The Bottom Line
The Alpha SLT-A55V -- usually called the a55 -- provides a very nice mixture of easy-to-use features and great performance, including great image quality and fast response times in all typical shooting conditions.
I shold mention that the a55 uses a new technology that doesn't exactly follow DSLR technology -- call it a "hybrid DSLR." The a55's interior mirror does not "flip up," as in a traditional DSLR mirror. This technique means the a55 must use an EVF.
- Extremely sharp and bright images, either in auto or manual shooting modes
- Automatic exposure is very accurate, even in tough shooting conditions
- Extremely easy to use for a DSLR camera; automatic shooting mode works very well
- Autofocus is very fast and accurate
- Camera automatically switches between viewfinder and LCD view, depending on how you're holding it
- Camera's size may bother those used to a point and shoot camera
- In extreme low-light conditions, camera sometimes cannot generate enough light to focus
- Occasional glare makes LCD tough to see in direct sunlight
- Might not have enough features for experienced photographers
- Resolution: 16.2 megapixels
- Optical zoom: N/A, uses interchangeable lenses
- LCD: 3.0-inch, 921,600 pixels
- Maximum image size: 4912 x 3264 pixels
- Battery: Rechargeable Li-ion
- Dimensions: 3.63 x 4.88 x 3.33 inches
- Weight: 17.35 ounces (including battery and memory card)
- Image sensor: CMOS (23.5 x 15.6 mm)
- Movie mode: AVCHD video
Guide Review - Sony SLT-A55V DSLR Review (Sony a55)
For those making the step up from a point and shoot camera to the a55, you'll be highly impressed with the image quality in this entry-level DSLR camera. The a55 might not meet the needs of professional photographers, but it works extremely well in nearly all shooting conditions.
The a55's autofocus is sharp and fast when shooting in either good lighting or low lighting. The only time the camera's autofocus struggled is in extreme low-light conditions in auto mode. However, by adjusting the manual settings for the camera, you can work around this problem.
Colors are accurate and bright in all shooting conditions. Flash photos are accurate, too, and the a55's built-in flash pops up automatically when it's needed when you're shooting in auto mode. Occasionally, you might notice a "hot spot" in a flash photo in extreme low-light conditions, but, the vast majority of the time, the popup flash works extremely well.
It's tough to argue with the a55's overall response times, as it's ready to shoot almost immediately after you turn the power switch. The a55 basically has no delays between shots or noticeable shutter lag, other than in extreme low-light conditions.
The 3.0-inch LCD that Sony included with the a55 is very sharp and bright, and it's among the best you'll find on a camera aimed at consumers. The LCD can be swiveled and turned away from the camera, making it easy to shoot odd-angle photos or to avoid glare on the LCD that you might experience when using the a55 in bright sunlight.
Additionally, the a55 has a viewfinder, which is important for a DSLR camera. The a55 automatically switches between displaying the image on the viewfinder or the LCD, depending on how you're holding the camera. When you lift the camera to your eye, the switch occurs.
Whenever I use an interchangeable lens camera, I always seem to naturally want to hold the camera to my eye, so this feature is great.
The a55 includes "Translucent Mirror Technology," which allows both the image sensor and the autofocus sensor to receive light through the lens at the same time, improving overall speed both for still images and AVCHD movies.
The a55 has many features aimed at DSLR beginners, too. For example, "help" screens constantly pop up on the LCD, explaining various components and features of the camera. Sony included a feature where the camera measures its positioning against the horizon, ensuring properly aligned photos. It's very easy to use.
Something that may bother those used to a compact camera is the much larger size you'll find in the a55 -- of course, all interchangeable lens cameras are much larger than point and shoot models. However, the a55 is light and sturdy, and, because of its "hybrid DSLR" design, it is smaller than a traditional DSLR camera.
In addition, the a55 is availble in black only, which might disappoint those who like stylish looks. But, for those ready to upgrade to a entry-level "hybrid DSLR,", the a55 is a strong option.