The A55's JPEGs fare pretty well up through ISO 1,600 insofar as the balance between noise and detail is concerned (these were shot with the 50mm f1.8 lens, so the depth of field is shallower than we usually see in our test shots.)
While it's not great, JPEG processing and noise at ISO 3,200 don't render the photos unusable unless you've got a lot of fine detail or edges where softness will be too obvious.
(1/40 sec, f4.5, ISO 3,200, evaluative metering, AWB, standard Creative Style)
Sony has vastly improved its noise-reduction feature in recent cameras. Though 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.
(1/50 sec, f9, ISO 6,400, centerweighted metering, AWB, 28-75mm f2.8 lens at 75mm, standard Creative Style)
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.
(1/50 sec, f5.6, ISO 12,800, center-weighted metering, AWB, 28-75mm f2.8 lens at 75mm, standard Creative Style)
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.
(1/250 sec, f8, ISO 100, centerweighted metering, AWB, 24mm f2.0 lens, standard Creative Style)