Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 leads Sony's full-frame assault
Sony has claimed a trio of full-frame firsts with its latest announcements. The title for world's first fixed lens 35 mm full-frame digital camera goes to the palm-sized Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 fixed lens camera, while the world's lightest full-frame interchangeable-lens digital camera crown rests on the head of the new Alpha SLT-A99 and the NEX-VG900 takes the world's first consumer 35mm full-frame interchangeable lens camcorder.
Leading the full-frame charge is the Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 professional compact camera that features a new 24.3 megapixel (35.8mm × 23.9mm) Exmor CMOS Sensor at an aspect ratio of 3:2. Together with its BIONZ image processor, the new compact is capable of 14-bit RAW format image data output, an ISO100 - 25600 sensitivity range that can be expanded to ISO50 - 102400, 5 frames per second (fps) continuous shooting at full resolution and SteadyShot image stabilization.
There's a brand new Carl Zeiss Sonnar T F2-22 lens fixed to the body with a near-silent in-lens shutter and manual aperture control, on-lens macro mode switching and a focus control ring. An MF Assist function magnifies a portion of the image while framing for fine focus adjustments and the camera features By Pixel Super Resolution digital zoom technology that's said to magnify image size without losing the pixel count.
To the rear is a 3-inch, 1,229k-dot resolution Xtra Fine LCD display with WhiteMagic technology for improved brightness. There's no built-in viewfinder but users can attach optional units can be attached to the camera's multi-interface shoe mount. The RX-1 is capable of capturing stills in RAW or JPEG image formats (or both), and of recording video at Full 1080p (24p/60i/60p), while a built-in stereo microphone takes care of audio capture.
The Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 will be available from November for US$2,800.
The following video from the SGNL by Sony team overviews the camera's main feature set:
Next to grace the full-frame podium is the successor to Sony's flagship α900, the SLT-A99. It also gets treated to the new 24.3 MP full-frame Exmor CMOS image sensor with a newly-developed separate multi-segment optional low-pass filter to increase its resolving power. Together with the BIONZ image processing engine, the new Alpha is capable of up to six frames per second at full resolution or up to 10 fps in Tele-zoom high speed shooting mode, can produce 14-bit RAW output and has a sensitivity range of ISO50 - 25600. A new area-specific noise reduction algorithm and SteadyShot INSIDE in-body image stabilization also feature.
The α99 also includes a dual phase-detect AF system comprising a 19-point AF system with 11 cross sensors complemented by a 102-point focal plane phase-detection AF sensor overlaying the main image sensor. Sony's Translucent Mirror Technology allows light to pass to both AF sensors continually and at the same time, all of which is claimed to measure subject distance and position more accurately than any other camera.
A new AF range control allows photographers to manually set foreground and background distance so that the AF system ignores nearby/distant objects and concentrates on the subject. Also new is an AF-D continuous autofocus mode (supported by the SAL2470Z, SAL2875, SAL50F14, SAL300F28G2, SAL70400G and SAL500F4G lenses at launch) that makes the most of the dual AF system for wider coverage of the frame, which Sony says results in significantly improved AF performance with fast or erratically moving subjects against complex backgrounds.
To the rear is a three-way tilting 3-inch, 1,228,800 dot XtraFine LCD screen, also with WhiteMagic technology, and a 2,359,000 dot XGA OLED Tru-Finder electronic viewfinder with 100 percent field of view and 0.71 times magnification. Sony claims that the α99 is the first full-frame DSLR to offer Full 1080p video recording at 60 frames per second, with full-time, continuous autofocus. Dual card media slots cater for uninterrupted movie recording and there's a new programmable silent control button on the front of the camera to allow tweaking of settings without annoying clicking sounds.
As you might expect, the new Alpha is compatible with Sony's A-mount lens system (although the company has confirmed that Minolta/Konica Minolta lenses can also be used), benefits from a built-in flash and a mode dial on top that can now be locked to avoid accidental changes. There's embedded GPS, an HDMI Type-C connector and USB 2.0, and an InfoLITHIUM battery that promises up to 410 shots with the viewfinder or 500 with the LCD display.
A weather-sealed magnesium alloy frame and the lack of a moving mirror mechanism and glass pentaprism are reported to be contributing factors to a body-only weight of 25.85 ounces (733 g).
The Alpha SLT-A99 will available from next month for a body-only price of $2800.
The remaining full-frame model outed by Sony is the NEX-VG900 Handycam. Sony says that its 24.3 megapixel full-frame Exmor CMOS sensor is "around 40 times larger than its equivalent in standard consumer camcorders and more than twice the size of the APS-C sensor found in other interchangeable lens Handycam models."
The new NEX camcorder features a BIONZ image processor which gives it a still mode sensitivity range of ISO100 to 25600, has 25-point contrast autofocus and comes supplied with a lens mount adapter for full-frame A-mount lenses. Usefully, the VG900 automatically switches from full-frame operation to APS-C mode when an E-mount or A-mount DT lens is attached.
The VG900 is capable of recording Full 1080p video at 24 fps with CinemaTone Gamma and CinemaTone Color grading presets, but can also handle 60i and 60p. It features a so-called seesaw lever for slow, smooth zoom, a 2,359,000 dot XGA OLED Tru-Finder electronic viewfinder and a 270 degree swivel 3-inch Xtra Fine touch-enabled LCD display with LED backlighting.
It also sports a Quad Capsule Spatial Array Microphone comprising four omnidirectional capsules angled at 45 degrees for stereo or 5.1 channel surround sound, and there's a headphone jack for direct monitoring too.
The NEX-VG900 Handycam will have a body-only price of $3,300 when it's made available in November
Product pages: Cyber-shot DSC-RX1, Alpha SLT-A99, NEX-VG900 Handycam
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