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Alpha 330 – future model?

Latest update May 7th:

Sony Style pages are starting to show this header picture, which shows three new models all sharing an unusual handgrip design and using the new lenses:

lifestyle_dslr_byseries

Note – the new models have handgrip sensors or appear to – maybe the nickel problem has been conquered. Also note the radical shift in position of the front control wheel and shutter release. The A380 is next to the A900, followed by the A330, and then the A230 at the end. All are smaller than the current A200-300 series. The A330 and A380 have what look like Live-View switches next to the prism, the A230 does not. This indicates that the viewing method has not changed, and we will almost certainly not get off-sensor live view or video. This does not rule out some kind of improved 720p LV of the focus screen, combined with electronically switched markings that could be turned off for recording video ‘off the groundglass’.

The chances are that these are simply much smaller, more cleanly designed new versions of the A200, 300 and 350 using exactly the same sensors (10.1 and 14.2 megapixel) and with the same basic functions, but release with new-style motor-AF lenses. Everyone is hoping they do not remove the AF drive from the body, but in the interests of smaller size and lighter weight, this seems a distinct possibility. So, with the change to the right hand-grip, does a new battery type. If so that would break the continuity of one cell (NP FM-500H) fitting all Sony Alphas from 100 to 900. Another real possibility is a shift from CF card to a smaller media format, and here the big question would be – if they have done, is it MS Duo Pro, or SD?

lifestyle_dslr_a300

The silver-grey top plate seems to belong to the 300 series, the black to the 200. There is an AF/MF switch on the body, which bodes well for in-body AF motor remaining present (it is duplicated on the 18-55mm lens, which is why this is thought to have an in-lens motor). There is also a hint of something below the AF/MF switch on the mount, but this may just be a shadow. In the camera group shot, something appears on the right-hand grip side which might be a small grip to prevent fingers sliding down. But it could be something else (such as a microphone positioned NOT to catch the wind…)

A further header pictures shows a small flashgun and some interestingly ambiguous looking lenses:

3509373767_c6d482e998_o

Unless these cameras contain anything remarkable, it looks as if they belong to the Family series – not the Advanced series – and may well not be of all that much interest to photographers. They may be of great interest to people who want to take pictures, but of course, that’s not the same thing…

Read our original post below:

Thanks to Kevin Barrett for originally finding this on May 2nd in the drop-down product list of the Sony UK support site:

a330-1

Just in case it is thought from this screen shot to be a typo for the A350, it is not – the A350 appears next:

a330-2

Of course this offers no clue as to what the A330 might be – nor does clicking on the support link:

a330-4

Because the result is:

a330-3

When the A330 will arrive, who knows? But it must be pretty soon or this leak would not have occurred. Your guess is as good as ours, as to what the specification might be – but an A300-350 series live view models seems likely, and the 12 megapixel sensor of the Nikon D5000 would seem to be a logical step for true live view and video capture in a Sony model while keeping the same overall design with the articulated rear screen.

The codes for Y and L will indicate lenses. Since two new lenses – presumed to incorporate focus motors because of their design – are also shown on the support website, 50mm f/1.8 and 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, it can be assumed the camera will be sold with these lenses as no existing models have the codes Y or L when used in kits. There is a possibility that these budget lenses are not SSM, but use a cheaper internal micromotor. It may also be fair to assume to the body could lack mechanical focus drive support. There is one very good reason for omitting this on HD-V SLRs, which is the noise of the motor transmitted to the internal microphone. While the high frequency sound of the SSS stabilisation can probably be noise-cancelled, the complex sounds of a motor and lens combined would be audible. When filming with the Canon EOS 500D and the Nikon D5000 alike, the stabilised lenses made odd purring or grunting sounds occasionally.

However, it would be a mistake for Sony to follow in Nikon’s footsteps – consider the amount of criticism from existing Nikon system owners that the ‘new’ bodies get.

I’ve been testing the Nikon D5000 with 18-55mm kit lens and can only say that this short, wide-angle biased range is almost useless for video shooting. There’s a good reason why ciné and video cameras rapidly acquired 8X, then 10X then 20X zoom lenses – and a good reason why Canon shipped me a 500D review kit with an 18-200mm last month. So if video was involved, the 18-250mm would become the lens of choice. So far no Tamron-based lens – whether under the Tamron label or not – has incorporated a focus motor in any mount other than Canon. It is clear that Tamron must follow Sigma and move over rapidly to an ultrasonic motor based line-up, but they show no sign of leaving the starting grid.

A thread on Dyxum includes claims that this camera has been seen, and that other models due for release include the A230, A380, A800 and A1000.

Update May 3rd: this has now been found on Sonystyle Canada – references to each of the levels, 200/300/700/900, being a ‘series’ – even the 700 and 900 which can not be called a camera series at present:

dlsrseries

This may mean nothing (just a poorly written site layout) or it may mean the higher end models will be A730 and A930 (since 30 seems to be the increment chosen). It’s worth checking this site, and others, in the coming days as changes like this usually precede launches. Sony traditionally launches cameras either before the summer holiday season for its various worldwide markets, or at the start of the ‘return to work’. Past launches have been early June (with pre-release information in May to dealers and some press under NDA) and September (with the same in late August).

- DK


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