Sony SLT-A35 Review
Conclusion - Pros
- Reliably good image quality at lower sensitivities
- Versatile and capable (for its class) 15-point AF system
- Accurate metering and focus
- Excellent LCD and good EVF, with efficient automatic switch
- Compact dimensions
- Auto+ mode makes the various continuous shooting modes available to novices
- Very good dynamic range
- Good resolution
- Good quality HD video
- Fast and responsive operation
- Very good continuous shooting performance for this class of camera
- Very usable manual focus mode (including up to 15x image magnification)
- Good ergonomics all around, good build quality, nice handling
- Customizable D-Range button
- Useful 'digital helpers' such as multishot NR, sweep panorama, picture effects or HDR mode
- Efficient image stabilization system
- Good battery life
- Attractive price point
Conclusion - Cons
- Higher RAW noise levels than some competitors
- Comparatively strong noise reduction at higher ISOs
- Little control over high ISO noise reduction in JPEG mode ('auto' or 'weak')
- Limited control in 7 fps continuous shooting and movie modes
- No live view in 7 fps continuous shooting mode makes panning very difficult
- Menu system a little confusing (hard to orientate yourself sometimes)
- EVF slightly more prone to RGB 'tearing' than competitors
- Awkward to navigate between stills and movie playback modes
- No articulated screen means shooting video is a little more difficult (compared to A55)
When Sony launched the SLT series in 2010, the A55 and A33 were, with their bright EVFs and full-time phase-detection AF, arguably the most innovative new cameras in an otherwise quite uneventful year (from a camera technology point of view). In comparison the first follow-up model in the new SLT line, the A35, represents only a very subtle upgrade.
The new model replaces the A33 but comes with a modified version of the A55's 16 MP CMOS sensor which has been optimized for reduced power consumption. The sensor also produces less heat which allows you to capture video clips of up to 29 minutes (compared to the A55's 9 min with Steadyshot enabled). However, this improvement is somewhat rendered less relevant by the fact that the A35 has lost the previous SLTs' articulated screen which, for many videographers, is an essential feature.
Other than that, shooting with the A35 feels pretty the same as on the earlier SLT models. At higher sensitivities the sensor is a tad noisier than the predecessors (and some of the direct competitors) but if you can live with its sometimes quite aggressive noise reduction the Sony SLT-A35 offers a very strong feature set for a camera that has been priced to compete in the entry-level segment.
The SLT-A35's imaging sensor is a modified version of the one used in the A55, and while the JPEG output is very close at lower sensitivities, at higher ISOs the new sensor produces slightly more noise. When shooting in JPEG mode this is counteracted by a fairly aggressive noise reduction which results in more loss of fine low-contrast detail than on some competitors in the entry-level sector. That said, with files this big you would need to be looking very close for this to be a major issue in a print or on-screen.
Other than that, the image quality differences compared to the A55 are marginal and you'd struggle to spot any at low ISOs. Like the A55 the A35 has a very wide dynamic range in JPEG mode of almost 9EV, which means that assuming metering is accurate, highlight clipping is not a problem in all but the most challenging of scenes. Metering, AF and Auto WB work reliably - with only a few exceptions our several hundred sample pictures were correctly exposed and in-focus, with well-judged white balance.
Converting your RAW files will only get you a marginal amount of extra detail over the JPEG images, but the additional control over noise reduction can be worth the effort, especially when shooting at high sensitivities. Of course it also gives you better control over white balance, sharpening and, to a degree, even exposure.
In terms of handling the A35's lack of an articulated screen is the only real difference to the previous Sony SLT models. While this is arguably a handicap for video-focused users, the A35's ergonomics work very well for stills photographers. The camera feels, despite its comparatively small dimensions, comfortable in your hand and provides good access to features and settings.
Full-time live view is a necessary consequence of the unique way in which the SLT series is designed, and it works very well, with no perceptible 'lag' and plenty of detail visible on both the LCD and EVF. The latter is crisp and detailed enough for accurate manual focusing using the 15x magnification option. That said, due to this unique concept the A35 sometimes handles more like a 'bridge' camera than a conventional DSLR.
Of course there are some points of criticism as well - the lack of live view refreshes in continuous shooting, except at the lowest 3 fps setting, makes panning very hard to judge. The lack of aperture control in AF-C mode at 7 fps is an inevitable but unfortunate consequence of full-time AF, too.
Compared to the previous generation there have been a few minor tweaks to the user interface. The D-Range button on the top-plate is now customizable, there's an option to have the viewfinder show just the image preview and the AF point (like in an optical viewfinder), and finally there is an option to make the main menu return to the last-used option, rather than always resetting to the top. These are all small changes, but nevertheless very welcome, and help make the SLT series more attractive to serious users who like to customize the settings of their camera.
The Final Word
Like the previous SLT models the A35 is an excellent all-round performer. It gets all the basic stuff right most of the time, and the refined ergonomics make it fun to work with, for both beginners and advanced photographers. With fast continuous shooting, sweep panorama, picture effects, HDR mode and multi-frame noise reduction the feature set is quite impressive (especially given the A35's price point), and the compact dimensions make it a good alternative for those who prefer to travel light.
The A35's EVF is excellent, but whether it works for you depends very much on your style of photography and personal taste. If it does, and if you can live with the slightly higher base noise (compared to some competitors), then with its otherwise decent image quality, good ergonomics and strong feature set the Sony SLT-A35 should be high up on you camera shortlist. It is a strong alternative to the more traditional DSLRs in the entry-level bracket of the market, and earns itself our silver award.
Category: Entry Level Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Movie / video mode
The Sony SLT-A35 is an excellent all-around performer that gets all the basic stuff right and is fun to shoot with. The feature set is great for a camera at this price point, and if you can live without an optical viewfinder, the SLT-A35 is a very good alternative to more traditional DSLRs.
Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.
Sep 20, 2011
Jun 8, 2011
Sep 17, 2014
Sep 15, 2014
|Patrick Finds Inner Peace by ecastellon|
from Your best photo of the week!
|Forks by Kukla|
from Arranged everyday objects
From landscapes to motocross and white water kayaking to a wedding, exactly what can't the D850 do?
Calumet UK and Wex Photographic, two of the biggest photography retailers in the United Kingdom, are going to officially merge tomorrow.
macOS High Sierra came out today, but if you use a Wacom tablet you need to wait a few weeks before you upgrade. According to Wacom, they won't have a compatible driver ready for you until "late October."
Do you think a $3,000 Canon 80D video rig can compete with an $80,000+ Arri Alexa setup? Well it can't, but check out this video anyway to see how the rigs compare.
Seven simple rules to make sure you get the most out of your next photography outing.
Vitec, the company that owns popular accessory maker Manfrotto, has just acquired JOBY and Lowepro for a cool $10.3 million in cash. The acquisition adds JOBY and Lowepro to Vitec's already sizable collection of camera gear brands.
A master drone pilot has captured one of the most incredible (and highly illegal) drone videos we've ever seen by flying around, inside, onto, and under a moving train.
Intel just debuted their 8th generation desktop CPUs, and the lineup packs a performance boost for 'content creators' that photo and video editors might be intrigued by.
Canon is developing a 'Free Viewpoint Video System' that will turn real life sports games and events into immersive 3D interactive experiences. It's video game-like camera control IRL.
A veteran photojournalist, Rick Wilking secured a spot in the path of totality for the August solar eclipse. While things didn't quite pan out as predicted, an unexpected subject in the sky and a quick reaction made for a once-in-a-lifetime shot.
The new iZugar 3.25mm F2.5 super fisheye lens offers an insane 220-degree angle of view. That means it can basically see behind itself... good luck keeping your feet out of the shot.
You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll remember that time you took a picture of the frozen pizza baking directions.
A Craigslist poster has discovered the worst possible way to photograph a car: taking pictures of pictures displayed on a cracked and scratched up smartphone screen.
With the iPhone X coming out soon, the title probably won't last, but the iPhone 8 Plus is officially the best smartphone camera DxOMark has ever tested, and the iPhone 8 is second.
Kodak's new Facebook Messenger chatbot is trying to bring back the 'Kodak Moment' by digging up your old social media photos and trying to sell you prints and custom coffee mugs.
Affinity Photo for iPad was touted as "the first full blown, truly professional photo editing tool to make its way onto the Apple tablet." This update makes it that much more convenient.
Yashica has released a new teaser video, and this one claims they'll be releasing an "unprecedented camera" in October on Kickstarter. Ready... set... speculate!
Storage solutions company Synology has just released its very first 6-bay NAS tower. Combined with the DX1215 expansion units, it can hold and control up to thirty drives.
We're always expanding our collection of product overview content, and we've just added videos for the Canon EOS 6D Mark II, the EOS Rebel SL2 and EOS M6.
The venerable Canon PowerShot G1 was announced seventeen years ago this week, marking the start of a line of enthusiast-focused compacts that's still alive and kicking.
Super macro photographer Can Tuncer captured these incredible close-ups of a single peacock feather using a special setup and three different microscope lenses.
After successfully crowdfunding the Biotar 75mm F1.5, Oprema Jena is at it again. This time they're bringing back the Biotar 58mm F2: the world's only lens with a 17-blade aperture.
Adobe's move to a subscription model is treating it very well indeed. The company has posted record revenue for the second quarter in a row, hauling in a mind-boggling $1.84 billion.
More details have emerged about the potential sale of Blackstone's 45% stake in iconic camera brand Leica.
Popular mobile editing app Snapseed just got a major update that includes a new interface and 11 new presets for both Android and iOS, as well as adding the Perspective tool to the iOS version.
It might sound like a strange idea, but taking macro photos of boiling water can actually result in some really cool photographs. A good photo experiment for a rainy day.
The database was created to "break with the narrow lens through which history… has been recorded" by equipping those who commission photography with "the resources to discover photographers of color available for assignments.
Lensbaby has released two new optics for their special "optic swap system." The Lensbaby Sweet 80 Optic gives you that trademark sweet spot of focus, while the Creative Bokeh optic gives you 9 different drop in aperture plate options to play with.
TechCrunch has already posted their review of the upcoming iPhone 8 (not yet the iPhone X), and they're calling it "a look into the augmented future of photography."
Affinity Photo is a $50 photo editing software with no subscriptions. That's it – pay for it once and you're done. And we think it's actually pretty darn good.