As you might know if you’ve ever been anywhere near this blog, I’m quite into Photography and I’ve used all kinds of cameras in my time. These include of course those I’ve bought (Nikon D70s, Nikon D200, Panasonic LX-3, Canon S90 and some older models) plus those I’ve used in passing like Canon DSLR models, Olympus, Pentax and Leica.
This time I’m looking at a Sony DSLR Camera, while they may be quite new on the DSLR block – they did originally adopt their technology from Minolta, so they had a good start. And they sure have made a big splash in the camera scene and have themselves a very devout following (check out the local forum – Alphanatics, which is pretty active).
The model I had a hands-on with is the new Sony SLT-A55, brief specs as below:
- 16.2MP (effective) APS HD CMOS sensor
- Maximum ISO 12,800
- 15-point phase-detection AF array with 3 cross-type AF points
- Electronic viewfinder with 1.15 million dot resolution
- Built-in GPS
- Electronic level in EVF/LCD with pitch/roll indicator
- 10fps continuous shooting rate
- 1080p AVCHD movie mode with continuous AF
- More at the site
It’s a decent looking camera, fits well in the hand and is loaded up with new and fairly innovative technology. Honestly some people might some of the things gimmicky, but for the new shooter it sure saves a lot of studying.
And well looking at the above, those are some pretty loaded specs for something which is an entry level camera. It’s somewhat of a hybrid between a traditional DSLR and the new type of mirrorless cameras like the GF-1 and the EP-2. This makes it small but still gives good autofocus in live-view mode and excellent pictures quality, plus it shoots Full-HD video!
Using it (especially with the Auto+ mode) is really like using a point and shoot camera, but you get MUCH better picture quality and the Auto+ mode is quite intelligent. It can do auto-hdr, multi-frame noise reduction and it knows when to use slow-sync flash in dark situations giving you more ambient light as below:
Ergonomically it’s ok to use but being from a background of mid to high end DSLR models, I need more buttons and dials! I find it a little limiting only having the front dial, but that’s a normal thing for Canon users and users of entry level cams from other brands. What I did love however was the super flexible LCD screen which enables you to easily take pictures from all kinds of funny angles using live-view and shoot accurate videos holding the camera high in the air or down low on the ground.
It allowed me to tilt the LCD parallel to the ground to take a shot like this:
Normally you’d have to use an angle-viewfinder or lie on the floor in some rather compromising position.
Of course in bright light it performs extremely well, I’d like to try it with a sharper prime lens but the kit lens is capable enough for most people. This is shot at midday ISO100 f/6.3 and 1/100s:
And a 100% crop:
The detail really shows in the 16.2 megapixel sensor.
The high ISO performance is actually pretty good, although the noise-reduction can seem a little heavy after ISO400. In saying that though, it’d still produce fine looking prints and I have to say the white balance and colour rendition is really very good. This is an ISO1600 shot (f/5.6 – 1/15s):
And a 100% crop:
All in all it’s a fun camera to use, it’s very easy to get going and the Auto+ makes it easy to get good results straight out of the camera without fiddling with any settings. All of the above pictures are straight from the camera without processing and shot in JPG not RAW.
If you want to see more technical testing info and a complete review you can check here:
For more info, videos and specs you can check here: