Sony’s New Alpha DSLRs Feature Translucent Mirrors

Check out our full review of the new Sony Alpha SLT-A55V camera.

Sony has taken the wraps off a new series of Alpha DSLR cameras, all of which boast a new translucent mirror technology that enables continuous autofocus for both still and video shooting in cameras with interchangeable lenses—something that previously hadn’t been possible with SLR technology. Light coming through the lens is received by both the imaging sensor and the autofocus sensor, enabling continuous, high-speed shooting with continuous focus. The cameras can also handle shooting HD video, and boast a number of other features designed to appeal to pro photographers as well as enthusiastic amateurs.

sonys new alpha dslrs feature translucent mirrors sony a55

“This is the most innovative interchangeable lens digital camera that Sony has ever created,” said the director of Sony’s digital imaging business group Kristen Elder, in a statement. “Our translucent mirror technology is one of the most significant SLR structural changes in more than a decade.”

sonys new alpha dslrs feature translucent mirrors sony a33

First up, the Sony Alpha A55V and A33 come in at 16.2 and 14.2 megapixels, respectively, based on Sony’s Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor. The cameras offer 15-point, phase detection autofocus, and the A55 can manage 10fps high-speed shooting. Both cameras feature an articulated 3-inch LCD displays, and Sony says the combination of the Translucent Mirror and Sony’s TruFinder viewfinder technology with 100 percent coverage makes the cameras the first DSLRs to be able to shoot video in the eye-level shooting style videographers prefer. The cameras also offer three-image high-dynamic range (HDR) shooting capabilities, ISO sensitivity down to 12,800, and a 3D Sweep Panorama feature that enables panoramic photos to be viewed on 3D on TVs and other gear that supports 3D technology. The cameras offer HDMI output, and the A55 has an integrated GPS receiver for geotagging photos. The A55 and A33 will be priced at about $750 and $650, respectively for body-only units; add $100 for an 18–55mm zoom lens. The A33 should be available in September with the A55 following in October.

sonys new alpha dslrs feature translucent mirrors sony a560

Next up, the 14.2 megapixel Sony Alpha A560 offers a similar feature set, including the translucent mirror technology, HDR image capability, 3D Sweep Panorama, and full HD video capture, along with 7fps burst-mode shooting and a tilting 3-inch LCD display. The A560’s video capture mode can save MP4 videos, which makes the movies easier to handle in consumer video-editing software. The Alpha A560 should be available in October for $650 in a body-only kit; add $100 for an 18–55mm zoom lens. In Europe, Sony is also launching an Alpha A580 with a 16.2 megapixel resolution; Sony is also offering a bevy of additional lenses for use with the Alpha line.