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New 'advanced amateur' Sony SLR due soon?

One Sony-watcher believes the company's 'advanced amateur' SLR is due soon, and another pro model will have a full-frame sensor.

Sony has promised a new digital SLR this year and another the next, and some believe the first is coming soon.

Sony's forthcoming advanced amateur digital SLR
Sony's forthcoming advanced amateur digital SLR Sony

The Photoclub Alpha site on Thursday said the first new Alpha and a range of new lenses appears "imminent," based on images of the new cameras and lenses posted on Sony's Web site.

Sony entered the digital SLR (single-lens reflex) market in 2006 with its Alpha 100 model, but it got a running start by acquiring the SLR assets of Konica Minolta. The company said in March the next Sony SLR would be an advanced amateur model this year, with a professional-grade model in 2008.

David Kilpatrick of Photoclub Alpha said he believes the first likely will be called the Alpha 200 and will feature an APS-C sensor--roughly the same size as that used by lower-end Canon and Nikon SLRs. The high-end model, which he expects will be called the Alpha 300, will have a full-frame sensor the size of a frame of 35mm film--a step so far only taken by market-leader Canon.

Sony's pro SLR is due in 2008.
Sony's pro SLR due in 2008 Sony

Full-frame sensors are more expensive and require larger camera bodies, but they also offer higher light sensitivity and work with older wide-angle lenses. Smaller sensors impose a "crop factor" that means most digital SLRs have a narrower field of view than a film SLR with the same lens. There also are rumors that Nikon may soon offer a full-frame model.

Many new lenses from digital SLR makers support only smaller sensors, but several new lenses from Sony offer full-frame support, Kilpatrick said.

Sony has described only general aspects of the lenses, but according to Kilpatrick, they are all full-frame models. They include the following: 400mm f/4.5 and 600mm f/4 telephoto lenses; a 70-300mm f/4-5.6 zoom and a 80-400mm zoom with apertures likely ranging from f/4.5 to f/6.3; a 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom; a 35mm f/1.8 and 24mm f/1.4 wide-angle lenses; and a 16-35mm f/2.8 wide-angle zoom.