Sony has announced the first DSLRs to feature electronic viewfinders (EVF) and a so-called 'translucent' mirror. The mirror is likely to be a semi-silvered type, but it's sure to be extremely vulnerable to damage (while cleaning, for instance). Time will tell, but if you've ever seen a cracked pellicle mirror it's a truly sobering experience. All the same, now that Sony has combined the pellicle with the EVF this could be the beginning of the end of the optical viewfinder in DSLRs. The Alpha 55 is the one to go for between the two, and if Sony update the Carl Zeiss DT16-80 f/3.5-4.5 (shown on the Alpha 33) with a SSM internal AF motor, I will have to fight hard to resist. Times are a changin'.
Camera speed redefined: Sony introduces first Translucent Mirror Technology digital cameras Light, compact α55 and α33: up to 10fps shooting with high-speed AF tracking and Full HD movie
24 August 2010
• α55 (SLT-A55V) (16.2 megapixels) and α33 (SLT-A33) (14.2 megapixels)
• Ultra-quick shooting up to 10fps with fast, precision phase detection AF
• First ever Quick AF HD Movie with smooth, continuous autofocus during video shooting
• Enhanced Quick AF Live View and 7.5 cm (3") free-angle LCD, plus Tru-Finder (Electronic Viewfinder) with 100% coverage
• Advanced imaging functions including 3D Sweep Panorama, Auto HDR and multi-frame noise reduction
The α (pronounced Alpha) family of interchangeable lens cameras from Sony grows with the compact, ultra-responsive new α55 and α33.
Sony’s first-ever digital cameras to employ Translucent Mirror Technology showcase an innovative optical system that opens up dramatic new shooting possibilities. In contrast with conventional DSLR cameras, Translucent Mirror Technology uses a fixed, translucent mirror that ‘splits’ the optical pathway between the main image sensor and a separate phase-detection autofocus sensor.
High-resolution live image preview with rapid, accurate phase detection autofocus is thus available at all times – either via the angle-adjustable 7.5cm (3”) LCD or precision Tru-Finder (electronic viewfinder). This also ensures that even moving objects stay in sharp focus at all times, whether you’re shooting Full HD video or stills.
Translucent Mirror Technology overcomes other traditional limitations of DSLR models, with its simplified mechanical design shrinking camera size and complexity. This makes the α55 and α33 a compelling choice for casual photographers who want to capture spontaneous family moments and travel scenes with less to carry.
Full-resolution shooting at up to 10fps with precise AF tracking
Ground-breaking Translucent Mirror Technology allows high-speed shooting with the α55 at up to 10fps (α33: 7fps) in Continuous Priority AE mode. This represents the world’s fastest burst continuous AF shooting performance of any interchangeable lens camera with an APS-C size sensor.
A newly developed 15-point phase-detection autofocus system assures rapid, accurate AF tracking, keeping even moving subjects in sharp focus during continuous shooting. This enables the α55 and α33 to capture split-second action or fleeting nuances of expression with portrait subjects.
World’s first Quick AF Full HD movie shooting 1
The large sensor size Exmor™ APS HD CMOS Sensor inside both cameras lets photographers capture stunning, cinematic HD video footage with beautiful background defocus (bokeh) effects.
Theα55 and α33 also mark the debut of Quick AF Full HD movie shooting. Translucent Mirror Technology enables AVCHD 1080i video shooting with smooth, precise phase detection AF tracking of moving subjects. Real-time video image preview is now possible via the viewfinder – in contrast with DSLR cameras where the raised mirror prevents light from reaching the optical viewfinder during video shooting.
Effortless composition and image viewing
Theα55 and α33 enable exciting new possibilities for framing and viewing highest-quality video and still images. Already prized by step-up DSLR users and enthusiasts alike, Sony’s Quick AF Live View system is now more effective than ever. High-resolution live image preview is teamed with uncompromised phase detection AF performance – even with rapidly-moving subjects.
Tilting and swivelling freely (to maximum 270 degrees) for comfortable framing at any shooting angle, the bright 7.5 cm (3.0") (16:9) Xtra Fine LCD offers superb detail and contrast.
There’s also a precision electronic viewfinder with 1.15 million dot resolution that delivers a clear, bright image with 100% frame coverage. Adjustments to exposure, depth of field and colour can be previewed instantly, either in the viewfinder or on the LCD. Effortless composition is aided further by switchable grid line in the finder and LCD screen, plus a new digital levelling gauge.
Enriched creative possibilities
Theα55 and α33 are compatible with the full range of over 30 A-mount interchangeable lenses and offer SteadyShot INSIDE. This in-body image stabilisation system provides up to 4 exposure steps of anti-shake correction when shooting handheld.
Both cameras also feature 3D Sweep Panorama, allowing photographers to capture detail-packed extra-wide panoramas with a huge field of view. 3D panoramas can be enjoyed on any compatible 3D HD television. The SLT-A55 is also the first α camera by Sony with integrated GPS, allowing automatic geo-tagging of images and video clips.
The new-generation Exmor™ APS HD CMOS Sensor inside both cameras supports a sophisticated range of digital image compositing and processing functions. This gives even greater artistic possibilities to beginners and photo enthusiasts alike.
Auto HDR is now refined further compared with previous-generation α models. Data from a burst of three frames at bracketed exposure values is automatically combined, creating a single image with extended highlight and shadow detail Multi-frame Noise Reduction ‘stacks’ a high-speed burst of six frames, creating a single low-noise exposure that boosts effective sensitivity as high as ISO 25600.
The new cameras accept both Memory Stick PRO Duo™ (including Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo™) and SD (including both SDHC and SDXC formats) media (all sold separately). Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo HX 30MB per second transfer rate offers the best performance during cameras' continuous shooting mode or when transferring the data to another media.
The newα55 and α33 Single Lens Translucent mirror cameras by Sony are available from September 2010.
*1 among consumer oriented interchangeable lens digital cameras as of 24.Aug
For more information, including an interesting (and difficult to believe) video clip, please see here.
SLT-Α55V / SLT-A33
Interchangeable lens digital camera with built-in flash
Sony α lens, Minolta and Konica Minolta AF lens
Exmor™ APS HD CMOS 16.2 effective megapixels (approx.)
Exmor™ APS HD CMOS 14.2 effective megapixels (approx.)
BIONZ™ image processor
ISO Sensitivity Range
ISO 100 - 12800 (Extended: ISO 25600 in Multi Frame NR Mode)
Image Quality Modes
JPEG (fine, standard), RAW, RAW + JPEG
HDMI Connector and BRAVIA Sync
HDMI mini connector (Type C), BRAVIA Sync (Sync menu), PhotoTV HD
Image Size: 3:2 (pixels)
L size: 4912x3264 (16M)
M size: 3568x2368 (8.4M)
S size: 2448x1624 (4M)
L size: 4592x3056 (14M)
M size: 3344x2224 (7.4M)
S size: 2288x1520 (3.5M)
HD movie record
Quick AF Full HD movie with phase-detection autofocus
AVCHD: 1920 x 1080i (16:9)
MP4: 1440 x 1080 (16:9) / 640 x 480 (4:3)
Max record time: 29 mins
Electronic Viewfinder “Tru-Finder” (Xtra Fine) (1.15 million dots effective resolution), with 100% frame coverage
Digital level gauge, shooting information and grid line display modes
7.5cm (3”) TFT (Xtra Fine LCD) with 921k dot resolution; variable-angle tilt/swivel mechanism
Live View System
Quick AF Live View
Coating on low pass filter, plus image-sensor shift
AF modes: Single-shot AF, Automatic AF, Continuous AF
TTL 15-point phase detection AF system with 3 cross sensors
Programmed AE (AUTO, AUTO - Flash Off, P), Aperture priority, Shutter priority, Manual, Scene selection
Exposure Metering System
1200-zone evaluative metering
Exposure Metering Modes
Multi-segment, Centre-weighted, Spot
Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Sports, Sunset, Night portrait/Night view, Hand-held Twilight
Creative Style Settings
Standard, Vivid, Portrait, Landscape, Sunset, B/W
YES (2D and 3D)
YES (available in P/A/S/M modes)
3 continuous exposures, in 0.3 or 0.7 EV steps
White Balance Settings
Auto / 6 presets / Colour Temperature/Colour Filter / Custom WB
Continuous Advance Shooting
Continuous Priority AE mode: up to 10fps with tracking AF
Continuous mode: Up to 6fps
*varies according to shooting conditions and memory card used
Continuous Priority AE mode: up to 7fps with tracking AF
Continuous mode: Up to 6fps
*varies according to shooting conditions and memory card used
Approx. no. of Shots
Approx. 330 images with viewfinder, approx. 380 images in live view mode (CIPA standard)
Approx. 270 images with viewfinder, approx. 340 images in live view mode (CIPA standard)
Auto pop-up, GN 12 at ISO 100, FOV coverage up to 18mm
Flash-off, Auto, Fill-flash, Slow sync, Rear Sync., Wireless*, Hi-speed sync.*,
*With external flash HVL-F58AM, HVL-F56AM, HVL-F42AM, HVL-F36AM
MemoryStick PRO Duo / PRO-HG Duo / SD memory card / SDHC memory card
Approx. 124.4 x 92 x 84.7mm (W/H/D, excluding protrusions)
Approx. 441g (excluding