Showing the trends from the past two years and projections for 2010, Paul Genge of Sony UK said that the rollout of the Micro FourThirds system in 2008 was followed by a sixfold increase in UK sales for this category in 2009. With the NEX3 and NEX5 reaching dealers in June, 2010 is expected to see this market treble in size compared to last year.
Sony now has 15% of the UK DSLR market share, he claimed, and the NEX models though not DSLRs fell into this interchangeable lens class and would grow that market share considerably. They has been conceived as a new type of camera, had no baggage from 'heritage' SLR systems such as Minolta, Nikon, Olympus, Canon and Pentax cameras.
This enables the 14.2 megapixel cameras to be the smallest and lightest on the market - the NEX5 is built from magnesium alloy - though the lenses are heavier and more solid than their rivals, with machined aluminium barrels. I can confirm that the feel of the lens, though still very light, is of a precision quality optical unit. The 16mm f/2.8 pancake lens, equal to a 24mm wide angle, should be especially popular as a pocketable combination for professional use where DSLRs are too bulky or noisy.
There is no silent mode possible - a conventional shutter covers the CMOS - but the action is quiet and smooth. Legacy Alpha system A-mount lenses can be adapted to the new E-mount, and the adaptor will be available from day 1 of a rollout which started early. All dealers were informed of full specifications and prices before the wordlwide launch, for the first time ever by Sony, to allow their websites to show the NEX system with pricing from May 11th. Most have beaten the bloggers to reveal the news.
AF with older adapted lenses is not possible, but aperture control has been enabled, despite the new cameras having an EOS-style purely electronic focus and aperture coupling. The new lenses use ultrasonic motors, and the stabilised 18-55mm and 18-200mm options also have very silent OSS, resulting in elimination of noise when filming HD video.
A 3D panorama mode is provided, working with Sony Bravia and other 3D TVs given a suitable player such as firmware upgraded PlayStation 3 (electronically controlled wireless polarizing specs needed!). Both cameras will also shoot very high resolution sweep pans composed from still frames, up to 23 megapixels, and have extended in-camera HDR capabilities including 6EV span 3-shot image assembly.
RAW and JPEG shooting is provided, to suit enthusiast and pro users, while on the NEX5 the HD video is 50i/60i selectable (25, 30, 50 or 60 fps) 1080i AVCHD of very high quality. A new semi-pro camcorder using an APS-C sensor, and accepting the new E-serie lenses as well as adapted A-mount glass, was previewed and will be launched around October; this has a conventional camcorder shape and video friendly design.
Retail prices will start at £400, BJP understands.
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