Sony's camera chaps have brought Christmas early with a veritable Santa-sack of new shooters to suit anyone from the snap-happy amateur to the more serious videographer.
First out of Father Sony's seasonal goodie bag are two new models in the NEX series of compact digitals with interchangeable lenses.
Sony NEX 5-N
The NEX 5-N is -- as you might have guessed -- the more evolved version of the older NEX-5 camera, which we were pretty keen on. This new boy packs a 16.1-megapixel APS-C type Exmor CMOS sensor as well as Sony's Bionz image processing, which lets it deliver ISO speeds up to 25,600. That will help in low-light shooting, but we expect there to be a horrid mess of image noise at the higher end.
It can also shoot video in Full HD with frame rates up to 60fps, if you want to capture some slowed-down videos of you slapping your friend in the face in glorious high definition.
Sony also claims it's the fastest interchangeable lens compact camera available with a release lag time (that's the time it takes from you pressing the button to the picture being taken) of 0.02 seconds. We admit, that's pretty fast for a compact.
The construction looks pretty similar to its predecessor, sporting a magnesium body measuring only 23.3mm thick -- although once you've whacked a lens on it, it won't fit too easily in your pocket. On the back you'll find a 3-inch tilting LCD screen.
Like the NEX 5-N, Sony's NEX-7 is an interchangeable-lens compact digital, but this one's packing more junk in the trunk. It has an APS-C size Exmor sensor like the 5-N, but this one crams in a meaty 24.3-megapixels. It also uses the latest Bionz processor for rapid shooting and can manage up to ISO 16,000 for low-light photography.
The NEX-7 comes with two control wheels bolted on the top that aim to give quicker, more manageable access to shooting options, as well as various creative modes including auto HDR, colour replacement and tilt-shift, although how much a serious amateur would really make use of these effects remains to be seen.
It also shoots HD movies too, offering full manual control over settings and focus during recording. That will appeal to those wanting to get the stylistic feel of dSLR video shooting without emptying their savings account.
Like the 5-N, the NEX-7 also has the super-quick release lag time of 0.02 seconds. Unlike the 5-N though, this chap uses an OLED viewfinder that gives a high-definition, 100 per cent view of the frame -- as opposed to other viewfinders that often don't display the scene in the same way it will appear on the image.
It's a similar shape to the 5-N, although somewhat fatter. You'll definitely need a case with it once you've slapped a lens on.
Sony Handycam NEX-VG20
The Handycam NEX-VG20 isn't the sort of Handycam for capturing embarrassing home movies and footage of the school nativity play. This one packs strong specs and uses the interchangeable lenses of the NEX series for dSLR-style video.
The VG20 uses an APS HD Exmor sensor to capture stills of up to 16 megapixels and Full HD video. The large sensor size is close to that found on dSLRs such as Canon's EOS 550D, so you should be getting a crisp view, even in low light conditions.
You can shoot in full manual mode, altering any settings you like for full control over your film and make use of the various lenses available for the NEX series.
For the film-maker in you, there's an improved microphone that captures 5.1 surround sound. If you find yourself needing an external mic -- which you will if you're doing things properly -- there are mic inputs and headphone outputs for monitoring your audio.
Sony Alpha SLT-A77 and SLT-A65
These two dSLRs both feature Exmor APS HD CMOS sensors with a 24.3-megapixel resolution. Both models also feature the Bionz image processing to help in low-light situations, with the A77 achieving a top ISO speed of 16,000.
The processor also helps both cameras achieve some super-speedy burst rates -- the A77 can manage 12fps shooting at full-resolution, while the A65 tops out at 10fps. Both models feature an OLED viewfinder that gives 100 per cent coverage of the scene, which will make composing your picture much more accurate.
You can also shoot Full HD video on both cameras while using continuous auto-focus, thanks to the translucent mirrors inside. Full manual modes are also available, as well as various creative shooting modes so you can play around all you want to make some crazy videos of your cat.
The two models don't look particularly different from others in Sony's Alpha range of dSLRs, featuring a part-magnesium construction that should make them pretty durable. They both use the full range of Sony's A-mount lenses so you can splash your cash on some glass.
There's sadly no word as of yet on pricing for any of Sony's new kit, but we're not imagining any of it to be bargain basement. The SLT-A77 and SLT-A65 dSLRs will be available in October this year, with the others landing in November. Make sure to keep it CNET UK for full hands-ons soon.
The NEX 5-N is pretty slim -- until you slap a lens on it.
This is the NEX-7, with its handy pop-up flash. Perfect for blinding your friends.
The two wheels on the top are to help in quickly applying creative settings.
This is the sort of Handycam your dad should have filmed your school play with.
The mic on the front of this guy is apparently much improved. We'll only be impressed if it can hear time itself.
Yep, that's definitely a camera. Specifically, the A65. Good work, Sony.
This one is the A77. It looks pretty compact for a dSLR but we'd bet it packs a punch.