4. Steady Shooter
The A100 features built-in image stabilization, activated at the moment of shutter release when the IS switch is turned on. While officially labeled Super SteadyShot (a designation for the IS on some Sony digital cameras and many camcorders), it appears to work the same way as the IS on KM's Maxxum 5D and 7D: Instead of moving a lens element to compensate, the sensor moves rapidly to reduce vibration or hand motion. Sony claims it tweaked KM's IS system so that it now provides up to 3.5 shutter steps' advantage over a nonstabilized DSLR: great for low light or slow shutter speeds.
5. Dust Repulsion
A two-part system helps reduce or eliminate dust on the sensor. An antidust coating on the sensor surface repels it. Then, the camera uses the antishake
system in reverse: Every time the camera turns on or off, the sensor vibrates to get rid of remaining dust. If all else fails, you can set the camera to Cleaning mode and carefully blow off the sensor-though this should be needed less often than on any DSLRs but those in the Olympus E-series, which include an ultrasonic dust-removal system.
6. Eye Beam
The A100 sports an eye-activated auto-focus system, using a sensor under the view-finder similar to the one on the KM Maxxum 7D (which only turned off the LCD monitor). Move your eye up to the viewfinder, and the camera focuses on whatever it's pointing at, based on your selection of AF zones. This feature can be turned off to prevent it from focusing every time something nears the viewfinder. There are nine selectable AF zones, with eight linear sensors and one cross-type in the center. The A100 also has a Direct Manual Focus (DMF) function, to tweak the AF when you turn the focus ring on a lens. In total, the AF system seems very similar to the excellent one found on the Maxxum 7D.
7. Sharp Screen
The eye-activation system also automatically turns off the 2.5-inch LCD monitor. Similar to the Clear Photo LCD Plus design on the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N1 and T9, this sharp LCD packs 230,000-pixel resolution and a wide viewing angle. Shooting information is easy to see in bright sunlight, and it displays regular or large font sizes. Also, the image instantly rotates when you turn the camera to shoot vertically (as on the Maxxum DSLRs), and can be zoomed in up to 12X in playback. A neat feature: The zoom always starts moving in on the selected AF zone.
8. Good View
Sony claims a 0.83X viewfinder magnification ratio with approximately 95% accuracy. We were impressed with the performance of the AF system, the viewfinder brightness, and the data display, and we're eager to see if they're all as good on a production model as they appeared on the early version.