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Sony Alpha A55 review

Dennis Hissink
Photokina report
Tuesday 31st, August 2010
Posted by: Dennis Hissink

Review Photokina 2010 - Sony is actually just a rookie in terms of DSLR cameras. Although they have vast experience, surging from their take-over of Konica Minolta, it was only a few years ago that the first Sony Alpha camera was brought out onto the market. With the introduction of the Sony Alpha A55, Sony seems to be making progress in leaps and bounds. The Sony Alpha A55 camera distinguishes itself from the competition with innovative techniques and different features with which Sony proves itself as a DSLR manufacturer. The Sony Alpha A55 is the first Alpha camera that is based on the so-called Translucent Mirror technique. This is in fact an old technique, modernized and given a facelift.

Sony Alpha A55

Sony Alpha A55 review
The Translucent Mirror is a fixed mirror that allows light to pass through in the Sony Alpha A55 camera, which is splitting up the optical pathway between the main image sensor and the separate autofocus sensor with phase detection. This technique allows for a wide range of possibilities that are not possible in the traditional DSLR design. This technique that is found in the Sony Alpha A55 has more or less been applied before in SLR cameras such as the Olympus E-10 digital SLR camera or the Canon EOS RT, a film-based SLR. The specially applied Translucent Mirror technique has allowed for the Sony Alpha A55’s body to be more compact and lighter weight. It is an important milestone in the Alpha assortment, and it is expected that it will also be appealing to the consumer. The target group is the masses that shoot in their free time, but the type of consumer that generally chooses to carry a compact format camera with them. Therefore, weight and dimensions play an important role.

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Sony Alpha A55

Sony Alpha A55 DSLR camera
The image processing results are impressive. The new Sony Alpha A55 is able to shoot at a speed of 10 frames per second! That is a great achievement for a DSLR camera with a DX-format sensor, and that makes it the world’s fastest DSLR camera with a DX-sensor. To keep focusing at such a speed, a new autofocus system has also been applied. The Sony A55 has a 15-point AF system with phase detection, in order to guarantee fast focusing. The Sony Alpha A55 has an optical viewfinder, but is also equipped with an electronic viewfinder (EVF). It must be said, it is a very fine viewfinder. With a resolution of a mere 1.15 million pixels and a 100% frame coverage, the EVF is ideal for use in practice. The display is of high quality and the displayed image and display information is complete. The LCD display on the back of the Sony Alpha A55 camera has a 3-inch format and an extra high resolution of 921.000 dots. It is a foldable display, and can be folded out downwards and therefore offers extra freedom in composition-making from a difficult angle.

Sony Alpha A55

Sony Alpha A55 video in HD
Another milestone for the Sony Alpha A55 is the fact that HD video recordings are now finally possible. Full High Definition to be exact, with a resolution of 1920x1080i (16:9) in AVCHD format. It was getting to be a nuisance, that Sony being a camcorder specialist, couldn’t introduce a DSLR camera with video function. It was clear to us that they were working hard on an exceptional video system behind the scenes. Sony wanted to introduce a video system that has a high level of recording quality, as well as user-friendliness (read: fast AF). The Sony Alpha A55 camera is capable of recording Full HD video, while maintaining AF-tracking thanks to the Translucent Mirror technique. Additionally, video is shown immediately via the viewfinder, something that would not be possible with a traditional mirror.

Sony Alpha 3D panorama photos
A remarkable feature that we have run into before in the NEX system camera is the Sweep Panorama. I personally find it an addictive feature. The possibility of shooting a ‘sweep’ of the entire scenery of the canals in Amsterdam or the complete Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is just fantastic. The fact that this is also possible in 3D makes the effect even more marvelous. The enormous range inspires very creative shots of similar objects. The pictures can be shown in 3D, if desired, via a compatible 3D television.

Sony Alpha A55

Sony SLT-A55 offers an integrated GPS function
If you want to do more with your images, you can live it up with the built-in GPS. The Sony Alpha A55 has an integrated GPS function with which photos and videos are automatically provided with so-called geo-tags. Such geographic information makes it possible to visualize the location that the photo or video was shot. There are several forms of (free) software available that can turn these geo-tags into fun presentations. All video and photo is saved on a flash memory card. The Sony Alpha A55 supports different types. The Memory Stick Pro Duo is of course still supported, but SD and SDHC format memory cards are also supported. The support of SDXC is new, and the newest generation of SD-format cards have a minimum storage capacity of 48 GB and in the coming years will grow to an impressive storage capacity of 2TB!

Sony Alpha A55

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