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Sony brings fast autofocusing, pro features to new entry-level DSLR

With Sony killing it in the mirrorless camera sector, it’s easy to forget that it also makes DSLRs. The company’s new A68 touts fast autofocusing as one of its strengths. The camera, which was first announced in Europe in November, is now officially available in the U.S. It’s reasonably priced at $700, and comes with an 18-55mm kit lens; the camera will also be available body only, for $600. Shipment is scheduled for April 2016.

The A68 doesn’t introduce anything revolutionary, but Sony’s brought some of its latest tech to this entry-level DSLR. Although the camera is larger and heavier than Sony’s E-mount models, the A68 has an extensive selection of A-mount lenses to pick. Slotting between the entry-level A58 and enthusiast-level A77 II, the A68’s features include a newly developed 24-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and 8-frames-per-second (fps) continuous shooting with autofocus. Built-in image stabilization will steady any A-mount lens. Among the competition, Sony says it’s comparable to the Nikon D5500 and Canon EOS Rebel T6i/T6s.

The autofocus system, “4D Focus,” was first introduced in the A77 II. It uses 79 AF points (15 cross points) that cover much of the frame, as well as a center f/2.8 point for low-lit scenes . “Included are 15 cross points as well as a dedicated F2.8 AF sensor point for dimly-lit scenes,” Sony says. “This all adds up to extremely fast, wide area AF with predictive tracking that locks faithfully onto fast-moving subjects. Additionally, the camera utilizes Sony’s unique Translucent Mirror Technology to deliver constant AF tracking at up to 8 fps (tele-zoom with 1.5x crop).”

Working alongside the sensor is Sony’s Bionz X image processor, delivering an ISO range of 100-25,600. The Bionz X uses “detail reproduction and diffraction-reducing Technologies plus area-specific noise reduction, resulting in pristine, finely detailed shots every time,” Sony says.

The A68 records movies at Full HD (1080), but only at 30p/24p/25p. When using an SDXC card, you can record in XAVC S format, which has a high bit rate of 50 Mbps. The Multi Interface Shoe lets you add accessories like mics and lights to enhance your videos.

While the A68 is considered an entry-level, step-up DSLR, there are pro-like features and controls. At the top is a display LCD that shows your shooting parameters, similar to the ones found in enthusiast DSLRs. An OLED Tru-Finder electronic viewfinder has 100-percent frame coverage – the same as the one in the A77 II. The 2.7-inch LCD tilts up to 135 degrees and down 55 degrees, letting you frame your shots from different angles. For more advanced users, the A68 has 10 buttons you can customize for your favorite settings. However, Sony elected not to include wireless connectivity.