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New lenses and flashgun

As well as the new cameras, Sony has also announced some new glass to stuff in the front of them. The three new lenses being launched this week include the SAL50F18 DT 50mm F1.8 SAM, a high-speed portrait lens priced at £160.

The DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM is likely to be the new standard zoom kit lens, replacing the much criticised 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 sold previously. The new lens is priced at £160.

Joining the new 18-55mm is a telephoto-zoom partner, the DT 55-200mm F4-5.6 SAM. This will probably also be a kit option, and is priced at £220.

Also announced this week but not actually available until Autumn is the DT 30mm F2.8 SAM. The price for this lens is yet to be announced.

It's not just lenses though. Sony has also unveiled an interesting-looking new compact flashgun, the HVL-F20AM. It is wireless compatible and also works as wireless trigger for α900. It goes on sale at £150.



Jon McGovern

May 19, 2009, 8:05 pm

I don't know much about the technical side of cameras but these look great. I think Sony is slowly becoming a real competitor to Canon and Nikon...


May 19, 2009, 8:26 pm

They have not improved anything!

Yes the Sony SLRs are looking good but that&#8217s because the old ones they are meant to be replacing were good. There is nothing new on these cameras worth buying. Where is the Movie Mode? Where is the High-Res Screen? Where is the step up from 10mp?

You don't get anything new except a massive price increase from A200 = £250 to A230 = £530. This is ridiculous!!


May 19, 2009, 9:28 pm

I can't help feel that this is a bit of step backwards really. Well, perhaps not backwards, but to the side.

I picked up an A200 w/kit lens for £260 last week. This week its replacement was announced - the A230 - and is priced at £530 for the body only, yet I don't see ANY improvements over the two-year old model that I've just bought for half the price. What they have done is make the grip smaller (and more uncomfortable from the looks of it) and put the command dial and shutter release in more awkward positions, which was only enabled by replacing the battery with a smaller version, hence removing the class-leading battery life of the old model. They've also got rid of CF, and although I'm glad that they haven't gone down the proprietary MS DUO route, SDHC is still a bit of a downgrade (though Sony aren't alone in this regard as other manufacturers have been replacing CF with SD in their budget models).

The main concern is pricing, as they've just released exactly the same camera in a slightly revised body and jacked up the price. These prices make the slightly higher end (yet still entry-level) a330 and a380 models more expensive than mid-range models from Canon and Nikon, which offer video recording (amongst other features) over the Sony models. To put it another way, the price was pretty much the deciding factor when I bought the A200, and had the price been anywhere near what Sony are asking for the A230 then I'd have a 450D in my hands right now. I thought I might have regretted my purchase when I heard this announcement, yet thanks to Sony's utter stupidity I'm glad that I got my hands on one while I still could.

It does beg the question whether this will be the strategy they will adopt from now on. Sony's mid-range cameras are in far greater need of updating/expanding than their entry-level ones, but it doesn't bode well for when the time comes that I want to upgrade if they just re-release the a700 with an inflated price tag. Right now Sony's biggest selling point for their DSLR system is value for money given the pedigree of their rivals in this market, who - rightly or wrongly - are able to charge more for their products. This means that they really need to focus on keeping those prices low to draw people in, then offering them worthwhile and reasonably priced upgrades for the future to get them to stay with in their system, as well as maintaining a decent lens selection (which, to their credit, they are constantly expanding). Otherwise they will never have a chance to expand their market share and will always trail behind Canikon.

Sorry for the lengthy assessment, but I have lots of time to procrastinate this afternoon and at least this looks like I'm typing something ;)


May 20, 2009, 3:15 am

smc8788: Blame the weak pound. In the US, it's only a $50 price bump. The A300 has a list price of $599; the A330's list price is $649. The figures are similar for the A230.


May 21, 2009, 5:08 am

In theory I have to agree there doesn't seem to be much in the way of 'upgrades'. In practice, I still believe 10mp is good enough and I don't care about movie mode; image processing is vital however and I hope they have improved in that area. But I admit that won't sell cameras; they need bigger numbers on the specs and fancier features (along with competitive pricing).

One thing I have to disagree with though: While it may be annoying if you have several CF cards, a move to SDHC is not really a downgrade (unless you believe the fact that it's still the standard for professional-level cameras somehow makes it inherently better).

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