Sony Alpha SLT-A35 Review

Sony Alpha SLT-A35 Review


You’ll find this model on Sony’s Web site by looking in the DSLR department. But a DSLR it ain’t!

Sony SLT-A35.jpg

The entry level Sony Alpha A35 has no flipping mirror! Instead, it has a fixed, semi-reflective mirror placed in the light path that transmits 66.66 per cent of the light to the CMOS sensor in the back of the camera — and 33.33 per cent of it to a tiny electronic display built into the camera’s roof. When you move your eye from the large LCD at the camera’s rear to the eye level viewfinder you view the action via the smaller LCD. What you get is full time live view.

Sony A35 front.JPG

Remove the lens and you can see how it works, with the mirror in place whenever you shoot. If you need to, the mirror can be tilted up in order to clean the sensor, but normally remains in place at a 45 degree angle.
For what it’s worth, the 35 can use any of the A-mount interchangeable lenses Sony make as well as six Carl Zeiss lenses and the earlier Konica/Minolta AF glass.

Sony SLT-A35-2.jpg

Sony Alpha SLT-A35 Features

The review camera arrived with one of the kit lenses: the f3.5/18-55mm zoom … OK for general shooting but not much use for the more advanced photographer.

Two people 2.JPG

What did not arrive with the camera was any form of documentation such as a manual, neither printed nor PDF! Which made life writing a review fairly difficult.

Oh well. The A35’s CMOS sensor has 16.2 effective pixels and a 4912×3264 pixel maximum image size.

The sweep panorama feature can account for 3D panos up to 4912×1080 pixels or ‘flat’ panos up to 8192×1856 pixels.

Video-wise, the A35 can shoot a Full HD resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. Although you’re using an interchangeable lens, you can still shoot video with full AF and auto exposure in play. It won’t shoot stills during video shooting tho’.


Menu 1.jpg

Menu 2.jpg

The LCD screen status is quite useful, showing chosen exposure mode (P, A, S, M etc), battery charge, image quality and a graphic display of lens aperture and shutter speed.

An on-screen Help Guide gives a graphic explanation of selected functions and how they’re used.
A top panel button lets you call up any of 14 often-used functions and frequently used features can now be custom-assigned to the D-RANGE button for rapid access.

Picture Effect.jpg

There is a Picture Effect (above) setting that can be previewed on the LCD screen, giving you preview of the effect. This includes ‘artistic’ treatments such as Posterisation, Pop Color, Retro effect, etc.

There is also a bunch of scene modes (portrait, sports, macro etc). In this section is found a bunch of Partial Colour effects (below), which lets you isolate and record a single colour, with the remainder of the scene picked out in monochrome.

Partial colour.JPG

The continuous shooting speed rises from 5.5fps (full size) to 7fps (reduced).

Sony Alpha SLT-A35 ISO Tests

Sony SLT-A35 ISO 100.jpg

Sony SLT-A35 ISO 400.JPG

Sony SLT-A35 ISO 800.JPG

Sony SLT-A35 ISO 1600.JPG

Sony SLT-A35 ISO 3200.JPG

Sony SLT-A35 ISO 6400.JPG

From ISO 100 to 400 no probs. At ISO 800 noise began to appear. At ISO 1600 noise is still on the rise, although not objectionably. AT ISO 3200 even more noise and at this level you would have to select your subjects carefully. At ISO 6400, echo the latter comments.

Wall mural 2 2.JPG

Sony Alpha SLT-A35 Verdict

Quality: picture quality was OK but not brilliant.

Why you’d buy it: access to A-mount lenses.

Why you wouldn’t: LCD screen is fixed, doesn’t tilt; card slot in camera’s base;

So what did I think of the semi-reflective mirror viewfinder arrangement? Frankly, I found it awful: flat in contrast, noisy, with poor colour rendering. In a word: ‘useless’.

In bright light, you’ll experience flare in the viewfinder with a double image possibly arising from the internal mirror.

Solution: I used the LCD screen instead!

A nice, well-priced camera but the eye level viewfinder lets it down.

Sony Alpha SLT-A35 Specifications

Image Sensor: 16.2 million effective pixels.
Metering: 1200 zone multi-segment, centre-weighted metering and spot.
Effective Sensor Size: 23.4×15.6 — APS-C sized — CMOS.
35 SLR Lens Factor: 1:5x.
Compatible lenses: Sony and Minolta A-mount, Konica Minolta Alpha/Maxxum/Dynax.
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual, scene selection, sweep panorama.
Shutter Speed: 30 to 1/4000 second, Bulb. Flash sync: 1/160 sec.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC/Memory Stick Pro Duo cards.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4912×3264 to 2448×1376.
Movies: 1920×1080 to 640×480 at 25/29.97 fps.
Continuous Drive: 7 frames.
Turret Viewfinder: 1.2cm LCD (1,440,000 pixels).
LCD Screen: 7.6cm LCD (921,600 pixels).
File Formats: RAW, RAW+JPEG, MPEG4, AVCHD, Dolby Digital (AC-3).
Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 25,600.
Interface: USB 2.0, mini HDMI, microphone, remote, external microphone, DC input.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, AC adaptor.
Dimensions: 124.4x92x84.7 WHDmm.
Weight: Approx. 415 g (body only).
Price: The Sony Alpha SLT-A35 comes in a few configurations. Get a price on it at Amazon with:

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

Some Older Comments

  • Paul March 14, 2013 01:50 pm

    I have spent some time with this camera which I bought used recently. I have not had much previous experience with the SLT technology. Compared to dSLR the viewfinder is awful. Not useless, it works well, but the color and contrast of the image is just good enough for composition but not much else. The LCD is ok. Overall, I wasn't too impressed in comparison to my experience with dSLR. Articulating LCD would have been awesome on this camera. On the other hand, I have to admit that image quality is very good by anyone's standard. I've shot Fuji S5 and a bunch of Nikons for a while now and I have to be very critical of people who look down on Sony. When reading a review of a camera I'm less interested in opinions based on biases that favor one technology over another or one brand over another. If it's a good creative tool that doesn't prevent from getting a good shot, so be it. I don't care if it's mirrorless, with mirrors or a bunch of midget monkeys inside. Brands don't matter. Lens selection might. Finally, Sony sensors have been around longer than their dSRLs and people didn't mind them. But when you brand the camera a Sony, suddenly it's not so good as a comparable Nikon or whatever. What gives? Anyway, I like this little guy, put a Sony 85mm prime on which is plastic and horrible but has some decent performance, and suddenly you have a nice camera. Just have to get used to it and learn to use it. Old dogs can learn new tricks. This one did.

  • Ed May 11, 2012 04:35 am

    Puzzeling review. I've had my a35 for a couple of months, and have done a few shoots with it, using the supplied kit lens. The color and imaging is pretty good, and I can't understand any reason why the LCD would improve your imaging. That is like saying the tap water out of one room of the house tastes better than another. Check out Sony's website for an explination how the hybrid SLT system works.
    Since there is no mirror to move, there is less shutter delay, and faster FPS.
    And what is up with that washed out sample image? OMG! Really, you submitted That for the review?
    For movie recording, its done in 1080p OR 640. There is no inbetween.
    And what is whith the "
    For what it’s worth, the 35 can use any of the A-mount interchangeable lenses" wording. It is an interchangable lens camera, like DSLRs. IT only uses a A-mount lens. That is pretty important information!

  • Bob Allen February 21, 2012 03:44 am

    I have a Sony SLT A35 and I think it is a brilliant camera,especially for the average person, if you are a pro then you should go for the A65 or A77. There is nothing wrong with the viewfinder ,only a pro would complain, and they never give a balanced view unless it is a Canon or Nikon as far as I can see. Anyone wanting a good DSLR buy the Sony SLT A35 you will not be disappointed.

  • John Seals December 3, 2011 04:48 am

    I have a Sony SLT A35 and enjoy all of it's features. Yes, the EVF does take a little learning but you get
    to use it to good use. My wife has an A33 and she enjoys her camera. We are both long time travel

  • Karine October 10, 2011 09:43 pm

    Hi, Thank you for th e comparison but. Do you what is the best camera for a beginner who want to take pictures outdoors. Thanks

  • Macchap October 1, 2011 11:23 pm

    This review seems out on a limb in comparison to most others from respected sources, where image quality is highly praised. I'd confirm the image quality as being very good, having had one of these units for almost 3 weeks and put it through some tortuous tests. It delivers time after time. As for the EVF, it's the best I've come across. I'll happily accept it's limitations for the advantages offered by the semi translucent lens, namely brilliantly fast continuous autofocus and the fasted continuous burst rate of any camera in its class.

  • nesnah53 September 30, 2011 08:19 pm

    I see they have still got that stupid movie button in the same place. It is very easily pressed by accident which is annoying when going for a quick shot. This is the only time the movie function is used on my a33. It would be great if they put more into image quality and scrap the movie function alltogether, After all the main function of a camera is to take photos.

  • Nikko September 25, 2011 12:00 pm

    Just wondering about the flare issue mentioned in the conclusions and how using the LCD was better.

    The OLED viewfinder displays the same image as the LCD on the back of the camera, so it shouldn't make any difference with regards to flare from the internal mirror should it?