Translucent Mirrors for Lucid Shooting

[flickr id=”5867190053″ thumbnail=”medium_640″ overlay=”true” size=”large” group=”” align=”right”] Ever since our first digital camera (the binoculars-like Kodak DC 120, in 1997) and our first pro-level model (the Nikon D1x, in 2001), we’ve traded up for a new iteration at least once a year. Mark sets his eye on whatever’s next and best (with zero regard for brand loyalty – we’ve owned Kodak, Nikon, Canon, Fuji and Sony bodies), then sells the old and replaces it with the new.




The amazing thing is this progress hasn’t stopped, and keeps evolving at an amazing pace. This week we added a Sony α55 to our collection, and are happy to find it does things that were unimaginable just a few years ago. Stunning things, from a photographer and videographer’s viewpoint.

Sony says it’s the first interchangeable-lens digital cam in the world to have a “translucent mirror.” This means a few things:

1) It is not, technically, a single lens reflex (SLR) camera, a hallmark of pro- or prosumer grade capture. It is of a new category, called single lens translucent (SLT), which uses a beam splitter that allows incoming light to hit the HD CMOS sensor at the same time as it shows up on the electronic preview display.

2) It can achieve continuous auto-focus through any of those lenses, even on a moving subject, even while shooting HD video. This is huge. Sony offers an example of a horse galloping toward the lens, in focus the whole time. We had the opportunity to see the feature capturing scenes for a video we’re making about the fully-automated parking garage at Philly ultra-condo 1706 Rittenhouse Square Street. The car comes at us, then descends and spins, all in full auto-focus.

3) It’s smaller and lighter than other dSLRs, because it doesn’t include a mirror mechanism.

4) Because there is no need to raise and lower a mirror between shots, the continuous shooting mode allows bursts of photos to be captured at a super-speedy 10 frames per second, and each one will still come out in perfect focus.

The α55 has a bunch of other features that we’re just beginning to explore. I’m sure we’ll have several more great examples to post here once we have a chance take it on some more shoots.

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