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No new Alphas after the 58 in 2013?

The Japanese industry magazine, Nippon Camera, has posted its calendar of new product releases for 2013. This does not include the Alpha 58, a 20-megapixel revision of the 57 which is not expected to make any significant difference to the choices for DSLR/SLT system owners (that is – it’s not likely to be an imperative choice).

The A58 has already been previewed by some websites, but no opinion has any meaning until the sensor has been thoroughly tested. It may be significantly better than the 24 megapixel sensor in some ways, and better than the 16 megapixel sensor; or it may just be a compromise which has neither the clear benefit of low light performance, or ultimate resolution.

In March, a NEX-7R is expected – this, following Sony numbering, will be a 7 with on-sensor PDAF added and compatible with the revised and new lenses which work with on-sensor PDAF in the NEX-5R and NEX-6. The next month, a budget model NEX-F3R will complete this compatibility at entry level.

The model numbers given by Nippon Camera are different from those rumoured on the web. 7n would indicate no PDAF on sensor, no touch screen where 7R would indicate both. Either way, a new 7 will have the new Multi Function Accessory shoe. F3R indicates built-in flash, PDAF and touch-screen.

In September, Sony is tabled to launch a NEX-9. This is widely assumed, because of the numbering consistency shown so far, to be a full-frame (probably 24 megapixel) NEX E-mount body just as the VG-900E video camera is a full frame E-mount aimed at that market. We believe that Sony will either bundle an Alpha mount adaptor with the 9, as Canon has done for EF lenses with the EOS M, or will wait until the first flush of sales is complete before using this as a price/value incentive.

Listing this as plain NEX-9 may not mean it’s lacking the ‘n’ or ‘r’ or other aspects. After all, the NEX-6 has almost everything new and it’s a plain 6. So a 9 may also have more functions than the VG-900E.

However, it’s very hard to beat Canon’s approach – at airport duty free last week, Canon’s EOS M was selling for £499 complete with kit 18-55mm lens, EOS EF/EF-S lens adaptor, and a medium powered bounce flash.

Nippon Camera does not place any further NEX or Alpha models on their 2013 calendar of predicted launches, despite every indication there should be further A-mount models.

New lenses announced this week include an 18-55mm SAM II (updated focus motor for better PDAF on sensor, hopefully improved optical and mechanical design); a Carl Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 Planar SSM at a very high retail price; and a revised 70-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G SSM II, again probably optimised for on-sensor PDAF performance.

– DK

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