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Sony announces raft of new products: NEX-7, NEX-5N, SLT-A77, SLT-A65, lenses and more  
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 | by Eamon Hickey
Sony has announced a bucket full of new enthusiast-oriented cameras, lenses, and accessories. 

First on the list is the NEX-7, a compact system camera (CSC) aimed at advanced photographers with a 24 megapixel, APS-C format CMOS sensor and a built-in electronic viewfinder. It's joined by a second, smaller new CSC, the 16 megapixel NEX-5N (also APS-C format and CMOS). Three new lenses for the NEX system were also announced, including a Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8, along with a new electronic viewfinder for the NEX-5N and a lens adapter that allows Alpha series SLR lenses to be used on the NEX-5N and possibly other NEX cameras and which enables phase-detection autofocus.

The new Alpha SLT-A77 is a 24 megapixel, APS-C sensor format high-end body in the company's Alpha lineup of so-called SLT cameras that use Sony's translucent mirror/electronic viewfinder design. It's joined by the mid-range Alpha SLT-A65, which uses the same 24-megapixel APS-C format CMOS sensor. A new Alpha lens, the DT 16-50mm f/2.8 SSM, was also announced. 

NEX-7

The NEX-7 takes its place at the high end of Sony's CSC lineup with several features aimed at advanced photographers. Along with its 24 megapixel resolution are a magnesium-alloy body, fairly extensive external buttons and controls, including three control wheels/dials, and a built-in OLED electronic viewfinder with 786K (XGA) pixel resolution (2.36 million dots). The camera's 3-inch LCD display tilts; its ISO range is 100-16,000; and it supports wireless TTL flash control using an optional external flash. Shutter lag is only 20 milliseconds, according to Sony, and the camera can shoot at up to 10 frames per second if focus and exposure are locked (the buffer holds 17 JPEG or 13 RAW images).

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Sharp Shooter: Views of the Sony NEX-7 and E 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS. Click photos to enlarge (Photos courtesy Sony)

The NEX-7 records HD video in AVCHD v2.0 format at 1080p/60fps, 1080p/24fps, 720p/30fps, and several other resolutions. When recording 1080p/60fps it achieves a maximum data rate of about 28 Mbps. The camera weighs 10.3 oz./291g without battery or memory card.

The NEX-7 will begin shipping in the U.S. in November 2011 and will sell for an estimated street price of about US$1350 in a kit with an E 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens, or for about US$1200 body only.

NEX-5N

The second Sony CSC announced today, the NEX-5N, features a 16 megapixel, APS-C format CMOS sensor. Weighing only 7.4 oz./210g, it's smaller than the NEX-7 but lacks the bigger camera's built-in viewfinder and its extensive external buttons and controls. It does, however, accept a new hot-shoe mounted electronic viewfinder (see below). The body is magnesium-alloy; its ISO can be set from 100 to 25,600; and its video recording capabilties are identical to the NEX-7.

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Little Brother: Views of the Sony NEX-5N and E 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS. Click photos to enlarge (Photos courtesy Sony)

The NEX-5N will begin shipping in the U.S. in September 2011 and will sell for an estimated street price of about US$700 in a kit with an E 18-55m f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens, or for about US$600 body only.

NEX E-Mount lenses

Three new lenses for the NEX series cameras were announced:
  • The Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA. It will ship in the U.S. in December 2011 for an estimated street price of about US$1000. 
  • The E 50mm f/1.8 OSS. It will ship in the U.S. in December 2011 for an estimated street price of about US$300. 
  • The E 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 OSS. It will ship in the U.S. in October 2011 for an estimated street price of about US$350. 
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Glass Eyes: Carl Zeiss Sonar T* E 24mm f/1.8, left, and E 55-210 f/4.5-6.3 OSS, right. Click photos to enlarge (Photos courtesy Sony)

NEX accessories

Sony also announced the FDA-EV1S, a new 786K pixel (XGA) tilting shoe-mount electronic viewfinder for the NEX-5N (we're not clear on whether the viewfinder will work with other NEX cameras too). It will ship in the U.S. in November 2011 for an estimated street price of about US$350.

The company also debuted the LA-EA2, an adapter for mounting the majority of Sony A-mount (and thus also Minolta Maxxum) SLR lenses to at least the NEX-5N and possibly other NEX bodies (this is also unclear right now). The adapter contains a translucent mirror and an autofocus module, enabling phase-detection autofocus (as opposed to the contrast-detection AF native to the NEX models) with such lens/body combinations. It will ship in the U.S. in November 2011 for an estimated street price of about US$400. 

Double Jointed: The LA-EA2 adapter. Click to enlarge (Photo courtesy Sony)

Alpha SLT-A77

The 24 megapixel A77 becomes Sony's highest end APS-C format SLT camera. The SLT design uses a fixed translucent mirror instead of a moving mirror as in a traditional SLR design. Sony uses this arrangement to enable phase-detection autofocus, but the cameras have electronic, not optical, viewfinders, which display a video feed from the main image sensor.

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12fps: Views of the Alpha SLT-A77. Click photos to enlarge (Photos courtesy Sony)

The A77 has a weather and dust resistant, hybrid magnesium-alloy and polycarbonate body; a 3-inch tilt-and-pivot LCD display; a 19-point autofocus system; 50ms shutter lag; 1/250th of a second flash sync speed; in-body image stabilization; a shutter rated to 150,000 cycles; on-board GPS; and an ISO range of 50-16,000 with a special mode allowing up to ISO 25,600. Maximum burst speed is 12 frames per second with continuous tracking autofocus, according to Sony. At that speed, there is about one second's worth of buffer depth—14 JPEG or 13 RAW images.

Like the two NEX cameras, the A77 records HD video in AVCHD v2.0 format at 1080p/60fps, 1080p/24fps, 720p/30fps, and several other resolutions. At 1080p/60fps it achieves a maximum data rate of about 28 Mbps.

The A77 will ship in the U.S. in October 2011 for an estimated street price of about US$1400 body only, or for about US$2000 in a kit with the new DT 16-50mm f/2.8 lens. 

Also announced for the A77 is a new vertical grip called the VG-C77AM, which can hold two batteries, doubling battery life. It's also weather resistant and will be available in October 2011 for an estimated street price of about US$300.

Alpha SLT-A65

The mid-level A65 SLT model has an all-polycarbonate body and no weather sealing, but boasts the same 24 megapixel resolution and the high specification video recording capabilities as the A77. The A65 also includes a 3-inch tilting (but not pivoting) LCD display and in-body image stabilization, but it has a somewhat lower specification autofocus system than the A77.

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10fps: Views of the Alpha SLT-A65. Click photos to enlarge (Photos by Sony)

The A65 will ship in the U.S. in October 2011 for an estimated street price of about $US900 body only, or for about US$1000 in a kit with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. 

DT 16-50mm f/2.8

To go along with the two new SLT bodies, Sony has also introduced the weather and dust resistant DT 16-50mm f/2.8 SSM zoom lens. Sony lenses designated "DT" are designed for use with APS-C format cameras and won't fully cover a 35mm format sensor.

The DT 16-50mm f/2.8 will ship in the U.S. in October 2011 for an estimated street price of about US$700. 
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