Yes, you read that correctly. I have sold my Alpha 55 after only a few months of use. Did the camera I dreamed of purchasing not hold up to its anticipated grandeur? Keep reading to find out.
I decided on purchasing the Sony Alpha 55 after a lot of mind numbing research, and hours of reading reviews. It was also because I couldn’t afford the Alpha 77 at that point and time. I lusted after the features in both models, and finally pulled the trigger and ordered the A55 with the additional 55-200mm kit lens. After almost a year of pondering it was finally on its way to my door.
Now let me clarify something right from the start of this article. It is not meant to be a Sony bashing article about the woes of the Alpha 55. Nor is it meant to be a comprehensive review. There are dozens of review sites out there that have done more justice to the A55 than I could ever do. Believe me I read them all before I bought the camera. What this is going to be is an explanation of why the Sony Alpha 55 is not right for ME, the author. It may very well be the right camera for you, but only you can know that for sure. I will explain a few things so that maybe you can avoid the pitfalls that I stumbled upon.
The first mistake that I can say I made, and should not have done, is that I ordered the A55 without ever actually holding one in my hands. Yes I know, a stupid rookie mistake, but I felt confidant that I would like the feel of the A55 since I love the feeling of my A550. Again I was wrong.
The A55 does have a nice texture to the body, feel solid, and does appear to be well built. I knew the minute I removed it from the box and held it in my hand that I had almost certainly made a mistake. The real problem I ran into is the one of size. You women can stop laughing now! I meant the size of the “Camera” body. The body is a good 3/8″ to 1/2″ shorter vertically than my Alpha 550. Which in itself isn’t really bad, except that it leaves my pinky finger hanging out by itself below the body of the camera. Now I might be able to get used to this, and probably with time I would have. But to be honest I didn’t want to. I like the feeling of having all my fingers wrapped around the body of the camera. I feel more secure, and less likely to drop it. This may be folly on my part, but it is just how it is with me. I also added a hand grip strap to the side of the camera, but I just could not get it to work properly on this body, but it works perfectly on my A550.
The size of this body is actually perfect for your average female hand. I actually ended up selling the entire kit to a friend of mine, for his fiance to use. In her hand the compact body arrangement was perfect. She actually preferred it to my A550, which was the camera they were originally looking at. Lucky for them I bought it and the resold it to them at a substantial discount,,,, argh!!!.
I don’t want anyone to think I didn’t give the camera a chance. I took several hundred photos with the A55 before I decided to bail on it. I did some nice video work with it to see how well it performed, and to be honest, everything the camera did, it did well. The pictures were beautiful, low noise and quiet as can be. That is the one feature I will miss. That shutter slap is not near as apparent to you until you shoot with a mirror-less camera.
On the video side, I can confirm the auto-focus noise in the microphone while doing a video using the built in camera mic. Though not a big issue when there is a lot of ambient noise. It is definitely an issue when the scene is very quiet. So get yourself an off camera mic if your planning on doing video with sound. I believe this will apply to any DSLR used for video, so I can’t say it was a reason for the selling of the camera.
The videos that I recorded though were great. I experimented using the continuous auto-focus, and it does work. But I couldn’t get it to perform as well as some of the videos I found on the web made it appear. the Focus would jump around a bit more than I liked in some situations or do a lot of hunting. I think with a little tweaking, and education on my part, it could be made to work better. But like many things it sounded better than the real thing.
While I was researching this camera, one thing became apparently clear. Hardly anyone liked the LCD viewfinder on this mirror-less body. The part that bugged me was that no one really said why they didn’t like it. Just that they preferred a traditional SLR penta-prism over this new LCD version.
My first look into the viewfinder was a bit of a shock. It was VERY bright to start with, and a little grainy, for lack of a better description. It just looked like a tiny LCD screen that that had the brightness turned up and the sharpness up a little too high. But it did have something that I had not seen before on any of my other view finders. It had the actual depth of field visible in the view finder. So you were seeing the actual composition of the shot without having to pull back and activate the liveview LCD panel. That is HUGE in my eyes. I will put up a with a little bit of graininess for that feature alone.
After using it for a while I actually got to where I preferred the A55 viewfinder over that of my trusty A550. The A550 does have a naturally darker view finder anyway, so this probably amplified the brightness issues I had initially. After using the viewfinder with the depth of field present, I am finding it hard to go back. In future models I hear this is going to be included, but with a much better LCD screen to make it more realistic to the purists out there. Either way this us one feature I want in all my cameras from now on. Lets go manufacturers, give us what we want.
In my opinion the Sony A55 is a very good camera, especially when you take into account that it is the first generation of the mirror-less design. Everyone says avoid the first gens of anything. I would disagree on this camera. The A33 and the A55 kicked off a revolution in the camera market that has yet to see fruition. Stick around and we may be seeing some game changing developments.
The A65 and the A77 are the flagship models out at the time of this article.The A65 appear to be the model that addressed all the A55 issues, with the exception that they removed the GPS location device from this model. Was someone at Sony high the day they did this? You don’t release a model with GPS, then upgrade the rest of the camera, but remove the second most intriguing feature it has. They did however upgrade the LCD viewfinder, but I can’t say it is enough to make the purists out there happy, but it is definitely an improvement.
With the A77 model they just went all techno geek on us. Adding features and specs right and left so that now, me being the techno gear hound that I am, I must acquire this model as soon as possible. I have as yet decided which of my children must be sold into slavery to come up with the 1400 bucks that this body alone commands but they had better be nicer to me in the near future if they want to be in the pictures I take with the my new precious.
Good luck and keep shooting Str8!!!!!
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