The European press launch
David Kilpatrick recorded the proceedings at Le Meridien Lav Hotel, Split, Croatia on March 11th 2010 using a Zoom H2 portable digital recorder. Shirley Kilpatrick transcribed the audio, with subsequent editing to translate verbal output to read well as text. This is a multi-page document please use the PAGE navigation at the foot of each page to continue reading. It is a very long document.
Nick Sharples, director of corporate communications for Sony, Europe, welcomed the press to Split in Croatia, and thanked everyone for getting up before breakfast – especially those from Portugal who arrived at midnight (volcanic ash delayed their flights). The launch was synchronised round the world, hence the 8.00am timing for the European meeting.
Yoshiyuki Mogami (Vice President of Digital Imaging, Europe) was introduced to explain a little bit more about the business strategy for Digital Imaging in Europe. Yoshiyuki thanked everyone for coming over to Split; the team from Munich had arrived by driving ten hours.
Sony started Alpha business in 2006, he said, introducing the Alpha 100 in Morocco. The Alpha 700 was launched in Italy in 2007, the Alpha 900 flagship model was introduced in Scotland in 2008. “We have carried out surveys asking people in Europe which brands they would think of when buying a digital camera; the figure has risen from 50%, to close to 70%. Now we are enjoying a 15% market share in Europe. This figure is OK, but Sony now really has to go to our next step.
“But looking at the DSLR as an industry it’s not like two years ago or three years ago. DSLRs were pretty much a booming industry, and that’s why everybody came into his segment. These days the growth of this segment has very much flattened, and of course you could say this is due to economic slow down or recession, but we suspect that the traditional DSLR has a limit in mass appeal to consumers.
“So that’s why Sony can try to break this type of barrier. We put together all kinds of voices and views on this technology to see what we can do – we think we have heard the customers’ voice, and really put it into this project.”
Mogami-san introduced Toru Katsumoto, senior general manager of Alpha:
“Today I would like to officially announce our new ultracompact interchangeable lens camera we have already shown at PMA in February and in Japan. In the current market the boundaries between the three categories – DSLR, compact still camera and camcorder – are already starting to merge.
“In the area when DSLR and Digital Still Compact merge, we see great possibilities. Let me introduce to you NEX-5 (he holds up the camera, in front of large projected images of the cameras). This beautifully crafted body is designed to bring out the presence of the lens. The body is so slim and compact but without sacrificing any size or balance. The grip on this camera ensures a firm and comfortable hold despite such a slim and compact body. The rigidity and texture of magnesium alloy gives a high grade appearance and solid feel to the camera.
“NEX-3 is designed for a more casual approach, and can be very attractive especially for those who have yet to explore the world of the DSLR. The slim design comes in three different colour variations, with a unique texture on the grip. It simply feels great in one’s hand in addition to being a stylish camera.
“The key concept of NEX-5 and NEX-3 is to combine the best of both worlds – the image quality and power of expression of the DSLR, with the portability and ultra-compact design of a digital compact camera. We strongly believe that NEX-5 and NEX-3 are cameras that are capable of satisfying customers’ needs from both DSC and DSLR segments. Namely, compact digital still camera users who are motivated to step up from DSC, and DSLR users who are demanding a more compact camera without compromising DSLR power.
“Professional quality in your pocket is the buzzword for this camera. There are six elements:
- DSLR quality in still and moving images
- Compact and stylish
- Power of expression derived from interchangeable lenses
- Making creative work easier
- Beautiful high definition movies easily filmed
- High speed continuous shooting, 7fps
“The APS-C sensor successfully packs DSLR quality in a small body (he removes the lens and shows the sensor). The new sensor is significantly larger than the FourThirds sensor, resulting in a higher pixel count and superior picture quality.
“Our designers have done a great job; the philosophy is a minimalist design. The lens itself is small, but the body size is so small that the lens looks dominant overall. With the pancake lens, it comes close to the size of a point and shoot camera. It is the world’s smallest, and is lighter than either of the rival brands (Olympus and Panasonic profiles shown on screen but not named).
“The depth of the flange back on the camera is 18mm, the world’s thinnest. This is why we can make it so slim. There are three new lenses. Also conventional Alpha A-mount lenses, currently in customers’ hands, can be used via our mount adaptor.”
Katsumoto-san described the user interface with its virtual scroll wheel, adjusting depth of field; and the sweep panorama including the 3D function. “During the sweep motion, the camera generates two pictures, one for the right eye and the other for the left. You do not need two lenses for 3D.”
He said that Handycam experience had been used to set up high definition recording. Toru emphasised the value of Alpha NEX division working together with other Sony technologists.
“NEX-5 and NEX-3 are only the first two products to be offered by Sony in this emerging area. We believe that products based on the combination of a large imaging sensor and interchangeable lenses are not limited to NEX-5 and NEX-3; today, let me take the opportunity to reveal our second proposal to you briefly. As I am speaking now, a dedicated group of engineers is in the process of developing a new camcorder with the interchangeable lens system (he shows a mockup image).
“This camcorder will come with an EXMOR HD APS-C sensor for DSLR quality video in AVCHD form. Like the NEX-5 and NEX-3, with an adaptor, this new camcorder is also compatible with current Alpha lenses allowing videographers to access a wide range of high performance lenses to be used to express one’s creativity like never before.
“Needless to say, its body design is specially optimised for video shooting. Details of this product will be communicated soon, I’d say around the Autumn area, so please stay tuned. The combination of a large image sensor and interchangeable lenses can create whole new dimensions and expression and possibilities.
“To express our strength in such products, we would like to introduce the phrase “Beyond Our Eyes” which contains the following meanings – bringing new experiences, and style of unforeseen dimensions, that evoke deep emotions, and creating a visual world beyond how our eyes can see in both still photography and video.”
After this, the conference was officially over, and journalists were asked to re-convene for region specific in depth meetings. The meeting for the UK and Scandinavia was headed by Paul Genge of Sony UK. See next page.