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SI: Sony’s New Alpha A55/A33 DSLR Cameras Already Receiving Accolades

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Sony has really captured the attention of the consumer photography world with the recent introduction of the Alpha A55 and A33 DSLRs, which will become available over the next several months around the world. The cameras, especially the A55, are being raved about on DPreview (the A55 even won a Gold Award), imaging-resource, Digital Camera Review, Pop Photo, and many other sites. Make sure you check out the sample pictures in those links.

In fact, its hard to find anyone saying anything bad about these two new cameras. It’s not really surprising, either, because the A55 and A33 are full to the brim of innovative technology. They have an ultra precise focus that works incredibly well, and boasts the world’s first 15-point phase detection AF system for an interchangeable lens camera. They are lightning quick, with the A55 capable of 10fps and the A33 capable of 7fps. The camera can maintain focus on subjects that move quickly towards or away from the camera even in a shallow depth of field. Other features introduced on some of these new Sony DSLR’s include HD video recording, GPS, Panoramic Pictures (2D/3D), and much more.

One of the major factors contributing to the popularity of the A55 and A33 is the new Translucent (pellicle) Mirror technology, which as Debbie Grossman from Pop Photo describes, “In place of a mirror, there’s a fixed film that’s reflective enough to direct light to the autofocus sensor while simultaneously transmitting light to the image sensor behind it. That means that phase detection autofocus can be in effect the entire time you’re shooting, with no interruptions when you click the shutter.”


The results of this translucent mirror system (picture above from AV Watch) are stunning for the price, and there is quality and features in these new DSLR’s that are usually found in cameras that cost thousands of dollars. The A55 and A33 push the bar in the sub-$1,000 price market, which is a healthy arena for Sony to compete especially as more and more amateur photographers become present in the digital world. Easily put, these are incredible cameras for a beginner and/or a surprising contender as a secondary camera for any type of established photographer.


The A55 and A33 also have an very strong HD movie mode (1080-60i AVCHD/1440 x 1080 MPEG4) with the ability to record up to 29 minutes in one instance. Sony Europe describes in further detail, “The α55 and α33 also mark the debut of Quick AF Full HD movie shooting. Translucent Mirror Technology enables AVCHD 1080i video shooting with smooth, precise phase detection AF tracking of moving subjects. Real-time video image preview is now possible via the viewfinder – in contrast with DSLR cameras where the raised mirror prevents light from reaching the optical viewfinder during video shooting.”

We are still working to find some good video (on YouTube) shot with the A55 or A33. So far, I have seen some impressive examples of the A55 video of a rodeo (HD) at Luminous Landscape, and firebreathers on Vimeo (low quality). DPreview also has some nice HD MTS files.

Here is a video from one of our new content partners, Diginfo, of the Sony Japan press event for the A55/A33:

There are many other features found in the A55 and A33, which are officially called the SLT-A55V and SLT-A33. Both cameras offer built-in flash, and are compatible with Sony A lens, Minolta and Konica Minolta AF lens. The A55 has a 16.2 megapixel Exmor APS HD CMOS, while the A33 has a lesser 14.3 version. The BIONZ image processor compliments the ISO 100- 12800 range, and the Multi Frame NR mode enables an extended ISO of 25600.

Like most DSLR’s, the A55/A33 shoot JPEG (fine, standard), RAW, and RAW + JPG and you’ll be able to enjoy seeing what you shoot on the 3 inch LCD that is an 100% frame coverage electronic viewfinder (EVF). The great part about this viewfinder is the Quick AF live view, which means you no longer have to see the screen black out when taking a picture. There also isn’t that familiar shutter sound you hear in most DSLR’s.

They have an electronic viewfinder that is dead-on with the sensor. In fact, it’s so good that imaging-resource.com said, “I’ve long been an avowed EVF-hater, but the viewfinder display on the Sony A55 is good enough that I found myself sorely missing it when I returned to shooting with a conventional sub-frame SLR with a typically small optical viewfinder.”


As we stated earlier, the A55 and A33 also shoot panoramic pictures in 2D or 3D. If you thought this style of picture was a cool feature in a point-and-shoot camera, just look at the results implemented in a DSLR. How unbelievable does the picture (from Pop Photo) above look?

For users who enjoy geotagging, the A55 is the first α camera with a built-in GPS that can tag images with the geographical coordinates of the location where they were taken, recorded as EXIF data. When viewed on a computer using the bundled Picture Motion Browser (PMB) software or on a compatible BRAVIA TV equipped with the Photo Map function, the geotagged images are beautifully displayed on a world map.

For greater convenience, both cameras support Memory Stick and SD cards. With the Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, movies and photos can be transferred up to 4 times faster than when using the Memory Stick PRO Duo Mark2.

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