[Updated] Sony has announced the alpha 560 DSLR, a camera it says leverages its APS HD CMOS sensor to make it easier for active shooters to get the best shot without missing a moment. It appears the camera will not be sold in Canada. However, the two others described above, will. The 560 is one of the only DSLRs with Multi-frame Noise Reduction, Sweep Panorama mode, 3D Sweep Panorama and Full HD 1920×1080 60i video capture.
This 14.2-megapixel model offers the same features of its predecessor, the 550, which introduced Quick AF Live View, 7 fps continuous shooting and Auto HDR to the step-up DSLR class.
The 560 is said to provide excellent picture quality, particularly in low-light scenarios. A new generation of Sony Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor employs low-noise processing for high-quality pictures. The BIONZ image processor has colour-noise reduction that helps achieve low noise up to ISO 12800, without sacrificing fine detail, says Sony. Multi-frame Noise Reduction stacks a high-speed burst of six frames, creating a single low-noise exposure that boosts effective sensitivity as high as ISO 25600. (That’s black cat in a coal-bin territory. What’s a coal-bin? you ask. Dark. Very, very dark.)
With Quick AF Live View, the 560 can focus just as quickly in Live View as when shooting through the eye-level viewfinder, says Sony.
Sony has equipped this camera with two Live View functions and a 3-inch LCD screen that tilts 90 degrees up or down.
Sony’s Quick AF Live View uses two sensors to maintain the same focusing speed as with the optical viewfinder. While the speed of Quick AF Live View is ideal for every day shooting, Focus Check Live View enables critical framing and magnification for setting precise focus in macro and tripod shooting.
Focus Check Live View mode simplifies critical assessment of the finest image details. A real-time ‘feed’ from the main sensor can be viewed on the LCD monitor, with switchable magnification allowing close-up confirmation of delicate manual focus adjustments. Contrast AF method is selectable in focus check Live View mode.
Temporary 7x and 14x zoom views let you to focus on extremely fine detail while the 1x view shows 100 percent framing in the LCD.
With its unique sensor-processor combination, the 560 offers up to seven frames per second shooting speed. Using the optical viewfinder, you can shoot up to three frames with Quick AF Live View, which helps you capture the decisive moment when shooting fast moving subjects like in sports.
The alpha 560 offers high-definition video recording. This model also captures Full HD (1920 x 1080i) video in high-quality AVCHD files that can be viewed on a compatible HD television via the cameras built-in HDMI terminal (cable not included). The camera includes built-in stereo microphones for high-quality audio recording.
Creativity is also enhanced by the ability to apply white balance and Creative Style settings, as well as Aperture Priority (A) mode aperture settings, to movies. What’s more, exposure compensation can be adjusted even while movie shooting is in progress.
Featuring Sweep Panorama technology, the 560 model captures shots up to 180 degree horizontal or 126-degree vertical shots (18 mm focal length).
With 3D Sweep Panorama mode, the camera can shoot 3D panoramic still images with a single lens. The high-speed burst of frames is stitched together using innovative processing techniques to automatically create detail-packed 3D panoramas. These files can be enjoyed in 3D on compatible 3D televisions (other accessories are required).
In-camera High Dynamic Range (HDR) has been further enhanced incorporating three shots. It can capture highlights, midtones and shadows. Sony says its unique positional interpolation technology can overcome slight changes in camera position and align individual shots so that a tripod is not required.
The feature handles severe backlighting and other high-contrast scenes like looking out a window into bright daylight. The in-camera auto HDR technology combines the highlight, midtone and shadow detail of three separate captures into what Sony calls a “remarkably natural looking image.” I have some difficulty with that statement, but that’s a personal appreciation, not technical; I’m not a big fan of HDR images. The 560 offers a maximum Auto HDR range of 6EV.
Multi Frame NR is a new function where, when the shutter is released, the camera automatically takes 6 frames at the currently selected shutter speed, aperture, and ISO setting, and then combines them into a single JPEG image with a reduction in noise at the selected aperture and shutter speed that is equivalent to approximately two ISO steps. In addition, ISO expansion achieves ultra-high sensitivity equivalent to ISO25600, while accurate subject detection assures high-precision alignment of the 6 frames during compositing.
The new camera accepts both Memory Stick PRO Duo (including Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo) and SD (including both SDHC and SDXC formats) media.
Sony also has announced an expansion of its A-Mount lens line-up for DSLRs: Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24 mm f/2 ZA SSM, DT 35 mm f/1.8 SAM and 85 mm f/2.8 SAM.
The Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24 mm lens functions as a wide-angle 24 mm lens on full-frame cameras, or as a 36 mm equivalent lens on cameras with APS-C sensors. This lens is distinguished by its fast response focus and extremely quiet, very smooth operation thanks to its built-in SSM (Super Sonic wave Motor). It’s an all-metal barrel.
The DT 35 mm lens weighs just 6 ounces, and becomes an approximately 50 mm (35mm equivalent) focal length on an APS-C sensor. The internal Smooth Autofocus Motor (SAM) drives the focusing group directly and ensures responsive and fluid autofocus operation.
The 85 mm lens becomes a 127.5 mm (35mm equivalent) telephoto lens on an APS-C sensor camera.
The Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24 mm f/2 SSM, DT 35 mm f/1.8 SAM and 85 mm f/2.8 SAM lenses definitely will be available in October, says Sony Canada, for about $1,500, $250 and $300, respectively.