Following up from the Hands On of the NEW Sony Alpha 77 and Alpha 65 comes a guide to some of the new technology behind them.
Sony have long been pioneers at the forefront of digital technology. From TV’s to Computers we rely on more Sony components than you’d think. The standard for HD video, AVCHD, is a joint venture between Sony and Panasonic. Ever pulled an LCD display out of a Canon, guess what? Sony made it. With a background in television and computing Sony were well placed for an expansion into photography. When Sony acquired Konica Minolta‘s camera technologies in 2006 it sealed them in the SLR market. 5 years on we’ve got translucent mirror interchangeable lens cameras, Sony’s unique take on the SLR.
Sony have now release 2 new truly groundbreaking cameras, the Alpha 65 and Alpha 77, that contain some of the most advanced pieces of imaging technology in the world, including some first to ever be seen in a camera. Our Hands On blog dealt primarily with the increased functionality of the camera, how through design and innovation Sony have captured the joy of taking photos. Here we will delve into the how, the technology and the resulting leaps in performance.
A major leap forward in photography came with the inception of Auto Focus. Now most modern lenses feature AF motors, a lot of camera bodies also include the ability to drive the lens into focus. Most DSLR’s use a type of Phase Detection AF, whereby two beams of light are directed to an AF sensor that can work out exactly where a lens should be focused based on light intensity and some extreme mathematics. This is why SLR mirrors have a small rectangle of semi transparency and another mirror behind this to direct light to the auto focus sensor. The other focusing system, used in compact cameras, mirrorless system cameras and DSLR’s that contain live view or video, is Contrast Detection AF. Contrast detection works based on prime focus being achieved when the maximum contrast is detected between objects, making it difficult in dim light situations. When live view is engaged or a shot is taken the mirror of an SLR is locked upright, leaving no light to reach the AF sensor. With Sony’s translucent mirror technology they have enabled both the AF sensor and the imaging sensor to receive light at the same time, meaning there is no change in focus speed when using live view, shooting video or even in the middle of a multi-shot sequence. Both cameras feature this ability resulting in highly accurate and extremely fast AF in almost any situation, often leaving the competition scratching their heads.
One of the most exciting developments Sony announced was the inclusion of an OLED viewfinder. This excited us A LOT. OLED stands for ‘Organic Light-Emitting Diode.’ Don’t worry though, there isn’t something living in your viewfinder, the LED’s used for the viewfinder simply emit their own light so there is no need for a backlight, cutting down on size and weight whilst giving an unprecedented quality. OLED technology has some brilliant advantages and in the Sony Alpha’s give you better contrast, clarity and colour accuracy. This is the closest Sony, or anyone else, has got to recreating the quality of an optical viewfinder. OLED really does make images come to life in the viewfinder, add to the mix the ability to see exactly the image from the sensor you realise you’re viewing your photographs in real time. Any effect, any focal point and any condition can be seen clearly through the new viewfinder.
As more and more people are converting to shoot video on DSLR’s Sony have really lead innovation when it comes to movie. Sony teamed up with Panasonic to create the standard for HD video, AVCHD, and their new cameras take full advantage of this, coupled with their history in television and the big screen. The reason for using an SLR for video is the sensor size, conventional video cameras use a sensor many times smaller than that of 35mm film or even the APS-C format. An extended sensor size gives the ability to control focus as well as utilise a whole host of lens options from fast primes to super telephoto. The Sony couples it’s large sensor size with the ability to auto focus at both 25 and 50 frames per second. Something always asked after is the ability to shoot fully manual in video, well you can on both the A65 and A77, or a mixture of Aperture and Shutter priority settings available. This means you can be in control of every minute detail of your video. Each camera comes with a built in stereo microphone located at the top of the camera behind the pop up flash and an audio jack for external microphone. Sony have even gone so far as to develop a noise reduction system that will ignore the sound of the autofocus engaging, now that is clever stuff.
A completely new feature in the A65 and A77 is the ability to automatically adjust image settings based on the type of lens you’re using. Lenses have always been judged on how well they deal with chromatic aberration, vignetting and distortion, all of which are part of being a lens. These settings can be turned on and off but will work with any A Mount lens, including older Minolta lenses. This means if you have an optically superb lens that just needs too much post processing to warrant using then you’re made! At launch there are only a few Sony A lenses that will kick in automatically but new firmware updates will accept new lenses and eventually each lens will be compatible.
All these innovations come off the back of a manufacturer that work so closely with such a wide range of media that they are so at forefront of imaging technology. There is no camera currently on the market that boasts the huge amount of features plugged into these new cameras. The icing on the cake is that all of this comes in a highly attractive package that will, most importantly, NOT break the bank. Unfortunately my dissertation days are over and so to find out more you will have to come and see these for yourselves.
Both cameras are available for purchase from our stores and our website, all orders placed online have to be collected in either our Bournemouth or Salisbury stores due to our relationship with Sony, we really do believe each camera is worthy of our time and demonstration. Sony put so much effort into their cameras and into training and supporting us as they grow, our hope is that this enthusiasm can be passed to you.