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Old Jan 6, 2010, 6:13 AM   #21
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No, in a recent interview, Toru Katsumoto, General Director of the Alpha Division of Sony, was unambiguous. There *will* be A700 replacement and that they have been working on it. He wasn't clear whether it would be released in 2010 or 2011.

Maybe they were planning to release it soon, but last minute decided that it needs a redesign (for video) to be a worthy competitor to Canon 7D? Some speculation is that no video model that they were planning to release as A7xx would be released as A650; so there might be A650 coming soon, (PMA?) and A7xx is delayed but will definitely come later.

It seems there are some wildly different translations of that interview.
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Old Jan 7, 2010, 8:17 PM   #22
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I have no idea what your target store carries, but ours does carry the Sony A330 along with a couple lenses and a flash. Of course our Walmart doesnt carry any Sony DSLR's so possibly it is a regional thing. As for the A450, I dont know if I would call a camera capable of 7fps an entry level camera.
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Old Jan 7, 2010, 10:36 PM   #23
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I have no idea what your target store carries, but ours does carry the Sony A330 along with a couple lenses and a flash. Of course our Walmart doesnt carry any Sony DSLR's so possibly it is a regional thing. As for the A450, I dont know if I would call a camera capable of 7fps an entry level camera.
Walmart in my area carries the A230, Oly E420, Canon XS and Nikon D3000? I can't remember what the number is. They actually have the Nikon in a big "boxed bundle" with the security strap wrapped around it and sitting on the counter. It's not in the locked case. The Sony, Oly and Canon are all in the locked case.

I have noticed that Walmart stocks, clearances and prices items in a market-based fashion. For example, my closest Walmart primarily serves a blue-collar workforce that makes <$20/hr. The D3000 kit, on the website, is listed as $549.99. It is $499.99 in my closest store. Another store further from me, in an even less-affluent area, clearanced the Nikon D40 for <$325. My closest store clearanced it for $375.

You have to be very careful with Walmart/Sams to make sure you really are getting the best price.

With regard to Target, the SuperTarget close to me carries the A330, XSi, D3000 and D5000. They also have another lens for each brand and a flash for each brand. The mall Target just carries the Sony and the Canon. No Nikon. No lenses, no flashes.
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Old Jan 8, 2010, 8:33 AM   #24
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As for the A450, I dont know if I would call a camera capable of 7fps an entry level camera.
Here's the danger of marketing. Adding FPS isn't the tough part. It's quality FPS that matters. Here's the dpreview comment about the 550's fps and continuous focus:
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We weren't overly impressed with the continuous autofocus, which can't keep up with the 5fps motordrive (at the highest 7fps setting it doesn't even try).
So, I wouldn't use FPS as a measuring stick for tiering cameras. It used to be that way. But I don't think it's a good guideline anymore. Even digicams advertise 6fps now. But the devil is in the details. That is a perfect example of one of the negatives about the approach Sony is taking - instead of shotgunning 6 models and putting 7fps on a spec sheet if they simply got less models and got 5 QUALITY frames per second they'd have a better offering for photographers.

In a way, it's like digicams that offer ISO 6400. Sure it exists - but it's existence doesn't put the digicam in the same category as a sony A700. And that's exactly the danger of Sony trying to treat the DSLR market like the digicam market where quantity often trumps quality. And people buy off simple spec sheets. It still drives me nuts when people in my life ask for advice and the single most important factor to them is number of megapixels. Because that's what marketing machines have drummed into their heads.

Again, two different angles to the discussion - the business angle, and the photography angle. All I'm sayig (and if you read other sony forums lots of sony users are of a similar mindset) the direction sony has gone in the last year hasn't been good for the photographer.
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Old Jan 8, 2010, 9:19 AM   #25
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I get the feeling from looking at the video demos of continuous AF from these models, is that they're geared more towards accuracy. For example, you can sometimes see them slowing down and speeding up a bit while shooting and switching AF points while tracking, and it appears to be geared more towards about 4fps (which is the frame rate you have using Live View with these models). So, the irregular frame rate tracking rapidly moving subjects can make them appear to be a bit sluggish. The camera settings likely impact that kind of thing, too (as the Sony models default with Dynamic Range Optimization turned on, which takes processing time).

But, also keep in mind that most entry level models don't have 5fps available as you get in models like the A500 and (and the upcoming A450), and their smaller file sizes from a 12MP sensor (as compared to the A550's 14MP sensor) probably helps with processing time and how well AF algorithms work, too.

As for the 7fps, it's not supposed to try to AF after the first shot. That's why it allows 7fps. I can still see how it could be very useful for some types of shooting though, capturing a subject doing something where they're not changing their distance to the camera significantly during the image capture.

Another problem is that kind of thing tends to be very subjective. About the only test I've seen of Continuous AF performance was using vehicles on a closed course, making multiple passes to see how well cameras performed by looking at total shots captured, percentage of in focus shots, etc.

In that particular test the Sony A700 had a very high percentage of in focus shots. But, it had less total in focus shots, because it's frame rate was slower than some of the competitors being tested.

http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/p...good-info.html

Is the A700 still better than the newer models? I don't know because I haven't had a chance to test their AF yet. But, user comments I've seen have been positive.

Also, that's only one test. In a more complex environment (multiple subjects moving at different speeds, etc.), it may or may not have faired as well.

What I think is probably needed is a controlled conditions way to test predictive AF in a more stressful manner with multiple subjects moving at different speeds and/or directions. That way, you're taking a lot of the subjectivity out of the equation.
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Old Jan 8, 2010, 9:26 AM   #26
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P.S.

One of the things I did notice in the Sony Features descriptions for the new A450 is improved predictive AF algorithms. It's too bad it looks like it's not going to be marketed in the U.S. (at least from what we can see so far).
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Old Jan 8, 2010, 9:39 AM   #27
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P.S.

One of the things I did notice in the Sony Features descriptions for the new A450 is improved predictive AF algorithms. It's too bad it looks like it's not going to be marketed in the U.S. (at least from what we can see so far).
Jim that would be great. But again it points out how the shotgun approach makes it difficult on consumers. Let's say it is better. 2 cameras released in same year. "higher end" 550 has worse performing AF than the 450. That's what I'm talking about. In the haste to saturate the market with so many entry level models you end up with situations where in the same generation a model 'below' can outperform a model above but still not have some of the same features. Makes the buying decision more difficult. Sure, you can normally have improvements in lower end model of new generation vs. higher model in previous generation. But this seems to be a recurring theme with Sony's strategy.

To my mind, the photographer is much better served if Sony had 1/2 the models and "got it right" in the models they did release. Instead of say both a 450 and 550, have one camera where you have 5fps AND predictive AF algorithms that keep up plus whatever other features the 550 has that the 450 doesn't.

Imagine your a buyer that just bought a newly announced A550. Now a month or two later here's a 'lower tiered' camera that claims improved AF performance. Both cameras, same market year but the lower end one has improvements in a feature I just bought with the 550. I just think that's a disservice to photographers. And it's something that will be difficult to compare when shopping
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Old Jan 8, 2010, 9:53 AM   #28
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You see the same thing with other other products, too. Technology is advancing at a very rapid pace, and cameras are as much computer as anything else now.

For example, you may have bought a "top of the line" laptop from a major manufacturer with a great display, lots of connectivity options, large hard drive, etc. with a Core 2 Duo CPU in it. Yet, a few months later you may be able to buy a lower end model selling for under $1K with a newer Core i7 Mobile CPU in it that is much faster than the top of the line laptop selling for much more. But, speed of operation is only one part of the equation in separating different market niches anyway. Because you're a sports shooter, you're probably more focused on that part of newer cameras.
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Old Jan 8, 2010, 10:21 AM   #29
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You see the same thing with other other products, too. Technology is advancing at a very rapid pace, and cameras are as much computer as anything else now.
I don't believe it's the same thing as computers. For example, take a look at Nikon or Canon (market leaders in DSLRs). You don't see them announcing a DSLR and then 4 months later a LOWER TIER DSLR that has a critical improved feature. For certain every manufacturer has issues with new cameras (e.g. Canon's fiasco with 1dmkIII focus system). But, Sony's market strategy makes it worse. If you're spending your time trying to re-package 3 camera into 6 or 7 different models while keeping manufacturing costs in line you're going to have more issues vs. just producing the 3 cameras.

But, I think you and I can go 'round and 'round about this and go nowhere. So I'll drop it here. We'll just have to agree to disagree on whether Sony's marketing strategy actually benefits the consumer / photographer.
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Old Jan 8, 2010, 10:36 AM   #30
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John, I suspect you're probably going to see the same thing from other manufacturers as time passes, too (in much the same way as you see that kind of thing in the point and shoot market niche), with newer models introduced on a more frequent basis, even though they're very similar to existing models, as the entry level dSLR niche is the fastest growing right now and manufacturers are going to try and give a larger variety of choices to improve the chance that one of them is more appealing to a given buyer.
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