Sony's digital camera division made a quiet but classy showing at CES 2011. The pan-electronics giant unloaded nearly a dozen new Cyber-shots and offered a few leading details about upcoming Alpha models. Rather than writing a short book on all the top-to-bottom updates, we'll touch on the highlights here, and leave it up to you if you want to click through to individual product pages for the full details. From the top:
The TX100V is the new King of Cyber-shots. Just about every notable feature from any Cyber-shot is packed into this guy. The 3.5-inch OLED touchscreen borders on opulence, but it looks so, so nice in person. Then there's the Exmor R backlit-CMOS sensor, GPS geo-tagging and navigation, 1080p HD video, and 3D image capture, including 3D sweep panorama. For this kind of money ($380), we'd probably look toward a more photographically capable camera, like the Canon S95. But the "fun" feature set on the TX100V stands alone. Look for it in March.
Sony also offered up a replacement for the rugged TX5 shooter. The new TX10 ($330) is rated for more extreme conditions than its predecessor, and adds the new 16.2 megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor. We expect it to lead the rugged class in image quality like its predecessor did, but hopefully it's a bit more durable. The T110 ($230), a replacement for the T99, rounds out the T series.
A new pair of compact zooms made an appearance at the Cyber-shot booth as well. The 10x-zooming HX7V ($300) replaces, logically, the HX5V. Most of the details are the same, though this new models bumps the resolution up to 16.2 megapixels and adds 3D image capture. It'll be interesting to see how this second-gen CMOS compact zoom stands up to Nikon and Canon's first attempts. Then there's the H70 ($230), a replacement for the H55, with more “regular” specs like 720p video and “only” 2D imaging.
Two new WX-series shooters came to the party as well. The WX10 ($280) looks particularly impressive, pairing that 16 megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor with a bright f2.4, 7x zoom, 24mm wide-angle lens. It has manual control, too. The WX9 ($220) loses the manual control and knocks the lens down a notch to a f2.6, 5x zoom, 24mm wide-angle configuration. Otherwise, they're very similar, packing 10fps full-res burst mode, 1080i video, HDR, and background de-focus modes. Pretty snazzy, and a solid value for the money.
A handful of entry-level W-series shooters popped up, too. This year, we have the 12-megapixel W510 ($110), the 14-megapixel W530 ($130), the optically-stabilized and 720p-shooting W560 ($160), and the 16 megapixel, 25mm-wide W570 ($180). Pretty standard fare, though we're a bit disappointed that nothing came along with a zoom to match last year's 7x W370.
As for the Alpha info, Sony finally had the delayed A560 and A580 mid-level dSLRs on display for all to see. Sony said that they're starting to trickle out to stores right about now; but by our measurement, they're a few months late. They look like solid-enough straight-ahead dSLRs, but we can't really see why somebody would choose one over something more exciting like the Sony A55 SLT model, or if they're really a dSLR purist (which is unlikely at this price point), a Canon or Nikon model.
Speaking of SLTs, we also got the inside scoop that the upcoming replacement for the A700 (currently under the working title of “A700 replacement) will be built around the same pellicle-mirror/SLT technology that has consumers in a tizzy over the A33 and A55. We like the direction that Sony is headed in with the pellicle cameras: Canon and Nikon have such a strong stranglehold on straight-ahead dSLRs that it doesn't make sense to try to beat them at their own game.