Sony has unveiled the SLT A55 and SLT A33, the first pair of cameras to incorporate the company's translucent mirror design. The Single Lens Translucent (SLT) cameras offer live view with full-time fast phase-detection AF whether in stills or movie shooting. This is achieved by having a fixed, semi-transparent mirror that redirects a small amount of light onto the AF sensor while allowing the rest through onto the main imaging sensor. The A55 is built around a 16.2MP sensor while the A33 features a 14.2MP unit. Both feature 3.0" articulated LCDs, full HD video recording and ISO sensitivity up to 12,800, while the A55 also features built-in GPS. Priced at $749 and $649 respectively, the A55 will be available from October, while the A33 will hit the markets earlier, in September.

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Press Release:

Camera speed redefined: Sony introduces first Translucent Mirror Technology digital camera

Light, compact α55 and α33: up to 10fps shooting with high-speed AF tracking and Full HD movie

  • α55 (SLT-A55V) (16.2 megapixels) and α33 (SLT-A33) (14.2 megapixels)
  • Ultra-quick shooting up to 10fps with fast, precision phase detection AF
  • First ever Quick AF HD Movie with smooth, continuous autofocus during video shooting
  • Enhanced Quick AF Live View and 7.5 cm (3") free-angle LCD, plus Tru-Finder (Electronic Viewfinder) with 100% coverage
  • Advanced imaging functions including 3D Sweep Panorama, Auto HDR and multi-frame noise reduction

The α (pronounced Alpha) family of interchangeable lens cameras from Sony grows with the compact, ultra-responsive new α55 and α33.

Sony’s first-ever digital cameras to employ Translucent Mirror Technology showcase an innovative optical system that opens up dramatic new shooting possibilities. In contrast with conventional DSLR cameras, Translucent Mirror Technology uses a fixed, translucent mirror that ‘splits’ the optical pathway between the main image sensor and a separate phase-detection autofocus sensor.

High-resolution live image preview with rapid, accurate phase detection autofocus is thus available at all times – either via the angle-adjustable 7.5cm (3”) LCD or precision Tru-Finder (electronic viewfinder). This also ensures that even moving objects stay in sharp focus at all times, whether you’re shooting Full HD video or stills.

Translucent Mirror Technology overcomes other traditional limitations of DSLR models, with its simplified mechanical design shrinking camera size and complexity. This makes the α55 and α33 a compelling choice for casual photographers who want to capture spontaneous family moments and travel scenes with less to carry.

Full-resolution shooting at up to 10fps with precise AF tracking
Ground-breaking Translucent Mirror Technology allows high-speed shooting with the α55 at up to 10fps (α33: 7fps) in Continuous Priority AE mode. This represents the world’s fastest burst continuous AF shooting performance of any interchangeable lens camera with an APS-C size sensor.

A newly developed 15-point phase-detection autofocus system assures rapid, accurate AF tracking, keeping even moving subjects in sharp focus during continuous shooting. This enables the α55 and α33 to capture split-second action or fleeting nuances of expression with portrait subjects.

World’s first Quick AF Full HD movie shooting
The large sensor size Exmor™ APS HD CMOS Sensor inside both cameras lets photographers capture stunning, cinematic HD video footage with beautiful background defocus (bokeh) effects.

Theα55 and α33 also mark the debut of Quick AF Full HD movie shooting. Translucent Mirror Technology enables AVCHD 1080i video shooting with smooth, precise phase detection AF tracking of moving subjects. Real-time video image preview is now possible via the viewfinder – in contrast with DSLR cameras where the raised mirror prevents light from reaching the optical viewfinder during video shooting.

Effortless composition and image viewing
Theα55 and α33 enable exciting new possibilities for framing and viewing highest-quality video and still images. Already prized by step-up DSLR users and enthusiasts alike, Sony’s Quick AF Live View system is now more effective than ever. High-resolution live image preview is teamed with uncompromised phase detection AF performance – even with rapidly-moving subjects.

Tilting and swivelling freely (to maximum 270 degrees) for comfortable framing at any shooting angle, the bright 7.5 cm (3.0") (16:9) Xtra Fine LCD offers superb detail and contrast.

There’s also a precision electronic viewfinder with 1.15 million dot resolution that delivers a clear, bright image with 100% frame coverage. Adjustments to exposure, depth of field and colour can be previewed instantly, either in the viewfinder or on the LCD. Effortless composition is aided further by switchable grid line in the finder and LCD screen, plus a new digital levelling gauge.

Enriched creative possibilities
Theα55 and α33 are compatible with the full range of over 30 A-mount interchangeable lenses and offer SteadyShot INSIDE. This in-body image stabilisation system provides up to 4 exposure steps of anti-shake correction when shooting handheld.

Both cameras also feature 3D Sweep Panorama, allowing photographers to capture detail-packed extra-wide panoramas with a huge field of view. 3D panoramas can be enjoyed on any compatible 3D HD television. The SLT-A55 is also the first α camera by Sony with integrated GPS, allowing automatic geo-tagging of images and video clips.

The new-generation Exmor™ APS HD CMOS Sensor inside both cameras supports a sophisticated range of digital image compositing and processing functions. This gives even greater artistic possibilities to beginners and photo enthusiasts alike.

Auto HDR is now refined further compared with previous-generation α models. Data from a burst of three frames at bracketed exposure values is automatically combined, creating a single image with extended highlight and shadow detail 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.

The new cameras accept both Memory Stick PRO Duo™ (including Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo™) and SD (including both SDHC and SDXC formats) media (all sold separately).  Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo HX 30MB per second transfer rate offers the best performance during cameras' continuous shooting mode or when transferring the data to another media.

The new α55 and α33 Single Lens Translucent mirror cameras by Sony are available from September 2010.

Sony SLT A55 and SLT A33 specifications

  SLT A55 SLT A33
Sensor • APS-C "Exmor" HD CMOS
• 16.7 million total pixels
• 16.2 million effective pixels
• RGB (Primary) color filter array
• 14.6 million total pixels
• 14.2 million effective pixels
• RGB (Primary) color filter array
Image sizes (3:2)

4912 x 3264
3568 x 2368
2448 x 1624

4592 x 3056
3344 x 2224
2288 x 1520

Image sizes (Video) • AVCHD:
• 1920 x 1080, 59.94i (from 29.97fps sensor output)
• Motion JPEG:
• 1440 x 1080, 29.97p or 25p, depending on region
• 640 x 480, 29.94 fps
Aspect ratios 3:2
variable (Sweep Panorama)
File formats • RAW
• RAW + JPEG Fine
• JPEG (EXIF 2.2) - Standard
• JPEG (EXIF 2.2) - Fine
File formats (Movie) • AVCHD
• QuickTime Motion JPEG
Lenses • Sony A-mount
• Konica-Minolta AF mount
Focus modes • Auto Focus (15-point phase-detection AF system)
• Manual focus
• Face Detection
• AF Tracking
AF assist lamp Yes, dedicated lamp
Image stabilization Super SteadyShot INSIDE
Extended optical zoom N/A
Digital zoom N/A
Exposure modes • Program AE
• Aperture priority AE
• Shutter priority AE
• Manual
• Auto
• Auto +
• High-speed mode
• Sweep Panorama (2D/3D)
• SCN (see below)
• Flash off
Scene modes • Portrait
• Sports Action
• Macro
• Landscape
• Sunset
• Night view
• Hand held Twilight
• Night portrait
Scene modes (movie) • Portrait
• Sports Action
• Macro
• Landscape
• Sunset
• Night view
• Hand held Twilight
• Night portrait
Sensitivity • Auto
• Intelligent ISO
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800
• ISO 1600
• ISO 3200
• ISO 6400
• ISO 12800
• ISO 25600 (multi-shot NR mode - JPEG only)
ISO steps 1/3 or 1.0 EV
Metering range -2 to 17 EV
Metering modes • 1200-zone multi-segment
• Center-Weighted
• Spot
Exposure compensation • -2 to +2 EV
• 1/3 EV steps
Shutter speed • 60 -1/4000 sec.
• Bulb (up to 4 mins)
• Flash X-sync 1/160 sec
White balance • Auto
• Daylight
• Shade
• Cloudy
• Incandescent
• Fluorescent
• Flash
• Kelvin temp (2500 - 9909K, 100K steps)
WB fine tuning Yes (magenta/green bias)
WB Bracketing N/A
Color space • sRGB
• Adobe RGB
Image parameters • Creative Style (Standard, Vivid, Portrait, Landscape, Sunset, B/W)
• Saturation (5 levels)
• Contrast (5 levels)
• Saturation (5 levels)
• Sharpness (5 levels)
Drive modes • Single
• Continuous Hi (6 fps)
• Continuous Lo (3 fps)
Self-timer • 2 sec
• 10 sec
Flash • Manual pop-up
• TTL auto / manual
• Guide no. 10 (ISO 100)
• Sync modes: Auto, Fill flash, Slow sync, Rear-curtain sync, Red-eye reduction on/off, Wireless
• Flash exposure compensation: Up to +/- 2EV in 1/3 EV steps
Flash X-sync speed 1/160 sec
External flash • Hot shoe
Viewfinder • Electronic Viewfinder
• Color LCD Viewfinder
• Field of view 100%
• Eye point 19mm
• Magnification 1.1x
• Dioptre adjustment -4 to +4 dioptre
• 1,440,000 dots
• Field Sequential (RGB)
DOF preview Yes
Orientation sensor Yes
LCD monitor • 3.0" TFT LCD monitor
• Multi-angle swing and tilt (180°swing, 180° swivel)*
• Low temperature Polycrystalline TFT LCD
• 921,600 dots
• Approx 100% frame coverage
• Auto / Manual (5 steps between -2 and +2) / Sunny Weather
Connectivity • USB 2.0 (High Speed)
• HDMI type C
Print compliance • Exif Print
• Print Image Matching III
• DPOF setting
Storage SD/SDHC/SDXC/MemoryStick Pro Duo
Power • NP-FW50 Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery
• Supplied charger / AC adapter (sold separately)
Dimensions 124 x 92 x 85 mm (4.8 x 3.6 x 3.3 in)
Weight (camera body) Approx. 441g Approx. 433g

Additional images