Sony Joins the Compact Interchangeable Lens Camera Party

Sony recently introduced two new Alpha compact digitals that join in the non-DLSR, interchangeable lens category that Olympus, and Panasonic are already part of, with their micro four-thirds systems. The cameras were first announced at PMA earlier this year.

Sony's Alpha NEX-5

The Alpha NEX-5 and NEX-3 provide the quality of a DSLR in a compact body. Because this type of cameras don’t utilize a mirror prism, their physical size can be much smaller than the ordinary DSLR.

Both Sony models utilize a newly developed 14.2 MP Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor. The sensor is 60% larger than the micro four-thirds camera sensors.

What makes the new Alpha NEX-5 and NEX-3 cameras so cool is that the APS-C sensor continually adjusts focus and exposure while recording video—the first of its kind. The NEX-5 offers Full HD movie capture at (1080i AVCHD and 720p MP4) with Full HD 60i recording. The NEX-3 shoots 720p HD video, saving them as MP4 files.

Features of the cameras include built-in stereo microphones, Sony’s BIONZ processor, and high speed burst of full-res images at up to 7 frames per second. The cameras are also the first to incorporate the Sweep Panorama feature that allows your images to show up to 226° horizontal or 151° vertical field of view. With a firmware update available mid-summer, the cameras will also be able to shoot 3D Sweep Panorama images with a single lens.

Sony Alpha NEX-3

Both camera models feature a 3-inch LCD, that tilt up or down for added flexibility.

Three new E-mount lenses are being introduced with the NEX-5 and NEX-3: the 16mm f/2.8 prime lens, an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS standard zoom and an 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS zoom.

The cameras come with a super-compact clip-on flash. They also feature dual media card compatibility, accepting both Memory Stick PRO Duo (and Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo) and SD cards, (including SDHC and SDXC formats).

An optional mount adapter—LA-EA1—makes  all 30 of the Alpha family lenses usable on the camera bodies, as well as older legacy A-mount lenses (manually focusing only). Other optional accessories include an ultra wide converter that gives a 12mm view and a Fisheye converter; an optical viewfinder, and stereo microphone. The flash, optical viewfinder and mic all connect to the cameras by the accessory shoe at the top of the camera body.

Sony is shipping the NEX-5A digital in silver and black and NEX-3A digital in silver, black and red as a kit with the 16mm lens (MSRP $650 and $550 respectively); and as a kit with the 18-55mm lens (MSRP $700 and $600 respectively). The camera bodies, accessories and 16mm and 18-55mm lenses will be available in July. The 18-200mm lens will be available in the fall.

(l. to r.) NEX-3 in red, silver NEX-3 with accessory stereo mic, the rear tilting LCD is a feature of both models, the NEX-5 and NEX-3.

For more information, go to www.sony.com.

— Diane Berkenfeld

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