Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sony A101 Hides A Surprise

Some very solid rumors just came out about Sony's upcoming top-end SLT camera. This was assumed to be the A99, but if this camera is real, and its target is real, then the A99 may shoot for the same price target as the recently-deceased A850/900, namely, it will be in the $2,500/$2,000 range. That is fantastic. That means that Sony will fill the price bracket that Canon abandoned with the release of the 5D Mark III. $2,500 and under is an excellent price for photography enthusiasts.

Other details of the camera include a 100 Mp sensor, a random RGB matr... did I just write 100 Mp?

Yep. I did. And nope. I'm not drunk. Sony will be producing a 100 Mp sensor in standard 35mm format. I rarely exceed the need for 12 Mp. I've bumped into it on a few occasions. Likewise for 18 Mp. I have never bumped into a need for higher resolution at 21 Mp. Truly, I thought that the Nikon D800 is a bit overkill for nearly anyone's purposes.

Still, with RAW files that rarely exceed 50MB, and home storage stretching into the terabytes, it's not an unmanageable resolution.

100 Mp may actually be unmanageable. Assuming similar bit depths, that would give us RAW files of well over 150MB. I'd need to buy a new computer to manage files that big.

Still, who am I to say that people can't use the resolution. I'm sure that there are many studio photogs who operate at low ISO who would love a 100Mp SLR-style camera. More power to them.

The surprise that I mentioned, though, and that detail about which I most care, is the revelation that Sony will finally give us the ability to move the mirror! As I have mentioned, I didn't buy into the A77 because the translucent mirror resulted in a noticeable loss in ISO performance and sharpness in comparison to the NEX-7, which has an identical sensor. 24Mp was already pushing APS-C to its limits, the last thing that I wanted was another thing hitting the overall ISO performance of the camera.

But this, this changes everything. I imagine a camera that can be set to traditional SLR-style mirror actuation or be set to SLT-style static mirror. Lifting the mirror, then taking a landscape shot is also on order, because with 100Mp, mirror shake would have a palpably negative effect on final image sharpness.

The final part of the rumor is what I imagine will become the upgrade du jour for digital camera companies in the future: a new RGB matrix. As the Fuji X Pro 1 has shown, benefits in both detail and noise can be had by ditching the standard 2x2 layout.

But that is all beside the point. What matters is that Sony is letting us move the mirror out of the way. That alone makes their camera more attractice.

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