Sony revealed today at PMA 2010 that it will refresh several models in the Alpha DSLR line with new, Full HD AVCHD-capable models. Among those cameras to be refreshed is the Sony A700, which Sony Alpha enthusiasts have been anxiously awaiting for some time now. Sony had two product mock-ups on display at PMA 2010 – an entry-level DSLR and an advanced DSLR, which appeared to be the Sony A700 replacement (shown above).
Based on my observation of the mockup displays, Sony appears to continue its trend of incorporating a vari-angle LCD on the more compact DSLRs. The entry-level model was the size of the A230-A380 series; however, it features a more substantial grip than what appeared in the most recent entry-level Alphas. This is a feature that was sorely missed by many in these entry-level cameras and, hopefully, Sony will keep this grip in place for the final production models released later this year.
The entry-level model also had dual mic holes on the side of the hotshoe for what will most likely enable stereo capture of audio.
One important feature that I didn’t see on the entry-level mockup was a switch for enabling the quick Live View system, which has proven to be a killer feature on the Alpha cameras. I would not put too much weight on that absence, however, because these were far from production models and it is a feature that defines the entry-level Alpha series.
Otherwise, the entry-level model looks much like the existing A230-A380 series of DSLRs in terms of form factor and button layout.
Both the entry-level and advanced DSLR models on display feature a dedicated movie button, which appears to be accessible via the user’s right thumb.
The advanced DSLR has the size and button layout that you would expect the A700 replacement to have. Unlike the lower-end models, that advanced model has two scroll wheels for navigating menus and changing camera settings. The wheels are placed in convenient and typical locations for the thumb and forefinger.
Additionally, you get dedicated controls for changing metering modes, along with what we’ve come to know as the intuitive Fn button, which gets you to critical and often used settings quickly. A joystick controller on the back will aid in menu navigation and adjusting camera settings. Likewise, drive modes and AEL are conveniently accessed through dedicated buttons.
With this announcement, Sony has finally jumped on the HD DSLR bandwagon and will surely spur further competition among manufacturers to put powerful tools into our hands. Sony has a rich history in the video world, which excites me to think about what the company can bring to DSLRs. Sony has come a long way since the introduction of the A100; however, it seems that the Minolta successor may just be getting warmed up.
Stay tuned to Photography Bay for more updates on the latest additions to the Sony Alpha line. New information will be posted on the front page as soon as it becomes available. To subscribe to future updates, click here.