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Cameras

Sony A68 priced $700 in US when it arrives in April

The company releases US pricing and availability

sony-a68-mfr-43.jpg
Lori Grunin/CNET

Looking like a hodgepodge of pieces from the company's other cameras, Sony Europe unveiled an addition to its dSLR-style camera line, formerly known as the SLT (single-lens translucent) and now dubbed the ILCA (interchangeable lens camera A-mount) models. The technology is still SLT, though, which uses a fixed translucent mirror instead of the reflex mirror in a true dSLR. The last we saw in its beginner SLT category was the A58 from over a year and a half ago.

Sony expects to ship the A68 in the US in April 2016, at a price of $700 for the kit with 18-55mm lens; no body-only pricing is available as yet. Europe gets it sooner -- March 2016 -- at €700 for the kit, which is approximately equal to £510, or AU$1,067 based on today's exchange rates.

What's new

  • Improved autofocus system. The camera gains the more recent "4D" autofocus system that debuted in the A77 II in May 2014, which expands the autofocus points across more of the image area, and distributes its most accurate cross-type phase-detection points over a wider area in the center. This is a nice addition for its price category.
  • Updated imaging components. While it's not a new sensor, the camera does inherit the Bionz X image processor, now ubiquitous in Sony's cameras, which should allow it to eke out a little better low-light photo quality, slightly better low-light autofocus, and a faster flash sync speed of 1/250 second.
  • Better video encoding. In addition to upping its HD recording to 1080/30p from 1080/24p, Sony incorporates the current XAVC S codec which offers more efficient encoding and higher quality.

My take

The enhancements certainly make it a real update over its predecessor, the A58, but I suspect this is just a move on Sony's part to offer a cheap dSLR to compete in markets where people are still hewing to Canon and Nikon instead of opting for a mirrorless interchangeable-lens model, where Sony excels. Given that, the LCD is a bit disappointing but the rest of it looks pretty competitive.

Editors' note, December 17, 2015: Updated with US pricing and availability and more recent currency conversions.

Comparative specs

Canon EOS Rebel T5i
EOS 700D
Nikon D5300 Sony A58
(SLT-58)
Sony A68
(ILCA-68)
Sensor effective resolution 18MP CMOS 24.2MP CMOS 20.1MP Exmor HD CMOS 24MP Exmor CMOS
Sensor size 22.3 x 14.9mm 23.5 x 15.6 mm 23.2 x 15.4 mm 23.5 x 15.6mm
Focal-length multiplier 1.6x 1.5x 1.5x 1.5x
OLPF Yes No Yes Yes
Sensitivity range ISO 100 - ISO 12800/25600 (exp) ISO 100 - ISO 12800/ 25600 (exp) ISO 100 - ISO 16000 ISO 100 - ISO 25600
Burst shooting 5fps
6 raw/22 JPEG
(without continuous AF and IS off)
5fps
n/a
5fps or 2.5fps (not clear in specs)
7 JPEG/6 raw
(8fps in crop mode with exposure fixed on first frame)
5fps or 2.5fps (not clear in specs)
n/a
(8fps in crop mode with exposure fixed on first frame)
Viewfinder
(mag/effective mag)
Optical
95% coverage
0.85x/0.53x
Optical
95% coverage
0.82x/0.55x
Electronic
100% coverage
0.4 inch
n/a
0.88x/ 0.57x
Electronic
100% coverage
0.4 inch
1.4m dots
0.88x/ 0.57x
Hot Shoe Yes Yes Yes Yes
Autofocus 9-pt AF
center cross-type
39-pt AF
9 cross- type
15-point phase-detection AF 79-point phase-detection AF
15 cross-type
AF sensitivity -0.5 - 18 EV -1 to 19 EV -1 to 18 EV -2 to 18 EV
Shutter speed 1/4,000 to 60 secs; bulb;
1/200 sec x-sync
1/4,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/200 sec x-sync 1/4000 to 30 seconds; bulb; 1/160 x-sync 1/4000 to 30 seconds; bulb; 1/250 x-sync
Shutter durability n/a n/a n/a n/a
Metering 63 zones 2,016-pixel 3D color matrix metering II 1200 zone 1200 zone
Metering sensitivity 1 - 20 EV 0 - 20 EV n/a n/a
Best video H.264 QuickTime MOV
1080/30p, 25p, 24p; 720/60p
H.264 QuickTime MOV
1080/60p, 25p, 24p
AVCHD
1080/60i, 50i, 1080/24p, 25p @ 24Mbps
XAVS C 1080/30p, 25p, 24p @ 50Mbps
Audio Stereo, mic input Stereo, mic input Stereo Stereo, mic input
Manual aperture and shutter in video Yes Yes n/a Yes
Maximum best-quality recording time 4GB 4GB n/a n/a
Clean HDMI out No Yes No n/a
IS Optical Optical Sensor shift
(3-way)
Sensor shift
(3-way)
LCD 3 in/7.7 cm
Articulated touchscreen
1.04m dots
3.2 inches
Articulated
1.04m dots
2.7 inches/7 cm
Tilting
460,800 dots
2.7 inches/7 cm
Tilting
460,800 dots
Memory slots 1 x SDXC 1 x SDXC 1 x SDXC 1 x SDXC
Wireless connection No Wi-Fi No No
Flash Yes Yes Yes Yes
Wireless flash Yes Yes No No
Battery life (CIPA rating) 440 shots (VF); 180 shots (LV) 700 shots
(1,030 mAh)
690 shots (VF), 700 shots (LCD)
(1,650 mAh)
n/a
(1,650 mAh)
Size (WHD) 5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1 in
150 x 99.1 x 78.7mm
4.9 x 3.9 x 3.0 in
125 x 98 x 76 mm
5.1 x 3.8 x 3.1 in
129 x 96 x 78 mm
5.6 x 4.1 x 3.2
143 x 104 x 81 mm
Body operating weight 20.8 oz
589.7 g
16.9 oz
479.1 g
17.4 (est.)
492 g (est.)
24.3 oz (est.)
690 g (est.)
Primary kit $800
£500
AU$770
(with 18-55mm STM lens)
$700
£480 (est.)
AU$620 (est.)
(with 18-55mm VR II lens)
$600
£500 (est.)
AU$600 (est.)

$700
€700
equal to approximately £510, AU$1,067
(with 18-55mm lens)
Release date April 2013 October 2013 February 2013 March 2016 (Europe)
April 2016 (US)

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