Sony Alpha A35 Review
Review Date : Tue, 13 Sep 2011
Author : Matt Tuffin
Can this scaled-down Sony Alpha A55 be more than a miniaturized facsimile? The Sony Alpha A35 review follows...
Sony's latest SLT (Single Lens Translucent) camera shares much in common with the previous A33 model, but revamps the entry-level market with a new 16.2MP sensor. Due to the SLT build there's no optical viewfinder, instead replaced by an electronic version (EVF). The translucent mirror that makes the camera unique to Sony also gives the Alpha A35 an array of unique features, including a 5.5fps burst mode and the ability to shoot HD video with continuous autofocus. Is this the SLT to redefine the entry-level market?
Sony Alpha A35 review - Features
The Alpha A35 benefits from an impressive 16.2MP sensor similar to that found in the highly regarded Nikon D7000, Pentax K-5 and Sony A580 models. This latest Exmor sensor has a 1200 zone evaluative metering system and sensitivity from ISO 100-12,800 at full resolution.
As with the majority of the Sony DSLR and SLT cameras the Steadyshot INSIDE image stabilisation system is built around the sensor meaning that any attached lens (including older Minolta glass) will benefit from stabilisation.
The A35's LCD screen, although 3in in size and resolute at 921k-dots, misses out on any method of angling the display independent from the body. This wouldn't usually be of worthy note, but the previous A33 model did have a tilt-angle screen that's been dropped for the latest edition with a view to cost effectiveness.
Above the screen is the A35's straightforward EVF that's identical to that found in the previous A33 model. Its electronic build has some benefits, including a 100% field of view that means what you see through the viewfinder is what you get. This also means images can be played back through the viewfinder directly to your eye (without interfering sunlight) and any alterations to settings can be made visible as well.
The translucent mirror technology at the heart of the Alpha A35 also means the potential for burst shooting is greatly increased when compared to DSLRs of a similar level. Compared to the likes of the Alpha A33's 7fps Speed Priority mode, the A35 has a lower 5.5fps burst on account of the higher resolution sensor. However, an in-camera 1.4x teleconverter mode does allow for 7fps to be achieved at the expense of resolution. Up against the 3fps of the Canon EOS 1100D and the Nikon D3100, both of which are within the A35's price range, the extra 2.5fps is rather impressive. It's made all the more eye-catching thanks to sustaining continuous autofocus (C-AF) at this speed, which means the camera should produce in-focus shots even of faster moving subjects, although it's worth noting that the full 7fps burst mode is only accessible in Tele-zoom High Speed Shooting which adds a 1.4x crop factor resulting in a lower resolution image.
The continuous AF also translates well for the movie mode, which means the A35 can keep moving subjects sharp throughout recording. The motion of the kit lens is quite jerky though, meaning that on occasion subjects can flick in and out of focus. The output resolution, in the Full HD 1920x1080 resolution, is captured as an interlaced AVCHD file with a reasonable bitrate of 17mbps.
The A35's D-Range Optimizer appears as with the rest of the Alpha range, designed to balance exposure between the shadows and highlights. Within the same menu option is an Auto HDR function that operates much like a bracketing feature by capturing multiple images in quick succession and then combining them in camera.