The only physical difference between the A35 and the pre-existing SLT models is the loss of the articulated screen. This is a shame, because it was a feature that combined very well with the camera's full-time live view and fast AF, and was particularly useful for video work. It seems odd to remove this capability just as it's becoming commonplace on DSLRs that can't really make good use of it, but savings have had to be made somewhere to help get the MSRP down.
In most other respects, it's only the fact that the viewfinder is electronic that substantially differentiates between the SLT design and that of DSLRs. There are circumstances in which very bright light sources can result in 'ghosting' - a faint secondary image caused by internal reflections as light passes through the design's fixed mirror. But, having taken several thousand shots with this camera and its predecessors, we don't believe this will be a significant problem for many people or in many images. You can read more about the SLT design in our SLT-A55 review.
Whether you like working with an electronic viewfinder or not is pretty much a question of taste, but the unit used here is one of the better examples, offering 800x600 pixel resolution.
In the hand
The A35 resembles a traditional DSLR (it's only the EVF protruding so far from the back of the camera that gives the game away), and its handling very much follows that tradition. The hand grip is perhaps a touch small for people with larger hands but in general it's a comfortable camera to hold.
As befits its status as a camera capable of fast focus in movie mode, the A35 includes a socket for an external microphone. There's also an HDMI connector, allowing the camera's use with external view panels.
The A35 can take SD or Memory Stick cards in the same slot. It uses the same NP-FH50 battery as the previous SLTs and recent NEX cameras, but gets around 20% more life out of each charge.
According to CIPA standard tests, the camera is good for 440 shots when using the rear LCD and 420 when using the EVF. Real life figures are likely to be higher as this assumes regular use of flash.
Thanks to its design with an electronic viewfinder the SLT-A35 is one of the smaller cameras in the entry-level bracket, making it a slightly more portable option than some of its direct competitors, such as the Canon EOS 1100D or Nikon D3100.
The A35's SLT design and the consequent loss of optical viewfinder helps the camera stay small, while offering speed and operation that are at least on a par with its immediate DSLR peers.
The EVF isn't perfect - some people will notice occasional 'tearing' and rainbow effects when blinking or moving the camera quickly, but in most respects, the SLT is a direct match for a DSLR. It also offers an accurate preview of exposure compensation and white balance, which an optical system can't.