Excerpt: Sony has been in the spotlight recently for its NEX E-mount cameras for their unique design, features and primarily its good image quality. Fundamentally, the NEX-5 and NEX-3 cameras were like point and shoot cameras with large sensors had no viewfinder. Sony’s SLT-A55 falls in the A-mount category and it has a viewfinder like any DSLR would, but they’ve gone with an electronic one like the ones on a superzoom camera.
Summary: The Sony Alpha SLT-A55 is an excellent alternative to a DSLR, acquiring most of their advantages, some unique abilities with very little downsides. Externally, the SLT-A55 is a lot like an entry-level DSLR, with a price to match. Its design though, which includes a translucent mirror, lets it perform phase-detect AF during exposures and video. No other ILC can shoot 1080p video while focusing so quickly.
Pros: Good resolution and sharpness, Lower than average image noise, Good color accuracy, Conservative metering, Speedy and accurate autofocus, Very effective image stabilization, Excellent large and detailed EVF, True exposure-priority Live-View, Fantastic Eye-Start sensor, Phase-Detect AF-C while recording video, AF-C during continuous drive up to 10 FPS, Excellent dual-axis digital-level, Fast and responsive, Nice build quality, Good ergonomics, protruding EVF, Phase-Det...
Cons: High-ISO softness due to, AWB struggles more than usual, Indistinct EC button, Tiny video crop-marks, 1s Delay starting video recording, 1s Delay stopping video recording, Eye-Start AF triggers too often, Delicate translucent mirror, Gap below mirror lets dust in, No way to use 1/2 EV stops, Histogram and level views show little info, Difficult Sweep Panorama framing, GPS not so reliable, Weak LCD hinge
Summary: Expensive and probably a bit large for the typical point-and-shoot upgrader, the Sony Alpha SLT-A55V nevertheless delivers the performance and photo quality boost those shooters are expecting.
Pros: Fast, especially for burst shooting; articulating display; relatively straightforward, streamlined interface; really nice virtual-level implementation.
Summary: The Sony SLT-A55 is an excellent all-rounder with a comprehensive feature set. The translucent mirror technology gives it an innovative touch and the best live view AF on the market. Continuous-shooting performance is the best in its class--just don't plan on shooting the Olympics with it.
Pros: Reliably good image quality at lower sensitivities, High ISO JPEG output usable up to ISO 12800 for smaller prints, Excellent LCD and good EVF, with efficient automatic switch., Versatile and capable (for its class) 15-point AF system, Accurate metering and focus, Very Good JPEG resolution, Very good (almost 9EV) dynamic range, Good quality HD video output, Swivel-screen useful for overhead- and video shooting, Good ergonomics all around, good build quality, nice hand...
Cons: Limited control in 10fps and movie modes, AF system not quite up to capturing fast action, No live view in 10fps/6fps shooting makes panning almost impossible, Slow (50 seconds) buffer clear time (RAW-mode), Little control over high ISO noise reduction in JPEG mode ('auto' or 'weak'), Visible loss of detail at anything over ISO 400 in JPEG mode (noise reduction too strong), Menu system a little confusing (hard to orientate yourself sometimes), 'Ghosting' can be an iss...
Conclusion: The Sony Alpha 55 (SLT-A55VL) offers faster-than-D-SLR focusing speeds along with D-SLR-quality images. The only thing you don't get is a true optical viewfinder.
Pros: Excellent image quality. Extremely fast autofocusing in any mode. Continuous autofocus when recording video. Easy-to-use interface. High-quality LCD. GPS. HD video capture at 1080i60 in AVCHD (17Mbps). Choice of HD video codecs.
Cons: No optical viewfinder. Single-focus autofocus not available while recording video. No control over aperture and shutter speed while recording video. Audible lens noise in video capture.
Conclusion: Sony Alpha 55 system camera The Sony Alpha SLT-A55 is a remarkable camera. Not only due to its compact dimensions, as there are even smaller cameras available, but more because of its design. The current series of digital SLR cameras on the market is based on an ‘old’ technology and although in terms of functions and image solutions, much has changed, the way in which the camera works has not even seen such a revolution.
Summary: There's not much to dislike about Sony's new Alpha a55. Good image quality and color rendition; a quick one-button video interface and 1080i resolution in AVCHD or MP4 formats; and pro-level continuous shooting (and the AF tracking skill to keep things in focus at those high shot rates) all seem like a bargain at the a55's $750 body-only sticker. There's a wide variety of lenses available and the camera body itself is compact and fairly light.
Pros: Good still image and color quality, Good video quality, quick AF and one-touch operation, Pro-level continuous shooting rate
Cons: A little slow to power up and single shot-to-shot, Low battery life
Summary: The SLT-A55 is a new spin on the conventional SLR, with a translucent mirror that lets most light through, so the camera can shoot and focus at the same time. Read our full review of this promising new camera.
Summary: Although the Alpha 55 has an unmistakably Sony Alpha exterior, what goes on inside the camera is very different. Sony has made a brave attempt to offer something new and in many respects it works.
The decision to use a fixed translucent mirror and phase-detection AF has paid off, especially when used with the unrivalled frame rate.