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Sony Alpha DSLR-A500 photos

Larger and heavier than its competitors--in part because of the 3-inch tilting LCD--the A500's design has some clunky, awkward aspects that keep it from fostering streamlined shooting.

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Lori Grunin
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1 of 6 Sarah Tew/CNET

Body

The A500 has a body identical to that of the A550. Both are heavier and bulkier than the competition but oddly don't make as good use of space and are less streamlined for shooting.
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2 of 6 Sarah Tew/CNET

Focus confusion

Like many dSLRs that have to remain backward-compatible with older lenses, the A500 has a Manual/autofocus switch on the body that you confusingly have to remember to match with the switch on the lens.
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3 of 6 Sarah Tew/CNET

Navigation

The navigation switch feels a bit too flat, without enough tactile feedback; I frequently ended up pressing the AF button while trying to navigate menus.
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4 of 6 Sarah Tew/CNET

Back

Like the navigation switch, the buttons are flat with little tactile feedback. While not as flexible a design as a flip-and-twist articulated LCD, Sony's tiltable displays are nice for shooting at odd angles.
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5 of 6 Sarah Tew/CNET

Not thrilled with the buttons

On the lower-end models, Sony puts controls for the ISO sensitivity and drive modes on the navigation switch on the back of the camera. I think that placement works better than the three, hard-to-differentiate buttons on the top of this one. It's also annoying that in a camera of this class that you have to set the ISO sensitivity via the back display--it doesn't appear in the viewfinder. Usually on dSLRs with buttons on the top right, they're placed forward enough to easily and comfortably reach with your forefinger. On the A500, they're set closer to the camera back where you can't comfortably reach them with either your thumb or forefinger unless you lower the camera.
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6 of 6 Sarah Tew/CNET

Mode dial

If the guide is turned on, when you rotate the mode dial, a description of the mode appears on the LCD screen.

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