By Matthew Henry in Port Douglas

PORT DOUGLAS: Sony Australia last night launched its long-awaited Alpha digital single-lens reflex (D-SLR) camera range to gathered media and key photographic retailers, at an event in Port Douglas, Queensland.

The Alpha DSLR-A100 will be available in August in three packages starting at RRP $1,499 for just the A100 camera body, RRP $1,749 for the A100 with a standard lens and RRP $1,999 for the A100 with two lenses.

The Alpha A100 is Sony’s first D-SLR model, and despite its late arrival to the category Sony believes it has come at the right time, with the D-SLR market expected to reach 4.8 million units this year and account for 20 per cent in value of the entire digital still camera category.

“D-SLR means better image quality and flexibility, and Sony is interested at being at the forefront of this interest in quality digital imaging products as people move from snapping pictures to taking photographs,” said Sony Australia deputy managing director, Carl Rose.

The 10.2 megapixel A100 is being targeted at enthusiasts and families rather than professionals, and features Super SteadyShot image stabiliser technology built into the camera body, anti-dust CCD protection system, 750 shots battery life and the new Bionz image processor designed specifically for the A100.

Sony’s Aplha cameras are compatible with Konica Minolta lenses following the company’s acquisition of Konica Minolta’s camera business earlier this year.

The company estimates there are around 16 million Konica Minolta Alpha lenses in circulation that will work with the A100.

“We enter this market from a very strong base. When Konica Minolta re-evaluated its business, we were delighted to receive a number of key assets which enables us to pursue success in the D-SLR market. We have a product that blends Sony’s strength in areas like CCDs and digital signal processing, and Konica Minolta’s precision technology and lens expertise. This gives us a great springboard into this burgeoning sector,” said Rose.

The distribution of Sony’s Alpha range will be pushed hardest through camera specialists to begin with, but Harvey Norman and DoMayne stores will also receive the range to test its success through the electrical retail channel.

“This is a different market from point and shoot digital still cameras, but it’s going to be 20 per cent of the market,” said Sony senior product manager – digital still cameras, Marcus Cornish.

“We are interested in working with any retailers who are skilled in selling digital SLRs, we have an open mind to consider adding more electrical retailers down the track.”

Sony is also launching a range of 21 lenses including wide angle, telephoto, fixed and specialised lenses manufactured by Sony and Carl Zeiss.