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Labels: CamerasBuyers Guide

1. Dual Card Slots: The A55 can store images and video on SD, SDHC and new SDXC cards, as well as Sony Memory Stick PRO Duo, PRO-HG Duo and PRO-HG Duo HGX media. 2. Built-In Flash: The built-in, pop-up flash has an ISO 100 GN of 10 (meters, 33 in feet) and covers an 18mm lens. 3. Tilt/Swivel LCD: The A55’s 3.0-inch, 921,000-dot LCD monitor tilts 180° and swivels 270° for easy odd-angle shooting.

Sony SLT-A55

(body only)

NEW 16.2-MEGAPIXEL CMOS SENSOR: A new 16.2-megapixel Sony Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor provides still images up to 4912x3264 pixels, as well as 1080 HD video, with ISO settings from 100-12,800.

HD VIDEO WITH PHASE-DETECT AF: The A55 can shoot 1920x1080 AVCHD video (recorded at 60i, output at 30p), plus 1440x1080/30p and 640x480/30p MP4 video. A built-in microphone records Stereo Dolby Digital sound, and there’s a jack for an external stereo mic. The camera can autofocus continuously during video recording, using its quick phase-detection AF system, and you can use the eye-level EVF as well as the articulated LCD monitor for video recording.

SPEED PRIORITY: In normal operation, you can shoot up to 20 RAW or 39 standard JPEG images at 6 fps with the A55. In Speed Priority mode, the A55 can shoot 10 fps, with continuous AF, especially remarkable considering the big 16.2-megapixel images.

HIGH-RES ELECTRONIC VIEWFINDER: In place of an SLR’s focusing screen and complex pentaprism or pentamirror optical eye-level viewing system, the SLT-A55 has a 1,440,000-pixel eye-level electronic viewfinder. It shows 100% of the actual image area, with 1.10X magnification (with 50mm lens at infinity), and has a generous +/-4 diopter of built-in eyepiece correction.
The SLT-A55 (with its lower-priced SLT-A33 sibling) represents a new category of camera. It’s a DSLR, but it isn’t. That is, it looks like a DSLR and has a 45-degree mirror like a DSLR, but it has an electronic viewfinder rather than a DSLR’s optical finder. Therein lie a number of benefits.

The mirror is a translucent pellicle one that’s fixed in place. Since it doesn’t move like a traditional DSLR mirror, there’s no mirror vibration to sap image sharpness, and the viewfinder image doesn’t black out during exposure as with an SLR. Because the translucent mirror both transmits and reflects light, the camera can focus continuously—with its quick phase-detection system—while you shoot, both stills (at up to 10 fps) and video. And you can use the eye-level EVF (or the LCD monitor) for live-view and video shooting.

Otherwise, the SLT-A55 is a higher-end Sony APS-C-format DSLR, full-featured and offering good performance. Among the features are both 2D and 3D Sweep Panorama, Anti-Motion Blur, Dynamic Range Optimizer, embedded GPS, Face Detection, Smile Shutter and more. Like all Sony DSLRs, the SLT-55 features SteadyShot Inside sensor-shift image stabilization that works with all lenses and a sensor-dust remover.

The SLT-A55 can use all Sony A-mount lenses, as well as legacy Konica Minolta lenses and special Zeiss A-mount lenses made for the cameras. Currently, the Sony lenses include zooms from 11-18mm to 70-400mm, fixed focal lengths from a 16mm full-frame fisheye to a 500mm reflex (mirror), three macro lenses and 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverters.

STANDOUT FEATURE: The SLT-A55’s fixed translucent pellicle mirror eliminates mirror vibration, allows for quick phase-detection AF even during live-view and video recording, eliminates mirror blackout during exposure and provides convenient eye-level viewing during video recording.
VERDICT: Sony has created a new category of camera, the fixed-mirror EVF DSLR, with enough unique benefits as a result to seriously challenge traditional mirror design.

Sony SLT-A33
Offering basically the same body and feature set, but with a 14.2-megapixel sensor, a top Speed Priority rate of 7 fps and a lower-capacity battery, the A33 costs $100 less and is a good alternative for the budget-minded user. List Price: $649 (body only).
Sony DSLR-A580
The A580 offers the same 16.2-megapixel sensor and features (except the pellicle-mirror-related ones) in a conventional moving-mirror DSLR. In Speed Priority (7 fps), focus is fixed at the first frame, and the LCD monitor tilts but doesn’t swivel. List Price: $799 (body only).


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