Sony Alpha SLT-A65 review: Sony Alpha SLT-A65

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Huge range of features including auto HDR and GPS. Excellent-quality EVF. Very fast continuous shooting speed.

The Bad Images at 100 per cent magnification aren't particularly crisp or detailed. Camera can lag and freeze on occasion.

The Bottom Line While most people definitely don't need a 24-megapixel camera, the Sony A65 has a range of other features that will attract photographers in droves.

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Need the baddest digital SLR around? Even though we've long ago dispelled the megapixel myth, there are some photographers who abide by the mantra that bigger is better.

How does a 24-megapixel consumer SLR sound to you, then?

Design and features

The A65 is that beast, sporting an almost-ridiculous 24 megapixels on its Exmor APS-C-sized CMOS sensor. Like the earlier SLT-branded Alpha cameras, the A65 is not technically an SLR. It uses translucent mirror technology, which allows these cameras to shoot a lot faster than traditional SLRs and focus quickly as well, thanks to the special pellicle mirror that simultaneously sends light to the image sensor and to an AF sensor. No moving mirror means no blackout time when the photo is taken, among other advantages.

The trade-off is that these cameras use electronic viewfinders (EVFs) rather than traditional optical ones found on many other SLRs you might be looking at when buying a camera. The EVF in the A65 is rather enjoyable to use as it's an OLED viewfinder with XGA resolution (equivalent to 720p).

How does the camera feel in the hand? It is comfortable to hold with some well-placed thumb grips and textured surfaces to offset the reasonably smooth exterior finish. There's a whole range of buttons accessible from both the back and top panel, which cover a range of functions such as auto-exposure lock, ISO and exposure compensation, and a video record button. At the back is a 3-inch LCD screen that pivots out from the base of the camera rather than from the side, and like the EVF it's high resolution as well at 921,600 dots. An electronic level gauge is available and can be overlaid on both the EVF and the LCD when shooting. There's also a built-in GPS, which means location data can automatically be appended to images.

Should you be the sort of photographer who loves having an entire army of features to recruit, the A65 will definitely please. On the mode dial at the top, alongside the standard automatic and PASM controls for manual exposures, the A65 also has a standard automatic mode and an auto+ mode, which lets you take HDR images stitched together in-camera and also scene detection modes. There is also sweep panorama in 2D and 3D as found on many other Sony cameras, as well as movie recording and speedy continuous shooting with autofocus at 10 frames per second.

The A65 has a range of artistic filters that produce the same effects as those on other Sony cameras like the NEX-C3 , including toy camera, monochrome, selective colour and high-key just to mention a few.
(Credit: CBSi)

The A65 takes SD and MemoryStick Pro Duo cards in a slot at the side, separate from the rechargeable Lithium-ion battery inserted at the base.

Compared to

Nikon D5100 Canon EOS 600D Nikon D7000 Sony A65
16.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS 18-megapixel APS-C CMOS 16.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS 24.3-megapixel APS-C Exmor CMOS
3.0-inch, 921,000-dot articulating LCD screen 3.0-inch, 1,04K-dot articulating LCD screen 3.0-inch, 921,000-dot fixed LCD screen 3.0-inch, 921,000-dot flip-down LCD screen
Full HD video (1080p, 24/25fps) Full HD video (1080p, 24/25/30fps) Full HD video (1080p, 24/25fps) Full HD video (1080i, 50fps)
No wireless flash control Wireless flash control Wireless flash control Wireless flash control

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Time to first shot
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • RAW shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag
  • Sony A650.90.31.10.3
  • Nikon D51000.30.60.70.3
  • Canon 600D0.20.40.70.1
  • Nikon D70000.30.20.30.1
  • Canon 60D0.30.40.40.1

Continuous shooting speed

  • 10
    Sony A65
  • 6
    Nikon D7000
  • 5.3
    Canon 60D
  • 3.8
    Nikon D5100
  • 3.7
    Canon 600D

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

The A65 does slow considerably when taking a quick burst of full resolution RAW files; we found that it slowed to process them after five frames, although it did not stop taking images completely. Sony rates the battery for the A65 at 510 shots using the EVF or 560 shots using the LCD screen. We especially like the percentage battery monitor available on the screen, which shows just how much juice is left, a refreshing change from the standard bar arrangement found on other consumer SLRs.

Image quality

For those photographers who just want to point and shoot on automatic settings without delving too far into the menus, the A65 delivers very attractive and punchy images. Colours in particular look nicely saturated and the excellent LCD screen does a lot to make it seem as if you've taken an award-winning image first go. Reviewing images on a computer screen makes you realise that perhaps you're not the next Cartier-Bresson, but that's OK because photos still are attractive. Autofocusing is accurate and quick with the kit lens attached.

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Where to Buy

Sony Alpha SLT-A65

Part Number: CNETSony Alpha SLT-A65

Typical Price: $1,399.00

See manufacturer website for availability.