updated 10:50 am EDT, Tue August 24, 2010
Sony Alpha A560 and A580 become new entry level
On top of its translucent mirror cameras, Sony today put out two new conventional Alpha cameras to occupy the entry level. The 14.2-megapixel A560 and 16.2-megapixel A580 use a traditional flip-up mirror but still shoot AVCHD (H.264) video in 1080i. They shoot slower, at 7FPS maximum, but still have the advantage of a second, preview-only sensor to compose quicker in live view, zoom in while having a 1X view and get input on the focus before committing to the shot.
As part of the upgrade to the outgoing A550, the cameras get the multi-shot modes of the A33 and A55, such as a three-shot high dynamic range composite, six-shot noise reduction and 3D sweep panoramas. In return for dropping the special mirror, the A560 and A580 claim an advantage in sensitivity with a maximum ISO 25,600 versus the A33/A55's ISO 12,800. The LCD is also limited to tilting up and down rather than a full swivel.
The A560 is the only model destined for the US so far and will reach shelves in October, costing $650 for a body-only version and $750 with an 18-55mm lens. So far, the A580 is primarily for Europe and other areas.
Three prime lenses are joining Sony's lineup, starting with a 24mm f2 Distagon model for high quality wide angle shots. Sony is also readying a 35mm f1.8 lens for shallower depth of field and an 85mm f2.8 lens suited more to portraits. All of the lenses ship in October; the 24mm lens is the only expensive one of the trio at $1,250, as the 35mm and 85mm lenses cost just $200 and $250.