Customer Review

59 of 61 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sony Alpha SLT-A35, August 22, 2011
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This review is from: Sony Alpha SLT-a35 16 MP Digital SLR Kit with Translucent Mirror Technology and 18-55mm Lens (Electronics)
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.

Pros:
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.

Cons:
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.

Conclusion:
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.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 25, 2011 11:42:55 AM PDT
Matt says:
What is your old setup for IR photography?
Most modern dslrs have an IR filter that blocks most of IR light.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 25, 2011 1:07:13 PM PDT
Dave R says:
Wasn't a DSLR. I use the Sony F828 which includes a nightshot mode. Many different methods for getting good IR shots from that camera. Long exposure, which was typically between 10 and 20 seconds depending on whether you're using a 720nm or 950nm IR filter. Or put it in nightshot mode which allows both IR and regular light through. Add a 720nm filter, typically with an ND8 or juse a 950nm filter to remove most regular light, depending on conditions. Camera was limited to 1/30th or slower because of the xray issues and you could only use the mode in full auto or P mode (allowing you to set ISO).

Vast majoriy of the DSLR cameras out there still allow some IR light through and long exposures with an IR filter will take out normal light. The A35, possibly because of the translucent mirror, blocks more IR light than I've seen on most other cameras. I haven't yet tried the multi-exposure for low light modes though.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 30, 2011 9:52:29 AM PDT
JK says:
Dave: Can you please tell us if the A35 has a digital level in the EVF viewfinder, as did the Sony Alpha A33? I loved this feature in the A33, but returned the A33 due to overheating. Also, have you experienced any overheating issues with the A35? Thank you!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 2, 2011 12:05:14 PM PDT
Matt says:
I know you asked Dave, but I can offer this info in addition to Dave.
I haven't actually used the level gauge because I use the cross lines on the screen, but sony specifications have this about lcd display:
Customization : Grid, Histogram display, Digital Level Gauge, Grid Line, Magnified display for playback. From what I've seen, it shows the same info on both viewfinder and screen.

I have not experienced any overheating.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 3, 2011 4:30:06 PM PDT
JK says:
Thanks, Matt. I do not believe it has the digital level gauge, even though the Sony specs say it does. Talked to Sony Product Support and they could not find a digital level. There is also no reference to it in the manual. The A33 has it and the A65 and A77 will also have it. Looks like i'm going to wait for the A65.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2011 10:06:43 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 6, 2011 10:11:55 AM PDT
Dave R says:
The A35 has a digital grid that lets you line up horizons. If you've got a straight horizon or other feature that you know should be straight, you can use this to keep your shot level. It's not a true level, though, as it doesn't adjust as you move the camera, it's locked to the frame. There are three different grids you can use. Normal grid, rule of 3rds grid, and rule of 3rds grid with diagnals.

I've had no overheating issues. The battery does drain faster than I'm used to, although it's been reported that this is still an improvement over the A33/A55.

I also wanted to point out that Adobe will have support for this camera's RAW format in the next release of Lightroom (3.5) and Camera Raw (6.5) as well as their DNG Converter. These are currently out as Release Candidates. I'm testing the DNG Converter RC now and it seems to work just fine. Note: These are Release Candidates, not actual releases. Use at your own risk!

Camera Raw/DNG Converter RC: http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/cameraraw6-5/ (you have to proceed like you are downloading Camera Raw and eventually it gives you the option to get the Converter instead).

Lightroom 3.5 RC: http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/lightroom3-5/

Posted on Oct 3, 2011 1:16:29 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 3, 2011 1:20:25 PM PDT
TrailBlazer says:
Thanks for your excellent review and follow-up. Some old P&S digitals do excellent IR because of the intrinsic quality of the sensor used in the earlier days of digital cameras-Nikon 800 and 950; Minolta Dimage 5 and 7; Olympus C-2000 and C-2020; and Epson PC850Z. Among dSLRs, the Pentax K100D is often cited and exampled. A good resource is wrotniak.net. Look under Photo Tidbits. dpreview.com just recently posted its review of this camera. dpreview is notable in waiting to review camera models that can be purchased retail. They don't base reviews on pre-production models.
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