Sony will use the Alpha brand name for its range of DSLR (digital single lens reflex) cameras that are due to launch from the middle of this year, it said today.
Alpha is also the name used in Japan and China for the Konica Minolta lens mount that Sony will use on its DSLR models.
SLR cameras use a mirror placed between the lens and the film or image sensor to project the image to the camera's viewfinder. The mirror moves out of the way when the picture is taken. They typically support interchangeable lenses and each manufacturer generally uses its own lens mount.
Sony decided to keep the name because it would mean some brand continuation for users in Japan and China following Konica Minolta's decision, announced earlier this year, to withdraw from the camera business. It also seemed suitable because of its Greek roots and the associated meaning of something that is first, said Junko Sato, a spokeswoman for Sony in Tokyo.
However, in other markets the name is not so familiar with customers. The Alpha lens mount is called Dynax in Europe and other parts of Asia, and Maxxum in North America.
Sony is one of a number of digital camera makers moving into the DSLR space as competition squeezes profits at the compact camera end of the market. Earlier this year Panasonic unveiled its first DSLR camera, the DMC-L1, which was developed with Olympus.
Sony has yet to show its first DSLR model.