Summary: The Alpha 550 might be the most impressive Sony SLR for a long time, but for all its fancy gadgetry you can't help feeling the whole isn't as great as the sum of the parts, and it's hard to see who it's aimed at. There aren't many faster cameras in this class, but there are undoubtedly better ones.
Pros: Capable of excellent results (especially in raw), Good JPEG dynamic range, Far better high ISO performance than most other recent Alpha models, Fast and responsive operation - and up to 7 fps burst shooting, Excellent screen and improved viewfinder (though it still works better in Live View), Cla...
Cons: JPEG output doesn't really do the sensor justice - shoot raw for the best results, Default output over processed: too much contrast, saturation (reds in particular often end up overdone) and noise reduction for our taste, Metering not reliable enough, easily fooled by unusual subjects and large s...
Excerpt: The Sony Alpha DSLR-A550 (from $899) is a midrange digital SLR that features a 14 Megapixel CMOS sensor, built-in image stabilization, live view, a tilting LCD display, full manual controls, and the kind of expandability that you'd expect from this type of camera.
Summary: Introduced in late August 2009, the Sony Alpha DSLR-A550 slots into the Sony lineup at the top of their entry level/consumer DSLR fleet of five bodies (in addition to the three other Alpha models comprising the prosumer and up class).
Pros: Excellent Live View, Dynamic range options, Articulating LCD
Cons: Plastic body material, Card slots not linked
Summary: Sure, the A550 is more expensive that the baseline entry-level cameras; however, it offers some features that other cameras in the same price range and below just can’t match. Up to 7 fps shooting speed and even 5 fps with autofocus and auto exposure engaged.
Summary: Thankfully for anyone doubting the Alpha range, Sony has delivered not one, but two highly compelling mid-range DSLRs which not only keep-up with the competition, but surpass them in a number of key regards.
Pros: Fast continuous shooting at 5 or 7fps., Built-in IS which works with any lens., Fuss-free Live View with continuous AF., Large and detailed articulated monitor.
Cons: No movie mode., Minimal customisation., No Program Shift or DOF preview., Relatively small viewfinder with visible lines.
Summary: The a550 is quite the live view photographer’s camera – it ousts competitors at a similar level with class-leading, super-fast live view autofocus and quirky modes such as Quick Tele 1.4x or 2x crop factors.
Pros: Tilt-LCD, improved image quality, excellent live view
Cons: Build quality a bit ‘plasticy’, noisy AF with kit lens, no video mode
Conclusion: The Alpha 550 did quite convince during our lab and field tests but it's not a camera without flaws. On the positive side the camera delivers the fastest Live View autofocus so far. The AF speed is exemplary in this class and 7 fps is a new benchmark here.
Pros: Very good resolution in RAW mode, Excellent battery life, Superb display with high resolution
Cons: Insufficient anti-dust system, No DOF button, Small viewfinder - especially for spectacle wearers, No composing lines in viewfinder mode and disappearing AF boxes after focus, Only marginal customisation possibilities, A bit too much plastic all around