All future Sony Alpha models to have translucent mirror

During a presentation is Zaragoza Spain, Sony representatives confirmed that all future Sony Alpha cameras will have translucent mirror technology (see also pellicle mirror).

Sony A77 camera prototypeThe next upcoming model with translucent mirror from Sony will be the a77 that is expected to be released in late summer. The camera is rumored to have a new 24MP Exmor APS HD CMOS sensors, full HD video (AVCHD) with continuous AF, magnesium alloy body, new EVF and very high ISO capabilities. The a77 is also expected to be very aggressively priced. Here are some detailed a77 specs from Engadget China:

  • BIONZ image processor
  • AF fine-tuning capabilities
  • 1080p/30fps, 720p/60fps and 720p/30fps HD video
  • high ISO of 100,000
  • will support CF, SD and Memory Stick memory cards
  • 1,000 pictures per single battery charge
  • price between 900-1200 USD

Recently Nikon and Olympus have filed patents for similar translucent mirror implementation. I personally believe that Sony is taking a huge risk with this translucent mirror technology - Canon tried that back in the 1960s and abandon it:

"However the novel design has its flaws, the obvious ones being loss of light, which after all is not very significant; one third of a stop loss in the exposure, that amount being redirected to the finder, which is two thirds of a stop dimmer compared to using a fully reflecting mirror. A more serious problem proved to be that the image forming light rays has to pass through the stationary pellicle mirror. Over the time, the mirror surfaces become soiled; it scatters the rays and degrades the recorded image. The finder does not go black, but at small apertures, the eye has no time to adjust to the dark finder."

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  • hobo

    I like better Nikon’s idea (and patents) of the pellicle mirror flipping up for certain modes, but staying down for video. Seems to me that would be the best of both worlds–no loss of high ISO performance with mirror up, yet video AF.

    Also, Sony seems to be on a 12 month refresh cycle, at least with NEX. I’d rather not spend hundred if not thousands of $$$ only to see my new Sony camera being replaced in a matter of months (and substantial resale value plummeting into the toilet). Thanks Sony, you made my choices easier.

    • Sky

      1. Nikon idea is flawed due to lack of separate PDAF sensors.
      2. Camera being replaced doesn’t make it worthless, you know, unless you are some tech-crazy geek who always need to “stay on top” 😉
      3. We don’t know how the NEX line goes yet – it doesn’t exist for a single year yet 😉

      • Bob

        Sky–funny how you imply that I am a “tech-crazy geek” when you’re splitting hairs on Sony’s use of the pellicle mirror, defending Sony to the hilt, and referring to Wikipedia to support your claims as if it’s truth. Obviously an “internet expert” and a Sony fanboi.

        And duh, the NEX-3 is less than one year old, and it’s already discontinued–what message is Sony sending?

        • Global

          I disagree Bob.

          Sky is making a valid point. It doesn’t matter if cameras get replaced rapidly. In fact, they SHOULD BE just AS SOON AS possible, in my opinion. Meaning that if the company has profited (or lost) by a model such that they can project better profits with a newer model, then they should immediately replace it.

          The reason Sony does this is because its playing “catch up” (as a Brand) and also “stay on top” (in its Category). It can make sense for Sony to move forward with less profit and the entire industry benefits from such moves (pressure on competitors + consumers have upgrades).

          Its sort of like all these 20 year old lenses still being produced — why don’t the companies sharpen them? They just use the exact same formula. But its unecessary. Sony is sending the message that “we’re going to sharpen our tools”. And that’s a good message to the competitors: Dont sit on your laurels.

          Meanwhile, Nikon can leave the D700 out almost indefinitely because its almost entirely profit. What message is Nikon sending by never upgrading the body? Its pissing off a lot of people that’s what. Nikon rakes in money because they didn’t change any dies they didnt make any new components — they didnt do anything for the D700 and just profited by it for all these years.

          Now imagine how consumers would feel if there was a D700, a D700x, a D700s, and a D800 released in the same amount of time. First of all, that could be as easy as using the D3x sensor, the D3s sensor and putting video plus a few more MP in a 800 body. Consumers would be served. And served well. It would be a very GOOD message.

          That’s why people love the D3 series at Nikon. You can basically choose whatever you want. And its not like its crap or anything. Its the best of the best for the category, whichever D3 you pick.

          Meanwhile some D700x owners jumped ship to the 5DMII.

          Sony is keeping their customers and constantly bringing in new ones.

          • Ken Elliott

            >> “Meanwhile some D700x owners jumped ship to the 5DMII.”

            I should point out that the D700x does not exist, thus there is no “ship” to jump from. And there are plenty of Canon 5DMkII owners that are far from happy due to the banding, noise at base ISO and an AF system that doesn’t perform well in low light. As a group, it seems the D700 owners are pretty happy with the camera, often referring to it as “near perfect”.

            However, Nikon users have been less that happy about the poor selection of bodies above 12MP. I’ve considered a 24MP Sony just for a few special applications.

    • B64

      Your camera has already lost most of its value the moment it has left the shop. Agreed, it depreciaties a bit faster after Sony replaced the model but in real money the difference is marginal.
      Digital cameras are commodity products (except maybe the professional models). Low-end models don’t sell as well anymore after a year, so the camera makers replace those earlier than the high-end models.

  • Sky

    Sony mirror IS NOT pellicle mirror. There is no “aka”. These are two totally different things, only placed in same place. Look at wikipedia.

    • Sky

      Oh, by the way – ” Canon tried that back in the 1960s and abandon it” – it wasn’t only Canon but also eg. Nikon got pellicle mirror camera – tech was used back in the days mostly cause there was no way to make mechanical mirror flip so fast to achieve 10fps – when this was figured out there was no need for fragile film working as transparent mirror anymore. 🙂

    • CF

      they are “almost” identical:

      “Sony introduced two dSLRs with this capability in August, 2010, though they were not based on pellicle mirror, but rather a solid glass half mirror which wasn’t as thin and as lightweight as one used originally by Canon” (from wikipedia)

      • I read about the Canon’s pellicle mirror darkening over time which degraded image quality. Since Sony uses solid glass half mirror, will the a33 and a55 avoid this sort of degradation?

  • Womble

    shame .. hate the EVF with a passion.
    this is a move that will make me sell all my Sony kit and jump to Nikon.
    moving from Minolta, then to Sony, I have plenty of kit .. what a waste

    • Eric

      agreed, i would never buy a sony slr, period, unless there was 0 brands with normal viewfinders left. Shame since it was definitly an option on the table for when I graduate. an A900 or A900 replacement is a hell of a lot cheaper then a d3x type camera, even with the slight loss id take on selling my couple good lenses.

  • Ronnie

    It’s not the same as the Canon pellicle which was part of a reflex viewing system. The Sony doesn’t have a reflex viewing system. It has an electronic viewfinder like a miniature version of the screen on the back, which, by most accounts is a step forward in this kind of technology, albeit some don’t like the idea. Canon never tried this and abandoned it – this is 21st century technology! Your quote (from the 70’s I presume) has no relevance the the Sony camera whatsoever.

    • Sony’s translucent mirror is a different implementation of the same technology that was used back in the 60’s

      • Sky

        it depends how you define “same technology” – for me they are similar, but it’s no more similar than the TLR tech to SLR tech, see the wikipedia where guys even wrote that the SLT ain’t a reflex cameras anymore (LOL). The tech is different, doesn’t compare much to Canon one.

  • Rob

    Unless sony manage to really make the EVF amazing, like so it looks just as good as optical if not better, then no way will I be upgrading my a200, canon 60d here we come bebeh 😉

  • spam

    In this case (and many others) “always” mean until Sony can find a less kludgy way of doing it, either by perfection CDAF, integrating PD sensors on the imaging sensor or maybe some new even better idea.

    IMO it’s nothing wrong with using pellicle mirror (or whatever you want to call it) as it gives some unique advantages. Certainly some disadvanges too, but that’s the cae with all current technologies for AF.

    EVFs are pretty good now and it’s hard to believe that people who write off EVF-cameras just because of the EVF have tried A55/GH2 side by side with a dSLR in the same price range. The EVFs are certainly good enough for entry to mid level models and high res (but fairly slow) full frame models similar to A-850/900. The one Sony model where an EVF could be a disadvantage is a dedicated sports/action camera where you want really high refresh rates from the sensor, but Sony haven’t made anything in this category so far.

  • alex

    Canon: Move

  • ZDP-189

    I think not just Canon, but several camera companies tried it out. I had a go with a Canon EOS 1N-RS, but wasn’t much impressed. It was fast, but the 1V-HS came along and offered the same speed with a mirror. The 1N-RS wasn’t all that quiet or vibration free either. So I got the 1V-HS. Alas, I am a sucker for new technology. Who knows? Maybe better coatings, high gain EVF pickup, more sensitive sensor and more sensitive cross AF points have made the technology more workable. With that in mind, I’ll reserve judgement on the new Sony technology till I see it for myself.

  • RS

    Put it this way, if Sony can release a magnesium alloy body, with a state-of-the-art 24 megapixel sensor, a bunch of unique features (Fast focus video/live-view, IBIS, sweep panorama, HDR, low light stacking, super fast burst rate, etc), coupled with the easy-to-use user interface inherited from a700, for only 900-1000 bucks, all because they don’t have to spend money on making OVF pentaprisms, then fuck it, I’ll buy the Sony. That’s one hell of a Bang-for-buck.

  • B64

    You can’t blame Sony for making this move – competing head-on to the big guys won’t improve their market share so they’ll have to open their own niche market.

    • Anon

      Exactly. And I think it will hurt them in the long run, but we’ll see.

  • Rob

    For the non-believers, remember that the Sony A55 was Pop photo’s camera of the year! Do any of you nattering nabobs of negativity have greater insight than Pop Photo? If so, let us examine your credentials.

    • Harold Ellis

      Sadly nobody cares about sony, even though their cameras are sweet.
      A850 is best DSLR on the world and no pro is using it… sad but true…
      canikon know they can do whatever they want and they will get out of it because pros rarely switch and when, they do switch to other of the two

      • Eric

        Sony would need a few more product refreshes of the A850/900 series to get the pros, plus more lenses. They would need a full set of tilt shift lenses, a set of macros, a 300 2.8, 400 2.8, and f4 500 and 600 lenses,im sure they have some of that but do they have all of it? how about fisheyes, and top notch super wides.

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