NOTE: The A55 mirror is very susceptible to scratching. If you touch it with any type of brush, it will scratch. Replacement is $115.
The Sony Alpha A55 uses a translucent mirror, which allows the image sensor, viewfinder and phase detection autofocus system to all see the image at the same time. (If you don’t understand what the phase detection autofocus system is and have some free time on your hands, you can read about it here.) This allows the camera to continue focusing even while the actual shot is being taken. It doesn’t even lose focus during the split second the mirror would be lifting for the actual shot in other cameras. This also lets the A55 shoot at a remarkable 10 frames per second.
The A55 has 16.2 megapixels of resolution captured on a HD CMOS crop sensor, featuring built-in GPS, an incredibly sharp, bright 3-inch, tiltable LCD screen with 921,000 pixels, and built-in flash. It also records full HD 1080/60i video. It can use phase contrast autofocus while shooting video, rather than the slower contrast detection autofocus other bodies must use. This feature also enables you to zoom while maintaining autofocus, giving the same effect as pulling focus on a top-end SLR manual focus rig.
It can shoot at an amazing 10 frames per second, has a new 15-point autofocus system, automated sensor cleaning, and it maintains the Steady Shot in-camera image stabilization of its predecessors. It has the usual fancy effects stuff, but in this case some of them actually appear to be useful: there is a “sweep panorama” mode, face detection technology, a multi-frame noise reduction mode (which takes 6 photos in rapid succession and uses the best data from each to create 1 picture) and HDMI output built into the camera.
The software included with this camera is copyrighted and we cannot send it with the cameras. You will need Photoshop or some type of image editing software to download and view your images.
NOTE: Sigma has announced that many of their lenses are not compatible with the Sony Alpha A55.
After my initial look, the viewfinder is remarkably good, autofocus (in most cases) is very accurate, high ISO performance is the best of any Sony dSLR we’ve shot with, and image quality is superb. For this price, it’s an excellent camera. At any price, it’s an excellent camera.
But while it will shoot 10 frames per second, there just aren’t enough autofocus points (or perhaps computer power), apparently, to allow AI servo to work really accurately at 10 fps. For shooting sports or moving objects, 6 frames per second appears to be about as high as you want to go.
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