Newly developed CMOS sensor joins high performance feature set on new Sony Alpha cameras
By Darren Quick
August 30, 2010
There’s been a bit of a flood of DSLR cameras unveiled in recent weeks. Nikon announced its first DSLR to record full 1080p video, while Canon added the Studio Version of its EOS 7D and its EOS 60D with an articulating LCD to its lineup. Not to be outdone, Sony joined the party unveiling its new translucent mirror cameras, the α33 and α55, which aren’t like conventional DSLRs as their mirror allows light through to the CMOS sensor instead of moving out of the way. Alongside the α33 and α55 Sony also announced the 16.2-megapixel α580 and 14.2-megapixel α560, which feature Sony’s newly developed Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor and BIONZ imaging processor.
The DSLR-α560 and DSLR-α580 include many of the features introduced in the α560’s predecessor, the α550, such as Quick AF Live View, which now benefits from a newly developed 15-point phase-detection autofocus system designed to keep even fast moving subjects in focus, and Auto HDR (High Dynamic Range), which has been further refined compared to previous generation models. With it, data from a burst of three frames at bracketed exposure values is automatically combined, creating a single image with extended highlight and shadow detail. Meanwhile, a new Multi-frame Noise Reduction feature ‘stacks’ a high-speed burst of six frames, creating a single low-noise exposure that boosts effective sensitivity as high as ISO 25600.
Exmor APS HD CMOS Sensor and BIONZ processorsThe new-generation Exmor APS HD CMOS Sensor processor and latest iteration of Sony’s BIONZ imaging processor, which are at the heart of both the new cameras support high-speed continuous shooting, up to 7fps in Speed Priority Continuous Advance mode, plus a range of digital image compositing and processing functions. There’s also Sony’s 3D Sweep Panorama feature, which captures 180-degree horizontal or 126-degree vertical panoramas with an 18mm focal length. The resulting 3D panoramas can be viewed on any compatible 3D HD television.
Video captureBoth the α560 and α580 also feature a dedicated Movie button for recording Full HD video and stereo sound in a choice of AVCHD 1080i or web-friendly MP4 formats. The large Exmor APS HD CMOS Sensor also makes it possible to capture movie clips with background focus (‘bokeh’) effects.
ViewfindersThe cameras also feature an up/down (90 degrees) articulating 7.5cm (3-in) Xtra Fine LCD on which a real-time ‘feed’ from the main sensor can be viewed in a new Focus Check Live View mode with switchable magnification allowing close-up confirmation of delicate focus adjustments. Contrast AF method is selectable in this mode. There’s also a high contrast optical viewfinder with 95 percent frame coverage with depth of field preview now available at the touch of a button.
The α560 and α580 accept both Memory Stick PRO Duo (including Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo) and SD (including both SDHC and SDXC formats) media.
The α560 camera body will cost about US$650, while the camera body and 18-55mm kit lens will cost about $750. It will be available from October. Sony will release the α580 in the first quarter of 2011 at a price to be announced.