Digital Cameras Guide
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Sony's New Ultra-Compact & Alpha Concepts
CP+ is Japan's new photo event, held in Yokohama and scheduled for four days, from the 11th of March to the 14th. Over 80 companies were represented, including the big boys like Sony, Canon, Nikon, Panasonic and Olympus. Organized by CIPA (Camera Imaging Products Association), CP+, which stands for Camera and Photo Imaging, replaces the PIE (Photo Imaging Expo) event which has been held in Japan for the last five years.
Although there were hardly any new products announced at CP+ from from most major camera manufacturers, there was still plenty on hand to excite any camera enthusiast. Join us as we review the best of CP+ 2010!
Ultra Compact Prototype with Interchangeable Lenses
The big draw of the event must have been Sony's new compact-sized APS-C sensor concept cameras. Like Panasonic's and Olympus' Micro Four Thirds system, it promises DSLR-like quality in a compact body with interchangeable lenses. But while the Micro Four Thirds system fits sensors smaller than conventional DSLRs in their bodies (but larger than compact cameras), the Sony concept camera has an actual DSLR-sized sensor in its small body. According to Sony, it's a newly-developed Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor which supports full 1080p HD video recording in the AVCHD format.
The idea is similar to Samsung's new NX-10 camera, but while that has come to market, the new Sony cameras are still concepts. There weren't any actual prototypes on hand to test at the Sony booth, but three models were on hand to be admired from a distance. A promo video that was playing revealed parts of the new user interface, and from what we saw, it looked pretty intuitive - more like Sony's consumer camera user interface than their Alpha DSLRs.
Commenting on the user interface, Toru Katsumoto, Senior General Manager from the Sony Personal Imaging & Sound Business Group mentions that although "many users would like to take DSLR-like photos, they might not understand if we mention terms like aperture or shutter speed to them. That's why we developed a GUI (Graphical User Interface) which can help people understand."
Asked who this new concept camera would appeal to, Katsumoto said that "many people enjoying digital cameras would like to shoot more beautiful images and video with interchangeable lenses, but today's DSLRs are still too big or too heavy for them to carry. Even today's DSLR users would also like to have a smaller camera to use as a second camera. Our new concept camera will be very suitable for both of these people."
When asked how Sony plans to compete in the growing prosumer category even though they're later to market, Katsumoto shared that he believes "this camera market is still in the early stages. Sony's total share in the worldwide camera market today is around 10%, but if we don't grow this market, our competitors and us will be fighting over the same pie. We want to grow the market so that more people will start using cameras, and we want to help these customers get the best shots they can, which is why we insist on the larger APS-C sensor."
When asked if the new concept cameras will support the existing Sony Alpha lenses, Katsumoto said that "the technical details haven't been released yet, as these cameras are still concepts under development. But you'll notice that the concepts have the Alpha logo on them," which strongly hints to the answer 'yes'.
Sony says to expect the new concept cameras to launch later in 2010.
Prototype Alpha Camera Bodies
Also on display were two prototype Alpha DSLR cameras with HD video recording functionality using the AVCHD format. These two cameras also use the new developed Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor found in the compact concept camera. The two new Alphas are expected to expand the Alpha lineup in 2010.
Two prototype lenses were also shown, a Distagon T 24mm F2 ZA SSM (launch in 2010), and a super telephoto 500mm lens.
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