Sony Alpha SLT-A55 Review

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Sony Alpha SLT-A55 Pro ReviewThe 16-megapixel Sony Alpha SLT-A55 was introduced in 2010. It has a full range of exposure modes, 1920 x 1080 full HD video, a new 15-point auto focus system with continuous auto focus in movie mode, 10 frames per second maximum burst rate, a tilt-swivel LCD display and an electronic viewfinder (EVF) instead of an optical viewfinder like a traditional digital SLR. I chose the Sony Alpha SLT-A55 as’s 2010 Camera Of The Year for its fresh design and transparent mirror technology. The Camera Of The Year award was based purely on technology and I immediately requested an A55 for review to see if the transparent mirror system delivers real benefits and find out how the camera performs in the real world. Sure, it looks awesome on paper. But how does it measure up to the competition?

Introduction Features & Design Camera Experience Image Quality Conclusion


Mt. Superior from Alta Ski Resort - Sony Alpha SLT-A55

    Sony Alpha SLT-A55 Pros

  • Great image quality
  • Useable continuous auto focus in movie mode
  • Built-in sensor-level image stabilization
  • Tilt-swivel LCD
  • Small and light
  • Performance compares to much more expensive cameras
  • EVF shows histogram and plays back photos and video in viewfinder
  • Built-in electronic level
  • Love the Sweep Panorama Mode!
  • Now compatible with SD cards as well as Sony Memory Stick!

    Sony Alpha SLT-A55 Cons

  • Auto focus not quite as good as Nikon and Canon
  • Tilt-swivel LCD display not compatible with tripod heads
  • Only one exposure control dial
  • Electronic viewfinder (EVF) isn’t as good as an optical viewfinder
  • Slightly warm (red/magenta) color balance
  • Battery life a bit short

Sony Alpha SLT-A55 Studio Test Images
Sony Alpha SLT-A55 Studio Sample Photos
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    ISO 12,800 Sample >>
    All Digital Camera Studio Sample Photos >>

Sony Alpha SLT-A55 "transparent mirror" camera - front and back

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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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