Sony has recently announced the new entries into the family of dSLRs. The two new cameras are: Alpha SLT-A33 and Alpha SLT-A55. These two new cameras are the first ones to use a Pellicle mirror. The mirror allows the camera to have a better speed for continuous shooting. The A55 has a shooting rate of 10 fps. For an entry level camera, this shooting rate is just amazing. And that’s not all, it also features image geotagging, 3D sweep Panorama mode and a high resolution Electronic Viewfinder (EVF). The A55 is also one among the first dSLRs of Sony to be able to record HD videos.
The front panel of the A55 almost resembles the Sony Alpha A390 or any other dSLR. It has a rubber on the right side for the handgrip and it is quite small and not that comfortable. People with small hands won’t have any issues with its size. The very important command dial is just below the shutter key. The placement of the command dial is apt because it is easily accessible by the index finger. Now looking at the top portion of the A55, lets begin with investigating whats on its left side. Firstly it has a mode dial which is completely rotatable. Well, the right side is completely filled with controls. A control that allows you to toggle between the LCD and EVF, a power button, a shutter key and the D-Range optimizer are all on the right side. There are some more controls at the back of the camera which are placed very well and are easily accessible. A stereo microphone is also present behind the pop-up flash. With a four-way navigation pad at the back, it also has a LCD display. The four-way navigation pad can also be used as a shortcut for the setting of ISO, drive modes and white balance. The connectivity of the camera has a mini HDMI port, a 3.5 millimeters microphone jack and a remote control. The battery and the memory card are the two essential things of a digital camera. So the battery and the memory card slot is at the bottom of the camera.
The body of the A55 is made of polycarbonate and it is well built. The total weight of the camera along with the lens of 24 mm F2.0 Carl Zeiss is 1 kilogram. The weight seems to be a little too heavy. However it can be ignored over its quality. The grip might be the only issue for people with big hands that cannot be accommodated comfortably.
The important and the new feature of the A55 is the translucent mirror. The mirror works as a filter. It filters light into the image sensor and also reflects light to the Phase-Detection Autofocus sensor. This phase detection sensor is on the top of the camera. The A55 has an Electronic Viewfinder instead of the Optical Viewfinder. The EVF does a great job. The enhancement of the view even in a low light environment is done by the EVF. Its good that it has an EVF because the Optical Viewfinder cannot enhance the view of a low light environment. The motions of the view are smoothly presented on the viewfinder with a fast refresh rate. The resolution of this viewfinder is 1.44 mega pixels and it is purely a Sony product.
The Sony A55 is neither a basic camera nor a midrange dSLR. It is for those who love to have a fast camera with quick operations. The A55 is a 16.2 mega pixels digital camera. It measures 124.2 x 92 x 66 millimeters and weighs about 440 grams. The LCD display is 3 inches and of swivel type. The viewfinder as already known has a resolution of 1.44 mega pixels and it is an EVF. The A55 can record HD videos at a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The audio is stereo type and the burst mode runs at 10 fps. The ISO settings can range from 100-6400 and expandable up to 12800. The memory cards that can be used are SD, SDHC, SDXC and also Memory Stick Pro Duo.
Coming back to the Pellicle mirror, it speeds up the shooting process and also the phase detection AF during video recording. It helps you focus at the right angles. The A55 is yet again the first one to have a GPS receiver on board. This allows geotagging the images. But the GPS receiver works best when the sky is absolutely clear and without much obstacles. The leveling system helps and gives some confidence to the user that the camera is in level with the horizon. You can find this leveling system on the viewfinder or on the LCD display.
The images taken from the A55 is clear and beautiful. The colors and contrast appeared to be natural. The noise is eliminated very well. The overall image quality of the A55 is excellent. The translucent mirror will support the video recording and hence we can assume the video quality to be good.
The Sony A55 with all the new features on board is definitely going to goof up its market. It is the first one to have new features and hence is going to set a benchmark for the next ones to come down the line. The Sony A55 will be available in Asia by the end of September and the price is yet to be known.