New Alpha rumours start to fly

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With only three days to go before the launch of the new Alpha, rumours of a ‘sneak preview’ press release have appeared on dPreview’s internet forums. Leon van Bommel, writing from Holland, says he has seen a magazine which has a photograph showing the camera with a kit lens marked 16-105mm f/3.5-5.6. Certainly, a more expensive body than the A100 would look out of place wearing the $99 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens which is the only cheap option now.

But a 16-105mm f/3.5-5.6 would be a world first for Sony; no such range has ever been made (for Canon, it would have to be a 15-100mm to be equal in field of view). Also, no-one else has reported in with the same sighting or a scan of the magazine page.

An anonymous (no details, no email) US poster ‘Giligulu’ with a history of just two posts makes, in those posts, unadorned copy-clips of what might be a press release starting with a date of 9/17/2007. In these clips, the camera is claimed to be named the A700, to have a mirror prism not glass; to have no live preview; to be 12 megapixels (already known to be 100 per cent likely) and 5 fps. A sync speed of 1/200 SSS 1/250 non-SSS is claimed, along with a new 11-point CCD based AF system, focus assist light, and twin CF/MS slots. The rear screen specification matches the Nikon VGA screen fitted to the D300.

It is very hard to tell whether these are genuine leaks or just the usual attention-seeking fiction which can hit such discussion groups. Everything I have reported here in the last few weeks has been based on the most plausible intelligence – sites which appear to have some access to specifications, Sony’s internal product codes, filenames applied to Sony official images, and so on. But it is still speculation on a product which as yet has no known name and no pre-released specifications.

Gilgulu’s posts carry no explanation and no warnings that they may be speculation or a wish-list. As for the 16-105mm f/3.5-5.6, it would be great news for Sony as cameras can become big sellers on the strength of more highly specified kit lenses. It seems a little unlikely, but if the CZ can be 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5, then the small extra travel to 105mm at the expense of 2/3rds of a stop in aperture is plausible.

– David Kilpatrick

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