Will the new Alpha have HDMI?

FUJIO NISHIDA, President of Sony Europe, speaking at the Berlin IFA consumer electronics and technology show on August 30th, mentioned the Alpha system alongside Cyber-shot digital still cameras and Handycam digital video as part of Sony’s plan to introduce HD (High Definition Television) formats throughout. He held up the new ‘smile shoot’ Cyber-shot T200 with its ability to output playback of images in 16:9 format directly to Sony Bravia LCD TVs.

Cyber-shote T200 cheesy smile example

Sony press picture of the Cyber-shot T70 snap-a-smile camera which shows total confidence in the Alpha system – shot on a Phase One P30+ back, presumably on Hasselblad. Now there’s nothing there the Alpha 100 with CZ 85mm f/1.4 ZA lens could not have captured as well, without the benefit of 30 megapixels. Their PR file is only 1.5 megapixels in size. In their position, I would have gone without the extra file size (10 megapixels is big enough for almost any reasonable use up to billboard) and insisted that all Sony camera product pictures should be taken on the Alpha system.

“There is an overarching theme that underlines everything we do, and this the ‘HD World’ which I refer to as the DNA that flows through every strand of Sony’s activities”, said Mr Nishida. “Sony HD World has become reality today and is impressively embodied by the flagship products like the HD Handycam, Cyber-shot and the digital Alpha – digital SLR camera. You will see it in our delicious slim, light Vaio PCs with Blueray disc on board… …by Spring 2008 we expect 75% of all Sony electronics products to be HD compatible.”

The Alpha 100 does not have HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) though of course the 10 megapixel resolution is more than enough for HD standards. Nor does it have the option of switching to 16:9 ratio shooting.

So can we expect either the Advanced Amateur DSLR, due to be announced tomorrow morning, or the future professional DSLR ‘flagship’ to have this interface? All four of the recently released Nikon and Canon DSLRs are equipped with HDMI and selected features which go with. Nikon’s new entire range of Coolpix cameras (unveiled as a group of eight, a whole generation like an Autumn season fashion collection) also include HDMI and functions which can include slide show editing on the camera and the addition of music, without using a PC.

It’s possible that DSLRs will remain in the 25 per cent of Sony products which do not offer special HD World features, but Fujio Nishida appears to have said – with only a small hesitation – that ‘the’ Sony Alpha DSLR camera does include Sony HD World features. As of tomorrow there are two digital Alpha models, at the very least. Yet Nishida’s script or his own words read as if there is only one, and as if it is compatible in some way with Sony HD World. That means direct output to Bravia TVs or other HDMI interface equipped systems.

Since Nikon and Canon have incorporated this feature, I guess we can expect to see it in the new Sony advanced amateur model. If it is missing, we can surely expect a further Alpha model very soon. Perhaps that could be the rumoured Alpha 100 replacement or upgrade, incorporating a 16:9 option and HDMI – which is mainly a consumer, entry-level interest and not essential for the advanced amateur or professional. Whatever N and C may think!

Click the links below to view a streaming video of Fujio Nishida’s speech – from the Sony Europe’s Press Centre pages.

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– David Kilpatrick