It would be very easy to dismiss this novel design as a gimmick, but for certain photographers it will provide a real advantage. Image quality is similar to contemporary conventional SLR cameras, but the size and weight of the A55 is much reduced, making this camera ideal for those who travel extensively, or just wish their SLR was a bit smaller and lighter.

Those who use live-view for general picture taking will appreciate the fast autofocus and articulated swivel screen. The phase detection AF that performs just as well when using the screen on the rear to compose images, as when using the viewfinder. In this respect the system is an improvement over Sony's Alpha SLRs with live view, and it already has the quickest live-view AF system.

The Sony A55 isn't a camera for everyone, though. Those looking for similar continuous shooting performance to the current crop of fast frame rate SLRs will be disappointed by the viewfinder blackout after shooting and the relatively small buffer. Fast memory cards are a must if this feature is to be an advantage, but even then those issues still remain.

Given the current Sony A55 price, it may still prove to be a compelling choice if the features meet your buying criteria, due to its decent image quality at high sensitivities, compact dimensions and support for existing Sony A-mount lenses.

Features: 4

Build quality: 3
Image Quality: 4
Value: 3
Overall: 4

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