“The moment is almost upon us”

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THIS morning I received from the Managing Director of Sony United Kingdom Limited a copy of the book ‘Sony Alpha Lenses’, inscribed to me and signed by Mr Katsumoto, Senior General Manager of the Alpha Mount Company. This is a very high-quality book which contains not only the expected promotional shoot images (nice freebie trip to the French Riviera in the company of an attractive model, properly credited to the facilitators in small print at the end of the volume) but work from four selected former Minolta shooting stars.

Our own Duncan McEwan, organiser of the Minolta Club Scottish Region for 20 years, is one of these four. It is very good to see the channels of communication remaining open as they did under Minolta management, so that good photographers continue to enjoy the sponsorship of Sony without a break.

The book also contains many detailed and very informative optical and mechanical diagrams, along with image examples, showing how the specialist lenses and mechanisms work. Overall, it is a very good product considering the short timescale and the three promo shoots which seem to form the basis of the core photo content. The promo shoot work is kept anonymous but was done in Australia, Hawaii, the French Alps, the city of Nice, and one US location as far I can tell. The PP work on the files is excellent with particular attention paid to a clean colour rendering, and no expense has been spared on the litho printing (in Japan).

alpha lens book

If anything lets the book down, it is the physical binding method used – sewn and glued – which is durable but prevents spreads from opening properly (see the book on my desk even as I write this article). As a result, some pictures which run across the gutter are spoiled because critical elements in the composition have been placed on the join and disappear into the binding. Good printing practice either uses a different method for spine binding and glueing which allows lay-flat opening, or move the image content outwards with duplicated details as the pages disappear into the spine. This makes DPS and across-the-gutter pictures viewable without ”breaking the back of the book”, something no-one would want to do with such a high quality volume.

It includes 144 pages, and a complete chart of all the existing Alpha system lenses up to and including the CZ 16-80mm. It was published in April 2007, and I believe it is available for purchase from Sony, but I was unable to find any links to a purchase page on Sony’s UK website, and searching for ‘Sony Alpha lens book’ drew a blank.

The important bit

However, reviewing the book is not the important bit. Here is what the covering letter you can see in the shot above, posted on August 13th, said to me:

“Following the showcasing of two prototype Alpha bodies and many new lenses during the PMA show in February many photographers are eagerly awaiting news of these bodies being introduced. I am happy to confirm that moment is almost upon us. We will be in touch again shortly as the first of our exciting introductions is made. The Sony Alpha system will expand rapidly in its second year as we aim to grow our market share within this vibrant sector.”

So now you have it – the imminent launch which I flagged up here in July is now more than just imminent, it’s about to roll and that’s official pre-warning from Sony.

Just as well I’m not on the Nikon press trip to Japan next week (well, they never even asked me) or the Pentax trip to Hamburg (they did ask, but late August is a busy time for me). Son Richard is attending the Canon Autumn Collection launch in London on Monday 20th and the Nikon new product launch in London on Thursday 23rd. I’m sitting tight and hoping my September Master Photo Digital magazine is all done and dusted in time for whatever conference or press gig Sony is just about to add to the new season feeding frenzy. Whatever the timing, I am sure our Autumn edition of Photoworld magazine (October) will have not only the news, but real pictures taken with a real new camera.

– David Kilpatrick

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