Operation and controls

In terms of control and menu layout the SLT-A35 is pretty much identical to its 'bigger brother' SLT-A55 and not too dissimilar to recent models in Sony's line of 'traditional' DSLRs. On the operations and controls page of our SLT-A55 review you can find more information about the buttons and menus that are available on an SLT-series camera.

Rear of camera controls

The A35's rear panel is, apart from the fixed screen, identical to the A55's. The 4-way controller activates often-used shooting parameters - ISO, white balance, shooting mode and display options for the EVF and LCD. The central button serves as a generic 'OK' input, activates AF point selection in Local AF Area mode or initiate autofocus (which, by default, doubles up with a half-press of the shutter release).

The 'Fn' button to the left of the rubber thumb rest provides control over a selected (but quite comprehensive) number of shooting settings, such as AF, metering and flash modes, creative styles, and so on. Once selected these can be scrolled through using the control dial, reducing the need for button pressing. Some options, like ISO and white balance, are duplicated on the 4-way controller to the right of the LCD.

Top of camera controls

The A35's exposure mode dial can be found on the camera's left shoulder. To the right of the electronic a number of controls, including the movie button, have been placed in proximity to the shutter button.

On the left shoulder is the A35's exposure mode dial, which provides access to the standard PASM shooting modes as well as the high-speed 7 fps AE setting, Sweep Panorama and the new Picture Effects.

  • Program Auto
  • Aperture Priority Auto
  • Shutter Priority Auto
  • Manual
  • 7 fps AE shooting
  • Sweep Panorama
  • SCN/Picture Effect
  • Flash off (full auto)
  • Auto
  • Auto+ (which automatically uses the A55's various 'scene' and continuous shooting modes - Auto HDR, multi-shot NR etc. where necessary)

In the view of the top right of the A35 you see the movie shooting button, alongside the exposure compensation and AE lock buttons on the slope between the rear and top plates. These latter two control points double as magnification controls in image review mode. We find the position of the exposure compensation button a little awkward when shooting with the EVF, but its tactile feel is different enough to distinguish it from the slightly indented movie shooting button.

On-screen controls and menus

Like most current DSLRs and interchangeable lens cameras the Sony SLT-A35 offers various ways of changing parameters and settings. 12 of the most used parameters can be modified through the Fn-menu on-screen. There are also a number of direct access buttons and last but not least, some settings can also be altered in the menu. Below you'll see a selection of the screens and menus you'll encounter while working with the camera. Since the camera has an electronic viewfinder in most cases you can see these screens in either the viewfinder or on the rear LCD. The only exception are the two status panel views that are designed to be displayed on the rear LCD while you use the electronic viewfinder to frame your shots. The A35's on-screen controls are essentially identical to the A55's. You can find more detailed information on the operations & controls page of our SLT-A55 review.

Record mode display options (Viewfinder and LCD)

The A35 offers varying levels of information, four types of grids and an optional histogram on its shooting screen. Here you can see the standard shooting screen, with shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation information, and the overlaid diagonal and square design grid. There are two screen options that can only be displayed on the rear LCD and can be chosen from in the 'display rec data' option in the custom menu. The status panel (pictured here) gives an overview of a large number of shooting parameters. The second option shows a similar amount of information but arranges it around the live view image.
The Fn-menu allows you to change 12 of the most used shooting parameters including ISO, drive mode and AF area settings. You navigate the menu with the four-way controller and either press the OK button to select an option or just roll the control dial for fast selection. Like SLT-A35 provides three different display modes in playback, press the DISPLAY button to cycle through them. You can also zoom in and get an overview of the images on your card in the thumbnail view.