Sony Alpha SLT-A55 Review

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Sony Alpha SLT-A55 Image Quality

 
The Sony Alpha SLT-A55 image quality is excellent and compares well with any other entry-level or mid-range crop-sensor digital SLR. It’s not publicized, but the imaging sensor in the very popular and much more expensive Nikon D700 appears to be the same that Sony uses in the A55. When I reviewed the D7000 a few weeks ago I was surprised to discover that the Nikon and the Sony have almost indistinguishable image quality (see comparison in Nikon D7000 Pro Review). Considering the popularity of the Nikon and the much lower price of the A55, this makes the Sony a very good buy. Of course, there are other reasons to buy the Nikon over the Sony but if image quality is what you’re after, I’d recommend buying the A55 and investing the money you save in a better lens.

Sony Alpha SLT-A55 - Fuzzy Donkey

The A55 is comfortably useable to ISO 1600 and even higher, depending on the subject and exposure. Like the D7000, the Sony A55 has a sort of grainy quality when you view it at 100%. I mistook the hard digital grain structure for excessive noise at first but I think it’s actually an effective detail strategy. High ISO images from the A55 (and the D7000) have more detail and appear sharper than comparable images from similarly spec’d cameras. The result is that images from the A55 will look sharper and more detailed right out of the camera.

Sony Alpha SLT-A55 - Backlit, ISO 1600

The only issue I had with the A55′s image quality was a slight but obvious pink color cast. It’s not a horrible problem and it could be that Sony does it on purpose because they think their buyers will prefer a warmer white balance. However, I do like my photos on the warm side and I found myself removing a bit of red and magenta from most of my photos. This is a good reason to shoot RAW instead of JPEG with the A55 – it’s a lot easier to fix color problems with RAW images than it is with JPEG. And in my opinion, everyone should be shooting RAW these days, anyway. Available RAW software options are great, storage is cheap and it means your image files have more potential than JPEGs do.

Sony Alpha SLT-A55 - Watering Cans - ISO 1600 Sony Alpha SLT-A55 - Baby Jackson - ISO 3200 Sony Alpha SLT-A55 - Tomatoes
Sony Alpha SLT-A55 - Spring Blossom Sony Alpha SLT-A55 - Tractor Sony Alpha SLT-A55 - Land Of The Free

Click on thumbnails to view sample photos.

Sony Alpha SLT-A55 Studio Test Images
Sony Alpha SLT-A55 Studio Sample Photos
    ISO 100 Sample >>
    ISO 200 Sample >>
    ISO 400 Sample >>
    ISO 800 Sample >>
    ISO 1600 Sample >>
    ISO 3200 Sample >>
    ISO 6400 Sample >>
    ISO 12,800 Sample >>
    All Digital Camera Studio Sample Photos >>

 
Next – Sony Alpha SLT-A55 Conclusion >>
 

Sony Alpha SLT-A55 Review Navigation
Introduction Features & Design Camera Experience Image Quality Conclusion
Sony Alpha SLT-A55 User Reviews Write A Sony Alpha SLT-A55 Review Buy The Nikon D3X

 
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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 (Anbesol) says:

    Great review John! I’ve been considering the A33/A55 as a backup to the A700, even a daily driver in many ways. Your review reconfirms a lot of what I hoped for with SLT, and the down sides are of no significance to my intended needs, (being a backup body). Now I just need to wait for their next A77 announcement before making any decision, my A700 is still doing me fine in the mean time, I can wait.

  • Pete says:

    Thanks for this review John – This re-enforces my decision to buy this a few months ago. I’ve taken approx 3000 frames with it so far and I think its great! The 10fps burst mode has already been used to ensure casual portraits come out the way I want them to and although I was a little cautious of the EVF, it comes into its own when you are stopped down on a manual lens and still wanna see clearly what you’re focusing on.

    On the negative side, I’d say battery life is not the best (although normally sufficient for a day’s shooting), the body could be made from stronger materials – particulalry the battery cover and the shutter noise seems quite loud compared to Pentax KX and other cameras. ( maybe just my example? )

    The 18-55 that came with turns in a reasonable perofrmance, but I was taken by the quality of Sony SAL 18-250mm as a main lens. I think this is a superb “walkaround” lens – keep it stopped down at 5.6, or f11 at the long end and I find the sharpness is good. ( focusing at f11 is naturally slower, but for me normally okay for the subject at hand.

  • bram says:

    thats a good review there… from the way it turns out, it appears sony has some market in the enthusiast for now, as most enthusiast is always lured by technology and features. Sony still lacks many things the other manufacturer has, if anyone says its not lacking, then they are just putting a blind on their eyes.

    Im not saying its a bad camera, its just not there yet, it is getting there though… knowing sony is an even bigger giant than canon / nikon and the growth of digital things, id say it will be soon enough that sony will start catching up and sit in the same game as with the 2 giants.

    as for the cons that you pointed out, its a major no for pro, BUT this series (A55) is intended for enthusiast… so a pro wouldn’t bother to buy anyway (unless they are thinking of second body or vacation camera)

    the control feels strange… no, i refuse anyone saying “you’re just not used to it” because i use Nikon SLR, then switch to canon SLR in a breeze (the 2 of them have almost opposite control mind you) and i once shoot a whole day using my friends pentax, sure at first i was fiddling, but after an hour of use, its easy. Not the case with sony, i still forgot so many thing when i borrowed 1 for a whole day photo session. i get the hang of it eventually but the session is about to finish in 2 hour or so… soooo … Nah… for now im not into sony

    Feel free to disagree, its just opinion anyway, cheers

  • Photo-John says:

    Great comment, bram. There’s room for disagreement here and I’m glad you shared your experience. I don’t disagree with you on the camera controls, either. They are different and I did have a little trouble with them. I do think that if I used them longer I would have gotten used to them, though. Also, you’re correct about the A55 being designed for amateur photographers. It has better performance than its competitors, which could be sort of confusing. But the new Alpha A-77 and NEX-7 look very promising for photographers who want a more professional camera with better controls.

    You say you’re a Nikon owner. Please visit our user reviews section and write reviews for your camera and lenses. User reviews are the foundation of the site and we would be very happy if you’d post reviews for your gear :-)

  • Mark says:

    I am a little disapointed with the user-unfriendly controls on this camera. I also have a Canon G11 which I took on vaction last year.I’m glad I didn’t take the Alpha 55 as the controls are too clumsy for me and I wish I had never bought it. also all my pictures are underexposedto a slight degree.
    Mark

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