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Sony Alpha SLT-A33 and SLT-A55 (photo samples)

The A55 and A33 are probably the best non-dSLR consumer cameras I've shot with for action, and seem like they'll be a good--if expensive--step-up choice from a point-and-shoot.

LoriGruninNewHeadshot.jpg
Lori Grunin
a55-SIC4-540.jpg
1 of 7 Lori Grunin/CNET

Sharpness and color

Though the SLT's lack a neutral color setting, the standard values didn't induce too much of a color shift. And it doesn't seem to oversharpen, either.
(A55; 1/2500 sec, f2.8, ISO 100, centerweighted metering -1EV, AWB, 28-75mm f2.8 lens at 75mm, standard Creative Style)
a55-SIC1-540.jpg
2 of 7 Lori Grunin/CNET

AF speed

The new AF system can be very fast; there was a pretty stiff wind blowing everything around, and combined with the natural flittiness of the butterfly it was easier to get a lock than I anticipated.
(A55; 1/400 sec, f3.2, ISO 100, centerweighted metering, AWB, 28-75mm f2.8 lens at 40mm, standard Creative Style)
a33-sic2-1333.jpg
3 of 7 Lori Grunin/CNET

AF intelligence

Casual shooters who aren't terribly picky about relative sharpness of the background and the foreground will be very happy with the A33 and A55's continuous-shooting performance. For instance, at this small size, everything looks in focus, and the moment's been captured. But at full size, you can easily spot that the AF system locked on the Coke ad rather than the bull and rider. This is partly due to the relatively difficulty of keeping the subject under the AF points with an EVF, which blacks out briefly after each shot as you burst. Optical viewfinders black out as well, but it's still faster or easier to mentally compensate for than with an EVF.
(A33; 1/250 sec, f9.0, ISO 100, evaluative metering, AWB, 135mm f1.8 lens, standard Creative Style)
a55-SIC6-540.jpg
4 of 7 Lori Grunin/CNET

Focus

In shots like this it was easier to keep the AF system locked on the subject. On a side note, the consumer 70-300mm seems more prone to fringing than I'd like.
(A55; 1/320 sec, f5.6, ISO 100, centerweighted metering, AWB, 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 lens at 110mm, standard Creative Style)
a55-SIC2-540-12800.jpg
5 of 7 Lori Grunin/CNET

Image quality, ISO 12800

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the noise reduction at the camera's highest sensitivity. While you can certainly tell that it's boosted, the image printed well at 13x19 inches. The light source was an LED light, which routinely causes problems for automatic white balance algorithms, hence the golden cast.
(A55; 1/50 sec, f5.6, ISO 12,800, centerweighted metering, AWB, 28-75mm f2.8 lens at 75mm, standard Creative Style)
a55-SIC3-540-6400.jpg
6 of 7 Lori Grunin/CNET

Image quality, ISO 6400

Sony has vastly improved its noise-reduction feature in recent cameras. While there's still some obvious artifacts here, there's a much better balance between sharpness and color noise reduction than I'm used to seeing in photos shot with older models. The light source was an LED light, which routinely causes problems for automatic white balance algorithms, hence the golden cast.
(A55; 1/50 sec, f9, ISO 6400, centerweighted metering, AWB, 28-75mm f2.8 lens at 75mm, standard Creative Style)
a55-SIC5-540.jpg
7 of 7 Lori Grunin/CNET

General photo quality

The few general landscape photos I shot didn't thrill me. The images had a very point-and-shoot quality to them, and the cameras in general have an overly cool white balance in daylight. This was shot with one of the new Zeiss lenses, and the camera didn't seem to do the lens justice.
(A55; 1/250 sec, f8, ISO 100, centerweighted metering, AWB, 24mm f2.0 lens, standard Creative Style)

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