2010 Camera Of The Year

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It’s June of 2011 and I’m adding a little update to our 2010 Camera Of The Year article. I originally wanted to create a little suspense in the introduction but since we’re well past the end of 2010 and we now have a full review up I’ll just go ahead and say the camera is the Sony Alpha SLT-A55. I chose it as Camera Of The Year based on the camera specs and design but now, after doing a complete review, I am sure I made the correct choice. Keep reading to learn more:

Sony Alpha SLT-A55 Pro Review >>

We’ve had Camera Of The Year polls on PhotographyREVIEW.com for the past couple of years but I never actually published an article with my pick for Camera Of The Year. For 2010, I started a “Readers Choice” poll before the New Year and then let my thoughts percolate and settle for a few weeks before committing. I have now chosen my 2010 Camera Of The Year. My choice was based mostly on how innovative I believe the camera is and its potential for really changing the way cameras are designed and used. So what camera did I choose as 2010 Camera Of The Year? You’re gonna have to read on to find out…

2010 Camera Of The Year

On the surface it looks like a standard digital SLR camera. But don’t let first impressions fool you. The Sony Alpha SLT-A55, my 2010 Camera Of The Year pick, is not just another digital SLR. In fact, technically, with no optical viewfinder, it’s not even an SLR. It caught my attention as soon as it was announced as a potentially game changing camera and the most innovative camera design since the first Micro Four Thirds cameras were introduced. I was already considering it when Popular Photography magazine chose it as their 2010 Camera Of The Year (Pop Photo 2010 Camera Of The Year article). Finally, no matter how I matched it up against other cameras that came out in 2010, the A55 kept rising to the top as the most original camera and the one most likely to really change our expectations about what cameras can and should be able to do.

The key to the Sony Alpha SLT-A55 is its transparent mirror design. The SLT Translucent Mirror Technology allows the A55 to shoot faster (10 frames per second) and use superior phase-detect auto focus for video. All other cameras use slower, less accurate contrast-detect auto focus in Live View and movie mode. For more detail on why the transparent mirror is so important, please read my Sony Alpha SLT-A55 announcement article.

By replacing the optical viewfinder with an electronic viewfinder (EVF), Sony was also able to make the Alpha SLT-A55 smaller and lighter. It’s approximately the size of an entry-level DSLR (compare to Canon EOS Rebel T2i / 550D and Nikon D3100) but lighter and with performance closer to a bigger, heavier professional digital SLR. The result is a camera that combines the best of both EVIL (Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens) and digital SLR camera designs and delivers groundbreaking performance for both still photography and video. That might sound like manufacturer market-speak – but the A55 really is that different.

Nikon D7000 - 2010 Camera Of The Year Runner UpThe runner-up Camera Of The Year is the Nikon D7000. It’s not as innovative as the Sony A55 but the D7000 demonstrates Nikon’s continued image quality dominance, it has a great feature-set and as I’m writing this article (1/18/2011) it’s the community favorite in our Camera Of The Year Peoples Choice poll. I’ve been shooting with the D7000 for over a month now and it’s really a wonderful camera (Nikon D7000 preview article and video). However, it’s an incremental improvement in DSLR performance and the Sony Alpha SLT-A55′s Translucent Mirror Technology represents more of a paradigm shift in camera design and performance.

Whether the SLT system Sony used for the A55 takes off remains to be seen. Regardless, it’s an innovative camera design that offers very real benefits over anything else currently available. For that reason, I am calling the Sony Alpha SLT-A55 the PhotographyREVIEW.com 2010 Camera Of The Year. Congratulations to Sony – thanks for being creative and pushing camera design and performance. Many photographers, myself included, thought it very likely that Sony would screw up Konica Minolta’s excellent camera system when they bought the patents and took over. Boy did they prove us wrong. They may not be operating on the same level as Nikon and Canon – yet. But with the NEX-5 and PhotographyREVIEW.com 2010 Camera Of The Year, Alpha SLT-A55, Sony have proved that they are one of, if not the most innovative camera maker of 2010. I can’t wait to see what they do in 2011!

2010 Camera Of The Year Reader's Choice PollThe Sony Alpha SLT-A55 camera sells for $750 body only or $850 in a kit with an 18-55mm zoom lens. It was announced near the end of August 2010 and it’s available now at authorized Sony camera shops and online dealers. If you own the Sony Alpha SLT-A55, please write a review. We need more user reviews for the A55. Please also vote in our 2010 Camera Of The Year Readers Choice poll (click on Vote, right). Just because I’ve made my decision doesn’t mean you don’t still have a say. You can also discuss the 2010 Camera Of The Year in our Camera Of The Year forum discussion.

Sony Alpha SLT-A55 Pro Review >>
Sony Alpha SLT-A55 Announcement Article >>


Related Content:
Sony Digital SLR User Reviews
All Digital SLR User Reviews
Sony Cameras Forum
EVIL & Micro Four Thirds Cameras Forum
Digital SLR Forum
More Sony News, Reviews And Articles
Sony Web Site


About the author: Photo-John

Photo-John, a.k.a. John Shafer, is the managing editor of PhotographyREVIEW.com and has been since the site launched back in 1999. He's an avid outdoor enthusiast and spends as much time as possible on his mountain bike, hiking or skiing in the mountains. He's been taking pictures for ever and ever, and never goes anywhere without a camera.

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  • Charlie says:

    Excellent choices and explanations. Just to think about where cameras were in 2005, then to 2010, it is very reassuring and exciting to see just how much the industry has grown. Fierce market competition has the consumer on the winning end.

  • Photo-John says:

    “Fierce market competition has the consumer on the winning end.”

    Very well put, Charlie. Thanks for the comment :-)

  • Dan says:

    Have this Camera,,,,,,, It Rocks I have a Nikon D700 and D90 and I find myself picking this up for shoots more and more. The pictures come out very crisp and clean. Can’t say a bad thing about it….. Had it bought four days after it came out. Taken a bunch of pictures all have been amazing. I even shoot studio work with this camera with a dual flash adapter and soft hood lights, and get great results

    Pro Features in a mid prices Body……. Great purchase if you can get one…… All out of stock.

  • Flea Market says:

    I think it’s funny that the Pentax K-5 beat both camera in tests. And never got a honorable mention.

  • Jan says:

    I find it hard to believe that this camera that had below average noise levels at higher ISO, and was bombed for having a bad feel when used would win camera of the year. I now believe that I am not going to believe anything Photography Review ever says again. What a terrible choice. For a four-thirds camera give me the Panasonic or Olympus any day. I guess it made people that were goofy enough to buy this camera happy.

  • Photo-John says:

    Flea Market and Jan – thanks for your comments. I’ve said it repeatedly and I will continue to say it – I chose the Sony Alpha SLT-A55 as Camera Of The Year because of its creative and innovative design. If I was going to choose a camera based purely on performance it would have been a digital SLR and probably a Nikon. I have already been chastized for not including the Pentax K-5. You can read my response to that criticism in the Camera Of The Year discussion on the forums: http://forums.photographyreview.com/showthread.php?t=71370

  • weissguy says:

    I bought the A55 three weeks ago and have already taken over 3000 photos. For the price, this camera is loaded with capability. I am amazed at how fast and well the photos come out even the JPEGs on AUTO. The intent of my purchase was to take sports photos of my kids. With a Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 lens I have to say the camera has performed unbelievably, both indoor and out. The noise is very managable even above 1600 ISO. For $1600 I have a camera that spits out photos comparible to what I see from professionals online at the same basketball games. Additionally, the HD movies are fantastic, focus is continuous, silent and accurate. Downsides: due to the small size of the camera, my two finger grip has difficulty supporting the Sigma lens. Camera heats up too quickly in movie mode. Sony, please produce a vertical grip for the A55.

  • Photo-John says:

    Thanks for the mini review, weissguy. Please visit our Sony A55 user review page and write a complete review for us. We need more user reviews for the A55. Here’s a link to that review page: http://www.photographyreview.com/cat/pcphotoreview/digital-cameras/digital-slrs/sony/PRD_451944_3127crx.aspx

  • Photo-John says:

    The Sony A55 is in the house for review! I’ve got the basic it along with the 70-200mm f/2.8 pro zoom and I plan to take it out for some serious ski photos so I can compare it to mid-range Canon and Nikon gear. Stay tuned!

  • Thanh says:

    I’d love the new technology but in my country when i can get the Sony A55. It’s still my dream. Hoping the dream will come true.

  • William MATAR says:

    I live in Lebanon and I purchased the a55 Sony from Amazon on the beginning of the year.. indeed it is an excellent camera.. I love a lot taking macro photos even without thinking for tripod.. extremely quick camera. http://www.google.com/profiles/OneFineArt

  • Photo-John says:

    Thanks for the comment, William. I am currently finishing up a pro review for the A55 and my hands-on experience with the camera has confirmed my decision to make it our 2010 Camera Of The Year. Please visit our Sony Alpha A55 user review page and write a review, too. We need more reviews for the A55: http://www.photographyreview.com/cat/pcphotoreview/digital-cameras/digital-slrs/sony/PRD_451944_3127crx.aspx

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