Sony's supertelephoto mock-up

Sony showed some forthcoming SLR lens designs--and its ambitions for attacking a market dominated by Canon and Nikon--at the Photo Marketing Association (PMA) show last week.

The nonworking models were under glass at the Sony booth, and Sony wouldn't say when they're scheduled to arrive.

The supertelephoto, of unspecified focal length but roughly as large as 600mm models from rivals, is the headliner because such behemoths are so expensive that they appeal chiefly to professionals, not a mainstream market.

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Medium-range zoom and macro

A second lens that Sony showed at PMA has a more ordinary 28-75mm zoom range, but like the supertelephoto, is designed for full-frame cameras such as Sony's Alpha A900. Such lenses are larger and heavier because they have to produce an image circle big enough to cover a 36x24mm sensor, not just the smaller ones used in mainstream SLRs from Sony and its competitors. The model has a relatively fast f2.8 aperture suitable for low-light shooting, a feature that also increases lens size, weight, and expense.

To the right is the model of a 30mm f2.8 macro lens for close-up shooting. It's designed for smaller-sensor cameras only, Sony said.

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Sony's mainstream zoom lenses

Sony showed three other lenses for its mainstream SLRs: a 50mm f1.8 model, an 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 model, and a 55-200mm f4-5.6 model.

The "fast fifty" lens is an ages-old design for the SLR market offering a wide aperture for low-light shots but no zoom range. The others are common as "kit" lenses bundled with the initial purchase of an SLR.

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Sony's Alpha system

Sony bought its way into the SLR market by acquiring the assets of Konica-Minolta. Though lenses from the Konica-Minolta days fit on Sony cameras, the company has been working to flesh out its lens portfolio.
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Sony A900 innards

Removing the metal shell around Sony's flagship A900 shows how densely packed it is with electronic and mechanical equipment.
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Sony A900 shell

The A900's metal exoskeleton is shown here with the optional vertical grip below.
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Sony's Bionz processor

The digital SLR era means that cameras are small computers. Sony has branded its image-processing chip with the Bionz name, and it can be seen on the A900's main circuit board here. Image processors handle tasks such as noise reduction, assessment of white balance, and production of a JPEG. Other chips on this board handle HDMI output, communicating over USB, and storing image data in memory before they're written to flash cards.
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A900 Pentaprism

One of the expenses of making a camera such as the A900 with a large, full-frame sensor is that it also requires a large pentaprism to guide light from the mirror below to the viewfinder in the upper right. When a photo is taken, the mirror snaps out of the way and the shutter (not shown in this view) opens to let light onto the sensor.
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