their fantastic promo video...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6Kte597Drk

It's very promising - I'd compare it to a diamond. It still needs to be finished, some refinements have to be made...the AF while capturing video, the 10 fps mode, the battery (the A550's battery), a larger body :)...

Sony, bring on that A77, A7XX and NEX-7 :D.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 8:43 pm 
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As I understand it, the phase change AF only works at the maximum lens aperture - same as any DSLR - so that means for it to work in the movie mode it will also need to be using the maximum aperture. I will of course be putting this to the test when I review the camera.

Speaking of which, as you know I can't comment on timescales on future reviews. As you also know, I'm based in a very remote part of the world with only small subsiduaries of the companies to supply me with review stock, so I'm often behind the sites which are based in major urban regions. Sony has been quite slow at getting me new products recently, so it could be some time before I get these new products. I have been testing the NEX 5 for a while now though, so that review will be coming soon.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 29, 2010 1:08 am 
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Why does sony hate us so? Still no exposure bracketing greater than .7 ?


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 04, 2010 7:49 pm 
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Dang, this camera will be so awesome, the new features that this camera has would help me greatly with my candid and urban photography. I just hope that they would also concentrate on developing new and improved lens.

Anyway NIKON and CANON fans should watch out :P


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 1:57 am 
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Had a chance to see and play with the Alpha 33 for a minute today.
First impression is that it’s built very well and doesn’t hint of your typical consumer cam of recent times, decent grip and good button layout as well.
The viewfinder is a big WOW, super bright and almost 3-D like, no doubt this will be the new standard.


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