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Friday, April 21, 2006

Sony to Continue Minolta's Alpha Brand

Lose some, win some: Electronics giant Sony Corp. of Japan, a major player in the reshuffled camera market, has announced that it will continue Minolta's longtime "Alpha" product-line trademark for its new/merged Sony (nee Konica-Minolta, nee Minolta) digital SLR offerings, slated for a gala introduction/launch/rollout this summer.

Western readers have long been familiar with Minolta's high-end SLR (and later, DSLR) offerings under the brand names "Dynax " (Europe) and "Maxxum" (North America); the same products were always known as "Alpha" in Japan. Evidently Sony will now rationalize that name uniformly to the rest of the world market.

Although Sony sometimes seems like an almost impossibly ponderous company (from time to time dabbling in far-flung product segments—remember its audiophile speakers?—and just try to find specific products on its websites), this whole situation generally bodes well for photographers, I think. As lontime readers of mine might know, I've been a fan of Sony Cybershot cameras and currently use Konica-Minolta cameras. My opinion is that a) Konica-Minolta brought both useful expertise* and technical innovation** to the DSLR field, and b) Sony has demonstrated time and time again that it is not afraid to innovate in the field of digital cameras. There are also some fascinating implications for lens development and branding: Minolta's last several zooms were made for it by Tamron (and are, in my opinion, outstanding), plus, Sony has already established a successful collaboration with Zeiss. What-all will bubble up under the rubric of Sony Alpha remains to be seen, but it will be interesting. I'll certainly be paying close attention.

Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON and a bow to David Emerick

*Specifically, color accuracy, dynamic range, and camera body design
**Most notably in-the-body Anti-Shake and the unusually good viewfinders of cameras such as the Maxxum/Dynax 7 and 7D


Anonymous Flaneur said...

I've a close friend working on Sony, specifically in the camera retailing section. He told me they have preliminary specs, and they include 10mp ccd sensor (same used in Nikon D200), built-in antishake, and built-in sensor cleaning (with 2 different systems collaborating). I think they'll be outstanding cameras.

12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Mike, I thought you were a prime lenses sort of guy? Which of the zooms are you referring to? I'm thinking about getting a 7D, and zoom lenses but want quality similar to my Minolta manual focus primes.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Oly said...

The 28-75/2.8 is very well regarded. One review of that with real-world pics (from a Canon user though) is

The 17-35 is very nice too. I also use a 28/f2 when I want speed, but I don't see much improvement over the zooms, to be honest. I think in part because they were designed with digital in mind, prefering a more direct hit to the sensor and with rear coatings to minimize reflections inside the chamber.

But I'm really not sure why, just a guess.

8:59 AM  

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