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:


Movie/Video Mode & Quality

Sony Alpha A55 review – Movie/Video Mode & Quality

Sony A55 review – Movie/Video Quality

When shooting in AVCHD final movie quality is very impressive indeed. Although clips are shot 
in a 1920×1080 pixel interlaced format (i.e. half the lines in one pass, the other half in the second pass), the level of detail is still very impressive 
and the data rate is a massive 74Mbit/sec. One small issue is when not using a formatted card 
it will become nigh-on impossible to extract your files from the camera (as AVCHD files have to 
be processed using software such as iMovie or Windows Movie Maker).

Sony Alpha SLT-A55 sample image - carouselThere is a secondary option to shoot in MP4, which is captured at 1440×1080 pixels and then ‘upscaled’ to fit the usual 16:9 ratio. The quality here is less impressive though, with a much 
lower data rate. However, the files are smaller 
and won’t need processing when offloading 
from camera.

Sony A55 review – Movie/Video Record Time

Maximum record time is up to 29mins or 2GB, though the AVCHD format is so packed full of 
data that you’ll only manage a few minutes 
before the largest file size is reached. This is the same for AVCHD 1080i, and MP4 AVC and VGA.

As a number of reports have suggested and Sony Japan itself has now confirmed, the sensor overheats when using SteadyShot while recording. This isn’t at all surprising given the amount of work the sensor is doing, and with a clip length topping out at around 7mins this is still a fairly long time to be able to shoot (how often would 
a longer clip length be utilised?).

Sony A55 review – Movie/Video Focusing Modes

Focusing during movie recording is where the A55 both wins and loses. On the one hand the continuous focus is outstandingly good and will effortlessly snap between one subject and the 
next without misjudging focus at all.
The only qualm with this is the lack of overall user control, as there’s no capacity to lock the focus (bar clunkily flipping the lens’ AF/MF switch). Such a feature would be useful in some situations, for example when the camera is focused on 
a stationary subject and another subject walks through the frame causing the camera to switch focus to the new subject. This won’t always be desired and a greater level of detail in control here would make all the difference. Many DSLRs and Micro System Cameras offer a one-touch button 
to re-focus and this single-point fixed focus isn’t possible with the A55.

Sony A55 review – Movie/Video Manual Control

There’s no true fully manual control when 
shooting in movie mode, although the degree of control in Program mode should prove ample for most situations. During recording it’s possible to use both exposure compensation and exposure lock in real time, which can prove considerably useful. However, limitations with focus modes, aperture selection and a fixed 25fps frame rate mean there’s some room for improvement.

Sony A55 review – Movie/Video Sound

The kit lens can be rather noisy when whizzing between different focal lengths and the camera will pick up these sounds. Thankfully there’s 
a 3.5mm mic jack for an external microphone 
to be used should you please.
The sound quality is otherwise very good 
(partly dependent on which mic you choose to 
use) and rendered as AAC Stereo.

  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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