Sony Alpha A55 review

The first DSLR to use a translucent mirror is part of a new breed of digital cameras

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Having a 3-inch articulated swivel screen is an incredibly useful tool when shooting out and about. As the screen can be adjusted to pretty much any angle it will save countless muddy knees on those occasions when you wish to shoot from a low angle. This coupled with the fast phase detection autofocus makes for a very flexible system, allowing your creativity to go beyond what can be seen at eye-level.

Fifteen autofocus (AF) points, of which three are cross-type, can either be selected individually, or set as a wide area providing plenty of options for most shooting scenarios. In use the AF system is quick and accurate, most of the time, but it can struggle to keep up with moving subjects and will occasionally miss-focus altogether. Still, for the most part it is a reliable system, making the live view feature feel truly integrated, instead of a bolt on afterthought.

Previous cameras with translucent mirrors, such as the Canon EOS 1N RS, used them to allow fast continuous shooting speeds with no viewfinder blackout. The Sony Alpha 55 certainly achieves the fast shooting, with a maximum continuous shooting rate of 10 frames per second, but during shooting the screen freezes after each frame and blacks out completely for a while whilst the images are written to the card in any of the manual exposure modes.

This blackout time can be quite considerable, especially if shooting raw images, or even worse if shooting raw and JPEG files simultaneously. The only way around this is to select the automatic 10 frames per second mode from the dial on top of the Sony A55 body. This mode reduces the screen blackout and allows continuous AF to be used. Unfortunately it also removes the ability to adjust the shutter speed or aperture, which may be an issue in some situations.

This novel mirror also allows continuous AF during Sony A55 video recording, allowing the camera to keep up with moving subjects. In principle this is a great feature for those using the camera for video, although it it worth noting that the AF speed is much reduced during video recording and that the sound made by the lens can be heard in the recordings.

The quality of the Sony A55 video is excellent, with clear, crisp footage being produced, even in low light conditions. As it is full HD, your Sony A55 video will look great on your HD television and the AVCHD format used for recording Sony A55 video is widely supported.

The usual array of scene modes and picture styles are all included as well as a few interesting additions. A sweep panorama function makes taking a wider view quite straightforward as you simply move the camera in the direction the camera requests. It then takes pictures continuously and merges them automatically. An automatic HDR function is also provided, allowing shots up to six stops apart to be merged into one image with increased dynamic range.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDigital SLT Camera with Lens
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Effective Camera Resolution16.2 Megapixel
Wide AngleNo
Product Familyalpha
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo
Optical Zoom3.1x, 3.1x (Lens 1) - 3.6x (Lens 2)
Brand NameSony
FeaturesFace Detection, Smile Detection, Manual White Balance, Aperture Priority, Live View, External Flash Shoe, Continuous Shooting Mode
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsMP4
Viewfinder TypeElectronic
Weight (Approximate)441 g
Image Sensor Size23.50 mm x 15.60 mm
Maximum Image Resolution4912 x 3264
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height92 mm
Width124.4 mm
Depth84.7 mm
Focal Length18 mm to 55 mm (Lens 1) - 55 mm to 200 mm (Lens 2)
Image FormatsJPEG, RAW
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product ModelSLT-A55
Product Namealpha SLT-A55 Digital SLT Camera
Product Linealpha
Exposure Control
  • Program Auto
  • Shutter Priority
  • Aperture Priority
  • Manual
Manufacturer Part NumberSLTA55VY.CEH
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

Never miss another moment, however fleeting. Discover a new world of lightning-quick shooting responses and smooth, accurate autofocus tracking - even with moving objects. Capture beautiful videos in detail-packed Full HD. All in a light, compact camera that's easy to carry.

Package Contents
  • alpha SLT-A55 Digital SLT Camera
  • NP-FW50 Battery
  • SAL-1855 Lens
  • SAL-55200-2 Lens
Limited Warranty1 Year