Lets imagine the rumours turn out t be true and over the next few weeks we Sony users get a couple of new cameras, what are they likely to be?
A850 - an A900 lite. Well the A850 seems to be so certain that one of the best Sony/Minolta mount sites on the net (Dyxum) has already created an A900/A850 forum area. Historically this has only occurred when the site owner has had an inside tip that he really trusts. So far he hasn't been wrong and I'm willing to trust Mladen again.
Right now the only outstanding discussions on this revolve around price - most "responsible" net guessers seem to be saying something around $US2000 - so a $600 discount from the A900. There is some thought it might go even cheaper but as much as I hope this is true I wouldnt be betting my money on it.
A5XX - an A700 lite. Its widely believed that the A5XX series will be related to the A700 in some way and retail for about the price the A700 does at present. In truth if you took the A700, put it in a slightly cheaper body, gave it main sensor live-view and video and sold it for $US990 it would be a killer camera. I reckon thats pretty much what we'll get.
That leaves a Sony lie-up that goes something like this:
A230 - $US450
A330 - $US650
A380 - $US800
A500 - $US900
A550 - $US1200
A850 - $US2000
A900 - $US2600
Now thats based on a huge number of guesses and approximations but its close enough to draw a couple of conclusions. These are:
A7XX - Going uptown. There is space in this lineup for a 'higher' APS-C based 7 series but its going to have to push further up the price range to get away from the A5XX. Does the A7XX have to stay clear of the $US2000 A850? No!
I think it would be smart for Sony to have the A7XX and A850 both in the $US1800-$US2000 range. These could be very different camera's catering to very different user communities. I wouldnt see these camera's so much stealing sales from each other as vastly expanding the range of people that might consider buying a Sony.
Anyway - there's a solid rumour going around that a lot (not all - its never all) will be revealed on 28 Aug 2009. I'll come back and have a chat on this topic when (or if) this announcement happens.