Tag Archives: Sony

Sony Unveils the A57 SLT: Improved Shooting Speed and Autofocus

Sony Unveils the A57 SLT: Improved Shooting Speed and Autofocus

Sony has announced the Alpha A57 pellicle mirror camera, the successor to its A55 released a year and a half ago. While the sensor resolution is still 16-megapixels — no megapixel war here — the new camera has an increased ISO limit of 16,000 (up from 12,800), a faster continuous shooting rate of 12fps (up from 10), and an improved 15-point AF system with enhanced object-tracking and snappy AF during HD video recording. It can also capture full HD video at 60p, 60i, and 24p. It’ll be priced at 00 for the body only (or 00 with a 18-55mm kit lens) when it hits store shelves next month.

In an interview with Amateur Photographer, Sony states that it will be targeting the DSLR market with its SLT cameras, and that it’s unlikely the company will ever release another traditional DSLR camera.

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New Gear: Sony a57 Translucent Mirror Camera

New Gear: Sony a57 Translucent Mirror Camera

The a55’s successor is still all about speed

The battle for the most frames-per-second is one of the most hotly contended categories in cameras right now and Sony‘s new A57 translucent mirror camera looks to be a serious contender, even with its mid-level pricing.

Like the a55 before it, the a57 has a 16.1-mepgapixel Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor coupled with the latest iteration of their BIONZ processor. AF is handled by the same 15-point (three cross-type) TTL phase detection system found in the a65. If you’re willing to drop the resolution down to about 8.4-megapixels and lock in your widest aperture, that setup is capable of pulling down 12 fps while maintaining AF and auto-exposure performance.

Things are equally as speedy in the video arena. Sony has tapped AVCHD Ver 2.0 as its preferred codec. That helps give the a57 the ability to grab 1080p video at frame rates as high as 60p. Of course, it can still pull common framerates like 60i, 30p and 24p, but that full 60 fps number is likely very appealing to those shooting a lot of fast action. It’s also something even the higher-end HDSLRs from most other manufacturers can’t (or at least don’t) deliver. On top of all that, the translucent mirror allows for full-time phase detection AF during video capture, which is a boon for those who haven’t mastered manual focusing.

Like the a77, the a57 uses the Tru-Finder electronic viewfinder, which has a 1440k dot resolution and offers a 100% field of view. You can use it to compose and review images, while zooming in on individual areas to check focus. The EVF is complemented by a 3-inch LCD display that rotates for composing shots at awkward angles.

In addition to the hardware updates, Sony has also put together a few interesting features to help differentiate the a57 from its competition. The new Auto Portrait Framing mode actually analyzes your pictures of people and crops them according to traditional rules of composition. It’s not something we’d likely use very much, but it could be an interesting learning tool, especially since the original image is also preserved. With that comes the usual suite of in-camera shooting and processing modes like HDR and miniature mode (which emulates a tilt-shift lens).

On top of that, the maximum ISO has been cranked up to a maximum setting of 16,000, making this a fairly robust update all around. The camera will start hitting shelves in April for 00 on its own or for 00 when combined with the 18-55mm kit zoom lens. We’ve had some hands-on time with an early pre-production model, but we’re eager to get a retail unit in our lab, especially after the A77 managed to thoroughly impress us.

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This is the full press release for the Sony a57 SLT camera:

Sony a57 press release

This is the full press release for the Sony a57 SLT camera:

SAN DIEGO, March 12, 2012 — A wider palette of creative options is now accessible to more shooters with the α57 camera, the newest addition to Sony’s popular line of A-mount cameras employing Translucent Mirror Technology.

The innovative Translucent Mirror design directs incoming light to the CMOS image sensor and the AF sensor at the same time, allowing full-time continuous AF during both still and video shooting. Users can also frame, focus and preview shots in real-time on the high-resolution Tru-Finder™ electronic viewfinder, which offers a wide viewing angle and 100% field of view. This allows photographers to capture exactly what they see on the screen.

A natural successor to Sony’s acclaimed α55 camera, the α57 is positioned for a wide audience of DSLR users. It can shoot still images at up to 12 frames per second, full HD video at 60p, 60i or 24p frame rates and has a variety of creative modes including Auto Portrait Framing, a world’s first technology

“Today’s DSLR consumer is looking for a higher level of control and flexibility in their camera,” said Mike Kahn, director of the Alpha camera business group for Sony Electronics. “With the introduction of the new α57, we’re bringing blazing fast response rates, enhanced artistic capabilities and other advanced features to the mainstream DSLR marketplace, offering professional-grade performance at affordable prices.”

With the α57 camera, shooting speeds of up to 12 frames per second are achieved in new Tele-zoom Continuous Advance Priority AE mode, maintaining continuous auto focus and auto exposure with fixed aperture. Magnifying the central portion of the sensor’s image by 1.4x, it’s perfect for capturing split-second action close-ups with a burst of sharply focused images, even when the subject is moving. In this shooting mode, aperture is fixed at either f/3.5 or the maximum aperture of lens in use (whichever is smaller) and image size of photos is about 8.4 megapixels.

Additionally, the α57 camera lets people create powerfully expressive Full HD movies. Responsive full-time continuous phase detection AF ensures that moving subjects stay sharply focused, just like with still shooting. Support for the AVCHD™ Ver. 2.0 (Progressive) format means that Full HD resolution movies can be captured with 60p frame rate: ideal for capturing smooth, blur-free action. Shooting in 24p is also available to give footage a rich, cinematic look. Movie-making options are enhanced further with full control over P/A/S/M shooting modes for virtually limitless creative expression.

The α57 model shares the α65’s 15-point AF system with three cross sensors delivering fast, accurate TTL phase detection autofocus. Newly enhanced Object Tracking AF keeps faces or other selected objects in sharp focus – even if a target is obscured momentarily by another passing object.

Even the novice photographers can now easily create pro-style portraits with the α57 thanks to new Auto Portrait Framing, a world’s first technology. Using face detection and the compositional ‘rule of thirds,’ the camera identifies a subject’s position, trimming the scene to create tightly framed, professional-looking pictures in portrait or landscape orientation while maintaining a copy of the original image. Saving both the original photo plus the adjusted version allows for easy comparison between the two images, offering photographers inspiration to refine their portrait skills.

To get closer to the subject, 2x Clear Image Zoom digital zoom technology doubles the effective magnification of your lens and is a highly practical alternative to travelling with a bigger, bulkier telephoto lens. The camera uses Sony’s “By Pixel Super Resolution Technology” to ensure that cropped and zoomed images retain full pixel resolution.

Additionally, the model’s range of popular in-camera Picture Effect modes includes 11 different effects and 15 total variations – offering a generous palette of ‘PC-free’ artistic treatments, including Pop Color, HDR Painting, Miniature Mode and much more. Results can be previewed directly in live view mode on the LCD screen or in the new Tru-Finder™ electronic viewfinder while shooting either Full HD video or stills.

Still and video shooting, framing, focusing and real-time preview of exposure adjustments are a pleasure with the new Tru-Finder™ electronic viewfinder. With ultra-detailed 1440k dot resolution and a 100% field of view, it rivals quality optical viewfinders. There’s a choice of selectable high-resolution information displays with a wide viewing-angle to help consumers shoot with confidence, including a digital level gauge and framing grid. Information can be displayed either directly in the viewfinder or on the angle-adjustable 7.5 cm (3.0-type) Xtra Fine LCD™ display.

Ensuring detail-packed images, the 16.1 effective megapixel Exmor® APS HD CMOS sensor is teamed with a latest-generation BIONZ® engine. Refined by Sony during the development of its flagship α77 and high-end α65 cameras, this powerful processor effortlessly handles large amounts of image data for flawless, low-noise images and Full HD video.

Thanks to the BIONZ processor, creative shooting opportunities are boosted by an outstanding sensitivity range of ISO 100-16,000. Users will experience consistently natural, low-noise images – whether shooting at fast shutter speeds to freeze dynamic action or handheld without flash in low light.

Pricing and Availability

The new α57 interchangeable lens camera will be available this April with an 18-55mm kit zoom lens for 00 (model SLT-A57K). It will also be offered as body-only for about 00 (model SLT-A57).

Sony will also be introducing a new battery-powered LED video light, model HVL-LE1, which broadens options for recording video indoors or in low light. This new accessory will be available this month for about 50.

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Undressing a Sony NEX Camera

Undressing a Sony NEX Camera

I have to say I have one of the better jobs on the planet, at least for a photography gear-head. The part I like best — well, really there’s a lot of parts I like best — but one fun part is that my job description includes: Take things apart. See how they work. Learn how to fix them.
Sometimes taking things apart is disappointing. I just don’t want to know things like “so you hold that together with a piece of Scotch tape, huh?” Some cameras and lenses look really nice on the outside, but inside there’s so much chaos I wonder if someone in the corporation is saying “We have 2 million of these parts left over, put them in something so we don’t have to write them off.”

Every so often, though, I get to see an internal design that is so elegant and efficient I think the engineers should have signed it like a painting. The Sony NEX cameras are that way. Perhaps being so small required efficient engineering, or maybe the team that designed it just was so good. Maybe the fact that there was no legacy technology that was cheap to carry over to the next model let the engineers, rather than the beancounters, make all the decisions. Whatever the reason, the layout is amazing.

I got to take apart an NEX 3 the other day (water in a camera is a bad thing) and thought some of you might like seeing the insides so I took a few pictures along the way.

The Usual Disclaimer Stuff

First things first: if your camera looks like this, then leave it alone. I have it on good authority that the curse of Serenput I (3,500 years later and we still can’t top the Egyptians when it comes to a good curse) is inscribed in the electronic chips of every NEX camera:

Whoever shall enter here and take these offerings: his arm shall be cut off like that of a bull, his neck shall be twisted off like that of a bird, his office shall not exist, the position of his son shall not exist, his house shall not exist in Nubia, his tomb shall not exist in the necropolis, his god shall not accept his white bread, he shall be cooked together with the condemned, his children shall belong to the fire, his corpse shall not be to the ground, I shall be against him as a crocodile on the water, as a serpent on earth, and as an enemy in the necropolis.

We’re semi-trained, semi-professionals with another 20 of these on the shelf. If we screw it up, we’ll only have 19 left, which is probably less critical than if you screw up the only one you have and then need to ‘splain to your wife why you have to buy a new camera.

Now Let’s Get to It!

It’s pretty obvious the 4 screws on the front hold the mount on, just like with every other camera.

And then that the three screws under that hold the mount base, which also lets you remove the lens stop. So far just about like every other camera (although unlike some there are no shims under the mount).

Flipping the camera over and removing 13 screws lets the back come right off. Thank you Sony #1: Notice all 13 screws are exactly the same size, which is a nice thing. A typical SLR uses 4 or 5 different size screws and you have to mark or remember exactly which screw goes where.

Thank you Sony #2: all the back buttons are all mounted on a single flex with one connection: you can remove and replace it in about 30 seconds should the need arise. Just the circular dial button on most cameras has 6 to 9 pieces (which I can assure you can’t be reassembled in less than an hour, 15 minutes of which is for profanity breaks, the other 45 require using a magnifying loupe which leaves you cross-eyed for the rest of the day).

The tilting LCD is surprisingly easy to disassemble – removing a few screws removes the cover and exposes the flexes. Disconnecting those and the LCD comes free.

After the LCD is removed and it’s flexes disconnected, the metal shielding plate is lifted up and the circuit boards are visible. If you haven’t looked at other cameras, you may not appreciate just how clean and well laid out this is. Every flex connector comes onto the main circuit board directly: no long, winding, taped-down cables on this camera. Notice also there is significant electrical shielding over critical cables and circuit boards (I’ve removed the secondary shield over the main board already). What nice, clean design!

After disconnecting the flexes and removing a couple of screws the two circuit boards and the plastic frame under them come out. Another ‘thank you Sony’: the smaller assembly is the memory card circuit. Those break somewhat frequently and on some cameras (yes, I’m talking about you, Canon 5D II) you may end up replacing the entire circuit board when that happens. On the NEX that would never be necessary.

Under that pretty copper shield (another point worth considering: copper is much more expensive than aluminum) is the imaging chip. It’s held in place with 4 screws and no shims. I’m not sure if the mirrorless design with it’s close backfocusing distance means alignment of the imaging chip and lens mount isn’t as critical as on an SLR, or if Sony is able to machine to such close tolerances that shims aren’t necessary. Maybe one of you can enlighten me.

The last few assemblies are the shutter and battery compartment, again easily removed.

Only after they are removed is the top button assembly accesible. So note to self: don’t break the shutter button on this camera. The electronic connections on the lens mount and the metal chassis of the camera are the last pieces out (lower right in the picture below). Even completely disassembled, there are amazingly few parts to this camera.

For those of you who want to ask, no, there was no reason to put the camera back together after water submersion. We wouldn’t trust the electronics to keep working even if they did work for a while. But there are a number of nonelectric parts that are salvageable, which is why we take them apart. OK, really there aren’t a lot of salvageable parts, after water immersion. But taking them apart is fun anyway.

And to give you a bit of perspective: If I wanted to take pictures of all the parts from a disassembled SLR, I would have needed about 4 images the size of the above. I’m generally not a Sony fan, but it’s amazing how much Sony has simplified the design of this camera – not just compared to SLRs, but even to other mirrorless cameras. And props to them for doing a lot of little things that cost money but probably make the camera better and more reliable: heavy electronic shielding, gluing down the flex clamps, using copper shields instead of aluminum, etc.

About the author: Roger Cicala is the founder of LensRentals. This article was originally published here.

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Lens Rentals stripped down a Sony NEX-3, and showed off its incredible design.

What Is Inside a Sony NEX-3?

Photo by Lens Rentals

Lens Rentals stripped down a Sony NEX-3, and showed off its incredible design.

Roger Cicala over at Lens Rentals has taken a water-damaged Sony NEX-3, and stripped it for parts, in the process showing off the incredible design that went into making this tiny ILC. Reading over his description of taking it apart piece by piece, you’re really struck by how much Sony did to make it simple to disassemble, and how elegant the construction is.

For example, Cicala notes how the buttons on the rear are all mounted on a single board, rather than separately, so it only takes a few minutes to take out and replace, rather than hours like on many other cameras. Or how the memory card circuit is separate from the main circuit, so the entire circuit board doesn’t need to be replaced if only part of it fails. He even emphasizes how cleanly laid out the circuitry is, with no wasted space.

Even more incredible? A photograph like the one above of all the pieces in a standard SLR would have to be four times the size — the NEX-3 has a fraction of the number of components as larger cameras. Hopefully that means that it’s easy enough to repair, and people will keep them going for years.

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More pictures of the upcoming Sony a57 SLT camera

More pictures of the upcoming Sony a57 SLT camera

Here few more images of the Sony a57 SLT camera that will be announced in few hours:

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Sony is expected to announce the new Sony a57 SLT camera next week.

For next week: new Sony a57 SLT camera

Sony is expected to announce the new Sony a57 SLT camera next week. This will be the replacement of the already discontinued a55 model. Here are the basic specs:

16.1MP CMOS sensor

ISO range: 100-16000

1920×1080 HD video at 60p/24p/60i

12 fps

15 points AF system with 3 cross sensors

3 in. 921k dot tiltable LCD screen

1440k dot EVF

New portrait mode + HDR, sweep panaroma modes

Price for body only: around 00

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March 03, 2012 at 01:17AM

“Radball” is the new Canon EOS 5D Mark III promo video

This is the Canon EOS 5D Mark III promo video – “Radball”:

Going behind the scenes with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III:

Related posts:

Canon EOS 5D Mark III video

Sony a77 promo video on Amazon

Sony NEX-7 promo video on Amazon

Canon EOS 5D Mark III on March 2nd

Canon 5D Mark II: manual exposure control for video

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February 28, 2012 at 10:27PM

New Gear: Sony Unleashes H-Series Superzoom Compacts

Five new compact cameras out of Sony today, all of which pack major zoom lenses.

Sony has today announced the new “H-series” of Cyber-shot compact cameras, all of which carry major zoom lenses and optical image stabilization at varying price points. First out the gate is the high-end DSC-HX200V, pictured above. It has a whopping 30x (27-810mm) zoom, and is expected in March for approximately 80. It, along with the HX30V, HX20V and HX10V all have a new 18.2-megapixel CMOS sensor. Sony claims the new sensor allows faster AF speeds, 1920×1080, and the ability to record 13-megapixel stills while shooting video.

The HX10V, HX20V and HX30V (left to right above, and yes, the HX20V and HX30V are near-identical) are more pocket, and pocketbook, friendly than the HX200V. The HC10V has a 16x (24-384mm) zoom lens, and the HX20V and HX30V both have 20x (25-500mm) versions. The only thing differentiating the HX30V from the HX20V is the inclusion of WiFi, and a 20 rather than 00 asking price, and both will land in May. The HX10V is expected to go for 30 in March.

Finally, the DSC-H90 will cost a comparatively low 50, and it has a 16.1-megapixel sensor, and 16x 24-384mm zoom lens. Expect to see it on shelves in March.

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