Sumii: The grip sets these models apart. SLR grips are usually larger, with a more complex shape for a better hold on the camera. But on smaller, lighter cameras, there's no need to make it so big (except for professionals who keep giant lenses on hand).
That's why the grip on these models has a new shape, as small as possible while still feeling comfortably secure in your hand. Your first impression, if you only hold the camera from the side as you would regular SLRs, is that the grip might be slightly inadequate. But try holding the camera in position for shooting, with your finger resting on the shutter button. I'm sure it will feel reassuringly secure in your hands, with your fingers resting upright firmly against the camera.
It took countless prototypes to arrive at this grip size and shape, and our testing involved many users with hands of all sizes. Finding the optimal shape on a scale of less than 1 mm was hard work. You may notice this when you pick it up, but a grip this small fits perfectly in your hand because we put the shutter button on the camera body instead of the grip. Holding the camera with your fingers upright also prevents any discomfort from your nails against the camera body (something women with long nails will appreciate), and there's no need to worry about scratching the camera.
We took a cue from SLR cameras of a bygone era for this style, where the grip serves as a finger rest and the shutter button is on the camera body. Shapes and materials were carefully designed. The "α330" is covered with a rubberized material in a checkered pattern instead of genuine textured leather. In effect, it's a classic camera with modern flair. And although we believe "simple is best" in many respects, we knew that people who pick up an SLR won't be satisfied if it's too elementary as simple as compact camera, for example. Balancing these conflicting goals was one of the challenges of this project.
Kurokawa: Some media reports describe the user interface of these models as being updated, but in fact, the basic framework is the same. We didn't want existing owners of "α" cameras to be confused if they pick up one of these. So within this framework, we made the cameras more accessible to beginners by refining the support features and feedback from user operations.
One example is how the monitor display responds to mode dial operations. You can recognize the list of modes by icons, so you can choose the desired mode while keeping your eyes on the monitor. You'll also know what effects are possible in each mode, because this is described in words and pictures by the help system. Cyber-shot users are already familiar with this, but we edited the support information to entice owners to explore their camera and see what SLR cameras are capable of, in creative expression. You can also choose your favorite background color or one that matches the camera body, from four options, and the function menu icons are now more intuitive. These touches make the overall interface more accessible.
But besides ensuring easy operation, we also focused on another key role of these entry-level models: reinforcing your understanding of basic shooting techniques. Among these, exposure control is major advantage of SLR cameras. We want you to explore the various ways your shot can be rendered, so we created setting screens with graphical representations of aperture and shutter speed. Suppose you want to change the background blur. Even if you don't know terms such as exposure, aperture, or depth of field, just look at the icons and turn the dial. Because setting values for aperture and shutter speed are interrelated, you'll gain a basic understanding about exposure naturally as you use the camera.