There may have been no official announcement as yet in the UK, but Sony has now unveiled two new DSLRs at a launch in San Diego.
The 14.2 megapixel Alpha A350 and 10.2 megapixel Alpha A300 are both to arrive in the States this Spring, and are aimed squarely at first-time DSLR users.
The A300 kit with a DT 18-70mm f3.5-5.6 standard zoom lens will ship in April for about $800, while the A350 camera body will be available in March for about $800, and the DSLR-A350 kit with a DT 18-70mm f3.5-5.6 3.9x zoom lens will be available for about $900 at the same time.
The key draw to these new DSLRs is their Quick AF Live View system.
This allows snappers to frame images on the camera’s LCD "without sacrificing auto-focusing speed common to other live-view systems", claims Sony.
It explains: "The cameras' Pentamirror Tilt mechanism directs light to a dedicated live view image sensor, enabling fast and responsive TTL phase-detection auto-focusing, even during live view".
Photographers can also opt to use the models' optical viewfinder.
Coupled with the Quick AF Live View tool is the variable angle 2.7-inch Clear Photo LCD screen on both cameras.
This makes it easy to frame scenes from high or low positions difficult to reach when using an eye-level viewfinder.
The two launches are built around APS-C CCD image sensors and BIONZ processing engines.
They also offer Super SteadyShot image stabilisation enabling shutter speeds 2.5 to 3.5 steps slower than otherwise possible, with compatible Minolta Maxxum and Sony Alpha lenses.
To further minimise the chances of blurry pics, the camera can operate at ISO 1600 and 3200, and have in-built noise reduction facilities.
The DSLR-A300 model can shoot about three continuous frames per second and the DSLR-A350 model can shoot up to two-and-a-half continuous frames per second, when using the optical viewfinder.
Both are powered by a Lithium battery promising a battery life of up to 730 shots per full charge when using the optical viewfinder and up to 410 shots per full charge in live-view mode.
Additional features include an improved user interface; an automatic pop-up flash; a camera grip with an easily accessible mode dial; an anti-dust system to keep the CCD image sensor clean; and JPEG and RAW file format support.
Both have a slot for CompactFlash Type I/II media cards, but an adaptor for Memory Stick Duo cards is also available separately.
Key features at a glance for the A300:
- 10.2 million effective pixels
- 23.6 x 15.8mm CCD sensor
Key features at a glance for the A350:
- 14.2 million effective pixels
- 23.6 x 15.8mm CCD sensor
Shared features at a glance:
- Sensor shake system
- Static-free anti-dust coating
- Super-steady shot in-camera stabilization
- Shoot RAW, RAW + JPEG, JPEG Fine and JPEG Normal
- Compatible with Sony Alpha lenses and Minolta A-type bayonet mount lenses)
- 9-point autofocus system with centre cross
- Multi-pattern metering: 40 Segment, centre weighted and spot
- Sensitivity from ISO 100-3200
- Shutter: 30 to 1/4000s (1/3 EV steps)
- Viewfinder magnification approx. 0.74x with 50mm lens at infinity
- 2.7 inch tilting TFT LCD
- Dimensions: 130.8 x 98.5 x 74.7mm
- Weight: 582g (without battery)