Sharing much of the technology found in the excellent Alpha 77, the Alpha 65 looks like it could be a real bargain. Does it do enough to standout on its own?
Sony Alpha A77 review – Image Quality
Tone and Exposure
The Alpha 65 uses a 1200-zone evaluative metering system, providing you with a choice of either Multi segment, Centre-weighted or spot metering modes depending on the subject matter. The Multi segment metering performed very well, producing well-exposed shots in most conditions. There will be times when you will need to dial in a touch of exposure compensation to lift slightly under-exposed images.
Images display a smooth tonal range, while there’s the D-Range Optimiser to rescue detail in the highlights and shadows of high-contrast, backlit scenes. There are five levels to choose from, as well an Auto mode. It’s worth mentioning though that this is a JPEG only option.
White Balance and Colour
If you’re going to rely on the Auto White Balance of the Alpha 65, you’ll find it performs pretty consistently, delivering pleasing results. They can display a very minor warm tint. There’s a host of preset white balance options as well:
Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent (four variations), Flash and Kelvin white balance modes. There’s also a Custom option too, with the ability to store three presets.
If you want to play around with the intensity and look of your images,
there are a choice of Picture Effects to experiment with. These include Toy Camera, Retro Photo, High Contrast Mono and Miniature. You’ll only be able to apply these effects if you’re shooting solely in JPEG mode – even in Raw + JPEG combined shooting, it won’t allow you to use these effects.
Sharpness and Detail
The 24.3MP APS-C type CMOS sensor in the Alpha 65 delivers excellent detail and sharpness. Files are 68MB once opened in Photoshop, while Raw files take up 25MB in memory, and Extra Fine JPEGs about 5MB. The large resolution offered will allow you to print images at A2 at 240dpi without the need to upscale the image should you wish, so A3+ prints are easily achievable at 300dpi. This also allows you more flexibility when it comes to cropping should you need to do so.
The Alpha 65 has a native ISO range from ISO 100-16,000. While this is just a little behind the extended 25,600 ISO equivalent of the competition, it’s still very good – especially with this pixel count.
From the base ISO to 3200, results display very minimal levels of image noise. As you’d expect, above that, and image noise creeps in and becomes more prominent. At this level, it’s not quite a match for the D5100 or EOS 600D, but this is negligible. ISO 12,800 and 16,000 should only really be used as a last resort.
The Alpha 65’s Raw files are compatible with Adobe Camera Raw 6.5 (and Lightroom 3.5). The Alpha 65 is also bundled with Image Data Converter (Ver 4.0), allowing you to process Raw files directly if you don’t have an alternative image-editing program. JPEG files have obviously have had some processing applied to them – colours are more saturated, with also a mild level of sharpening.
The AVCHD movie footage shot on the Alpha 65 requires you to process the majority of its footage via the supplied PMB software before the footage can be viewed/edited. Depending on your machine and the length of your footage, this can take a while.
Video footage is good though – with a rate of around 28Mbits/sec at 50p and 24Mbits/sec at 24p. The sound quality is pretty good for an onboard stereo mic, but an external microphone is recommended for those wanting a crisper sound.