Sony Alpha SLT-A65 Review - Digital Photography School
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Sony Alpha SLT-A65 Review

Since my review of the Sony SLT-A77 hit the screens of many Digital Photography School visitors it’s obvious the company has pressed the right buttons for people wanting to lift their photo game.

Now we have ‘son of’ … a model similar in many respects, at a lower price, but with many of the A77’s remarkable features. The review camera was supplied with the kit lens, a Sony f3.5/18-55mm.

Sony-Alpha-SLT-A6511.jpg

Sony-Alpha-SLT-A6509.jpg

The heart of the camera is the Translucent Mirror, marked by the model ID: SLT stands for Single-Lens Translucent.

Unlike a reflex mirror in ‘normal’ DSLRs that flips up and down to alternate between viewing and shooting, a translucent mirror is fixed in the light path to give an interrupted — and continuously live — view of the subject. One of a number of benefits is to reduce blackout time between shots; the SLT camera is also lighter and faster to use than ‘normal’ DSLR cameras.

Identified as an Alpha camera, this model can use any of the Sony A-mount lenses, as well as those from the Konica-Minolta range and compatible with Sony’s SteadyShot internal stabiliser system.

The body is made from polycarbonate material, differing from the A77’s magnesium alloy/plastic construction; the A65 body is 110 grams lighter than the A77.

Sony-Alpha-SLT-A6510.jpg

The LCD screen tilts vertically through 180 degrees and can be rotated leftward 270 degrees from the position in which the LCD monitor is facing forward. An eye sensor switches the view between the turret finder and the LCD screen. The only demerit of the screen is that it’s not so easy to swing downwards when attached to a tripod: the A77 excels in this department.

Sony-Alpha-SLT-A6507.JPG

Sony Alpha SLT-A65 Features

The CMOS sensor captures 24.3 million pixels, more than most amateur photographers would ever need, but allowing enormous capabilities to crop and extract detail from the images.

With a maximum image size of 6000×4000 pixels expect to make prints measuring 51x34cm at 300 dpi — or even larger if you’re using sophisticated upscaling.

Video? Full HD and 1920×1080 pixel resolution. I found that auto focus tracked any changes in camera-subject distance fairly quickly, while exposure variations were handled smoothly. Unfortunately, like the A77, you can’t shoot still images while recording video.

Much of the camera’s operation can be managed from the external controls; the mode dial gives access to Program AE, shutter and aperture priority as well as manual operation.

(insert A65 menu 1 to A65 menu 3)

Sony-Alpha-SLT-A6503.jpg

Sony-Alpha-SLT-A6504.jpg

Sony-Alpha-SLT-A6505.jpg

To get access to such matters as white balance, image size, colour space etc you access the finder menus. And menus they are! Control upon control! An easier way to get to some of these is is to tap the Function button.

Sony-Alpha-SLT-A6506.JPG

For the nervous there’s a handy in-camera guide that can lead you into the mysteries of how to capture the more challenging shots. Unfortunately, just as I was about to list these, the camera (a pre-production model) froze on me, reviving only upon my emptying the battery.

Useful in the LCD display is a digital level gauge, showing fore-and-aft and lateral levels, down to an accuracy of +/- 1 degree.

Burst shooting of stills can be made up to 10fps with continuous focus in play all the time.
In deference to those who would use the camera’s more auto modes, there is a range of ‘Picture Effects’ that give access to 11 different ‘tools and filters’ to edit your images and movies as you shoot; these include partial colour effects, toy or retro camera effects etc.

Added to this is a collection of scene modes, which includes macro, sunset, night portrait etc.
Sony’s remarkable Sweep Panorama (and 3D panos) feature is also in the kit: expect to shoot panoramas out to 12,416×1856 pixels in span, stitched in-camera while you wait.

Sony-Alpha-SLT-A6502.jpg

The flip-up onboard flash has a guide number of 12 (metres/ISO 100), meaning you could successfully capture a subject at f4 at a distance of three metres … or, using an ISO setting of 400: lens aperture of f4 with a subject distance of 12 metres.

Auto focus gets maximum attention: the A65 has a new 15-point AF with three cross sensors. Tracking Focus maintains accurate focus lock on a moving subject — even if it is briefly obscured.

Sony Alpha SLT-A65 ISO Tests

Sony SLT-A65 ISO 100.JPG

Sony SLT-A65 ISO 400.JPG

Sony SLT-A65 ISO 800.JPG

Sony SLT-A65 ISO 1600.JPG

Sony SLT-A65 ISO 3200.JPG

Fairly clean, sharp and accurately coloured all the way up to ISO 3200.

Sony SLT-A65 ISO 6400.JPG

At ISO 6400 a slight increase in noise but sharpness still OK.

Sony SLT-A65 ISO 12800.JPG

Sony SLT-A65 ISO 16000.JPG

At ISO 12,800 noise more noticeable. At ISO 16,000 noise well up.

Sony-Alpha-SLT-A6508.JPG

Sony Alpha SLT-A65 Verdict

Quality: with the A65 I captured stunning, sharp, brilliantly colour-saturated images.

Why you’d buy the A65: 24 megapixel shooting and a 10 fps burst rate appeal.

Why you wouldn’t: you (still) want an optical pentaprism view … just like your daddy’s SLR!

Sony-Alpha-SLT-A6501.jpg

I did have a hassle with the close proximity of the on/off lever and the control dial. Maybe it’s my big butter fingers.

It would be a tragedy if this baby ended up shooting family pics and snapshots. It’s too good!
Whoever buys it, my prediction is that this one will fly off the shelves: super specs, well-engineered and megapixels to burn!

Sony Alpha SLT-A65 Specifications

Image Sensor: 24.3 million effective pixels.
Metering: 1200 zone multi segment, centre-weighted, spot.
Lens Mount: Sony A-mount, Konica-Minolta AF mount.
Exposure Modes: Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Effective Sensor Size: 23.5×15.6mm HD CMOS.
35 SLR Lens Factor: 1.5x.
Shutter Speed (stills): 30 to 1/8000 second and Bulb. Flash sync: 1/160 sec.
Continuous Shooting: 3-12 fps.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC, Memory Stick Pro Duo cards.
Image Sizes (pixels): Stills: 6000×4000 to 3008×1688.
Movies: 1920×1080 (AVCHD) — (PAL: 50p/28Mbps/PS, 50i/24Mbps/FX, 50i/ 17Mbps/ FH, 25p/24Mbps/ FX, 25p/17Mbps/FH); 1440×1080 (MPEG4) — (PAL: 25fps/12M), VGA: 640×480 (25fps/ 3M).
Viewfinder: Turret 1.3cm (2.36 million); 7.6cm LCD screen (921,600 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW (Sony ARW), JPEG+RAW, MPEG4, AVCHD.
Colour Space: sRGB, Adobe RGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 25,600.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, ext mic.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 132x97x81 WHDmm.
Weight: 543 g (body only).
Price: get a price on the SLT-A65 at Amazon – Sony A65 With 18-55mm Lens

Summary
Reviewer
Barrie Smith
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Sony Alpha SLT-A65
Author Rating
4

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Barrie Smith is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

  • jim sams

    I have purchased a Nikon D5100 and would like to know your thoughts on how it compares to the a65.
    I would have to spend $100 more and would return the d5100 in a heartbeat.

    thanks!

  • jim sams

    Also I have read a lot of reviews about issues with low lighting – what is your view?

  • http://www.arrittphotography.com Liz

    I have had this camera since November, and I *love* it. I replaced my old A350 with it, and it’s been phenomenal. The only minor complaints I have is that it shoots so fast that even with an class 10 30mbps SDHC card, if I shoot a lot of frames in a row, I have to wait a couple of seconds before I can view the pictures, and occasionally if I forget to turn off the hotshoe flash before shutting the camera off, I have to remove the battery and put it back in to get it to turn on again. Minor issues. Plus, the battery life on it is so fabulous that I just leave it on most of the time when I’m shooting anyway.

  • James

    I upgraded from an A200 to this camera before a trip to Vegas. My head nearly exploded it was so amazing. I was taking nighttime shots out of a cab window with the handheld twilight mode with ridiculous results.

    The sweep panorama is pretty amazing as well. I captured some great panoramas of death valley. Haven’t tried the 3d panorama yet though.

    Also, this article didn’t mention the built-in GPS tagger.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/artist1131/ Brian

    These are a fantastic series of cameras. I have the SLT A33 and it is a really nice camera. The newest in the line are a fantastic.

  • Arturomar

    I’m with jim sams: since the reason for having a pentaprims is to allow all the light going to the sensor at the moment of taking a picture, it appears one of the most important issues to mention about this camera is the amount of light taken by the translucent mirror.

  • Rob

    Just a tip for you fellow Sonyans. If you select the down arrow for panoramas and then tilt the camera on it’s right side and pan right to left, you will get a taller pano. Much better than the usual very skinny one. Works a treat.

  • Ed

    I think the “why not to buy” sums it up really. The only reason you wouldn’t want this camera is if you can’t do without a true optical viewfinder.
    But having had this camera since October and used a good number of SLRs in my time I don’t see it as a downside at all – in fact quite the opposite. One thing the review doesn’t talk about is focus peaking – only possible with an electronic viewfinder (look up Focus Peaking on Google) – an absolute life saver when your eyes let you down and the on-screen virtual horizon is great if, like me, you lean to the side :-)
    And the fact the camera doesn’t have to move a mirror means you get a much faster frame rate (proven by the 10fps), your sensor is less prone to dust chucked around by the mirror movement and there is less vibration in the camera.
    Plus low light is NOT a problem – check out this flickr group if you don’t believe me http://www.flickr.com/groups/a77/
    If you have a D5100 I would hunt down an a65 and see what you think.

  • http://elementalview.blogspot.com Diogenes Baena

    I am a huge fan of this camera!
    When I read the specs in July (before the came (basic editing). I sold my Canons (5D2, 60D, L lenses) and got an a65 in early December. I would have preferred an a77 but none was available. Turns out the a65 is all I need ; as a matter of fact, I’d get another a65 over an a77, although I really need a PC socket for my pocket wizards.
    Check out my blog wherein I just rave over this camera. (The blog entries from December to now lead to my website).

  • jim sams

    I bought the a65 and have been comparing both cameras. I have to agree that the a65 is the real deal. The focusing capability of the SLT is excellent. There is no multiple exposure capability on the a65 but the pictures are fantastic. I do not like the flash and neither do any of the ppl I’m taking a picture of. 10fps is excellent.
    I haven’t used the the camera in low light extensively enough to answer my initial question but I am quite satisfied with other areas.

  • vidisha

    A65, looks like a cool deal. I have recently got A 55 and a happy with that too. I am new to professional photography and trying out the gear, its components etc Would appreciate if any body could share tips for beginners. My first pic http://www.flickr.com/photos/53703026@N03/6441043549/

  • Zia

    I bought this camera on Amazon.com from Cameta Camera with 70-300 Tameron lens and Sony regular lense before christmas.
    I love this camera, its excellent pics and GPS for picture locations. The video is excellent, Still I am using in Auto + mode as I am not a photographer.
    I am learning how to manage shutter, ISO etc.

    So far it’s the best camera in the market. I reasearch befor I bought it against Canon T3i and Nikkon.

  • Doug

    I have an A65,and I think the EVF is superb,and knock spots off comparable DSLRs,still with optical finders.
    If you like Live View,they’re a must,the rear LCD is as quick to focus as the EVF,no hanging around there,and no camera with an optical finder is as quick.
    As regards the body construction being “only” polycarbonate,my A65 fell off my tripod onto my patio flags,(not clipped in properly!) a distance about 5 feet or so,and was unmarked,and still works perfectly.
    It had a comparatively heavy 18-200 Tamron lens on it,which didn’t help,so I can vouch for the A65’s toughness,(and the Tamrons),although I wouldn’t like to do it again!
    I found the images on the a65 could sometimes underexpose in bright conditions so I dial in a bit of exposure compensation,so it’s easily fixed,otherwise it’s a great camera,so fast to use,and great images.

Some older comments

  • Zia

    May 8, 2012 03:18 am

    I bought this camera on Amazon.com from Cameta Camera with 70-300 Tameron lens and Sony regular lense before christmas.
    I love this camera, its excellent pics and GPS for picture locations. The video is excellent, Still I am using in Auto + mode as I am not a photographer.
    I am learning how to manage shutter, ISO etc.

    So far it's the best camera in the market. I reasearch befor I bought it against Canon T3i and Nikkon.

  • vidisha

    February 23, 2012 05:54 pm

    A65, looks like a cool deal. I have recently got A 55 and a happy with that too. I am new to professional photography and trying out the gear, its components etc Would appreciate if any body could share tips for beginners. My first pic http://www.flickr.com/photos/53703026@N03/6441043549/

  • jim sams

    February 18, 2012 02:53 pm

    I bought the a65 and have been comparing both cameras. I have to agree that the a65 is the real deal. The focusing capability of the SLT is excellent. There is no multiple exposure capability on the a65 but the pictures are fantastic. I do not like the flash and neither do any of the ppl I'm taking a picture of. 10fps is excellent.
    I haven't used the the camera in low light extensively enough to answer my initial question but I am quite satisfied with other areas.

  • Diogenes Baena

    February 11, 2012 12:22 am

    I am a huge fan of this camera!
    When I read the specs in July (before the came (basic editing). I sold my Canons (5D2, 60D, L lenses) and got an a65 in early December. I would have preferred an a77 but none was available. Turns out the a65 is all I need ; as a matter of fact, I'd get another a65 over an a77, although I really need a PC socket for my pocket wizards.
    Check out my blog wherein I just rave over this camera. (The blog entries from December to now lead to my website).

  • Ed

    February 7, 2012 07:02 am

    I think the "why not to buy" sums it up really. The only reason you wouldn't want this camera is if you can't do without a true optical viewfinder.
    But having had this camera since October and used a good number of SLRs in my time I don't see it as a downside at all - in fact quite the opposite. One thing the review doesn't talk about is focus peaking - only possible with an electronic viewfinder (look up Focus Peaking on Google) - an absolute life saver when your eyes let you down and the on-screen virtual horizon is great if, like me, you lean to the side :-)
    And the fact the camera doesn't have to move a mirror means you get a much faster frame rate (proven by the 10fps), your sensor is less prone to dust chucked around by the mirror movement and there is less vibration in the camera.
    Plus low light is NOT a problem - check out this flickr group if you don't believe me http://www.flickr.com/groups/a77/
    If you have a D5100 I would hunt down an a65 and see what you think.

  • Rob

    February 3, 2012 08:56 am

    Just a tip for you fellow Sonyans. If you select the down arrow for panoramas and then tilt the camera on it's right side and pan right to left, you will get a taller pano. Much better than the usual very skinny one. Works a treat.

  • Arturomar

    February 3, 2012 07:41 am

    I'm with jim sams: since the reason for having a pentaprims is to allow all the light going to the sensor at the moment of taking a picture, it appears one of the most important issues to mention about this camera is the amount of light taken by the translucent mirror.

  • Brian

    February 3, 2012 01:00 am

    These are a fantastic series of cameras. I have the SLT A33 and it is a really nice camera. The newest in the line are a fantastic.

  • James

    February 2, 2012 08:45 pm

    I upgraded from an A200 to this camera before a trip to Vegas. My head nearly exploded it was so amazing. I was taking nighttime shots out of a cab window with the handheld twilight mode with ridiculous results.

    The sweep panorama is pretty amazing as well. I captured some great panoramas of death valley. Haven't tried the 3d panorama yet though.

    Also, this article didn't mention the built-in GPS tagger.

  • Liz

    February 2, 2012 05:02 pm

    I have had this camera since November, and I *love* it. I replaced my old A350 with it, and it's been phenomenal. The only minor complaints I have is that it shoots so fast that even with an class 10 30mbps SDHC card, if I shoot a lot of frames in a row, I have to wait a couple of seconds before I can view the pictures, and occasionally if I forget to turn off the hotshoe flash before shutting the camera off, I have to remove the battery and put it back in to get it to turn on again. Minor issues. Plus, the battery life on it is so fabulous that I just leave it on most of the time when I'm shooting anyway.

  • jim sams

    February 2, 2012 11:35 am

    Also I have read a lot of reviews about issues with low lighting - what is your view?

  • jim sams

    February 2, 2012 11:16 am

    I have purchased a Nikon D5100 and would like to know your thoughts on how it compares to the a65.
    I would have to spend $100 more and would return the d5100 in a heartbeat.

    thanks!

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