/> ED I T O R S C H O I C E IN N O V A T IO N A W A R D
X

Sony Alpha DSLR-A550 photo samples

A discussion of the photo quality of the Sony Alpha DSLR-A550 with sample images.

LoriGruninNewHeadshot.jpg
Lori Grunin
33770085_SIC1_540.jpg
1 of 9 Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET

Low-to-medium ISO sensitivity noise

What a difference a sensor makes. Though the A550 is the same 14.2-megapixel resolution as the cheaper A380, the A550's Exmor CMOS sensor delivers much cleaner images at all ISO sensitivities than the CCD used by its sibling does. They're sharp and relatively clean at least through ISO 400. ISO 800 looks very good on my high-end, color calibrated monitor, but slightly noisy on my cheapo standard-issue display. At ISO 1,600, image detail starts to mush up a bit, but for the most part, detailed photos can remain usable up through ISO 3,200.
33770085_SIC2_540.jpg
2 of 9 Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET

High ISO sensitivity noise

As is typical for its class, ISO 6,400 and above are more emergency modes than for everyday shooting; however, the A550 displays better noise suppression at these midrange ISO sensitivities than we usually see from Sony. Its ISO 6,400 shot, for example, is much cleaner than our equivalent shot with the full-frame A900 and A850 models.
33770085_SIC4_540_6400.jpg
3 of 9 Lori Grunin/CNET

ISO 6400, Sony A550 vs. Canon EOS 7D JPEGs

Though you have to take this comparison with a grain of salt--I couldn't reshoot the 7D to match because I no longer have the lens so the settings aren't comparable--you can see that the A550's noise at ISO 6,400 fares pretty well compared with the more expensive 7D.
(A550: 1/50 sec, f4.5, multisegment metering, AWB, ISO 6,400, 18-55mm lens at 35mm. 7D: 1/15 sec, f11, pattern metering, AWB, ISO 6,400, 15-85mm lens at 70mm.)
33770085_SIC5_540_12800.jpg
4 of 9 Lori Grunin/CNET

ISO 12,800 noise

While not a complete mess, like most cameras in its class ISO 12,800 is definitely best for small sizes.
(1/50 sec, f7.1, ISO 12,800, multisegment metering, AWB, 18-55mm lens at 35mm)
33770085_SIC6_540_800.jpg
5 of 9 Lori Grunin/CNET

ISO 800 noise, raw correction

While the original JPEG version of the this shot looked OK, it was slightly underexposed. But it held up surprisingly well to exposure adjustment and color correction. Once again, it looks much better on my high-end, calibrated display than on a typical consumer model.
(1/60 sec, f2.8, ISO 800, multisegment metering, 24-70mm f2.8 ZA SSM lens at 45mm. Raw file processed with Adobe Camera Raw 5.6.0.148; custom white balance, exposure boosted +1, Blacks setting=2, all other defaults.)
33770085_SIC3_540.jpg
6 of 9 Lori Grunin/CNET

Metering

I thought the A550's metering handled this exposure very well.
(1/60 sec, f18, ISO 200, 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 lens at 55mm, multisegment metering, AWB, standard Creative Style)
33770085_SIC7_540.jpg
7 of 9 Lori Grunin/CNET

Sharpness

The A550 definitely benefits from using a slightly better lens than the standard kit, and can produce some nicely sharp results.
(1/50 sec, f2.8, ISO 200, 50mm f1.8 lens, multisegment metering, AWB, Standard Creative Style)
33770085_SIC8_540.jpg
8 of 9 Lori Grunin/CNET

Auto HDR

Though it's only two shots and takes longer to save to the card than I'd like, Sony's Auto HDR does a decent job of producing images with a larger dynamic range than it would otherwise render. Note that you do gain a little depth of field as well.
(1/50 sec, f4.5, ISO 400, multisegment metering, AWB, 18-55mm lens at 35mm. Top with standard Dynamic Range Optimization, bottom with AutoHDR.)
33770085_SIC9_540.jpg
9 of 9 Lori Grunin/CNET

Color

The lack of any daylit natural colors in new York City in February makes it difficult to show how much Sony pushes the saturation of its colors in its default Standard Creative Style. Worse, with this model it looks like the raw files are similarly oversaturated.
(1/60 sec, f5.6, ISO 200, AWB, pattern metering, Creative Style standard, 18-55mm lens at 50mm, DRO auto)

More Galleries

The best games on Nintendo Switch

More Galleries

The best games on Nintendo Switch

41 Photos
Movies coming in 2021 and 2022 from Netflix, Marvel, HBO and more

More Galleries

Movies coming in 2021 and 2022 from Netflix, Marvel, HBO and more

67 Photos
The new Kia Niro crossover has a lot more style

More Galleries

The new Kia Niro crossover has a lot more style

8 Photos
2021 best new TV shows to watch, stream, obsess about

More Galleries

2021 best new TV shows to watch, stream, obsess about

65 Photos
The 51 best VR games

More Galleries

The 51 best VR games

53 Photos
Global 2022 Ford Ranger gets stronger styling, more infotainment tech

More Galleries

Global 2022 Ford Ranger gets stronger styling, more infotainment tech

7 Photos
The 2022 Kia Stinger 2.5T is a lovely liftback

More Galleries

The 2022 Kia Stinger 2.5T is a lovely liftback

40 Photos