Sony α (the lower case to Greek letter alpha, often transliterated as Sony Alpha), is a camera system introduced on 5 June 2006. It uses and expands upon Konica Minolta camera technologies, including the Minolta AF SLR lens mount, whose assets were acquired by Sony after the end of Konica Minolta's photography operations in early 2006. Sony also has an 11.08% ownership stake in Japanese lens manufacturer Tamron, which is known to have partnered with Konica Minolta and Sony in the design and manufacture of many zoom lenses.
Prior to the acquisition by Sony, the α branding had already been used on the Japanese market by Minolta for their AF camera system (marketed as "Dynax" in Europe, and "Maxxum" in North America). Sony adopted the name "A-mount system" for the Minolta AF lens mount, which has been retained in their new SLR range.
Sony's entry into the DSLR market dates back to July 2005 where a joint venture with Konica Minoltawould have resulted in both companies marketing an updated line of DSLRs to the masses. Between 2006 and 2008 Sony was the fastest growing company on the DSLR market, reaching 13% market share in 2008 to become the third largest DSLR company in the world.
Sony announced plans to introduce a special camera service programme for professional photographers since the launch of the α900 in 2008. Sony Imaging PRO Support (a.k.a. SPS) was finally established starting between 2013 and 2015 depending on country.
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