The new Alpha 230, 330 and 380 models are radical ergonomic redesigns of the existing 200, 300 and 350 series. There is a 15% reduction in size (volumetric) and weight, an update to the styling, and a completely revised user interface with graphic representation of setting adjustments – with a built-in ‘handbook’ to accompany the modes and options. They also have mini-HDMI image output, compatible with Bravia TVs and with interactive software inside the camera to allow the Bravia’s own remote control to change, orient and zoom into images (Bravia Sync). Twin card storage is MS ProHG Duo/SD and only one card is usable at a time, with a hardware switch to change slots. A smaller battery type (shared with the HX1 Cyber Shot) is used. A new self-timer drive mode grabs a quick burst of 3 or 5 frames, cutting the chances of spoiled portraits and groups shots when someone blinks at the wrong moment.
The new flashgun HVL-F20AM operates as a wireless flash controller for the full-frame α900. “While Sony’s flagship DSLR does not have its own integrated flash, the HVL-F20AM can be used as an inexpensive trigger for wireless remote flash heads” according to Sony UK.
While the rear screen is the same 230,000 pixels the use of a battery with only 55% of the capacity previous offered may indicate that screen technology is changed to a lower power consumption design. Without using Live View, all three cameras offer 500 or more shots per charge to standard test conditions. The screen is higher in brightness than the earlier models. Other improvements in circuitry may save power to keep shots-per charge figures respectable.
The new bodies continue to support older lenses requiring an in-body focus motor, but the new kit lenses 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 SAM and 55-200mm f/4-5.6 SAM use in-lens motors. We hope these are not micromotors, but if they are built by Tamron for Sony it’s worth noting that Tamron has never yet used a sonic motor. Even the recent 70-200mm f/2.8 Tamron in Canon mount, where competing with USM is important, uses a conventional focus motor. Sony call this a Smooth Autofocus Motor so maybe it’s not a micromotor after all – that would be JAM, or Jerky Autocus Motor…
Sequence shooting is limited to 2.5fps with all three cameras (previous 200 and 300 could achieve 3fps) or 2fps with Live View. DRO (Dynamic Range Optimisation) is enhanced – presumably making it more effective, as on the A700 and A900, at balancing shadow to highlight detail in difficult lighting situations.
Other lenses to be released are the 50mm f/1.8 DT portrait lens, 30mm f/2.8 DT macro lens (due Autumn 2009) (both SAM). See:
Here is a system chart of specifications from Sony UK (due to the email delivery formatting they use, we have converted this into a JPEG as it does not copy correctly for web use):
Click the graphic to open a full size version.
The full US press release text follows.
SAN DIEGO, May 17, 2009 – Sony is making it easy for first-time digital SLR buyers to step up from point-and-shoot digital still cameras with the introduction today of three new easy-to-use α (alpha) cameras (models DSLR-A380, DSLR-A330 and DSLR-A230), four new lenses, a flash and accessories.
Uniquely Matched to Customers’ Needs
The new cameras are designed to overcome challenges faced by many customers taking their first steps in DSLR photography. Without compromising performance and versatility, the new models are smaller, lighter, easier to use and offer innovative expansion options not found in other systems.
“Our new alpha cameras, lenses and accessories make it easier for new users to get the great photos they expect without the steep learning curve that DSLRs have traditionally required,” said Kristen Elder, senior manager for the alpha business at Sony Electronics Inc. “By overcoming the obstacles, we’ve made it much easier for newcomers to take great pictures with DSLRs.”
Light and Compact
The 10.2 megapixel α230 camera is the lightest, most compact alpha DSLR camera body ever at 15.9 ounces. The 10.2 megapixel α330 and the 14.2 megapixel α380 cameras are also smaller and lighter than their predecessor models (the DSLR-A300 and DSLR-A350, respectively). These cameras are also more compact and feature an intuitive control layout that allows for easy single-handed operation.
SteadyShot INSIDE™ in-camera image stabilization is built into each camera body, so every α-mount lens benefits from the ability to minimize blur due to camera shake.
Quick AF Live View System
Both the α380 and α330 cameras offer Sony’s Quick Autofocus (AF) Live View technology, so you can frame photos on the camera’s LCD screen as well as in the optical viewfinder. Through the use of a dedicated image sensor, Quick AF Live View maintains the rapid response of a DSLR, while avoiding the focus delay common to other live view systems.
The new cameras feature a 2.7-inch (diagonally) Clear Photo LCD™ screen that is easy to view even in bright sunlight. Additionally, the LCD on the α380 and α330 models can be tilted up or down, making it easy to frame your subject from high or low positions, otherwise difficult to see using an eye-level viewfinder. The range of adjustment has been increased from their predecessors, making it even easier to get shots from difficult angles.
By combining Quick AF Live View and an adjustable LCD, users can frame the scene without holding the camera in front of their face, allowing parents, for example, to maintain eye-contact when photographing their children for more natural expressions.
An HDMI™ terminal gives you the option of connecting your camera to a compatible HDTV and playing back your images in high definition quality (HDMI cable required, sold separately). Additionally, BRAVIA® Sync™ works with compatible Sony® BRAVIA HDTVs to let you control camera playback using the television’s remote (HDMI cable and BRAVIA Sync capable HDTV required, sold separately).
The new cameras include dedicated slots for high-capacity Memory Stick PRO Duo™, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo™ and SD/SDHC media (sold separately).
Built-in Help Guide
The α380, α330 and α230 models are Sony’s first DSLR cameras to feature a graphical user interface (GUI) with built-in on-screen Help Guide.
The Help Guide offers clear, concise explanations of various modes and settings, while the Graphic Display helps you understand the relationship between aperture and shutter speed, as well as the effect each has on photographic results.
Systems, Lenses and Flash
Making it easier for first-time DSLR users to get started, the new Sony cameras come in camera-and-lens packages. In addition to the two new standard zoom and telephoto lenses that are offered with the camera bodies, the company introduced new portrait and macro lenses. These purpose-built lenses make it much easier to obtain professional-looking, creative results.
Optimized for use with APS-C sized image sensors, these lenses feature a Smooth Autofocus Motor (SAM) that enables in-lens auto focus (AF) drive for smooth, quiet operation, and high optical performance in a compact size.
The DT 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 standard zoom lens (model SAL-1855) incorporates aspherical and Extra-low Dispersion (ED) elements to provide an all purpose lens with outstanding image quality. The DT 55-200mm F/4-5.6 telephoto zoom lens (model SAL-55200/2) features an ED glass element and helps bring distant subjects closer, ideal for capturing sports. Both the SAL-1855 and SAL-55200 lenses are available separately, or packaged as kits with the new cameras.
To make the benefits of portrait and macro photography easier and more accessible, Sony is introducing a DT 50mm F/1.8 portrait lens (model SAL-50F18) and DT 30mm F/2.8 (model SAL-30M28) macro lens. The wide aperture SAL-50F18 lens helps users capture beautiful portraits with gently defocused backgrounds while the SAL-30M28 macro lens captures intricate close-ups. Both techniques are difficult to achieve with standard lenses.
To help users take better shots with flash, Sony offers an affordable, compact external flash unit (model HVL-F20AM) that is simple to operate. Unlike a camera’s built-in flash, this external flash provides higher output (Guide Number 20), and enables users to bounce light off the ceiling to eliminate harsh shadows and achieve more even illumination when shooting indoors.
Pricing and Availability
Pre-orders will begin on May 18, 2009 at www.sonystyle.com/retail and at selected retailers nationwide. The cameras and a range of accessories will be available in July at Sony Style® retail stores ( ), at military base exchanges and at authorized dealers nationwide.
The α380L, α330L and α230L will cost about $850, $650 and $550, respectively. The L series one-lens kit comes with the SAL-1855 standard zoom lens.
The α380Y, α330Y and α230Y will cost about $1050, $850 and $750, respectively. The Y series two-lens kit comes with both the SAL-1855 standard zoom and SAL-55200 telephoto zoom lenses.
- The SAL-1855 standard zoom lens will cost about $200.
- The SAL-55200 telephoto zoom lens will cost about $230.
- The SAL-50F18 portrait lens will cost about $150.
- The HVL-F20AM flash will cost about $130.
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