Sony SLT-A55The SLT-A55 features a fixed translucent pellicle mirror, and this confers a number of benefits. First, unlike conventional moving-mirror DSLRs, there's no mirror vibration or viewfinder blackout when you make an exposure. Second, the camera's quick phase-detection AF system works in live-view mode, even in video mode. Third, you can shoot videos using the eye-level electronic viewfinder if you prefer, rather than only the external LCD monitor as with other video-capable DSLRs. The nonmoving mirror also speeds camera operation.
Sony NEX-5The NEX-5 and kid brother NEX-3 are Sony's mirrorless interchangeable-lens models, featuring APS-C sensors in very compact bodies. The NEX-5 has a 14.2-megapixel Sony Exmor HD CMOS sensor in a tiny body that's actually a bit smaller than the NEX-3 and about half the size of Sony's smallest DSLR.
Among the NEX-5's highlights are a tilting 3.0-inch, 921,000-dot LCD monitor with full-time live view (there's no eye-level electronic viewfinder, nor is one available as an option). The NEX-5 can shoot at 2.3 fps with focusing for each shot or 7 fps in Speed Priority mode, with focus and exposure locked. AF is contrast-based and can track moving subjects. Utilizing a new Sony E-series mount, the NEX cameras take new E-mount lenses. A-mount DSLR lenses also can be used via an adapter. There's no built-in flash, but the camera comes with a detachable TTL flash unit.
Sony DSLR-A390The A390 is a solid entry-level DSLR, and at under $500 with a kit zoom lens, it's a good deal. It has a 14.2-megapixel CCD sensor, can use all Sony A-mount lenses (and legacy Konica Minolta Maxxum optics) and features Sony's SteadyShot INSIDE sensor-shift image stabilization that works with all lenses. The LCD monitor tilts 135° up and 55° down for easy high- and low-angle shooting. Quick Live View uses the camera's quick phase-detection AF during live-view operation, but with no disruption of the live image thanks to a dedicated live-view sensor. There's no video capability, but no DSLR at this price offers video.
The light and compact A390 can shoot at 2.5 fps. The proven 40-segment honeycomb metering provides good exposures in a wide range of situations. DRO (Dynamic Range Optimizer) improves detail in contrasty scenes, while Eye-Start AF activates the AF system when you bring the camera up to your eye to speed operation.
Sony offers a number of accessories for its DSLRs, among them flash units (including a macro twin flash and a ringlight), angle finders, cases, straps, a geotagging GPS and the LA-EA1 adapter, which lets you use A-mount DSLR lenses on the NEX mirrorless cameras.