The first question everyone asks: "Isn't it just a rebranded Konica Minolta?" Nope. The body design is a variant of the Maxxum 5D, and aside from the A-mount compatibility (rebranded as the Alpha mount, naturally), among the few tricks it inherits from KM is the Eye Start autofocus, which initiates focus when you put your eye to the viewfinder, not to mention the company's flash system. The sensor is a new APS-size 10-megapixel Super HAD CCD, the kit lens is a Zeiss, and Sony uses its own Super SteadyShot CCD-shift technology rather than Konica Minolta's for image stabilization. In conjunction with CCD vibration to eliminate dust on the sensor, the chip has an antistatic coating to repel contaminants.
Sony also incorporates a new imaging pipeline processor, dubbed Bionz, which the company claims improves sharpness and maintains low noise--the camera supports as high as ISO 3,200--and uses hardware to perform all its D-Range Optimizer image enhancements. The processor--plus a big memory buffer--enables the camera's 3fps unlimited JPEG shooting. Its LCD is the same 2.5-inch version that's used by the.
The kit version of the Alpha A-100, called the A-100K, comes with a f/3.5-to-f/4.5 18mm-to-70mm lens (or 27mm to 105mm, as a 35mm equivalent). When it ships in July, the kit model will be $999, while a body-only version will cost $899.
The rest of the lens lineup will look like this at launch:
- 100mm f/2.8 macro lens: $679.95
- DT 18mm-to-200mm f/3.5-to-f/6.3: $499.95
- 50mm f/2.8 macro lens: $479.95
- 50mm f/1.4 standard lens: $349.95
- 75mm-to-300mm f/4.5-to-f/5.6 compact supertelephoto zoom: $229.95
All in all, it specs out pretty well. I'll reserve judgment on the CCD, though; most of the digital SLRs on the market use CMOS rather than CCD sensors, and the two have different noise characteristics. We haven't been impressed with most of Sony's noise-suppression algorithms, but the company has likely come up with something new for this camera. We'll see.