Friday, August 10, 2012

Sony's rumored A99 to battle Canon and Nikon at the high end?

In an interview with Bloomberg Business, Sony's new CEO Kaz Hirai said that his company has three core businesses: Digital imaging, games and mobile devices. Sony's been investing heavily in its camera business, and it's now the leader in mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras. However, even though the company has launched a number of new Alpha DSLR models, it doesn't have a camera that can compete with the top of either Canon's or Nikon's lines. According to Sony Alpha Rumors, that's about to change.

The blog writes that Sony is working on a new Alpha model, the A99, that should compete on a fairly equal level with Canon's 5D Mark II and 5D Mark III, as well as Nikon's D800. The A99 is rumored to have a 102-point autofocus system--more detailed that that of the D800 (51 points) or the 5D Mark III (61 points). The A99's video capabilities are supposed to be superior to those of any of Sony's previous still cameras. According to Sony Alpha Rumors, a new flash will provide continuous light for video shooting, and the camera will be designed to equally facilitate still photography and video--a challenge given the very different form-factors of still cameras and camcorders.

Sony Alpha Rumors doesn't give any dates for announcement and shipment, and the rumors have been floating around for a while--for example, the one about the 102-point autofocus system dates back to last March. However, it's clear that in order to be fully competitive in cameras, Sony needs a high-end model. Whether it's the A99 or another model, it's likely that Sony's working on a camera that can compete directly with Canon's and Nikon's best.

[Update, August 28, 2012: has published a fairly complete list of specifications for the A99--but remember, these are still rumors (hence the name.) Here are some of the details:

  • 24.3MP full frame CMOS Exmor sensor
  • ISO range: 100-25,600
  • 14 bit RAW output
  • 1/8000 maximum shutter speed
  • 10 fps continuous shooting
  • 2369k OLED viewfinder
  • 3" tiltable 921k LCD display
  • Full HD video recording at 1080/60p
  • Auto HDR capability
  • HDMI output
  • Built-in stereo mic
  • Two memory card slots--one for Secure Digital, and the other for SD or Memory Sticks

According to Photorumors, the A99 will be announced by Sony on September 12th and will be available in stores in October, for a price of around $2,800. I have my doubts about the announcement date, given that Apple's announcement of the new iPhone is widely rumored to be on that same date, and that would bury coverage of any other product announcements on the same day.]
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