Sony Alpha SLT-A55 Review

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Sony Alpha SLT-A55 Conclusion

I was a little nervous when I chose the Sony Alpha A55 as our 2010 Camera Of The Year without actually having used it. But after using the A55 for a few months in all kinds of situations and with a wide variety of subjects, I feel I made the right decision. The Sony Alpha SLT-A55 is a great camera with an innovative design, great performance and excellent image quality. It’s not quite the sports camera I was hoping for but it’s a very capable all-round performer that most people will be very happy with – especially people who value video as much as still photos. I’d recommend the A55 over any digital SLR for regular folks looking for a full-featured camera to use for video and high-quality still photography. Travel photographers looking for something a little smaller with great image quality and performance – consider the A55 with the Sony DT 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3. That looks like a great do-it-all camera kit to me.

Sony Alpha SLT-A55 - Classic Dodge

Who Should Buy It
The Sony Alpha SLT-A55 is an excellent choice for:

  • Sony DSLR owners looking for a small, light backup body.
  • Photographers and videographers who want a DSLR-style camera with great auto focus performance for video
  • Travel or outdoor photographers who want a small, light digital SLR with great image quality
  • Photographers considering the Nikon D7000 – the Sony A55 has almost indistinguishable image quality, better movie mode auto focus and a tilt-swivel LCD display

The Sony Alpha SLT-A55 is not a good choice for:

  • Professional sports photographers who need the best auto focus and fastest burst performance
  • People who hate electronic viewfinders
  • Photographers who abuse their cameras or who like a camera with a more solid, substantial feel
  • People with big hands who have problems with smaller camera bodies

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All photos copyright John Shafer and/or

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About the author: Photo-John

Photo-John, a.k.a. John Shafer, is the managing editor of 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.

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