SOURCE: Sony Europe

Sony Europe

August 27, 2009 09:00 ET

Catch the Moment in Perfect Detail With Responsive New DSLR Cameras From Sony

Easy-to-Use a500 & a550 Offer Enhanced Live View Shooting and Superb Image Quality

WEYBRIDGE, UK--(Marketwire - August 27, 2009) -

-- New 12.3/14.2 effective megapixel (a500/ a550) CMOS sensor and new enhanced BIONZ processor for detail-packed, low-noise images with high sensitivity up to ISO 12800

-- Auto HDR mode for high dynamic range exposures

-- High-speed continuous shooting up to 5fps (with optical viewfinder) and 7fps in Speed Priority mode (a550 only)

-- Enhanced Quick AF Live View captures fast-moving action, with Face Detection for beautiful portraits

-- Manual Focus Check Live View mode for precise, convenient adjustment of focus and composition

-- 90 degrees upward and 90 degrees downward tilt-angle 3" Xtra Fine LCD (a550) and intuitive new interface for clear, simple shooting

-- Class-leading shooting stamina (1,000 shots - a500)

-- HDMI output and BRAVIA Sync for control from TV remote

Two powerful, feature-packed digital SLR camera models from Sony make it easier than ever to capture beautiful pictures, carefree family portraits, stunning holiday memories and action-packed scenes.

The a500 digital SLR camera (12.3 megapixels) and a550 digital SLR camera (14.2 megapixels) are packed with advanced Sony technology that combine the spontaneity and freedom of Live View shooting with generous possibilities to realise your creative vision.

At the heart of both digital SLR cameras is a new Exmor CMOS sensor that ensures crisp low-noise images, packed with fine detail and vibrant colours. Sharing powerful on-chip noise reduction techniques with the full-frame a900 digital SLR camera, this advanced sensor works with processing algorithms handled by the newly developed and high-speed BIONZ engine to deliver premium images plus razor-sharp shooting responses. Dramatically reduced picture noise now allows super-sensitive shooting at up to ISO12800, allowing attractive results when shooting handheld in challenging situations like candlelit interiors.

Thanks to the powerful BIONZ image processing engine, Quick AF Live View now supports even speedier shooting responses with rapid, precise autofocus. This makes it easier than ever to capture beautifully relaxed portraits, dynamic action shots and more.

Powered by the BIONZ image processing engine, fast-moving action can now be captured effortlessly with faster continuous shooting speeds. Sustained shooting speeds of up to 4 fps can be achieved in Live View Mode, rising to 5 fps with the optical viewfinder. New Speed Priority mode on the a550 digital SLR camera raises the bar further still, shooting at an incredible 7 fps (with AF and AE setting maintained from the first frame). It's a powerful creative tool for capturing the nuances of a portrait subject's changing expression or dynamic action sequences.

In a digital SLR camera debut, Quick AF Live View now features Face Detection, prioritising AF on people's faces and fine-tuning exposure/white balance settings for crisp, beautiful portraits with natural skin tones. Another digital SLR camera first by Sony that's already featured on many Cybershot models, Smile Shutter detects faces in Live View mode, automatically firing the shutter at just the right moment to capture happy, relaxed smiles.

A special new Manual Focus Check Live View mode assists with fine-tuning your composition. Low-noise images can be previewed directly from the CMOS sensor, allowing critical assessment of focus and fine detail, even in low light. The live image offers 100% field coverage, assisted by framing grid lines for precise composition. There's also a selectable 7x/14x zoom function for a close-up confirmation of focus.

The a500 offers a crisp, high-contrast 3-inch Clear Photo LCD Plus screen with a tilt range for clear, comfortable composition and reviewing shots. The a550 features a superb (921k dot) 3-inch Xtra Fine LCD screen for critical focusing and photo-quality viewing with class-leading colour, contrast and detailing. The screen tilts up or down over a 90 degrees upward and 90 degrees downward , allowing uncompromised 'free-angle' live view shooting in any position. An ambient light sensor automatically boosts LCD brightness for extra screen clarity when surrounding light levels are high while both cameras also feature a clear, bright optical viewfinder with wide 95% field coverage for framing and focusing as an alternative to live view shooting.

Both digital SLR camera operations are brilliantly simple, thanks to a redesigned on-screen interface that provides easy access to functions and settings during live view operation. A unique Graphic Display gives a clear, intuitive indication of how shutter speed and aperture adjustments will affect the final image.

Creative options are broadened by new Auto HDR mode that captures a huge range of shadow and highlight detail in landscapes, interiors and other scenes. Previously accessible only to enthusiasts equipped with a tripod and image processing software, HDR (High Dynamic Range) is a specialist technique that combines two or more frames shot at different exposure settings. The a500 and a550 digital SLR camera both use powerful algorithms to combine and optimise two successive frames in only 2 seconds, correcting any misalignment between frames when shooting handheld, which is a Sony unique technology. The result is a single HDR image emulating the huge natural tonal range of human vision -- with no PC or tripod needed.

The D-Range Optimiser featured in previous digital SLR camera models has been enhanced for even better results with backlit portraits and other tricky high-contrast scenes. The powerful BIONZ engine now optimises image data in real time even in continuous shooting mode, processing brightness and contrast in individual areas of each exposure for balanced, natural looking results. Optimisation can also be selected manually from 5 processing levels.

A Smart Teleconvertor button instantly boosts image size by 1.4x or 2x to extend your camera's zoom lens range further for frame-filling close-ups.

Like all digital SLR camera models by Sony, both new cameras feature SteadyShot INSIDE, the powerful optical image stabiliser that cuts the effects of camera shake by up to 4 EV steps while shooting handheld with any lens.

After shooting, it's easy to connect both cameras to your BRAVIA television via HDMI (requires optional cable) for a stunning big-screen view of your shots. Compatible BRAVIA models automatically switch to PhotoTV HD mode for optimised still image playback with incredible detail, colour and clarity. BRAVIA Sync lets you control image slideshows in comfort via your TV's remote.

Both cameras let you capture even more incredible moments without the worry of running out of power. The InfoLITHIUM rechargeable battery pack (NP-FM500H) of the a500 allows up to 1000 shots (CIPA test, approx. figure) -- the highest capacity of any a series digital SLR camera battery to date. The battery of the a550 delivers up to 950 shots from a single charge.

If you're hungry for even more shooting stamina, the new VG-B50AM Vertical Control Grip holds up to two NP-FM500H batteries. This premium grip gives a500 users an incredible 2,000 shot maximum capacity (a550: 1,900 shots), with automatic switchover between batteries and accurate display of power remaining in % increments on the camera's LCD. An additional shutter release and dual controls support comfortable, accurate shooting in either portrait or landscape positions.

Also, with Memory Stick at the heart of the Sony a, you have every advantage. The advanced Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo HX (4GB, 8GB, 16GB or 32GB) is the perfect tool for continuous shooting mode, with the ideal combination of massive storage capacity and blisteringly fast operation. Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo HX 32GB will never miss the key shot because the number of pictures taken in 1 min is approx 270* photos (in RAW+JPEG/L (12M).Delivered with USB Adaptor, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo HX 32GB is ideal for users who want to transfer data in high speed: approx. 1700(1) pictures in L (12M) size at RAW+JPEG mode in 26 minutes.

The a500 and a550 digital SLR camera models are available from the end of October 2009.

Key technical specifications:
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Features                           a500                      a550
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Effective Megapixels     Approx. 12.3              Approx. 14.2
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Lens compatibility       Sony a lens, Minolta and  Sony a lens, Minolta and
                         Konica Minolta AF lens    Konica Minolta AF lens
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Image sensor             APS-C size (23.5x15.6mm)  APS-C size (23.4x15.6mm)
                         CMOS sensor "Exmor" with  CMOS sensor "Exmor" with
                         RGB primary color         RGB primary color
                         filters                   filters
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Processor                BIONZ image processor     BIONZ image processor
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Maximum ISO Sensitivity  AUTO (ISO 200-1600), 200  AUTO (ISO 200-1600), 200
                         to 12800  selectable (in  to 12800  selectable (in
                         1EV step, Recommended     1EV step, Recommended
                         Exposure Index)           Exposure Index)
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Image Quality Modes      RAW, RAW+JPEG, Fine,      RAW, RAW+JPEG, Fine,
                         Standard                  Standard
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
HDMI connector and       HDMI  mini connector      HDMI  mini connector
Bravia Sync              (Type C), BRAVIA Sync     (Type C), BRAVIA Sync
                         (Sync menu), PhotoTV HD   (Sync menu), PhotoTV HD
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Image Size: 3:2          L size:  4272x2848        L size:  4592x3056
(pixels)                 (12M), M size:            (14M), M size:
                         3104x2072(6.4M), S size:  3344x2224 (7.4M), S
                         2128x1416 (3.0M)          size:  2288x1520 (3.5M)
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Viewfinder Type          Fixed eye-level,          Fixed eye-level,
                         penta-Dach-mirror         penta-Dach-mirror
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
LCD                      3.0-inch type, TFT Clear
                         Photo LCD Plus (230,400   3.0-inch type, TFT Xtra
                         dots)                     Fine LCD (921,600 dots)
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Quick AF Live View       YES                       YES
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Manual Focus Check
Live View                YES                       YES
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
SteadyShot INSIDE        YES                       YES
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Anti-dust System         Coating on low pass       Coating on low pass
                         filter, plus              filter, plus
                         image-sensor shift        image-sensor shift
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Focus Modes              AF/MF selectable.         AF/MF selectable.
                         AF modes: Single-shot     AF modes: Single-shot
                         AF, Automatic AF,         AF, Automatic AF,
                         Continuous AF             Continuous AF
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
                         TTL phase detection       TTL phase detection
Autofocus                system; CCD line sensors  system; CCD line sensors
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Focus Points             9                         9
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Exposure Modes           Programmed AE (AUTO,      Programmed AE (AUTO,
                         AUTO - Flash Off, P),     AUTO - Flash Off, P),
                         Aperture priority,        Aperture priority,
                         Shutter priority,         Shutter priority,
                         Manual, Scene selection   Manual, Scene selection
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Exposure Metering Modes  Multi-segment,            Multi-segment,
                         Centre-weighted, Spot     Centre-weighted, Spot
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Exposure Metering        40-segment                40-segment
 Sensor                  honeycomb-pattern SPC     honeycomb-pattern SPC
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Scene Selection          Portrait, Landscape,      Portrait, Landscape,
                         Macro, Sports, Sunset,    Macro, Sports, Sunset,
                         Night portrait            Night portrait
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Creative Style Settings  6                         6
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Shutter Speed            1/4000-30sec              1/4000-30sec
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Exposure Bracketing      3 continuous exposures,   3 continuous exposures,
                         in 0.3 or 0.7 EV steps    in 0.3 or 0.7 EV steps
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
White Balance Settings   Auto / 6 presets /        Auto / 6 presets /
                         Colour                    Colour
                         Temperature/ Colour       Temperature/ Colour
                         Filter /  Custom WB       Filter /  Custom WB
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Continuous Advance       Up to 5 fps with optical  Up to 5 fps with optical
 Shooting                viewfinder, 4 fps with    viewfinder, 4 fps with
                         live view                 live view and 7 fps in
                                                   speed priority mode.
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Approx. no. of shots     Approx. 1000 shots (with  Approx. 950 shots (with
                         viewfinder)               viewfinder)
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Built-in Flash           Auto pop-up - GN 12 at    Auto pop-up - GN 12 at
                         ISO 100 conversion up to  ISO 100 conversion up to
                         18mm                      18mm
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Flash Modes              Flash-off,  Auto,         Flash-off,  Auto,
                         Fill-flash, Slow sync,    Fill-flash, Slow sync,
                         Rear Sync., Wireless*,    Rear Sync., Wireless*,
                         Hi-speed sync.*,          Hi-speed sync.*,
                         *With external flash      *With external flash
                         HVL-F58AM, HVL-F56AM,     HVL-F58AM, HVL-F56AM,
                         HVL-F42AM, HVL-F36AM      HVL-F42AM, HVL-F36AM
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Media                    "Memory Stick PRO Duo",   "Memory Stick PRO Duo",
                         "Memory Stick PRO-HG      "Memory Stick PRO-HG
                         Duo", SD memory card,     Duo", SD memory card,
                         SDHC memory card          SDHC memory card
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Dimensions (W x H x D)   Approx. 137 x 104 x 84mm  Approx. 137 x 104 x 84mm
                         (5-1/2 x 4 1/8 x 3 3/8    (5-1/2 x 4 1/8 x 3 3/8
                         in.) (W/H/D, excluding    in.) (W/H/D, excluding
                         protrusions)              protrusions)
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------
Weight                   Approx. 597g              Approx. 599g
-----------------------  ------------------------  ------------------------

Environmental Info

Sony is engaged in a constant review of its manufacturing, operational and business practices to ensure that its products are developed in an environmentally responsible way.

This approach can broadly be divided into three areas:


--  Halogenated materials can pose a risk to the environment if
    disposed of improperly. To minimize this risk, halogen-free flame
    retardants are used for certain printed circuit boards.


--  The extended user manual is provided electronically on CD-ROM to
    reduce paper use.
--  Product packaging is made from 100% recycled paper to reduce the
    impact on the environment. VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) -- free
    vegetable oil based ink is used to print the carton


Sony is determined to lead the way as a responsible manufacturer, and as a result we are focussing on three key areas of investment:

1. Reducing CO2 gas emissions

2. Increasing the percentage of renewable energy used in manufacturing facilities

3. Minimising the resources used by our factories in manufacturing

About Sony:

Sony is a leading global innovator of audio, video, communications and information technology products for both the consumer and professional markets. Sony is renowned for its audio-visual products, such as the BRAVIA LCD High Definition (HD) television, Cyber-shot digital camera, Handycam camcorder and Walkman MP3 player as well as its VAIO personal computers and HD professional broadcast equipment, highlighted by the XDCAM HD. Offering a complete end-to-end HD value chain and with its electronics, music, pictures, game and online businesses, Sony is one of the world's leading digital entertainment brands, employing approximately 170,000 people worldwide.

Through its long-term football partnerships as an official sponsor of the UEFA Champions League until 2012, Official FIFA Partner until 2014 and global sponsor of the FIFA World Cup in 2010 and 2014, Sony is inspiring a sense of excitement for the millions of football fans around the world.

"Sony," "Exmor," "BRAVIA," "a," "SteadyShot" are registered trademarks or trademarks of Sony Corporation. All other trademarks are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

(1) these figures are measured under certain conditions