Note that because of the similarities between the two models, some elements of this article have been taken or adapted from our in-depth review of the SLT-A65's higher-end sister model - the A77.
The Sony SLT-A65 was launched alongside the SLT-A77 - the long-awaited replacement for the DSLR-A700. Although somewhat overshadowed by its higher-end stablemate at the time of its launch, the cheaper SLT-A65 has more mass-market potential and we believe there's every chance it's the A65 that will have the greater long-term impact.
There can be no doubt on picking up the plastic-bodied A65 that it is a camera intended to compete in a slightly lower class than the A77. The A65 lacks the A77's magnesium alloy construction and new AF sensor (it uses the same 15-point AF sensor that we saw in the original SLT-A55). It also does without the A77's top-plate LCD, rear control dial and uses a simpler hinge mechanism for the rear display, but importantly, it is built around the same 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor and the same 2.4M dot OLED viewfinder.
There are two reasons we believe the A65 has the potential to be the more significant camera in the SLT line-up: firstly because it is aimed at a much more popular segment of the market - many more people buy consumer-level DSLRs than buy enthusiast ones. And secondly, because despite a few missing specifications, the A65 includes many of the A77's core second-generation SLT features but at a lower price point. Unless the current market leaders bring something revolutionary to the party fairly soon, the A65 could just be the stand-out product Sony needs to get a proper foot-hold in the consumer DSLR/ILC market - something that despite impressive ambitions, it has thus far failed to do.
Offering 24MP capture, a 10fps continuous shooting rate, full-time live view and phase-detection AF as well as a raft of other innovative features, the A65 is unique in its market segment. On paper, the A65 is a significantly more interesting camera in some respects than peers like the Canon EOS 600D / Rebel T3i and Nikon D5100.
Sony's SLT design, with its ability to offer DSLR-style autofocus in live view and video, impressed us when the company launched the A33 and A55. However, the A65 takes the technology considerably further, most crucially with the introduction of the high-resolution OLED viewfinder. The 'TruFinder' design offers a 64% increase in resolution and, more importantly, offers progressive screen updates rather than refreshing one color after another, which gives a much smoother, more life-like shooting experience. The viewfinders in the A33, 35 and 55 are excellent, but the new unit in the A65 and A77 is significantly better. Quite an achievement. Read on to find out how all the new features and improvements on the A65 translate into real-life performance.
SLT-A65 and A77 key specifications compared
|Sensor||24MP APS-C CMOS||24MP APS-C CMOS|
|Body construction||Plastic||Magnesium Alloy/Plastic|
|Maximum shooting rate||10fps||12fps|
|Auto ISO||Fixed at 100-1600||Customizable upper and lower limits|
|Viewfinder||2.4M dot OLED TruFinder||2.4M dot OLED TruFinder|
|AF Sensor||15 points (3 cross-type)||19 points (11 cross-type)|
|Top LCD panel||No||Yes|
|Flash sync socket||No||Yes|
|LCD Articulation||Double-hinged (tilt/swivel)||Triple hinged (hinge/tilt/swivel)|
|Video||1080p60 AVCHD 2.0||1080p60 AVCHD 2.0|
|Maximum shutter speed||1/4000th||1/8000th|