A long-demanded 1.15X eyepiece magnifier – compatible with all APS-C format Sony Alpha DSLRs – is just one of a rollout of new minor accessories for the system. The Magnifying Eyepiece FDA-ME1AM is designed to fit the A700, A380, A330, A230, A350, A300 and A200 and should also be fully compatible with A100, Konica Minolta 7D and 5D.
To date, many Sony users have been using eyepiece magnifiers from other makes. Nikon, Sony and Pentax models can all be made to fit. Most have a higher magnification than the Sony offering (the range is between 1.17X and 1.2X). Olympus’s 1.2X ME-1 is not a perfect fit, while the Pentax O-ME53 allows the eye start sensors to function normally and offers 1.18X.
The new Sony magnifier FDA-ME1AM is equally compact and will offer better compatibility with the A700 as well as a good optical match to the Sony ocular. These magnifiers are NOT the same type of device as the FDA-M1AM which is a macro magnifier for focusing. What they do is enlarge the screen view, especially for non-spectacle-wearers, so the viewfinder appears larger.
For the rear screens of cameras, there are now hard covers for all models. These are clip-in rigid protectors, and are coded PCK-LH. A range of AR-coated adhesive soft protectors is also made coded PCK-LS. It’s very important to order exactly the right model. For the A230, 330 and 380 a brand new LCD Hood is offered.
The SH-L1AM clips on like a rigid cover, and folds down flat to become a further protector. When flipped open, it provides a full size top ‘canopy’ and two partial wings to each side. The attachment method uses a clear hard plastic screen protector built in to the design.
The new A230, 330 and 380 no longer have a remote release socket but they are compatible with the Remote Commander RMT-DSLR1 which is supplied with both the A700 and A900. No commander is thrown in with the new entry level Alpha kits, you must buy it as an accessory. It also functions as a playback controller when the cameras are connected by HDMI to a TV or monitor.
Minor new accessories include the Wrapping Cloth LCS-WR1AM in a choice of three colours. This is simply a microfibre cloth large enough to wrap up any camera or lens inside your bag, with a large elastic ring on one corner to hold the cloth round lenses or other items.
A Lens Cap holder LCS-LC1AM is also made in three colours. This is a not-so-small pouch which can hold lens caps up to 77mm diameter, with an O-ring to slip it on to your camera strap. Sony marketing has failed to spot that it can also be used to hold a filter in its case, and it’s probably of most interest for that function!
There is a new universal Hand Strap STP-HS1AM which is similar to older designs of right-hand strap used mainly with battery packs or vertical grips. This one is compatible with any model, with or without vertical grip, due to the extendible strap section. However, it occupies your tripod thread. The good news is that a second strap lug is provided, so that your neck strap can be attached simultaneously. The older leather ‘Grip Belt’ STP-GB1AM does not allow this.
Sony now has an entire range of shoulder/neck camera straps. We can only recommend one type – the leather soft wide strap STO-SH1AM. Do not confuse this with the hard narrow leather strap STP-SH2AM. The wide one is like the old Minolta Dynax wide leather straps and far more comfortable; it also shoves into camera bags more easily, unlike the SH2 which gets in the way due to its thick, rigid leather section.
A new GPS tracking unit, GPS-CS3KA, replaces the earlier original Sony GPS tracker. It still does not have any connectivity to any DSLR, requires a PC-only program that will only embed data in JPEGs, and overall it’s a crippled and makeshift answer to adding GPS location data to images.
Finally, there is a new AC Adaptor/Charger for the A230, 330 and 380 only – the AC-PW10AM. All earlier Alphas can be run from AC mains using the expensive intelligent twin charger unit, AC-V900AM, which accepts two batteries (NP-FM500H or NP-FM55H). Though the AC adaptor for the new models is labelled Adaptor/Charger, there is no indication that the battery can be charged while in the camera. The Sony website says this adaptor is for ALL Alpha DSLRs and is a universal (use anywhere in the world) AC adaptor. If so, this lower cost option for running ALL Alphas is to be applauded. The Sony leaflet says it is for 230/330/380 only.
The accessories brochure supplied with the new A230-380 models contains more detail. It also shows clearly that there are no vertical grips for these models, or other dedicated accessories.