Sony a300 DSLR Makes The Long Trip Down Under

It's been about six months since we first saw Sony's new Alpha a300 DSLR. You know, the one with the freakin' awesome liveview? Well, Sony Australia have finally announced that the a300 will be launching on Australian shores in early August.

The unit will set you back $999 with an 18-70mm lens, while the twin lens kit (featuring the same 18-70mm lens and a 55-200mm zoom lens as well) will cost just $1149.

If you're after an entry level SLR, Sony's Alpha range is a good place to start - the fact that the image stabilisation is in the body, not the lens, makes it much easier for beginners to get a better shot. Plus, for that price (those are RRPs, remember. You can almost certainly get it cheaper in store or online), it's a fantastic opportunity to take that next step up.

The full press release is below:

Sony expands α D-SLR range with A300 The A300 features new Quick Auto Focus Live View technology, 2.7-inch variable angle LCD screen and up to 10.2-megapixel resolution

Sydney - 3 July, 2008 - Sony Australia expands its α ("Alpha") range of digital single-lens reflex (D-SLR) camera bodies to four with the launch of the A300, satisfying consumer demand in this growing market. The A300 incorporates new Quick Auto Focus (AF) Live View technology and a 2.7-inch variable angle LCD screen, giving avid photographers the convenience of live image previews, highly responsive shooting and greater freedom when composing images.

The introduction of the A300 brings Sony's total α range to four D-SLR camera bodies as well as a wide selection of lenses and accessories that are work across the entire range.

"Incorporating the extremely popular Auto Focus Live View that has been highly successful on the A350, the A300 makes it easy for digital still camera users to promote themselves to D-SLR and get better results from their digital photography. Liveview enables users to see what is happening through the lens using the LCD display on the back of the camera, just like a Cybershot compact. Quick AF Liveview means there is not the delay in shooting associated with other Liveview systems," said John Wallace, Sony Australia's Business Development Manager for the Digital SLR Division.

Coupled with other proven features such as the BIONZ image processing engine, in-built Super SteadyShot image stabilisation system, D-Range Optimizer[1] , high sensitivity of up to ISO 3200, anti-dust protection system and long battery life of up to 730 shots on a single charge (using the optical viewfinder), the A300 brings to D-SLR technology to those who want more creative control over their photography and are looking to step up from a point-and-shoot camera.

Quick AF Live View Unique to Sony, Quick AF Live View technology fuses the convenience of live image previews with through-the-lens (TTL) phase-detection autofocusing. The latter feature enables quick AF, a key capability prized by D-SLR users. Sony's innovative Pentamirror Tilt Mechanism uses a tilting mirror to direct the light path to a dedicated live view sensor. The switch-over between optical viewfinder mode and Quick AF Live View mode is done via a simple push of a switch at the top of the camera. The result is fast and responsive TTL phase-detection autofocusing in live view mode that is not interrupted by mirror operation.

Combined with the advanced centre-cross 9-point autofocus sensor system, the A300 delivers fast, accurate autofocusing performance in both live view and optical viewfinder shooting modes. Also, increased accuracy of predictive focusing makes shooting moving subjects easier.

Super SteadyShot and anti-dust system The popular body-integrated Super SteadyShot image stabilisation system delivers enhanced anti-shake performance in the A300 with improved control algorithms, enabling users to shoot at shutter speeds of 2.5 to 3.5 steps slower. This prevents blurring caused by camera shake and enables handheld shooting of scenes that usually require a tripod or flash.

Similar to previous α models, the A300 has a special anti-static coating on its low-pass filters to prevent dust build-up. In addition, the Super SteadyShot anti-vibration mechanism activates to dislodge dust each time the camera is turned off. Combined, both methods minimise dust formation in the camera body, therefore reducing the need to manually clean the camera or edit spots on images.

Large 2.7-inch variable LCD screen The A300 also features a large 2.7-inch, variable angle Clear Photo LCD screen with a high 230,400-dot resolution. With a 130-degree upward and 40-degree downward tilt, the variable angle screen allows for a wider range of shooting angles, giving photographers greater freedom and comfort when composing images. The impact of exposure and white balance adjustments can also be conveniently previewed in live view mode.

1200-zone metering and smart teleconverter When shooting in live view mode, an advanced 1200-zone metering system uses the dedicated live view image sensor to evaluate light levels and colour distribution to achieve optimum image exposure. In addition, the Smart Teleconverter function applies zoom scaling on images with no reduction in image quality, achieving an equivalent of 1.4x or 2x magnification with a push of a button.

High mega-pixel CCD The A300 incorporates an effective 10.2 megapixel APS-C size (23.6mm x 15.8mm) CCD sensor. Combined with the latest iteration of Sony's BIONZ image processing engine that optimises the performance potential of the CCD sensor, the α300 delivers images with rich tones, fine detail and vibrant colour.

BIONZ image processing engine Powered by the BIONZ processor, the enhanced D-Range Optimiser ensures more natural, evenly-exposed pictures, particularly when shooting high-contrast and strong backlit scenes. Image exposure and tone are automatically adjusted according to shooting conditions to give rich shadow and highlight detail. D-Range Optimiser is applicable in all formats (including RAW) and metering modes.

High ISO sensitivity The A300 offers high ISO 3200 sensitivity for faster shutter speeds to reduce blurring and increase handheld shooting opportunities in low-light environments. The high ISO noise reduction feature activates at ISO 1600 or ISO 3200 to minimise "noise" on the final image.

Sony's online portal for D-SLR enthusiasts Sony continues to inspire professional, aspiring professional and hobbyist photographers through its online resource, the α Centre, at www.sony.com.au/dslr.

With new features such as an events calendar, the α Centre is a resource for information on digital SLR technology and a community where professional photographers can share their knowledge The α Centre offers tutorials on key topics, live forums and tips and techniques from professionals.

α and the environment Sony is consistently engaged in a review of our manufacturing operations and business practices to ensure products are developed in an environmentally responsible manner. The body cap of the A300 uses renewable polyamide 11, a vegetable-based plastic derived from castor oil. Increased use of vegetable-based plastics can lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and saving of crude oil resources.

Other features Long battery life up to approximately 730 shots on a single full charge using the optical viewfinder with high density InfoLITHIUM battery pack NP-FM500H. Remaining battery power is indicated in 1% accuracy with 5-level icon display, enabling precise power management. Built-in auto pop-up flash fires automatically when needed (in Auto or Scene selection modes). Continuous shooting up to 3 fps in optical viewfinder mode; 2 fps in live view mode. Scene selection modes offer the best shooting set-up for specific types of scenes with one-touch ease. Creative Style settings enable easy adjustment of image parameters to suit user's preference and creativity. Camera function display with frequently used menu list can be called up by pressing the Function button. Ergonomic grip design for enhanced shooting stability. Optional vertical grip VG-B30AM for easy and comfortable capture of vertically-oriented photos. Quality picture viewing on a full high definition TV when used with compatible peripherals. Easy to use software included: Image Data Converter SR Ver. 2 Image Data Lightbox SR Picture Motion Browser

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[Sony]

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