Sony Intros a550, a550, and a850 ALPHA DSLR’s

Sony a500

Sony a500

 Sony has announced three new DSLR cameras in its well-regarded alpha line, the a550, a550, and (at the high end) the a850. All three digital DSLRs sport Sony Exmor CMOS image sensors, improved previews, and high dynamic ranges—however, none of the cameras offers a video capture feature, which seems to be the latest hot thing in the DSLR set…and even the point-and-shot crowd.

“We are bringing performance of a higher class of cameras within the reach of a broader group of consumers,” said Sony Electronics senior digital imaging business manager Mark Weir, in a statement. “Not only do these cameras provide great value, but they also bring faster shooting speeds and new technologies.”

The a500 (12.3 megapixels) and a550 (14.2 megapixels) offer an in-camera High Dynamic Range (HDR) feature for capturing both highlights and shadows via multiple exposures; unlike other HDR features in DSLR cameras, Sony says theirs can handle slight shifts in camera position. The a500 and a500 also sport 3-inch LCD preview displays that tilt 90 degrees upor down, along with a quick autofocus live view that uses two sensors to keep up with the same focusing speed as an optical viewfinder. Both cameras also include “smile shutter” technology (to make sure your subjects are always happy!), in-body image stabilization, and can use Sony’s new 32 GB Memory STick Pro-HG media—along with other Memory Stick and SD/SDHC media. The a550 also offers high-speed shooting at 7 frames per second—both cameras can manage 5 frames per second with the optical viewfinder.

The a500 and a550 will be available in body-only kits for about $750 and $950, respectively, and should be available in October.

In contrast, the a850 lands at the upper end of Sony’s DSLR line, offering a 24.6 megapixel full-frame sensor and dual Bionz processing engines that enable that camera to take full resolution 24 megapixel images at three frames per second. The z850 offers and intelligent preview function that snaps a RAW image and lets users adjust white balance, dynamic range, exposure, and other data before actually snapping a picture; the a850 autofocus system also offers improvements for tracking moving subjects. The camera also features in-body anti-shake system that works with all Sony, Minolta, and Konica-Minolta compatible lenses; the a850 also features HDMI output, a 3-inch 921K-pixel LCD display, and uses Memory Stick and CompactFlash media.

The a850 should be available in September for about $2,000 in a body-only kit; Sony will also be offering a bright general purpose SAL2875 28-75mm ƒ2.8 SAM lens for about $800.