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66 of 68 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2010
The Sony A33 (A55) Not is not exactly What I expected .... the good and not so good

First of all this camera is a great movie camera with continuous auto focus and an good photo camera.

The reason I say good and not great is because if you intend on shooting in any of the 3 auto modes you are not going to get great photos the same as you would get with a Canon T1I, T2i or canon G10. But the photos are more predictable in auto than with the Canon's

The kit lens is good, does not have much range but works well even though its a cheap kit lens. Better than the t2i

The body is plastic therefore light
The fold down LCD is a winner although a little small.
Viewfinder is a real treat giving you the same read out info as the LCD
Switches automatically back and forth from LCD to viewfinder as you place your eye close or take it away from the viewfinder.
Or you can easily switch between LCD screen and viewfinder by pushing the LCD/viewfinder button.

If you have a big lens or a lens hood the flash may cast a shadow in your photo

I have large hands but the body is very comfortable to hold
Controls are easy to reach but again these cameras are are far to complicated than they need to be need, but that is where technology takes you.

I did not see the battery life as being an issue - My G10 is much better.
Charging takes 4 hours per battery so get yourself a another battery and maybe an extra charger.
I specifically bought the a33 because I did not want the GPS sucking the life out of my battery as I learned on a Panasonic Z10.
My travels do not take to normal tourist data base gps way points so I felt it was of no use to me. Another thing to break down

Used Minolta AF lenses work great and are half the price as new Sony ones and are of equal or superior quality. Many of the Sony lenses on Amazon are just rebranded Minolta lenses.

The a33 and a55 uses Steadytshot an in camera stabilization
Lenses for this camera are not stabilized which is good and bad
Good because the lenses are cheaper and lighter
Bad because the stabilization in the camera is not as reliable as say Canon

When you take a photo you cannot just press the shutter all the way down quickly.
You have to press halfway wait for the steadyshot indicator to drop to one bar, wait for the focus beep and then press all the way
Canon seems quicker?

The A33 could be less noisier (photo wise not sound wise) than the a55 because it packs less pixels on the same size sensor

An Azden SMX-10 mic $65 from Amazon is a great accessory. It takes the mic out of the body to minimize the focus noise of the lenses and adds stereo.
Alert the hot shoe on this camera is a proprietary one meaning you need an adapter to hook on a regular shoal For $12 the Seagull SC-5 Hot Shoe Adapter to Standard Flash Shoe with PC Connection - for Konica Minolta Maxxum & Sony Alpha Digital SLR Cameras works from Amazon

At about 10 minutes of using the video it shuts down from overheating and you cannot film until it cools and then it will only go for a few minutes and will shut down again. I luckily only shoot short clips so its not an issue but Sony made a statement below.

Sony has issued a statement concerning an overheating issue with the new Sony A55 and A33 translucent mirror cameras.
The problem arises from the CMOS sensor overheating in certain temperature ranges. Sony has put together a chart that provides an idea of max recording times under certain environmental conditions. You can check it out on the web. They have no solution only shoot less than 10 minutes with stabilization on.
Image stabilization is a big problem for shooting long clips.
5D Mark II and 7D cameras shutdown from overheating also so it's nothing unique to Sony.

This review could also be for the a55 since they are almost identical except for a55 --
* gives you faster continuous shooting,
* GPS
* higher megapixel.
* price
and a few other minor things

I have come to admire this little piece of techno. I have so many Minolta lenses that I purchased from ebay that I have purchased a second a33 so I must give it a 5 although there is always room for improvement and nothing is perfect.

On Ebay you can get a
Minolta 50MM F/1.7 prime for circa $73
Minolta 100 mm f/2.8 Macro The sharpest lens Minolta has ever made for less than $300
Minolta 100-300 APO Zoom $220
Be careful of the new 8mm Fisheye from Korea that is marketed for Sony under different names for $230-$330 It is not compatible with a33 or a55
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183 of 202 people found the following review helpful
I've been using the a33 for about a week now, rigorously testing all aspects of the camera as well as pushing the new tech (SLT) to its limits in both video and high-speed shooting. I consider myself a prosumer, currently using Canon 7D. In fact, I've been using canon for the past 10 years. With the recent hype about large sensor video functionality found on almost all new releases, I found myself craving for a more functional AF in DSLRs. Because I'm no pro videographer, manual focusing (follow focusing) is terribly difficult for me, especially for high speed, erratic subjects like my kids running around the backyard. And contrast AF found on most DSLRs is a joke. Then came the SLT technology. A fixed mirror that feeds AF data constantly to dedicated AF sensor full-time, even when shooting video. For the price comparable with other entry-level DSLR's, it sounded like a worthy investment. And being able to shoot 7fps (10fps for a55) with that constant phase-detection AF on a body that sells for 650 - certainly a head-turner if you've been following the DSLR trends the past couple of years.

Well, Sony was able to deliver most of its promises. And I was pleasantly surprised by its PDAF video capability. However, as with all things in life, all that glitters is not gold. There are certainly limitations with this camera, especially noticeable/annoying if you're a prosumer level user. I will not go into details about the specs. Those can be found by just googling "sony a33". And I will not go into in-depth review either. Probably the best source for that is dpreview.com or imaging-resource.com. I will only list the limitations I found using this camera from a user who's been using Canon line (currently the 7D). Don't get me wrong. Overall the camera does deliver in most everything it promises to do (and thus, 4 star rating). All the positives have been pointed out over and over again on various reviews you read online, so I just don't feel the need to repeat them again. I just wanted to point out the major issues that I experienced first-hand. These might be of significance to those who are thinking about getting this camera based on its new technology (like me).

1) First and foremost, battery life is a joke. I guess because the camera is on a live view mode full time, it is inevitable to use up more power than traditional dslr, but sony should've took this into consideration. On paper, a33 is rated to take about 340 images using the LCD (about 270 with EVF), but with a little bit of video and looking through the menus to setup different functions, the battery gets drained VERY VERY QUICKLY. how bad? On a fully charged battery, I've turned on the camera, set the time/date/location info, entered my shooting preference, then took the first shot and about 40 sec video. It was at 83%. Not kidding. After about 2 hours of intense use, it was pretty much depleted. That's how fast the power goes. But YMMV since battery life depends on a lot of different factors. I never really had to think about whether my particular way of shooting would use up more power than necessary because all of the DSLR's I've used to date, I never once had to worry about draining the power quickly. But now its just one more thing I need to keep in mind. Another thing to keep in mind is that this battery takes about 4 to 4.5 hrs to fully recharge, much longer than most others.

2) No dedicated RAW/JPEG conversion. If you're moving up from compact and only use JPEG, this is a non-issue. But if you are half serious about your IQ and PP, then you'll most likely want to use RAW. The reason why a dedicated button to switch RAW/JPEG is so important, IMO, is because all of the fancy new modes - Auto HDR, Panorama, Handheld Twilight mode, high ISO capture - can only be accessed in JPEGs only. Either Sony should include these potentially useful functions in RAW, or at the very least should include a dedicated button to swtich format quickly and efficiently. For me to access sweep panorama, for example, would require me a minimum of 12 button presses. Another thing to keep in mind is that the menu always defaults to the first part of the shooting menu every time. It does not stay at the menu you last used as with Canon cameras. So if the section that you use is hidden inside the middle part of the menu, you are out of luck. Every time you enter into the menu system, you'll have to start from the top (beginning) then move into the section/option you want to change.

- Steadyshot (in-body image stabilization). Coming from Canon where IS is on the lens (and therefore, the effect can be viewed through OVF), I was skeptical of Pentax, Sony, Olympus and other camera makers that place IS function on the imaging sensor itself. Whether one is superior than the other is a whole different topic of discussion. Knowing that a33/a55 is EVF/LCD, I automatically assumed that steadyshot effect can be seen through EVF/LCD with every lens I put on. THIS IS NOT TRUE. For whatever reason, neither EVF or the LCD displays the anti-shake effect. It only tells you that Steadyshot is on through a mere 5-bar indicator on the side of the EVF. Because both EVF/LCD receives data directly from the sensor, I thought WYSWIG - the exposure, dynamic range, color, and steadyshot.

- Lack of manual control during video. If you want to take advantage of the phase detection AF during video, everything else must also be controlled by the camera. There's no way for you to set the speed, ISO, and most importantly, the aperture. That last part is critical since your HD video will look no different than any compact that also takes HD video if you can't control the aperture (depth of field). Why Sony wouldn't allow these manual settings to be controlled by user is beyond me. I doubt these will have significant impact in AF, unless the aperture is so small that no enough light falls on the AF sensor, in which case, Sony should at least give the users an option to pick either (the AF) or (aperture). Anyway, this is a big let down from my point of view.

- Buffer clearing time between shoots. I am honestly puzzled by this one. Sony has provided the public with this awesome, state of the art technology (translucent) implemented into imaging world that could potentially be as significant as when SLR's first turned digital. Yet, the image processing engine is remarkably slow. What's the point of capturing 7 fps images when you have to wait 40 seconds afterwards until the camera becomes fully functional (normal) again? I don't understand why Sony didn't bother to upgrade the processor/imaging algorithms when they proudly put 7 fps constant AF shooting as one of the main headliner. I've heard a55 is even slower with its 10 fps shooting. When shooting RAW at maximum 6 fps (for both a55 and a33), things are even slower and your buffer fills up after about 10 shots or so. And yes, I was using one of the fastest SDHC cards available - the transcend class 10 16gb card. So unless you have a lot of patience and don't mind your camera freezing for 40+ seconds after rigorous action-catching shots, you'll have some serious problem and may potentially miss many opportunities.

- Limited overall customization. I didn't expect this camera to provide the kind of customization that I got from Canon 7D. After all, there is a price difference of about a grand. Nonetheless, many entry DSLR's these days that a33/a55 supposedly should be competing, offers many more practical customization options for users of varying demands. A33/a55 is so limited in customization that you start to wonder whether you're holding a aps-c sensored interchangeable lens camera. The menu and setup options are very very basic (if that). I think Canon powershot G11 provides more customization than a33. For example, under video, one of the most intriguing features that people would buy this camera for, you basically have two formats. Either HD or VGA. No control over frame rate or any other combination. If using AVCHD format, your only option is 1920x1080i. If using MPEG, your options are 1440x1080 or standard VGA (I think 640x480). That's it. Those are your ONLY options. All other areas pretty much lack control and customization similar to video format. Talk about letting your camera to take control of YOUR shooting...

- Lack of options and limited display data. Here's an example - not being able to set ISO in 1/3 increment is one thing. Not DISPLAYING the ISO just because you're in auto ISO mode is just lame. I understand the range is between 100 and 1600, but when in auto ISO, the display just says "AUTO ISO". there's no way what ISO the camera is choosing until after you've taken the shot and reviewing the image (data).

Again, despite these limitations (more like frustrations), the camera does deliver in it's core technology. All the positives cited by online reviews are true. If you are graduating from compacts, this camera, by all means, would make an excellent DSLR alternative. However, those of you who are more experienced DSLR shooters drawn into a33/a55 because of its new technology, my advice is to wait a little longer until Sony comes up with a SLT model that is geared more towards the enthusiast/prosumer market. I heard rumors that early part of 2011 Sony will implement its translucent technology in the alpha 7 series (a77?) that would potentially address many of the concerns I've pointed out. Just wanted to give everyone a head's-up.
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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2010
I got my hands on this to play around waiting for the Nikon D7000. Specs wise you can almost call it a poorman Nikon D7000 with the almost the same cmos and video mode. Actually the Nikon D3100 14.2MP is closer to the A33, and the D7000 is closer to the Sony Alpha SLTA55VL. I got to say I have ignored Sony DSLR since they came into the market after buying out Minolta. I would like to say after playing with this camera, I would recommend it over all other DSLRs in this price range. In this day and age HD video is a secondary feature to the good old photo shot and this does both very well. I am a Nikon D40 user for 3 years and looking to upgrade to the D7000, but this looks like it might cut in.

Pros:
+Image is way better then my old 6mp D40 in indoor lower lighting. Also the Macro feature is better then the D40, I can get closer on the A33. The focus is faster and is able to lock in on closer thing and under lower light. (see my sample image uploaded)
+Panoramic stitching option is cool, don't need a 3rd party software, don't have a 3d tv to test the 3D feature.
+I like the leveler a lot, older camera didn't really have this, but most new one do.
+The buttons are very responsive and not hard to push like on some camera.
+Movie mode is phenomenal. When you move around the autofocus is very fast, because of the Translucent Mirror technology. I have shaky hands, so I hope it had a little better stabilizer, but is on par with Panasonic camcorder. 1980x1080i (60i) AVCHD and 1440x1080p (30fps), The higher resolution does look better. I haven't edit anything, but both modes were playable on my laptop and better on my PlayStation 3. (See the comment line below to the link of my test youtube upload.)
+microphone input for movie mode.
+About the same size or smaller then the D40
+Built in image stabilizer, so Sony lenses are not as expansive as Nikon or other, since you don't need built in VR. (I can't live without VR)
+Live View looks very good and the screen can pivot and turn from the bottom.
+Translucent Mirror can create 7fps for A33 and 10fps in the A55 which is amazingly fast and usually found on DSLR in the 2k.
+Also without the mirror flipping up there should be less or no dust getting onto the APS-C HD CMOS sensor.
+I found the color to be accurate, and similar to my Nikon. I had a cybershot once that make color look more vivid, but not as real.

Cons:
-Too many sub-menus, since there are a lot of options and mode. I wished they just added more external buttons. Nikon and most older Sony scene settings, like landscape, portrait, macro, etc. are on the dial, here you have to use the sub-menu. Also wished there was a scroll wheel for both aperture and shutter speed, but there is only one.
-View finder is also digital, since it isn't like a typical mirror SLR. Live view will drain battery faster than the basic prism view finder.
-You can hear the auto-focus in general and movie recording.
-Sony needs to step it up and include 1980x1080p at yeast 24fps like most other DSLR.

Neutral
-It is very light compared to Nikon, built quality feels good.
-Auto HDR, it layers 3 photos into one to get a better photo, no plan to use it much.
Typical features input/output: hdmi, usb, sd card
-29min max movie clip(most DSLR don't have built-in fan to cool the sensor down)
-No GPS here, yes on A55. Nice to have, but doesn't matter much.

I came away very impressed. This is a must buy if you are new to DSLR. Most camera sites gave this/A55 a great review. It takes great photo easy and the video is good enough, not perfect, but still better than any Canon or Nikon in this price range. I just have too many lenses from Nikon to switch to Sony. But if the D7000 is not too much better, I'll just get this and the18-200mm lenses, which still be 150 cheaper than the D7000 (I know D700 focus and ISO are much better). Most cameras at similar price range takes great picture, it is the interface and option is what keep most people loyal to one brand, and I still like Nikon interface.

Sony A33=to Sony A560, Same specs but the A33 has a Translucent Mirror the other is normal SLR, same as Sony A55= Sony A580.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2010
I bought the a33 after owning an a300 for a couple years and it's a nice upgrade. The build quality is about the same as the a300, which is a little plasticky but mostly solid feeling with good balance. Physically it's smaller/lighter than the a300 but still is easy to handle for those with medium-sized hands (if you have giant sausage fingers you may have issues). The buttons are better arranged and the screen is larger/sharper with better tilting/rotation.

The main reason for my upgrading was for the video recording and I am very satisfied with this. Since the a300 doesn't have video recording I can't compare it to another DSLR, but compared to my point-n-shoot HD camera this is awesome. Being able to control the depth of field on videos is great and the auto focus is very fast, but sometimes hunts a little. You definitely hear the focus motor turning on the video if you're recording a quiet scene but it's not terrible. If you're outside with ambient noises (cars, wind, random noises) you barely hear it. The mic jack is a regular audio jack so you can use any third party mic and this should eliminate the focus noise and would be worth looking into. You can also use manual focus and then there is no noise from zooming/focusing.

Photos are somewhat better than the a300. There is less noise at high ISO settings and AUTO ISO now will go up to 1600, compared to only 400 on the a300; this should help a good bit in low light conditions. It focuses faster and more accurate than the a300 and the a33 will shoot much faster in continuous shooting mode as well. The panoramic setting is great as well and works reliably and quickly, just push the shutter button once and rotate the camera quickly towards the direction indicated on the screen in one smooth motion (like recording a video) and the camera does the rest; there is no aligning ghost images one at a time like I've seen on other panoramic enabled cameras.

Other than noted above the a33 is pretty much the same as the a300 in most respects. I've used it with some Minolta glass and it's worked well so there are no issues I know of in regards to compatibility. It's like the a300 but faster, sharper, easier to use, has video, is lighter and a little smaller. The only real negative I have noticed compared to the a300 is the battery doesn't last as long (but not too bad), so a 2nd battery pack is somewhat mandatory if you'd like to go out and shoot for a full day.

All in all it's a great camera and I'm happy with it. However if you don't really need video or high-speed continuous shooting the older/traditional alpha DSLR cameras would be a good alternative for a little less money.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2010
I got my hands on this to play around waiting for the Nikon D7000. Specs wise you can almost call it a poorman Nikon D7000 with the almost the same cmos and video mode. Actually the Nikon D3100 14.2MP is closer to the A33, and the D7000 is closer to the Sony Alpha SLTA55VL. I got to say I have ignored Sony DSLR since they came into the market after buying out Minolta. I would like to say after playing with this camera, I would recommend it over all other DSLRs in this price range. In this day and age HD video is a secondary feature to the good old photo shot and this does both very well. I am a Nikon D40 user for 3 years and looking to upgrade to the D7000, but this looks like it might cut in.

Pros:
+Image is way better then my old 6mp D40 in indoor lower lighting. Also the Macro feature is better then the D4, I can get closer on the A33. The focus is faster and is able to look in on closer thing and under lower light. (see my same in image)
+Panoramic stitching option is cool, don't need a 3rd party software, don't have a 3d tv to test the 3D feature.
+I like the leveler a lot, older camera didn't really have this, but most new one do.
+The buttons are very responsive and not hard to push like on some camera.
+Movie mode is phenomenal. When you move around the autofocus is very fast, because of the Translucent Mirror technology. I have shaky hands, so I hope it had a little better stabilizer, but is on par with Panasonic camcorder. 1980x1080i (60i) AVCHD and 1440x1080p (30fps), The higher resolution does look better. I haven't edit anything, but both modes were playable on my laptop and better on my PlayStation 3. (See the comment line below to the link of my test youtube upload.)
+microphone input for movie mode.
+About the same size or smaller then the D40
+Built in image stabilizer, so Sony lenses are not as expansive as Nikon or other, since you don't need built in VR. (I can't live without VR)
+Live View looks very good and the screen can pivot and turn from the bottom.
+Translucent Mirror can create 7fps for A33 and 10fps in the A55 which is amazingly fast and usually found on DSLR in the 2k.
+Also without the mirror flipping up there should be less or no dust getting onto the APS-C HD CMOS sensor.
+I found the color to be accurate, and similar to my Nikon. I had a cybershot once that make color look more vivid, but not as real.

Cons:
-Too many sub-menus, since there are a lot of options and mode. I wished they just added more external buttons. Nikon and most older Sony scene settings, like landscape, portrait, macro, etc. are on the dial, here you have to use the sub-menu. Also wished there was a scroll wheel for both aperture and shutter speed, but there is only one.
-View finder is also digital, since it isn't like a typical mirror SLR. Live view will drain battery faster than the basic prism view finder.
-You can hear the auto-focus in general and movie recording.
-Sony needs to step it up and include 1980x1080p at yeast 24fps like most other DSLR.

Neutral
-It is very light compared to Nikon, built quality feels good.
-Auto HDR, it layers 3 photos into one to get a better photo, no plan to use it much.
Typical features input/output: hdmi, usb, sd card
-29min max movie clip(most DSLR don't have built-in fan to cool the sensor down)
-No GPS here, yes on A55. Nice to have, but doesn't matter much.

I came away very impressed. This is a must buy if you are new to DSLR. Most camera sites gave this/A55 a great review. It takes great photo easy and the video is good enough, not perfect, but still better than any Canon or Nikon in this price range. I just have too many lenses from Nikon to switch to Sony. But if the D7000 is not too much better, I'll just get this and the18-200mm lenses, which still be 150 cheaper than the D7000 (I know D700 focus and ISO are much better). Most cameras at similar price range takes great picture, it is the interface and option is what keep most people loyal to one brand, and I still like Nikon interface.

Sony A33=to Sony A560, Same specs but the A33 has a Translucent Mirror the other is normal SLR, same as Sony A55= Sony A580.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 3, 2010
The Sony a33 is an easy no-brainer recommendation, particularly for the entry-level "SLR" user, but actually also for the more experienced photographer. There is no real need for me here to reproduce all the micro-detail that you can read about the a33, and its "bigger brother," the a55, both of which are categorized as "SLT" (single lens translucent) designs, not "SLR" (single lens reflex) -- a resurrection of a technology employed first by Canon many years ago -- but I can throw in a few practical items I've noted items from my own field testing of the camera that may be of some use if you're considering this camera.

Pros - Things I've liked so far:

+1. High build quality - the camera feels "tight" and well-built
+2. Advanced sensor technology that permits a slew of advanced photographic and video options not available on most any other SLR ("hand-held twilight mode," 7 frames per second shooting, noise reduction mode using layers of sequential photographs, automatic panoramic stitching, etc.)
+3. EXCEPTIONALLY good price (the a33 can be found right now at $600, and other sales may soon follow; I'm truly surprised Sony did not release these at the $1,500 price point)
+4. Small and lightweight compared to equivalent competitors
+5. Uses both SDHC/SDXC and Sony Memory Stick - you are no longer locked in the Memory Stick world, if you don't care to be
+6. Large, detailed screen (1 million pixels)
+7. Electronic viewfinder with 1 million pixels - this technology may force a rethinking of the "optical" prismatic design used in most conventional DSLRs
+8. Articulated screen - and it's big, too ( 3 inches)
+9. "alpha" lens mount opens the world of Zeiss lenses to you, if you want to go that route
+10. Sony has recently released a series of "alpha" mount lenses that are extremely low prices and offer generally good performance (could this be a Sony "first"?) if you don't want to get into expensive lens options yet
+11. Relatively lightweight battery for its class
+12. Overall, great performance in turn on speed, menu system
+13. INSTANTANEOUS live view focusing for most lenses - incredible speed - I've not seen any other "DSLR" focus this fast in live view
+14. Built-in help in the menuing system
+15. Great image quality when paired with the right lenses
+16. Comfortable and "grippy" grip
+17. Awesome "horizon level" indicator overlaid on the screen (every camera should have this)
+18. Good control of noise way up into higher ISO levels - 1600 ISO should be very usable, and even higher levels under certain conditions
+19. SUPERB high def video in AVCHD format, and I mean REALLY superb
+20. Sweep panoramic mode actual works (I was skeptical until I tried it for myself - its amazing)

Cons - Some things I'm not too wild about:

-1. Somewhat noisy mechanism on shooting - this is not the silent model you have come to expect with point and shoots, and don't let the translucent technology lull you into thinking the camera is silent during shooting: it's NOT (even though the mirror does not move, there is noise from the mechanical shutter system)
-2. Battery life perhaps not what we would like to see in this model (you'll be lucky to get 400 shots on a single battery, and I would not count on more than that, in spite of what you've read)
-3. The "alpha" lens set contains some superb lenses - the Zeiss and the Sony G's are rated as amongst the best of any brand - but you still will not have the virtually unlimited options offered by brands like Canon and Nikon (although you can get all kinds of Minolta glass in the used market that will work fine with this camera, and many of the Minoltas are dearly loved)
-4. If you are coming from a Sony DSC-R1 with that gorgeous f/2.8 lens at 24mm, don't count on finding that for this camera unless you're willing to fork out $1,500 for that type of a lens (which also shows what a remarkable camera the R1 was, one of Sony's best, ever)
-5. Memory stick slot makes insertion of memory stick difficult at points - you can't just shove the stick in as usual, but need to carefully "work" it in - this is a real pain
-6. The small size of the camera may take some getting used to, particularly if you are used to the big, oversized grips of traditional SLRs (although this may actually be an ADVANTAGE, depending on your own preferences)
-7. No depth of field preview in live mode
-8. If you are used to waist-level shooting with an articulating screen (which is what I loved about the DSC-R1), note that the projection of the viewfinder, though making it much easier to use, covers up part of your view as you look down to the articulated screen (again, only if you are doing waist-level shooting close to your body)
-9. Reports of overheating, though probably highly overblown and over reported, are of some concern (but note that many of us with the cameras are not reporting this problem, and many SLRs actually have the same issue; I have not yet encountered it, but have shot only limited video thus far)
-10. Sound on video recordings not that great (serious videographers will want to look into external microphone options)

A note on the a33 and a55 differences. There are not really too much to mention here. The cameras are physically identical. One shoots at 10 frames per second, with a larger memory buffer, the other, at 7 frames per second. The 155 also adds built-in GPS. The a55 has a slightly larger megapixel count on the sensor. In truth, unless you have a specialized need or requirement, I doubt you'll see much difference in the results of the two cameras. Right now there is a world-wide shortage of the a55, and this means you can probably get this a33 without much problem, and possibly, on sale!

What I can say here, though, is that if you are an entry level photographer wishing to learn the craft, the a33/a55 are probably the easiest recommendations I can make. They are high quality, high performance, and very inexpensive. They offer fantastic, computer based options (like some that I've listed above), and because the camera is still roughly physically modeled in the traditional SLR scheme, the cameras can serve as an entry point to really learning how to shoot. But that's not to say these cameras are only for amateurs - they certainly are not - because the platform is sufficient to turn out some truly great photos. The camera is also fun to use. It offers the features of the big units in a much smaller and lighter package, and you just can't say enough about the ability to have an articulated screen (many people really like this for shooting video, but I use it quite a bit in still photography.)

I've been purchasing Sony equipment for many, many years, and I've watched in horror with some of the things that has been done with the Sony line over the years. These a33/a55 cameras truly represent "real" Sony products in the Sony tradition. They are groundbreaking technological devices, are built very well, and seem like they will last a long time while turning out good performance. That they are so reasonably priced (some might even say cheap) is just icing on the cake. Five stars for technology, five stars for build, five stars for price.

Some Lenses of Interest:
Sony SAL-1680Z 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T DT Zoom Lens for Sony Alpha Digital SLR Camera

Sony SAL70300G 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 SSM ED G-Series Compact Super Telephoto Zoom Lens

Sony 24 -70mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T Zoom Lens for Sony Alpha Digital SLR Cameras

Sony SAL18250 Alpha DT 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 High Magnification Zoom Lens w/Lens Hood

Sony SAL30M28 30mm f/2.8 Lens for Alpha Digital SLR Cameras
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2010
*Jan. 1, 2011 update: Have now taken 3000+ images traveling in India. The camera exceeds my expectations even more after this use. I've made a few adjustments to the original review. If you haven't tried the "Auto+" feature, start using it. The results are terrific, and can be used as your default 50% of the time. Also, the 7fps setting on the mode dial is extraordinarily convenient, and plenty fast for all but the most professional shooters. Alas, battery life remains a huge disappointment. You'll always need to carry two, and recharge every night when traveling.*
As an enthusiast looking to move up from my Nikon D50, I had pre-ordered the Nikon D7000 but switched to the Sony on the recommendation of a photographer friend. What a great move. The A33 is far smaller, lighter, and easier to use, and costs hundreds of dollars less. (I actually bought mine from Ritz because they had a package deal including a telephoto lens.) The mirror-less system replaces the traditional optical view finder with an electronic one. It's like looking into an IMAX screen, it's so bright and large, and I pity people who have bought cameras that only have the LCD screen (often useless in bright sunlight). By the way, the pivoting LCD here can simply be turned around and stowed away much of the time, since you really only need the EVF for most of your shooting. This may, I am told however, cost you battery life. Non-experts will love Sony's array of dedicated buttons and easy menus--much more intuitive and informative than on many other cameras. A great feature is the Auto+ setting on the mode dial, which applies a number of processing options that dramatically improve most shots (this setting is an advanced form of auto-bracketing, sometimes taking multiple shots and automatically combining them, which produces astonishing dynamic ranges of light and color in landscape photos). There's also a "Flash Off" setting on the mode dial, which is handy. Pushing the FN button on the back brings up the Scene menu, which helpfully explains which to use for what conditions (or just use Auto+, which picks scenes depending on the situation). The movie mode is accessed by a dedicated record button, again handy. But be warned: these mirror-less cameras all heat up quickly, and with IS turned on you can't shoot clips longer than about 7 minutes without cooling off the camera. This is NOT a replacement for a digital video camera, but the clips is does take in HD are excellent (though Mac users must shoot, for now, in MP4 mode if using iMovie). The A33 shoots a proprietary .ARW Sony RAW mode that is not currently supported by Aperture or iPhoto, so RAW shooters will have to use Sony's software to initially re-process into TIFF. But if you shoot RAW you can't benefit from Auto+ and some other processing features on the camera. The small body is highly ergonomic, thanks in part to the superb grip. This is not, however, a pocket camera. And Nikon users will notice that the Sony 55-200 telephoto lens is bigger and heavier than Nikon's comparable telephoto.
One drawback of the Auto and Scene settings is a tendency to switch automatically to 1600 ISO. This isn't really necessary for many of these night shots and night portraits, and causes more blur than you'd want. They're ok for web use but not much else. Using P on the mode dial and setting the ISO manually to 800 can be a better option, but oddly there are no ISO options between 800 and 1600. Bottom line: for quality of image and ease of use, this is one of the best cameras available.
*A note on lenses: Even mere enthusiasts should move beyond the supplied 18-55 lens. You just cannot begin to get the kind of dramatic results this camera produces without, for example, the 55-200 zoom. Cropping is not a substitute for shooting with a zoom lens, as you don't get the depth of field effect you need. Throughout my trip to India I've mainly had my zoom lens on the camera, and it revolutionized my photography. I kept my little Canon S90 in my pant pocket on many days for those few times I really needed a wide-angle landscape shot (i.e. the Taj Mahal). I've also purchased the 50mm fixed lens, which is very fast, though it's quite an adjustment to shoot with a lens that provides a relatively small area of coverage compared to wider angles on the 18-55. Still it performs very well, and at $125 is a small investment.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
I bought this camera but returned it to upgrade to the Sony Alpha SLTA55. The cameras are very close so I will post here and on the A55 page as well.

Some background will help others understand my comments: I had a Panasonic FZ30 for five years. I liked everything about that camera except it had its limits and that was what I was looking for - something that would be equivalent but remove the limits. For your reference the FZ30 is an 8mp camera with a 35-420mm fixed lens, swivel 2" LCD, built in flash. It is considered a "bridge" camera that falls between mega-zooms and DSLRs. So I'm not coming from a position of having a DSLR with many more features or a full frame sensor. I enjoy photography but just for casual and family use, no publishing for me. Just snapshots.

The three things I was looking for specifically were better image quality, better video, and better low light capability. The Sony Alpha A33/A55 definitely addressed those issues, and there are a bunch of very interesting features I wasn't looking for but am glad to have.

First this camera has an ASP-C sized sensor, the same size used in many larger DSLR cameras. It isn't "Full Frame" but it is way larger than my Panasonic FZ30 sensor. That larger sensor made all the difference in the world when it comes to photo quality. At 14 megapixels in the A33 and 16 megapixels in the A55 I find the image quality is so good I haven't felt the need to sharpen any of my photos on the PC. Also I can now crop (zoom) on the PC and still have a high quality image.

The low light capability of this camera is superb. I now can take good photos in low light where my FZ30 couldn't even perform. It goes all the way to ISO 12,800 (the FZ30 went to 400), and can mimic 25,600 in a hand held twilight mode that I find works quite well.

As far as video this camera is also superb.

So it solved the three issues I had with the older camera.

I really don't like changing lenses. I had that experience 30 years ago with a Canon A1 film camera and don't want to do that again. So I purchased the Sony 18-250mm (27-375 equivalent) zoom lens and that I just leave on all the time. This means I can go wide angle to zoom over a 14X range, never change lenses, and don't have to worry about the pesky sensor dust problem of interchangeable lenses.

This camera is about 1/2 pound heavier than my FZ30 but after a while I didn't notice that. It isn't without its faults though. First Sony simply made the grip too small. It is annoying but I'll live with it. Second, as with a lot of digital cameras in this genre, the sensor can overheat and shut the camera down. This might happen on hot days when you are trying to shoot long videos. Videos of 2-3 minutes are no problem. I don't take videos longer than that so this isn't an issue for me.

There are lots of comments about battery life being short but it is longer than my FZ30 so I'm happy. I found on a two week vacation in France that I never had to use the spare battery in my pocket once. I took over 1,200 photos over 10 days, sometimes 300 in one day, and never ran the battery down below 50%.

Pros:
- Very fast auto focus.
- Translucent mirror technology allows focus during video.
- Awesome low light performance
- Awesome video
- Very useful "handheld twilight mode" to take handheld photos in very low light. Takes 6 shots and combined them.
- Awesome High Dynamic Range (HDR) feature that brackets three shots and assembles them. This was great in France when the sky had clouds with bright sunlight on the edges that blew out the highlights. The HDR mode took three shots and combined them, lessoning the sky highlights and improving the detail of the darker sections of the scene. I used it a lot.
- 6/10 frames per second, great for moving objects like kids or sports.
- Panorama mode (but I don't use this much)
- Too many other features to mention (see review on dpreview.com)
- Very sharp and clear 3" LCD
- Much better EVF than my FZ30

Cons:
- Small grip - and there is no good reason it couldn't have been larger without compromising the compact nature of the camera.
- Not good if you intend to take long videos.

Should you buy the A33 or the A55. In my opinion, and for my use, I think the A33 would have been fine. I did the upgrade for one reason only and that was some charts that showed the low light noise was less on the A55. You get 2 more mega pixels but I just don't think that is important.

The A55 has a GPS feature that marks the images with the location coordinates but I found this feature didn't work well. As with any GPS it takes time to sync up with satellites. However if I turn the camera on, take three or four quick shots and turn it off the GPS never syncs and it records the wrong location.

The A55 goes up to 10 frames per second while the A33 goes to six. I suppose there are a few instances when that might make a difference.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 3, 2010
The Sony a33 is an easy no-brainer recommendation, particularly for the entry-level "SLR" user, but actually also for the more experienced photographer. There is no real need for me here to reproduce all the micro-detail that you can read about the a33, and its "bigger brother," the a55, both of which are categorized as "SLT" (single lens translucent) designs, not "SLR" (single lens reflex) -- a resurrection of a technology employed first by Canon many years ago -- but I can throw in a few practical items I've noted items from my own field testing of the camera that may be of some use if you're considering this camera.

Pros - Things I've liked so far:

+1. High build quality - the camera feels "tight" and well-built
+2. Advanced sensor technology that permits a slew of advanced photographic and video options not available on most any other SLR ("hand-held twilight mode," 7 frames per second shooting, noise reduction mode using layers of sequential photographs, automatic panoramic stitching, etc.)
+3. EXCEPTIONALLY good price (the a33 can be found right now at $600, and other sales may soon follow; I'm truly surprised Sony did not release these at the $1,500 price point)
+4. Small and lightweight compared to equivalent competitors
+5. Uses both SDHC/SDXC and Sony Memory Stick - you are no longer locked in the Memory Stick world, if you don't care to be
+6. Large, detailed screen (1 million pixels)
+7. Electronic viewfinder with 1 million pixels - this technology may force a rethinking of the "optical" prismatic design used in most conventional DSLRs
+8. Articulated screen - and it's big, too ( 3 inches)
+9. "alpha" lens mount opens the world of Zeiss lenses to you, if you want to go that route
+10. Sony has recently released a series of "alpha" mount lenses that are extremely low prices and offer generally good performance (could this be a Sony "first"?) if you don't want to get into expensive lens options yet
+11. Relatively lightweight battery for its class
+12. Overall, great performance in turn on speed, menu system
+13. INSTANTANEOUS live view focusing for most lenses - incredible speed - I've not seen any other "DSLR" focus this fast in live view
+14. Built-in help in the menuing system
+15. Great image quality when paired with the right lenses
+16. Comfortable and "grippy" grip
+17. Awesome "horizon level" indicator overlaid on the screen (every camera should have this)
+18. Good control of noise way up into higher ISO levels - 1600 ISO should be very usable, and even higher levels under certain conditions
+19. SUPERB high def video in AVCHD format, and I mean REALLY superb
+20. Sweep panoramic mode actual works (I was skeptical until I tried it for myself - its amazing)

Cons - Some things I'm not too wild about:

-1. Somewhat noisy mechanism on shooting - this is not the silent model you have come to expect with point and shoots, and don't let the translucent technology lull you into thinking the camera is silent during shooting: it's NOT (even though the mirror does not move, there is noise from the mechanical shutter system)
-2. Battery life perhaps not what we would like to see in this model (you'll be lucky to get 400 shots on a single battery, and I would not count on more than that, in spite of what you've read)
-3. The "alpha" lens set contains some superb lenses - the Zeiss and the Sony G's are rated as amongst the best of any brand - but you still will not have the virtually unlimited options offered by brands like Canon and Nikon (although you can get all kinds of Minolta glass in the used market that will work fine with this camera, and many of the Minoltas are dearly loved)
-4. If you are coming from a Sony DSC-R1 with that gorgeous f/2.8 lens at 24mm, don't count on finding that for this camera unless you're willing to fork out $1,500 for that type of a lens (which also shows what a remarkable camera the R1 was, one of Sony's best, ever)
-5. Memory stick slot makes insertion of memory stick difficult at points - you can't just shove the stick in as usual, but need to carefully "work" it in - this is a real pain
-6. The small size of the camera may take some getting used to, particularly if you are used to the big, oversized grips of traditional SLRs (although this may actually be an ADVANTAGE, depending on your own preferences)
-7. No depth of field preview in live mode
-8. If you are used to waist-level shooting with an articulating screen (which is what I loved about the DSC-R1), note that the projection of the viewfinder, though making it much easier to use, covers up part of your view as you look down to the articulated screen (again, only if you are doing waist-level shooting close to your body)
-9. Reports of overheating, though probably highly overblown and over reported, are of some concern (but note that many of us with the cameras are not reporting this problem, and many SLRs actually have the same issue; I have not yet encountered it, but have shot only limited video thus far)
-10. Sound on video recordings not that great (serious videographers will want to look into external microphone options)

A note on the a33 and a55 differences. There are not really too much to mention here. The cameras are physically identical. One shoots at 10 frames per second, with a larger memory buffer, the other, at 7 frames per second. The a55 also adds built-in GPS. The a55 has a slightly larger megapixel count on the sensor. In truth, unless you have a specialized need or requirement, I doubt you'll see much difference in the results of the two cameras. Right now there is a world-wide shortage of the a55, and this means you can probably get this a33 without much problem, and possibly, on sale!

What I can say here, though, is that if you are an entry level photographer wishing to learn the craft, the a33/a55 are probably the easiest recommendations I can make. They are high quality, high performance, and very inexpensive. They offer fantastic, computer based options (like some that I've listed above), and because the camera is still roughly physically modeled in the traditional SLR scheme, the cameras can serve as an entry point to really learning how to shoot. But that's not to say these cameras are only for amateurs - they certainly are not - because the platform is sufficient to turn out some truly great photos. The camera is also fun to use. It offers the features of the big units in a much smaller and lighter package, and you just can't say enough about the ability to have an articulated screen (many people really like this for shooting video, but I use it quite a bit in still photography.)

I've been purchasing Sony equipment for many, many years, and I've watched in horror with some of the things that has been done with the Sony line over the years. These a33/a55 cameras truly represent "real" Sony products in the Sony tradition. They are groundbreaking technological devices, are built very well, and seem like they will last a long time while turning out good performance. That they are so reasonably priced (some might even say cheap) is just icing on the cake. Five stars for technology, five stars for build, five stars for price.

Some Lenses of Interest:
Sony SAL-1680Z 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T DT Zoom Lens for Sony Alpha Digital SLR Camera

Sony SAL70300G 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 SSM ED G-Series Compact Super Telephoto Zoom Lens

Sony 24 -70mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T Zoom Lens for Sony Alpha Digital SLR Cameras

Sony SAL18250 Alpha DT 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 High Magnification Zoom Lens w/Lens Hood

Sony SAL30M28 30mm f/2.8 Lens for Alpha Digital SLR Cameras
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2010
If you're a newbie like me and can afford it, buy this one! Huge improvement over point-n-shoot, and for those of you who are like I was a few weeks ago, know this, that megapixels have zip to do with quality - it's the size of the sensor, and this one has the best in this class. After searching and reading online endlessly to try to make the best educated decision I could, I decided it was between this one and the Canon Rebel EOS. Went into my local camera store to buy where I could get real expertise (not like at Best Buy), told the guy (who turned out to be incredibly knowledgeable) only that I wanted the Canon, for one of the features I liked best was the customizable self-timer (3 shots in a row) which the Sony doesn't have (only 1 at a time like most). He then said I made a great choice, that there are only two cameras in that price range that are both best in class, that one and this Sony A33; I thought, wow, I had obviously done some good homework! He illustrated for me how when utilizing virtually anything on the Canon, including live view, the fps were very, very slow - I said no way! He then showed me how the Sony snaps 7 fps virtually no matter what, even with live view, and still fast with flash though I can't recall if 7 or not.

Pros:
Fast fps, even with live view and flash on
High quality images in viewfinder
Excellent auto-modes, with lots of flexibility to customize as learn more
Amazingly clear, crisp photos
Great quality movie mode

Cons:
Lens cap doesn't have a tether, frustrating

Wish I could go into more detail, but I've only had it for 2 weeks and can barely comprehend all the things this thing can do even automatically, much less manually, have only used it like a novice, home user would thus far but wow, amazing little puppy, I really like it.
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