Sony has announced the Alpha A57 pellicle mirror camera, the successor to its A55 released a year and a half ago. While the sensor resolution is still 16-megapixels — no megapixel war here — the new camera has an increased ISO limit of 16,000 (up from 12,800), a faster continuous shooting rate of 12fps (up from 10), and an improved 15-point AF system with enhanced object-tracking and snappy AF during HD video recording. It can also capture full HD video at 60p, 60i, and 24p. It’ll be priced at $700 for the body only (or $800 with a 18-55mm kit lens) when it hits store shelves next month. Read more…
If you have some translucent film canisters lying around, you can turn them into DIY glow sticks for light painting photography. Fuse three of them together into one translucent tube, stick a small flashlight into it, wrap it with a colored translucent sheet, and voilà, you have yourself a cheap and simple glow stick. It’s a way to add some thickness to your light painting “brush”.
[...] “translucent” is just entirely—egregiously, blatantly—the wrong word. Translucent materials pass some of the light that falls on them and diffuse the rest. Muslin curtains, tracing paper, or frosted glass windowpanes in a bathroom are all translucent. An indistinct, fuzzy, or veiled image that’s hard to see is actually part of the definition of “translucent.” A pellicle mirror is a beam-splitter. That is, it passes some of the light transparently and reflects the remaining amount. There’s no translucency involved anywhere. Wrong word—and a bad connotation. Marketing fail? Heck, English language fail.
Wikipedia also notes that a “camera with a translucent mirror would produce an indistinct blob of light at the image plane.” A better word for people who might not know what “pellicle” means might be “semi-transparent”.
You’ve probably read plenty of articles touting the benefits of Sony’s translucent mirror technology (e.g. high fps, AF for video, quietness, etc…), but what about the cons? One of the main downsides to having a translucent mirror is that the light hitting the sensor passes through an additional layer (the translucent mirror), which reduces the amount of light and the image quality.
Ray over at TheSyberSite attempted to quantify how much the mirror affects the resulting image quality by removing the mirror on his A55 and comparing the resulting photos. He confirmed that about 1/2 stop of light is lost, and estimates that 5% of the detail in each shot is lost due to the mirror. Head on over to the article for some side-by-side comparisons.
Lost in the commotion of Sony’s awesome camera announcements was the official unveiling of the LA-EA2 A-mount adapter, which we reported on a couple weeks ago. This fancy lens adapter lets you use Sony’s Alpha line of DSLR lenses with NEX mirrorless bodies without the loss of autofocus functionality by having a translucent mirror and autofocus system baked into the adapter itself!
Adding a large lens and electronic viewfinder to a NEX body leaves you with one strange looking camera, but the ability to use your existing lens collection on a new mirrorless camera is definitely a big deal (hopefully Canon and Nikon offer something similar if they announce mirrorless cameras soon). The LA-EA2 will cost $400 when it arrives in November.
After photographs of the cameras were leaked back in April 2011, Sony has now officially announced its A35 translucent mirror camera to replace the A33 and the NEX-C3. The A35 has the same resolution as the A55 — 16.2 megapixels — and can shoot 1080/60 video and 7 frames per second for stills (though resolution is reduced to 8.4MP at this rate. ISO goes up to 25600, and there’s a large 3-inch touchscreen on the back. The A35 will be available in August for $600, or $700 if you want the standard 18-55mm kit lens included. Read more…
Here’s an interesting look at the guts of the pellicle mirror Sony A55 and how the camera works. The camera being examined in the video is already disassembled and neatly organized by layer. If you haven’t seen or read much about the A33/A55 before, this video will bring you up to speed on the advantages of having a translucent mirror instead of a traditional one.
If Sony succeeds in this technology shift, it will be quite a change from the 1960s, when Canon introduced their version of the translucent mirror for film cameras but ended up going back to normal mirrors before long.
At CP+ Camera and Photo Imaging Show that just kicked off today in Japan, Sony is showing off a see-through prototype of an upcoming translucent mirror A77 camera. It will replace the A700 DSLR as a mid-range to high-end shooter, will shoot AVCHD video at 1080p with a APS-C sensor, and will be available sometime in the middle of this year. Not much else is known about the camera at this point. Looks like the whole translucent mirror thing is working well for Sony.
P.S. Just a thought — if they just released the A77 with the prototype’s aesthetics, they could just call the thing a “translucent camera” instead of a “translucent mirror camera”.
SonyAlphaRumors received a pretty interesting tip yesterday regarding the design of the upcoming Sony Alpha A77 (which is still a rumor at this point). The anonymous tipster wrote that the camera — successor to the A700 — will have an innovative design that boasts a hybrid viewfinder by blending optical and electronic images:
Yesterday Sony explained the new system that will be used for the incoming a77 (the a750 will use a regular SLR design). Practically the are using two semi-transparent mirrors and a high-resolution EVF to reinforced the live image. They are using a reflexive technology design called 70/30, between each semi-transparent mirrors.
The final image in the viewfinder will have 30% of original image and 70% of electronic reinforced image through the new EVF.