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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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

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

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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!

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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
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Sony Alpha SLT-A65
Author Rating
4

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Barrie Smith
Barrie Smith

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

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