Sony shows a lot but says little concerning the future of its Alpha DSLR platform: no PMA launches but lots to look forward too
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Sony has created quite a stir with its small, but powerful, on-booth exhibit of two prototype DSLRs; one that will ship later this year and represents a model choice for advanced consumers above the current Sony Alpha A100 and one that is labeled as a flagship DSLR, which will become a reality some time in 2008. Some new lenses were also exhibited, including very large telephoto, finished in professional white.
This news must surely excite, as well as frustrate, Sony Alpha fans. No new Alpha products with firm shipping dates were revealed.
The only other Sony information we were given that vaguely relates to the Sony Alpha DSLR platform is the impending release of a range of Sony compact flash cards of 66x and 133x performance ratings and in capacities of 1GB, 2GB and 4GB.
Apart from that, no other information about the exhibited prototype hardware was given. So enjoy the pictures and use them to imagine Sony's plans!
Sony displayed a lot of, largely undescribed, new Sony Alpha lens designs as well as the new DSLRs inside a Perspex case. There was huge interest and a lot of jostling to take pictures around the small exhibit. All the following pictures had to be taken through the plastic casing, so apologies for the reflections !
Sony's proposed flagship DSLR is large and striking in design, particularly with its sharp geometrically styled pentaprism. Only a styling mock-up was displayed. It appears to marry cutting edge DSLR design with retro styling cues. That enormous lens is a Carl Zeiss Planar 85mm f/1.4.
By comparison, the consumer/enthusiast successor to the existing Sony Alpha A100 borrows much of its looks from the A100. The inclusion of a portrait mode battery grip indicates this model will fit inbetween the A100 and the 'flagship' model.
Back to the Sony Alpha flagship design concept model, this view of the top clearly shows the geometrical pyramid-style design of the pentaprism housing, which harks back to the earlier days of the film SLR camera.
Here is a top view from a slightly different angle. The one simple control dial, showing just the four usual exposure mode settings, is quite a contrast to the Minolta-inherited tradition of using two dials packed with settings.
This side-on view of Sony's Alpha flagship mock-up shows the battery grip with portrait mode release arrangement. The panel along the front of both the landscape and portrait mode grips hints at a return for Minolta's grip-activated functionality.
This clearer view of the flagship model shows that Sony aims to maintain exactly the same relationship, in terms of position, between the photographer's right hand and the lens.
Viewed from the other side, you can see the port covers and autofocus mode selector. There appears to be a standard flash PC socket.
The intermediate model is shown with what looks like a very similar battery grip design. The port covers and AF mode selector are clearly related closely, too.
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