Photography - As a Sony Alpha camera owner, and a first-generation model α100 at that, there's news to be had.

First, and sadly, their highest-end α900 model - which I've been drooling over for a couple years - has been discontinued <>. This means no more full-frame cameras. It was to be expected though; the 900 was about 3 years old which is a typical lifespan for a camera. This is mainly since the life of any particular model of camera from any manufacturer, especially expensive ones, is mostly dictated by the supply of chips (CCDs). After a company runs all their batches of chips, warehouses them, and then begins retooling their chip line for the future, the life of a camera built around it starts ticking down. When the chips run out, it's cheaper, and better, to just start on a new model - they can't go back and make more chips, nor substitute a new different one.

We don't know yet if Sony will ever offer a full-frame camera again. I briefly played with a 900 once in a Sony store (which also no longer exist), and loved every minute of it. I most vividly remember that large bright viewfinder, which makes every other camera seem like you're trying to squint through the eye of a needle in comparison. And since I wear glasses, I'm already at a disadvantage.

But the future, for Sony, may still be bright. They have been making a lot of news in the industry over the past year as they've begun a revolutionary transition from the traditional DSLR format to a new SLT <> design. This means rather than having a physical mirror that flaps up and down when you take a picture, there is now a permanently fixed partially-transparent mirror. FYI - the mirror is what deflects light going through the lens up to the eyepiece (and other sensors like autofocusing and exposure metering), but which must move out of the way for the light to hit the CCD. With the new SLT technology, you get less moving parts, higher reliability, a smaller lighter more tightly-packed camera. But perhaps most importantly, the camera can now do video much better. With most new DSLR which do video too, things like continuous autofocus and such are disabled because of the mirror problem. But with SLT, all the ancillary sensors can continue to operate while the CCD is also getting its share of the light too. It's technically very tricky, but Sony is doing it, and supposedly quite well.

So with the demise of the 900, the good news is the announcement of the α77, an APS-C sized SLT design. They don't quite consider it a full professional camera like the 900, but it's just one step down and definitely above of the mundane consumer level models. And the 77 is packed with new and exciting features. And yes, the α77's viewfinder is supposed to be very large and bright, just shy of the notorious 900's - but with one difference, it is electronic rather than optical. When you look through the viewfinder you're looking at a miniature LCD re-display of the picture. Historically this has always been much worse than seeing the original light rays through nice clear optics; but the reviews so far say this one is finally very close (only loosing some shadow contrast). I'd still like to look through it myself though.

But, for now, my antiquated α100 is nobly continuing on just fine.

α77 reviews:
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