Sony Alpha A55, A33, A580 and A560 debut HD video and GPS
1080i video, electronic viewfinders and GPS are on the list of new features in the new Sony Alpha A55, A33, A580 and A560 cameras
Richard TrenholmFormer Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Video has come to Sony's range of dSLR cameras -- and GPS too. We've had our first official glimpse of four new Alpha dSLR cameras: the A55 and A33, and A580 and A560. 1080i, AVCHD high-definition video is just one of the new features.
The A55 is the first of Sony's dSLRs to include GPS. This means you can geotag your pictures and place them on a map when you upload them, as you can with the compact Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5V. The new cameras all also include Sony's 3D sweep panorama feature, so you can capture 3D landscapes in one sweeping motion as first seen in the NEX-3 and NEX-5.
HDMI and Bravia Sync connections mean you can display snaps and video on your hi-def telly. Stills and video can be recorded to Sony's own Memory Stick Pro Duo memory cards, or the more widely used SD and SDHC cards.
The A55 is a 16.2-megapixel model, while the A33 packs 14.2-megapixels. They're the first to employ Sony's translucent mirror technology, which splits the light coming into the camera between the main APS-C sensor and a separate sensor that handles autofocus.
Unusually, Sony has opted to build in electronic viewfinders rather than optical versions. That seems a strange decision, as optical viewfinders are the main reason to have a mirror -- lose the viewfinder and you can lose the mirror, and presto: you've got an interchangeable lens, compact EVIL camera, like Sony's own NEX cameras. On the plus side, the EVF allows for full-time previewing of your settings.
Sony has also changed the design of its flip-out screen. Previous Alphas have a concertina design that allows the screen to tilt out, but not turn sideways. The new cameras instead have a pivot, so the 76mm (3-inch) 16:9 LCD can fold out and face either side, as well as straight up and down.
Sony is focusing on high speed as a hook for the new models. That means both high-speed continuous shooting -- which is increasingly de rigueur in the camera market -- and
faster autofocus and reaction speed. The cameras track fast-moving subjects with 15-point autofocus and continuous AF, even when shooting video. The A55's burst mode captures up to 10 frames per second, while the A33 fires 7fps.
We've got our hands on the new models and we'll be putting them through their paces today. Keep it CNET UK for more on the new Alphas.