on August 22, 2011
Sony Alpha SLT-A35 16 MP Digital SLR Kit with Translucent Mirror Technology and 18-55mm Lens
I've had the Sony SLT-A35 for a couple of weeks now and after some testing and two in the field photo shoots, I think I'm ready to review it. I'll outline Pros, Cons and Matters of Preference.
The photo quality is very good, what you would expect from a 16MP camera.
The colors seem accurate and true to me.
While the menu system is fairly deep, it seems well organized. Key features (Shutter Speed, F-Stop, WB, ISO, Bracketing/Self Timer, Screen Display Toggle, Focus Zoom) all have buttons within easy reach. A programable button can be set for easy access to one of many additional feature sets like HDR, Filter Effects, etc.
If you use Auto Focus, it is extremely fast. Manual focusing is a snap and the 7.5X and 15X focusing zoom helps a great deal for distance details.
While the battery life isn't great, compared to reviews of the A33 and A55, it is improved. I was able to shoot for about 4 hours and still had about 30% of the battery charge remaining. Still, a second battery just in case seems like a must.
The 18-55mm kit lens (SAL1855) seems solid as an all purpose lens.
Biggest flaw so far is lack of Camera RAW support from Adobe/Lightroom. The Image Data Converter SR software that comes with the camera is lacking at best. I'm shooting everything in RAW + JPG so that I have something to play with until the RAW files are useable.
There is a strange chromatic effect through the EVF when the camera moves or even when you blink. It's somewhat mild and I've gotten used to seeing it pretty quickly, but it was startling at first.
I haven't captured a quality image with the Panoramic sweep after about 20 attempts. The file size is around 3MB, so it's capturing significantly less data than even a fine JPG at full resolution.
Matters of Preference:
The camera body is very light. People taking the camera on long treks will probably find this to be beneficial as every ounce of weight you can shed matters. Those who like a more substancial feeling in their hands as they shoot may see that differently.
So far this camera is near useless for Infrared Photography. It lets through very little IR light. With a 720nm filter on a bright sunny day, a 4-5 second exposure shows almost no IR light. Adding a ND 8 filter allowed for longer exposure time but very little additional IR light. What you get is a very orange cast image with proper IR sky but foliage retains it's greens. With a 950nm filter, finally IR light came through but on the same bright, sunny day, an exposure of 1 minute or more was necessary. It's very difficult to get quality IR shots over that long a shutter. If you don't shoot in IR, this is a non issue, obviously.
I'm very satisified with the camera. Although it's IR capabilities are non existent so I have to carry my old setup out on shoots I may want to do IR work on, the image quality and basic functionality of this camera are spot on. The annoyances will either be sorted out soon (Adobe RAW support) or are in the extra features that are non-essential.
on September 11, 2011
The primary advantage of A35 over A55 except price(price difference is $100 at this point) is the overheating issue with A55. A35 being a second-generation model using Sony's 16.2mp sensor, Sony claim the improved version is more efficient, hence has longer battery life and less heat. Other than this, A55 is a more feature packed camera. Except the obvious feature differences (articulating screen, GPS, continuous shooting speed...) you can find on major camera review website, here are the minor ones:
1. No support for the wireless remote (infrared), Noted both the description on Amazon and Sonystyle.com state the RM-DSLR1 infrared remote works with A35. IT DOESN'T!! it is one feature missing from A55 you don't see anywhere. Not that it is critical, but this should be noted and corrected.
2. No digital level
In the end, I don't think I will return the A35 for an A55, even though the price difference is only $100 and much more were packed into A55. In my opinion, an A56 with the heat issue fixed but retains all the A55 feature and price point will be killer. But since that is not available at this point, I would settle for A35 without the overheating problem over A55.
After owning this camera for about 2 months and several hiking trips, I can attest that A35 is a solid performer, lightweight with output quality rivaling cameras costing $1500. When you think about the same/similar Sony 16.2mp sensor is used in Nikon D7000 and Pentax K5 (both are about $1500 at this point), the $700 A35 is truly a great bargain. Things I like most are its: LCD resolution (921k is just so clear), responsiveness, lightweight. What can be improved upon are: battery life, somewhat grainy EVF. I really shouldn't complain given its price point.
By the way, you can get excellent Minolta AF mount lenses for your Sony Alpha camera. I recommend, as a new user, Minolta 50mm 1.7 (or Sony DT 50mm 1.8) for A35. Both are inexpensive (Minolta used can be had for well under 100), but very useful for low light photography. The image quality is amazing. Plus, they are compact and fit well to the A35 body. People often recommend Minolta 70-210 F4 (beercan) and 28-105 (secret handshake). All of these are solid, inexpensive lenses with low price.
on October 13, 2011
Sony alpha slt-a35 is certainly one of the best camera under 800$. it has bunch of cool features and neither of them will disappoint you.
I want to start with "multiframe noise reduction".(this is iso setting and you can choose any iso up to 25600) this is the feature that gives you 1-2 stops advantage when shooting at night without tripod. It works amazingly (takes 6 pictures sequentially and then micro-aligns them). even when subject is moving you can get very decent results.. sweep panorama is very funny and really useful feature. Despite that a35 has the best dynamic range among its rivals and DRO(dynamic range optimizer) is very effective, sometimes its necessary to use hdr and sony-s auto-hdr will give you excellent result.
many people complain that the body of camera is too small or lightweight and they don't lie, but i havn't seen anything more comfortable before. If you have extra large hands maybe it will be distracting but for normal sized hands (or smaller) holding the camera is a big pleasure. You can control everything rapidly, all the buttons are there where they should be. controlling your camera gets even faster with using elecrtonic viewfidner. The EVF is really great and in terms of visibility almost matches the ovf-s we have seen in other entry level dslr-s and outperforms them in any other aspect, at first its larger (1.1x vs 0.78x magnification) and has 100% coverage vs 95% of competitors. You can do everything without taking eye from viewfinder and this really matters. I found manual focus magnification very helpful. To be honest before I got my a35 I used to say that I'd like to have an ovf rather than evf, but now i must say i can't imagine living without EVF.
Of course the most important thing is image quality of camera. I must say the 16mp exmor-R sensor is really excellent, 2000$ nikon-d7000 has the same sensor and with this everything is said.
image quality of raw files are perfect and jpegs are also very good (sometimes strong NR of sony is very annoying). Metering is almost unmistakable, colors are true and dynamic range is excellent as I've already mentioned. Hight iso performance is best-in-class and it gets far better with multiframe iso. Video is great, although there are limited control but its enough for most I think. Phase detection AF during video (and stills) works amazingly you cant see same thing in any camera of other manufacturer.
image stabilisation (steadyshot inside) does job very well. you'll get sharp images even in 1/2 second at 18mm and good thing is that lenses without stabilisation costs less.
Battery life isn't as bad as predecessor's, I usually take up to 500 image per charge, its pretty good result since there isn't OVF and sensor always has to work.
Overall a35 is excellent all-round performer, it has great IQ, great features and bunch of advantages that gives translucent mirror technology.
Nose Reduction cant be turned off in jpegs.
automatic white balance could be better (but it isn't worse than competitors)
kit lens feels very "plastically" (but optically its very good)
no digital level gauge (we have seen in previous models a33/a55)
no switching button between raw/jpeg. (many cool features works only with jpeg so you often have to switch between raw and jpg)
sensor gets only 70% of incoming light (because translucent mirror doesn't move)
EVF visibility isn't great in lowlight (there's significant noise but not so much to worry about)
overall a35 is certainly one of the best camera for the price, it delivers everything that promises and I hardly recomend it for everyone who is looking for entry-level dslr with excellent image quality and many cool features.
on October 22, 2011
This review is not extensive but does cover what I consider the most important pros/cons I discovered during my time with the Sony a35. I did not test the video performance, so all comments below are about photos.
I really like SteadyShot, Sony's in camera image stabilization (IS). This means you can use lenses without built in IS, such as primes, and still benefit from stabilization. SteadyShot is actually one of the main reasons I bought this camera.
This camera is small. My pinky barely fits on the body (with effort) and I would consider my hands medium size. If you have large hands and want a full grip, this is not the camera for you. But small hands would likely find this camera perfect. The small body also means it is light weight which is nice for carrying around.
The menu system is intuitive. I had no problems finding the settings I needed. Available buttons and placement also seemed fine to me.
I read several expert reviews which were all good. A couple of reviews praised it for great ISO performance while some others considered the ISO noise to be high. It turns out ISO performance was a problem I discovered in my own testing. I was replacing a Canon EOS XSi with this camera and so was able to do some comparison shots of the same subject under the same lighting conditions. I was shocked that the Canon produced less noise at all ISO's. Even at ISO 200 noise was evident. It was more than a small difference. The comparisons were of RAW files without noise reduction. In JPEG's the a35 apparently does some heavy noise reduction which could explain why some reviews actually said it had great ISO performance. Unfortunately, an increase in noise reduction means a decrease in detail.
The a35 produces very pleasing colors and does of good job with auto white balance. These are improvements over my old XSi. In the end, I returned the camera because I really need good ISO performance. I now have a Nikon d5100 which has low ISO noise and also produces pleasing colors and white balance.
If you shoot RAW and need to use moderately high ISO's (400 to 1600), I do not recommend the a35. However, if you shoot JPEG in good lighting conditions, you're likely to be very happy with it.
on November 27, 2011
I love this camera! I added a few photos I took to the gallery. A little about me: I got into photography after two close friends both bought Nikon D90 dslr's. I'm in no way a professional, and still learning the ups and downs to confidently used full manual mode, but even with built in scenes and modes you can take pictures that people would think a professional took. I wanted to change it up a little bit, and researched the SLT-a35. I liked the new translucent mirror technology, where instead of a flipping aparatus there is a translucent mirror that reflects light to the image sensor AND the Autofocus Sensor, allowing you to take shots at not only at a faster speed, but clearly focused.
I found out the a33 and a55 had some sensor overheating issues when recording video for extended periods and warm temperatures, partially to do with why they introduced the a35 and a65 in the first place. If you compare specs from the original a33 to a35, you'll find it also has better battery life. Other reviewers have also complained about senor overheating, but lets be realistic here - IT'S A PHOTO CAMERA FIRST, VIDEO CAMERA SECOND. If you are going to record 30 + minutes of video, then get a video camera. Short clips up to 10 minutes have worked just fine for me. I use the camera with an external Tascam condenser mic (a35 has external mic plugin) to record youtube music videos for me and my acoustic guitar. If you use the onboard mic, you WILL hear some noise from the camera focusing unless you are at a place where the noise is at a substantial level.
A GOOD MID RANGE CAMERA! I'm one of those people that when buying something expensive opt to buy something in the mid range. Having owned Sony a bridge camera, or superzoom camera, I found it silly to buy a entry level dslr (such as a100,200,330,390) because entry level had the same features, NO live view, NO video mode, but better photos. So jump to mid range. The good thing about this camera is it has many photo scenes and settings, allowing you to play with the different settings. When you select a mode or a scene it gives a brief description of the purpose of those settings - allowing you to learn about your camera and what modes produce the type of photo you want to create.
Sweep Panorama - AMAZING. I've used it for outdoor scenery and indoor settings. The 18-55mm lens works best for tighter panoramics, the 55-200mm lens works well for landscape panoramic with distant features. Just keep it level, and go slow. I'll also point out that if you press menu while in panoramic mode and scroll down, you can adjust the panoramic to be the normal wide, or a wider width. The wider width creates some great effects when used inside.
Overall, get this camera. It is straight forward enough to use just like you would with a point and shoot in auto modes, but has enough built in modes, scenes, and effects to allow you to grow your knowledge as a photographer. If you set yourself up with some accessories like lenses, tripods and filters, then you have all the tools necessary to simply take great photos, or to allow to you to explore your photo creativity.
on August 31, 2011
This camera is amazing. I am upgrading from a Nikon and this camera is a far step above the competition in the same price range. I am using a Tamrom 18-200mm lens and this combination yields amazing pics which require very little (if any) post-processing to get the artistic effect I was looking for when I envisioned the shot.
I know some people dinged this camera because of the lack of RAW support in Lightroom; however, I don't see that as the camera's fault. Take that up with Adobe.
The build quality is good and what I have come to expect from Sony. My camera is a bit heavy mostly because of the lens I am using. Overall, FIVE STARS! Great job Sony!
on September 12, 2011
I purchased this Sony a35 in August of 2011 . I have used it Sparingly , but have been Most Impressed by the Pictures ! The Clarity and Speed of this Camera is Amazing , at least to Myself ! I have purchased Used and New Minolta AF Lenses , and They Produce Wonderful results , at Least to Me !!! I have about Six Sony Lenses , the Most recent being the 50mm f 1.4 , which I especially like ! I also acquired a Sigma 30 f 1.4 Lens , and it is really a True Combination of Lens and Camera ! Pros and Cons aside , I have been around Cameras and Photography from Speed Graphics Era ( 1940s ) , and This Camera with the Right Lens Combination puts All of My Cameras to " Sleep " !!! I would without hesitation , Class it as a Real " Sleeper " R E Keay
on August 27, 2011
New 16 MP improved sensor has lower noise!
Con but a personal preference:
Fixed screen! (a33 had a articulating screen and used it on my a500 a lot)
This is a great entry level camera for anyone looking to get into Sony. Ive used mine for awhile. Upgraded from a a500. I dont miss the OVF at all. If you are wanting more wait til November for the a65. High quality OLED EVF, 24MP, 10 fps, articulating screen, etc
on November 3, 2011
I bought the Sony Alpha 35 after much research and I am very happy with my purchase. Within a month of buying it I took it with me on my vacation to Italy. The camera functioned flawlessly. Since I was on vacation and doing a lot of sightseeing in crowded places, I put the camera on automatic and shot nearly a thousand photos. The camera took amazing photographs. I have now registered for a photography class to take full advantage of the camera's features. This is an amazing camera. Two of my colleagues at work have bought this camera based on my recommendation and their research. Buy a Sony Alpha camera and you will not be disappointed. And the leading Consumer ratings magazine gave top ranking to the Sony Alpha in its category.
on November 3, 2011
I am a professional photographer of 15 years. I needed a new camera to take on vacations so I did not need to bring my big, bulky pro equipment with me internationally. Just for kicks I tried some of the auto night settings in a estuary (not to be rude, but in case you don't know it's a body of water full of organisms) that was behind our dinner restaurant on a pier. You could SEE THE JELLYFISH!! This camera takes multiple shots and puts them together in 1 shot to give you the best of everything. To get the right color and balance of this estuary at night and especially considering the shot was in shadow, I would have taken way more time and effort adjusting my manual settings then I wanted to spend as we walked to dinner. In 3 seconds I got the shot and nobody is the wiser I didn't take the time or effort to do it manually. The only complaint is that the night auto setting has a little bit of movement visible unless you use a tripod (it is taking at least 3 shots in a row to create just one anyways). For a travel camera I'd give it a B+, I even acquired a new (random) client while on this international vacation because they found out what I do for a living. They asked if I would shoot wedding pics for their destination wedding (instead of the less-experienced resort photographer), and I felt confident enough to say yes. I can't imagine I ever would have said that with my old travel camera. They walked away happy and I walked away with extra vacation money! Thanks Sony A35!!