Sony’s new digital cameras: full-frame for the win

Ahead of Photokina next week in Germany, Sony is showing its hand, with lots of new cameras aimed at letting anyone capture the best image possible, whether they’re doing it with a small camera or one the size of your head.

The quality of a bigger sensor appears to be what Sony is aiming for with the announcement of the new cameras, with the larger full-frame sensor several new cameras shown this week.

Each appeals to a slightly different market, with professionals and enthusiasts the target of Sony’s upcoming releases highlighted today.

Sony’s first camera here takes aim at camera competitors Nikon and Canon, with the 35mm full-frame A99 digital SLR camera. It’s not like your regular DSLR, as like other Sony models, the mirror-box has been removed and replaced with Sony’s Translucent Mirror Technology, or TMT for short.

Magnesium is included in its body design, and without the lens and battery, Sony calls this the lightest 35mm full-frame interchangeable today, weighing 733 grams.

You can expect some high quality stills out of this thing, with a 24.3 megapixel CMOS full-frame sensor, capable of hitting ISO 50-25600, with 14-bit RAW, 19 points of autofocus, and Full HD 50p and 25p video recording, with continuous autofocus throughout the video capture. Video buffs will be pleased to know that an extra pack can be attached to the Sony A99 for adding XLR connections that professional microphones require.

The back of the camera won’t be like every large camera, with the optical viewfinder replaced with an electronic XGA “tru-finder” running on OLED offering 100% coverage and better brightness, as well as a multi-angle tilting 3 inch 1229k-dot screen.

Pricing will see the Sony A99 at $2999 RRP in October.

Now what if you want that full-frame camera in a much smaller body?

Sony is trying something different, merging a large full-frame sensor normally seen in high-end professional cameras with a much smaller body.

Sony’s CyberShot RX1 is being suggested to photographers and enthusiasts, marrying the A99’s full-frame 24.3 megapixel sensor with a compact body and Carl Zeiss Sonnat T* 35mm f/2.0 prime lens.

It’s the first time such a physically big sensor has been paired with such a small device, and with a weight of 482g once the battery and memory card have been loaded, could tempt quite a few people.

The lens isn’t replaceable here, and from what we understand, it won’t zoom either. In fact, Sony’s RX1 makes us feel is was designed for the rangefinder-style of cameras as opposed to the travel market, though buyers will find manual controls and an aperture dial waiting for them, making this closer to a DSLR than most other cameras can get.

Natively, the Sony RX1 can pull ISO 50 to 25600, though apparently ISO 102400 is also possible, with Sony’s own “Multi Frame Noise Reduction” inside helping to capture dark images with low noise.

Shooting with RAW images is possible here, as is Full HD 1080p video in 50p, 60p, 25p, and 24p. There are a bunch of art modes available and the regular Program, Aperture, Shutter, and full-on manual modes, as well as some auto modes in case you’re feeling a tad lazy.

Because the Sony RX1 is a compact, though, it will lack the built-in viewfinder, with an optical viewfinder accessory able to be added on the top of the camera.

Overall, Sony’s RX1 looks like a very interesting beast, though the price may throw quite a few people off its scent, with a $2,999 RRP when it lands in Australia in November.

Sony isn’t forgetting people who don’t want to spend three grand on a camera, with an update to the NEX range of mirror-less interchangeable cameras.

The Sony NEX-6 makes its compact system even better, taking on the Micro Four-Thirds cameras from Olympus and Panasonic, One series from Nikon, and Samsung’s own NX system.

New to this camera is a faster autofocus system, WiFi connectivity, a 16.1 megapixel sensor (though not full-frame like the other cameras), ISO support up to 25600, a 3 inch tilting LCD, 1.3cm OLED “try-finder” electronic viewfinder, compatibility for Sony’s E-Mount NEX lenses, and a not so high-end price starting from $1099 body only or $1299 with a lens when it arrives in November.