Its been a long long time between serious news for the Sony DSLR user. The A700 was serious news. The A900 was serious news. Everything since then (including the very creditable A550 and A850) has been perfectly serviceable but nothing that really said, we are Sony, one of the powerhouses of consumer electronics, look at us. Instead, its been a long chain of dreary rehashes of the same basic three cameras, the A100, A700,A900. From that base, Sony has spawned the A200,230,290,300,330,380,390,450, 500, 550 and 850. And real progress has not really been made anywhere. A few tricks here and there (cool fast live view in some cameras etc) but really none of the ‘core’ camera functions have improved much.
Actually one thing that has changed, and we are mostly happy for, are the sensors. The move from the 10Mp CCD to 12Mp CMOS, 25Mp FF CMOS, 14Mp CMOS to the current 14Mp HD CMS in the NEX cameras has been excellent with improved resolution, DR, colour response and (most noticeably) high ISO performance between every generation. That said, however, the AF, metering, flash, control and customisation functions at the heart of a DSLR are little different between the June 2006 A100 and current June 2010 line-up of cameras.
So, here we are, the NEX camera and camcorder launch a few weeks behind us and another Photokina coming up about 60 days from now. What is going to happen next.
Well one site, Sony Alpha Rumours reckons it knows. Its suggesting:
Sony will introduce the two “translucent” cameras, the A55 (16MPX) and A33 (14MPX) -> (ultra fast autofocus during videorecording, very fast fps).
These ‘translucent cameras are based upon the pellical mirror technology discussed here and here.
My guess is the the different sensors (if this is true) point to the 14Mp sensor in the A550 and NEX series being the new ‘workhorse’ sensor for Sony. It will be fascinating to see if this sensor makes it way to Nikon or if Sony reckons that between the NEX series and based level A mounts it can make enough money. The presence of the 16Mp sensor probably signals what will drive the A7XX and (potentially) a future Nikon 400.
2) Sony will introduce two new Sony A5xx cameras with ExmorHD sensor. The higher-level camera will also be able to take 3D pictures (and it comes with GPS).
This is really surprising as the A500 and A550 are amongst the newest cameras in the Sony line-up and (apart from video) very competitive. And perhaps that the problem, today video is no longer an option, its seen as a requirement.
3) Many new lenses. Many current kit-lenses will be updated. The new Zeiss 24mm f/2.0 and Sony 500mm beast will finally come to market..
We always get sucked into talking about camera bodies but really it’s the lenses that many of us are really craving. The 24mm and 500mm are expected and there are strong rumours of an 16-80 CZ update. But what else is out there and what other ‘updates’ are required? My wild arsed guess, Sony is working on NEX compatibility for A mount lenses. What does this mean? Well I suspect at the least, some tweaks to AF processes (such as SSM in the CZ primes), possibly A mount lenses with Optical Stabilisation and most out there, electronic aperture support.
4) New NEX accessories are expected to be announced (electronic viewfinder???)
My guesses for NEX accessories. GPS, wireless unit(s), EVF.
If this rumour is true (and Sony Alpha Rumours doesn’t have the greatest reputation for getting it right) we are seeing almost a re-launch of the Sony Alpha brand. While it still doesn’t have the much desired A7XX (or the increasingly needed A8XX and A9XX) it would still be pretty big news.