A few days with the A550 -- as an A900 user!

Started Mar 26, 2010 | Discussions thread
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A few days with the A550 -- as an A900 user!
Mar 26, 2010

I got the opportunity to try a Sony A550 for a few days, and I must admit: There is a lot to like about this small and lightweight camera! First of all the impressive Live view mode with full AF and no shutter lag, no matter bright or low light. Second the ergonomics and easy handling. Third the Manual focus check Live view with 7 x and 14 x magnification -- very usable also handheld, with amazing focus control! The new menu system also works very well, with quick access to most settings, like flash modes and a well functioning wireless setting. Compared to most Nikon/Canon/Olympus/Pentax DSLR's I think Sony A550 users should be really pleased with the menu system. I also made a quick test on long exposures with the 70-400 mm lens at the longest end and exposures ranging from 1 to 1/250 sec. The mirror is well damped, reducing the need for MLU.

I understand photographers who don't find this camera like an A700 replacement. The A550 is light and the 18-55 mm SAM f:3.5-5.6 lens weights almost nothing! Actually build feels good, and the camera looks nice. It fits my hands well, with a good grip. Operation is very fast and intuitive, especially when using Live mode. The new meny system and button layout differs a bit from the A700/A900, but worked well after some de-programming of my A900 way of thinking. Access to most settings are very good, and noticeable better than with most other DSLR cameras. I.e. setting up wireless flash is a no brainer, and works very well with this camera too. This is something I see very clear when doing photography classes and workshops. The new on/off switch made me shut off the camera a few times when operating the front wheel, but after some use this was no longer a problem. Maybe it will if working with both the A900 and an A550 at the same time? I also liked the help menues - and that they can be switched off.

Playing around with the camera, held above my head and low onto the ground, was a real delight. I found myself using Live mode/the screen almost all the time. The relative small viewfinder is ok when I needed support for longer lenses, but this camera really begs for being used as a live view camera.

I have to admit that I miss the MLU setting and also the exposure shift settings both for auto and manual. Also, using the camera with Live view for portrait mode shots was a bit hard, since the screen can't be rotated. On the other hand, there are connectors for cable release, computer and external power source.

So do I want an A550 for myself? I have to admit that buying one is really temting! I found using the A550 refreshing and fun! This camera is really nice for sponatious work!

Here are a few pictures from my first hour with the camera, all with the 18-55 mm SAM f:3.5-5.6 kit lens:

Panorama made from 3 frames, with the camera held above my head thanks to the screen that can be used for overhead shots. 18 mm focal length and stitched with Automerge/Photoshop:

With the camera at eye level and 55 mm setting, using Live view:

With the camera close to ground level and 18 mm setting, using Live view:

A view before sunset at 18 mm. Distortion is reduced with Photoshop lens correct filter:

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