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Sony SLT-A99, RX1 and VG900E - Full-frame sensor triplets

Ben Pitt
12 Sep 2012
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New full-frame sensor in new DSLR-style body, premium compact and camcorder

Sony has unveiled three new devices built around the same brand new, full frame, 24-megapixel sensor - a DSLR-style camera, a high-end camcorder, and amazingly, a premium compact. This sensor is the same size as 35mm film, which puts it in a different league to consumer SLRs and in direct competition with the Canon EOS 5D Mk III and Nikon D800.

SONY ALPHA SLT-A99

The Alpha SLT-A99 is the most conventional of the three. It's a single-lens translucent camera, similar to an SLR except for the fact that it's viewfinder is electronic rather than optical. It uses the same high quality viewfinder that we've seen in the Sony Alpha A77 and NEX-7. There are various other shared features with the A77, including a three-way articulated screen, 24-megapixel resolution and magnesium alloy body. However, there are other features, besides the full-frame sensor, that distinguishes the A99 from the A77.

Sony SLT--A99, RX1 and VG900E

Autofocus uses a combination of a 19-point conventional phase-detect autofocus sensor and a 102-point sensor integrated into the sensor. It's also possible to limit the autofocus range in order to ignore subjects in the foreground or background. Video capture is at 1080p at up to 60fps, with the ability to adjust aperture and shutter speed settings while recording using a control that Sony describes as a Silent Multi-Controller.

Sony SLT--A99, RX1 and VG900E

The A99 is expected in November, priced around £2,500 (body only). This puts it in direct competition with the Canon EOS5D Mark III and Nikon D800, but there are certainly enough distinguishing features here to make the A99 stand out.

SONY DSC-RX1

Also new is the RX1, which houses the same sensor in a compact-style body. At 113x65x70mm (whd), its dimensions are similar to to many compact system cameras, making it the smallest digital camera ever to incorporate a full frame sensor.

Sony SLT--A99, RX1 and VG900E

There are no interchangeable lenses, though. The fixed lens bears the Carl Zeiss brand and has a 35mm focal length and f/2 maximum aperture. With lens rings for focus and aperture and a sleek aluminium body, it will make a stylish carry-everywhere camera for those who can afford it. Expect to pay around £2,600 inc VAT when it arrives in December.

SONY NEX-VG900E

Those anticipating a full-frame NEX weren't entirely wrong, but the camera in question might not be what they expected. The NEX-VG900E comes from the Handycam range. It uses the same sensor once again, but the captured image is automatically cropped when NEX lenses are attached to its E-Mount lens mount. The full surface of the sensor comes into play when Alpha Mount lenses are used via the supplied adapter. Adapters will be available for other lenses, too.

Sony SLT--A99, RX1 and VG900E

It shoots AVCHD video at frame rates up to 50fps (interlaced or progressive scan), and the VG900E's shape, optional XLR audio connections and unlimited clip lengths make it the most appealing of the three cameras for videographers. It's expected to cost around £3,000 when it hits the shops in November.

HANDS-ON SOON

We'll be using all three devices over the next couple of days and will bring you in-depth hands-on reports as soon as possible.

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