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Monday, November 12, 2007

First Look: Sony Alpha DSLR-A700

The next generation of alpha switches to a newly designed, higher-res CMOS sensor, and that's just for starters

Before Sony and Konica Minolta announced a partnership to develop Sony's first D-SLR in July 2005, Sony's previous contribution to the digital camera market had been limited to compacts and super-zoom advanced compacts. Then in March 2006, Konica Minolta announced it was leaving the photography business and transferring its camera technologies to Sony.

What resulted was the 10.2-megapixel Alpha DSLR-A100, introduced in July 2006. Minolta shooters familiar with the Maxxum 5D were quick to recognize the design similarities, along with welcome upgrades like improved resolution and the newly developed Bionz image processor that minimized noise and enhanced color.

The newest Alpha model, the 12.2-megapixel Alpha DSLR-A700, bears some similarity to the Maxxum 7D, although Sony has definitely put its stamp on it in terms of features and camera controls. They have dropped the CCD of the A100 and gone to a new CMOS sensor with on-chip noise reduction. CMOS sensors are faster than CCDs—the A700 can capture up to 5 fps; the A100 only 3 fps. CMOS sensors have superior image quality, and they use less power, which means less inherent noise is being introduced by the circuitry. The A700 also has a redesigned Bionz image processor, enhanced image stabilization, automatic sensor cleaning and a host of other improvements.

Other Features

Integrated Stabilization
Camera shake is minimized by SteadyShot sensor-shift technology that moves the image sensor to counteract the camera's physical movement. Every lens you use on the camera benefits from automatic blur reduction and allows for handheld shots up to four shutter speeds slower than your normal handheld ability.
12.24 MP Exmor (APS-C) Sensor
A newly designed APS-C-sized Exmor CMOS imager with on-chip noise-canceling before and after A/D conversion provides over 12 million effective pixels. Advanced on-sensor A/D conversion yields rich tonal reproduction with high signal-to-noise ratio. The high-speed processing power of the Bionz engine, a quick-response coreless motor to drive the shutter and dual mirror stoppers to prevent mirror bounce all enable the A700 to capture action at either 3 or 5 fps, even shooting at full 12.24-megapixel resolution.
Bionz Image Processor
The advanced Bionz image processor uses hardware-based Large Scale Integrated (LSI) circuitry that improves camera response time, screens out noise before RAW data conversion, handles Dynamic Range Optimization processing and prolongs battery life.



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