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May 17, 2009 – Sony today announced three new digital SLRs in its alpha lineup, the A230 (right), A330 and A380, replacements for the A200, A300 and A350 introduced in early 2008. The three new cameras share a body design and many key features, including a 2.7-inch 230,000-dot LCD, 9-point autofocus system, pop-up flash, an ISO range from 100-3200 and shutter speeds from 1/4000 second to 30 seconds. All three models incorporate the SteadyShot in-camera image stabilization that is standard in Sony SLRs, along with HDMI output for connecting to high-def TVs, plus the ability to control photo playback using a Sony TV remote. The three new alpha cameras accept both Sony’s proprietary Memory Stick PRO memory and industry-standard SD/SDHC cards.
While nearly indistinguishable at a glance, each model does add significant step-up features as the prices increase.
The A230 is the least expensive of the three, at $550 for the body plus 18-55mm lens and $750 in a two lens kit with an additional 55-200mm. It has a 10.2-megapixel sensor but doesn't offer Live View capability. The body measures approximately 5.04 x 3.82 x 2.66 inches (128 x 97 x 67.5 mm) and weighs 15.9 oz. (452g).
The A330, priced $100 higher than the A230 in each lens configuration, adds Live View with a screen that tilts vertically, up to 135 degrees upward or 55 degrees down. The viewfinder is slightly different from the A230, and the LCD offers auto brightness control missing from the less expensive model. Those differences and a 40 gram weight gain are all that separate the two cameras.
Finally, the A380, priced at $850 with a single lens and $1050 in the two-lens kit, steps up the resolution to 14.2 megapixels, but is otherwise identical to the A330.
One intriguing experiment in the new lineup is Sony's flirtation with color. The A330 will be available in the traditional black and also in a 'copper brown' color scheme. The copper brown version of the A330 has a metallic dark copper shade on the top, brown shaded plastic on the textured front, and a black back.
The kit lenses are the same for all three cameras. The DT 18-55mm lens is an f/3.5-5.6 ($200 if purchased separately), the DT 55-200mm is an f/4-5.6.($230). Two additional lenses were also included in the product announcements today; a DT 50mm F/1.8 portrait lens ($150) and DT 30mm F/2.8 macro lens, both designed specifically for APS-C digital cameras. Pricing for the macro lenses has not been announced.
Also announced today is a very compact flash unit, the HVL-F20AM ($130). It folds flat for portability, and pivots upward for bounce flash shooting (though the bounce is limited to a single upright position).
The cameras and lenses, plus a range of additional accessories, are slated to ship in July.