Sony has entered the "hybrid" camera market on Tuesday with the launch of two new cameras - the NEX-5 and NEX-3.
Assigned to the company's Alpha range, rather than its more consumer focused Cybershot offering, the new NEX-5 boasts that it is the world's smallest and lightest interchangeable lens digital camera.
The new cameras will tout a 14.2 effective megapixel Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor, whilst the NEX-5 will offer 1080i HD movie recording with stereo sound, fast and silent autofocus and support the company's range of DSLR lenses via an optional mount adaptor.
Ditching the mirror means, like other models from other manufacturers, Sony has been able to shrink the thickness of the cameras to just 24.2mm and 25.4mm for the NEX-5 and NEX-3 at their slimmest points.
The cameras will come with a 3-inch Xtra Fine LCD screen with TruBlack technology that also tilts up or down. Most of the in-camera controls are managed by a control wheel with two soft keys that allow you to change things like depth of focus on the fly while watching the results on the Live LCD.
There is no flash however, something that Samsung, Panasonic, and Olympus will claim victory over. Although rather than force you to pay extra, both cameras come supplied with a super-compact clip-on flash that attaches via the smart accessory terminal when needed for low-light shooting.
Other optional accessories include the FDA-SV1 optical viewfinder plus colour coordinated cases and shoulder straps.
Inside, and that CMOS sensor and BIONZ processor combine to allow you speedy DSLR-style shooting says Sony, and both cameras can also capture fast-moving action with a high-speed burst of full-resolution images at up to 7fps (AF/AE fixed from first frame). ISO will range between 200 - 12800 and feature a Contrast AF (25 multi-point/Centre-weighted/Flexible Spot). Preset shooting options include Face Detection, Smile Shutter, Sweep Panorama (3D ready), iAUTO, Auto HDR, Anti Motion Blur Mode and Hand-held Night Shot
The NEX-5 and NEX-3 are also the first alpha cameras to offer HD video recording. The NEX-5 shoots Full HD (1920 x 1080) video AVCHD files, while the NEX-3 offers HD video (720p) recording as MPEG4 files. Both cameras accept an external microphone.
Following on from the HX5, the new models also feature the Sweep Panorama that, at the press of a button lets you sweep the camera horizontally or vertically to take a panoramic shot rather than wasting time trying to line up multiple images.
To kick start the lens excitement (you will be able to use Sony's 30 Alpha lenses but only with an optional adapter) Sony is offering a 16mm f/2.8 pancake lens, a more traditional 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 zoom lens and a 18-200 F/3.5-6.3 zoom lens. Both the larger lenses feature in-lens Optical SteadyShot image stabilisation.
No word on pricing as yet, but Sony has said that the NEX-5 and NEX-3 cameras will be available in the UK from June 2010.