Sony announced today two 16-megapixel, SLR-like advanced cameras—the Sony a37 and NEX-F3—that offer more automated features than usual. Some of these features are trickling up from point-and-shoots, such as Smile Shutter, which fires off a shot when the camera recognizes a smile, and Superior Auto, which selects an appropriate scene mode according to subject and lighting; others are custom-made for advanced modes.
Manufacturers have traditionally built advanced cameras for consumers who know a lot about photography and love to tweak their cameras manually, but Sony has taken a different tack: The company is attempting to move beyond the simple auto mode by developing these smart features, which expand the concept of automation.
Both of the new Sony cameras also include Auto Portrait Framing mode, which analyzes, crops, and resaves an image to create a more pleasing composition. (The cameras copy and save the original, as well; using digital zoom, the new file will be the same file size as the original.) Sony says this process not only yields more pleasing photos but also educates consumers on how to compose their photos.
The NEX-F3 also includes Easy Self-portrait mode: To use it, you flip up the 3-inch swiveling display so that the LCD faces toward the front of the camera and press the shutter button. The camera starts a 3-second countdown, then fire a photo. The display shows a mirror image, which Sony says will appear more natural to photographers.
Here are some other intriguing specs for both models.
The Sony a37:
- Can fire 12 frames per second (with full-time continuous AF) at full resolution.
- Has a 2.7-inch swiveling live-view LCD and high-quality SVGA viewfinder.
- Includes a translucent mirror technology and has 15 AF (auto-focus) points, with three cross sensors.
- Has a 3-inch swiveling live-view LCD.
- Includes a built-in flash.
- Has longer battery life than the previous model, the NEX 3.
- Can be charged by a computer via USB.
Both models will go on sale in June, and each will cost $600 with the 18-55mm kit lens. The Sony a37 will be available with another lens, the 18-135mm, for $800. Sony has also redesigned its 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 zoom lens for NEX-series cameras, which will be available in July for $850.
Sony NEX-F3 (Photo: Sony)