Sony's latest Single Lens Transparent ('SLT') camera - the Alpha A55 - adds GPS and a super-fast 10fps burst rate. Is the Sony A55 the dawn of a new digital camera revolution?

Product Overview

Overall rating:


Sony Alpha A55

Overall score:91%
Image Quality:85%


  • Super-fast continuous focus burst shooting, GPS, excellent 1080i
  • HD movie autofocus


  • Widescreen ratio LCD, EVF not for everyone


Sony Alpha A55 Review


Price as reviewed:


How Single Lens Translucent Works

Sony Alpha A33 & A55 – How ‘Single Lens Translucent’ Works:

The best way to explain how a translucent 
mirror system works is to compare it side by 
side to a DSLR system’s operation.

In a DSLR camera the light enters from the 
lens and bounces off the camera’s mirror into 
an AF sensor for fast phase-detection autofocus. Simultaneously, light also bounces into a pentaprism that in turn feeds a preview image 
to the eye via an optical viewfinder (the pentaprism is there to flip the image from upside down and back to front to the usual way we see). Once the image is framed and the focus set a full shutter press will flip the mirror upwards and out of the way before the shutter itself fires to expose the image sensor (for the time period the shutter is set at) for the final image capture.

Sony Alpha A33 SLT technology

An ‘SLT’ camera, as Sony is naming the A55, also has a mirror construction – but, as this is translucent, 70% of light can permanently pass through, thus eradicating the need for the mirror to move at all during an exposure. Without the need for this slow mechanical movement it’s only the shutter that fires to make an exposure – and this can happen much more frequently, hence 
the A55’s super-fast 10fps shooting. The 30% 
of light that bounces off the mirror is still available to reach an AF sensor for continuous phase-detection autofocus during live view 
mode – the first time this has been possible 
in a digital camera (including the A33 that was released alongside the A55).

This way of doing things does not lend itself 
to an optical viewfinder due to the lack of light that could hypothetically reach it – this is why the A55 features a built-in electronic viewfinder, or EVF, instead.

  1. 1. Sony Alpha A55 review - Features
  2. 2. How Single Lens Translucent Works
  3. 3. Design & Performance
  4. 4. Image Quality
  5. 5. Movie/Video Mode & Quality
  6. 6. Value & Verdict
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