Camera Menus

In common with other Alphas, the A550's menus are grouped into four sections; Record (2 pages), Custom (1 page), Playback (1 page) and Setup (3 pages). The left and right arrows on the multi-controller jump between menus while the up and down (or control dial) scroll through them. It's very easy to navigate once you're used to it.

Record menu

The record menu provides for configuration of settings which will affect the final image file as well as the behavior of some of the automatic settings. Many of the more common options can be accessed using the Function button or by pressing one of the direct access buttons, so there's not much need to visit this menu on a regular basis in everyday photography. The options for each item are revealed by pressing the center button on the multi-controller.

Although we've complained in the past about overloaded menu systems, the Alpha 550 takes things a little too far in the other direction (especially for a camera at this level). The main problem is that there's very little duplication - many functions are accessible only via their dedicated buttons or the Fn menu, meaning you need to remember exactly where everything lives (on most cameras at this level you can, for example, change white balance in several ways, including via the menu). The limited customization options (for reassigning buttons, for example) also makes the Alpha 550 seem unusually inflexible compared to many - if not all - its competitors.

Option Values / Actions Notes
Page one
Image size  • L: 14M
 • M: 7.4M
 • S: 3.5M
- 4592 x 3056
- 3344 x 2224
- 2288 x 1520
Aspect Ratio  • 3:2
 • 16:9
Quality  • RAW
 • Fine
 • Standard
Flash control  • ADI Flash
 • Pre-flash TTL
AF illuminator  • Auto
 • Off
SteadyShot  • On
 • Off
Color Space

 • sRGB
 • AdobeRGB

Page two
Long exp. NR  • On
 • Off
Subtracts a 'dark frame' image if shutter speed is greater than 1 second.
High ISO NR.  • High
 • Normal
Increases noise reduction at ISO 1600 or above.

Custom menu

The A550's custom functions are all listed on a single page and will be immediately familiar to previous Alpha users. None of the functions would require regular visits to this corner of the menu system.

Option Values / Actions Notes
Page one
Eye-Start AF  • On
 • Off

Sets the camera to AF if it detects an eye has been put to the viewfinder.

AEL button  • AEL hold
 • AEL toggle
Does the AEL button have to be pressed or held to retain AE lock?
Red eye reduc.  • On
 • Off
Auto review  • 10 sec
 • 5 sec
 • 2 sec
 • Off
Auto off w/VF  • On
 • Off
Uses the eye-start sensor to turn off the LCD (only available in OVF mode)
Grid line  • On
 • Off