Olympus E600 SLR announced

Olympus discretely announced their new entry-level E600 digital SLR today. The E600 is a whole lot like the E620 we reviewed earlier this year, minus three Art Filters, Multiple Exposure, multi aspect ratios and backlit controls. Naturally, the E600 also has a lower price tag tacked onto it. Personally, I think there’s a lot going for this camera - it’s essentially the E620 with a lower price tag and missing three firmware features (which you can essentially perform using computer software like Photoshop). But if you’re stuck between this and the E620, you can check out our Olympus E620 review to see if you really need those four extra things on the E620.

olympus e600

Olympus E600
(Entry-level digital SLR)

  • 12.3 effective megapixels (LiveMOS sensor)
  • Four Thirds system lens mount (2x crop factor)
  • Sensor shift image stabilization
  • SuperSonic Wave Filter dust removal
  • 2.7 inch rotating LCD
  • TruePic III PLUS imaging processor
  • Full manual controls with RAW mode and hotshoe
  • Built-in wireless flash control
  • 7 point AF
  • NO backlit controls
  • Three Art Filters: Pop Art, Soft Focus and Pinhole (the E620 has six Art Filters)
  • Optical viewfinder with 95% coverage and 0.96X magnification
  • Live view; with contrast detect AF, Perfect Shot Preview and face detection
  • 4 FPS burst mode
  • NO movie mode
  • Dual memory card slots: Compact Flash card (Type I and II) and xD-Picture card
    Camera can take advantage of high-speed UDMA-enabled CF cards
  • Uses BLS-1 lithium-ion battery
  • Available in November for $600 with 14-42 mm kit lens

Why the new Alpha A850, A550 and A500 DON’T have movie modes

Sony’s response to their new digital SLR announcements ‘lacking video’ is just in. According to Mark Weir from Sony Electronic’s Digital Imaging group, they want to concentrate more on ‘still image quality’ and are still working on perfecting HD video technology for SLRs (they mention continuous AF and exposure control while recording video). And there you have it folks… in a way, this is a good thing - digital SLRs aren’t exactly video cameras and are better off taking high quality still pictures.

On another note: It seems that the A500, A550 and A850 cameras are the last announcements from Sony’s Alpha SLR division for the year 2009 (camera makers usually can’t/don’t pump out a lot of SLR models in a year, and Sony have already announced a total of six Alpha cameras this year)… maybe we’ll see movie modes on Sony Alpha models of 2010 or something.

Sony Alpha A850 now official with Alpha A500 and Alpha A550

Sony finally unveiled their new Alpha A850 today. The Sony Alpha A850 is the latest ‘affordable’ full-frame digital SLR in the market. Apparently Sony wants more recruits joining their Alpha SLR system and so the price tag of the camera is EVEN lower than anticipated. Yup, this full-frame camera can be had for just $2000, new.

Besides a slower burst mode (3 FPS) and slightly less viewfinder coverage (down 2% from the A900), the Alpha A850 is otherwise the same as the A900 and a good chunk cheaper. It also turns out that Sony chose to retain the dual image processors of the A900 on the new Alpha A850 (as opposed to the ‘single processor’ speculation before the camera became official today)

sony alpha a850

Sony Alpha A850
(Full frame digital SLR)

  • 24.6 effective megapixels (CMOS, Full frame sensor)
  • Sony lens mount (compatible with Minolta ones too, DT lenses are subjected to 1.5X crop factor to 11 MP)
  • Dust reduction
  • In-body sensor-shift image stabilization
  • Dual Bionz imaging processors
  • 3 inch super-high resolution LCD (920,000 pixels)
  • 98% viewfinder with 0.74X magnification (A900 had same magnification but 100% coverage)
  • No on-board flash
  • No live view; camera can take a ‘sampling shot’ instead to preview various exposure, dynamic range and white balance effects
  • 3 FPS burst mode (versus 5 FPS on Alpha A900)
  • Full manual controls with RAW mode and hotshoe
  • 9 point AF with 10 extra assist sensors (center is dual cross type)
  • No movie mode
  • About the same size and weight as the Alpha 900
  • Dual memory card slots for Compact Flash (supports Type I/II and UDMA enabled cards) and Memory Stick Duo
  • Uses a lithium-ion battery (NP-FM500H, same as Alpha 700 and Alpha 900)
  • Available in September for $2000 (body only)

Next up are two new almost-midrange digital SLR cameras. The Sony Alpha 500 and Alpha 550 are step ups from the A3xx series. Both of them retain the ’2nd sensor in viewfinder chamber’ for live view autofocus/preview, tilt-able LCD and 9 point AF from the A3xx series but feature new CMOS sensors, better viewfinder specifications, more external controls (buttons), faster burst modes and a new auto HDR mode over their A3xx counterparts. Sony also claims an improvement in image quality in these two cameras as they feature new image sensors and better noise reduction.

sony alpha 550

Sony Alpha A500/Alpha A550
(Mid-range digital SLRs)

  • Alpha A500: 12.3 effective megapixels (APS-C CMOS sensor, 1.5X crop)
    Alpha A550: 14.2 effective megapixels (APS-C CMOS sensor, 1.5X crop)
  • Sony/Minolta lens mount (1.5X crop factor))
  • Dust reduction
  • In-body sensor-shift image stabilization
  • 3 inch tiltable LCD with two separate hinges for tilting
    Alpha A500: LCD has 230,000 pixels
    Alpha A550: LCD has 921,600 pixels
  • 95% viewfinder with 0.80X magnification
  • ISO speed range of 200 - 12800
  • Live view uses secondary CCD sensor inside viewfinder chamber
  • Auto HDR (High dynamic range) takes two pictures and combines them into one
  • 5 FPS (optical viewfinder) or 4 FPS (live view) burst mode
    Alpha A550 only: Speed burst goes up to 7 FPS
  • Full manual controls with RAW mode and hotshoe
  • 9 point AF
  • No movie mode
  • About the same size and weight as the Alpha 900
  • Dual memory card slots for SD/SDHC and Memory Stick Duo
  • Uses a lithium-ion battery (NP-FM500H)
  • Alpha A500: Available in October for $750 (body only) or $850 (18-55 mm lens kit)
    Alpha A550: Available in October for $950 (body only) or $1050 (18-55 mm lens kit)

In addition to the three new digital SLR cameras today, Sony also announced two new lenses. The new Sony full-frame 28 - 75 mm, f2.8 SAM lens will be available for $800 in November while the crop sensor-oriented Sony DT 30 mm, f2.8 SAM lens will go for a more affordable $200.

DPInterface 3.5 goes live!

Notice something different about the site today? Here’s why - the DPInterface 3.5 design is finally up! You’ll notice that the site now looks sleeker (a lot easier on the eyes!), runs faster and easier to navigate. The changes here aren’t radical, merely hybridizing our previous two designs (versions 2 and 3) into one neat looking piece of work.

There are a couple of things that still need some tweaking over the weekend, but phew, am I glad that 90% of the redesign work is done! Well, why not head over to the comments section (click on the post title) and tell me what you think about DPInterface’s new design.

P.S. Look out for more camera reviews from us soon!

Update (August 23): Our next review will be published early tomorrow (Monday) morning. So stay tuned for that!

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