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Sony expands UK digital SLR range

Alpha DSLR for pro photographers on its way

Sony announced at the Sony Media Experience 2007 event in Rhodes yesterday that it will add two more digital SLR cameras to its lineup, both of which will be branded Alpha and will "sit alongside" the company's existing A100 model launched last July.

Although it was sketchy on details, the company is confident of launching either the model for “high-end amateur” photographers or the model aimed at professionals "during this calendar year". To back up its assertion that the new models will find acceptance among the camera fraternity, Sony brought in a professional photographer, Cameron Low, who works for the National Geographic among other publications, to show off aerial shots of the Utah desert taken using Sony's existing Alpha digital SLR camera.

The Alpha range is the result of a partnership between Sony and Konica-Minolta which resulted in the first Sony-branded 10.1Mp model launching last summer to great acclaim. One of its advantages is that owners can use any of Konica-Minolta's 50-strong lens range as well as Sony's 21 swappable lenses, neatly getting around the fact that Sony is a newcomer to the SLR camera market and therefore has no legacy of lenses for customers to draw upon.

Last year was Sony's tenth year in the digital camera market, and it has carved out a significant name for itself with its Cybershot-branded compact models. As well as pitching semi-professional photographers, Sony is expanding its consumer Cybershot range and has also been demoing its new 8.1Mp high-definition camera. The T100, which launched across Europe this month and retails for around £270, has a slide-down lens cover that also triggers the on and off function, a 3in LCD screen that takes up the entire rear of the camera and a shot-to-shot time of one second.

The T100 is a slimline compact digital camera that is less than half an inch thick, comes in red, black or silver and can be accessorised with matching purse-like cases. It has just launched in the UK and Sony is pitching it as the final element in its high-definition line-up of consumer products, spanning Bravia TVs, high-definition camcorders, DVD players and, of course, the PlayStation 3, which launched in the UK last week, sports a Blu-ray drive and has surprised industry expectations by outselling rivals Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii in its first weekend of sales.

Sony says, however, that high-definition camcorders that record to Blu-ray are "not yet" on the cards and that is not currently looking into launching models that use solid-state removable media such as AVCHD cards, even though such cards exist. Instead, it is focusing on its 8cm DVD and hard disk-based camcorders, showing off new models including its 30GB HDR-UX7E Handycam which it will put onsale for 1,000 euros and which has a 10x optical zoom and 3.5in touchscreen display. As with other products being showcased at its Media Experience event this week, it is pushing the 1080i full HD credentials of its camera and camcorder line-up.

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