Apple may have whipped up the hype last night, but in the camera world the big announcement was being made in Italy by Sony. The company has finally announced the launch of a new digital SLR. The Alpha 700 packs 12.2 megapixels and uses a CMOS sensor. The LCD screen is a whopping 76mm (3 inches) and boasts a 920,600-pixel resolution, the highest on a dSLR. Interestingly, Sony has chosen not to include the live view feature that's appearing on entry-level dSLRs such as the Nikon D40 or the Olympus E-410.
The Alpha 700 is made from magnesium alloy over a reinforced aluminium alloy chassis, with weather-resistant silicon seals. Under the bonnet there's a high-speed BIONZ processor that captures raw footage. Noise reduction is available on raw footage to cut noise before the image is compressed and encoded. Sensitivity goes up to ISO 3,200, and there's a bracketing mode to capture a scene at three different dynamic range settings.
There's 11 focus points for the autofocus sytem, which is activated by a sensor on the hand grip. Menus are navigated with a new 'Quick Navi' interface. Once you've customised any of the 28 settings, you can save them to one of three user memories, or remember 15 frequently used items to be accessed with the handy 'function' button.
In burst mode, the Alpha 700 captures 5 frames per second thanks to a double-stopper anti-bounce mirror mechanism. We don't know what that is, but it sounds like fun. Sony claims the new M-series InfoLithium battery pack will pump out 650 shots per charge. Pictures are stored to CompactFlash or Sony's proprietary Memory Stick PRO-HG format.
If you want to display your pictures on an HD television, the Alpha 700 has an HDMI output and can capture images at 1,920x1080-pixel (1080i) resolution. You get an infrared remote control in the box to use as a wireless shutter release or view the images on a television. UK pricing and availability is yet to be confirmed, but we'll get you a review as soon as ever we can. -Rich Trenholm