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Customer Review

54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compared to the Sony A55, April 16, 2013
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This review is from: Sony SLT-A65V 24.3 MP Digital SLR with Translucent Mirror Technology - Body Only (Electronics)
I had a Sony A55 for just over two years. Unfortunately it failed twice and I've had to send it out for several weeks to a repair shop both times. I do think this is unusual and it is the first camera I've ever had that failed on me. I decided to step up to the A65 and keep the A55 as a backup. I'm a little miffed at Sony for the poor A55 reliability but I do think it isn't common. I'd have a hard time switching away from Sony. First I have a large investment in three lenses. Second I really like the translucent mirror technology and all it brings to the party. I think Sony is pushing the envelope and the camera has some really nice features.

Here are my observations on the A65 compared to the A55.

There are a number of web sites that you can use to compare the A55 to the A65 so I won't elaborate on the specification differences. But I did find some things about the camera that I had not read about, and of course there are my personal observations too.

1) The weight difference between the lighter A55 and the A65 is quite noticeable to me. I used the A55 a lot and was very familiar with how it felt hanging from my wrist by the wrist strap. The truth is the three lenses I have add so much weight that the overall weight difference with the new body isn't really that much. I'll get over it.

2) Size. The A65 is larger but not so much as to resemble one of the huge bodies of other DSLR cameras that just look obnoxious to me. The main benefit of the larger body is the hand grip now is comfortable. The A55 grip was initially too small for me (I think I have average man's hands) and it never felt better with time.

3) The extra megapixels. I've never been chasing megapixels. I was quite happy with the image quality of the 16MP A55. So I was quite surprised when I took the first few photographs with the A65 and it's 24MP sensor. I was blown away with the quality improvement, something not born out by all of the technical reviews on the camera. After several hundred photos I've taken over the week I've had the camera I continue to be impressed. The other big benefit is I can crop images on my computer and still have really good image quality even if I've zoomed in 4x or so. Very nice.

4) Expecting a lot from the OLED viewfinder that is so highly touted in the reviews it just didn't jump out at me. I'll have to wait until the A55 comes back from repair and compare the two. It does look larger but if I didn't know there was a published big difference I might not have noticed. I am quite pleased with both the A55 and A65 EVFs. After a week of use I have to say the EFV is good, but not so I marvel at it.

5) Sony did move some buttons around a bit and for the most part I like the changes. The Video, AEL and tele-converter buttons are moved off the top a bit more and are easier to access and depress. The other buttons on the top of the camera near the shutter have been moved closer to the shutter so they are easier to access.

6) I see Sony decided to put a dedicated ISO button by the shutter button, but they removed the D-Range button. This is a big disappointment to me. It may be that more sophisticated shooters play with ISO a lot but I don't do it often enough for a dedicated button on the top of the camera. On the other hand I did use the D-Range button a lot. I find a lot of high contrast shots are better handled by the Auto HDR feature. Gratefully I was able to reprogram the ISO button to activate D-Range but now my D-Range button is labeled ISO!

7) I'm so glad the stereo microphone is colored black rather than the silver shown in many photos of the camera.

8) The A55 has an infrared focus assist while the A65 uses the flash. I don't know which has better performance but I really like the infrared action over the flash. It is much more subtle.

9) The On/Off button on the A55 has a nice crisp snap to it whereas the A65 feels soft and mushy.

10) Placement of the small red Access Lamp (used to show when files are accessed on the SD card) is better on the A65. The A55 was too low and small. No big deal either way though.

11) I REALLY like the shutter sound. The camera comes with the Front Curtain Shutter ON. When ON the first shutter action is electronic instead of the physical curtain moving. This means there is only one shutter sound per shutter release where as the A55 has a double click. The camera has a nice crisp sound for each photo. A big bonus is the shutter will have 1/2 the operations this way which should extend the life of the shutter. It was a fail of the shutter on the A55 which has it in the repair shop presently.

12) When the A65 processes the Auto HDR images it takes much longer than on the A55. I suppose this is due to the larger image size. It is quite noticeable to me.

13) I may be wrong about this but when reviewing images on the A55 holding the Zoom In button would automatically step through zooms until it reached the limit. On the A65 I have to manually push the button several times to effect the same result. I'll double check this when the A55 comes back from the repair shop (assuming they do fix it!). 7/18/13 True the A55 auto zooms while holding the buttons but the A65 does not. Annoying.

14) As noted in almost every review I've read the noise of the sensor is more than anyone would like. Most reviews said it wasn't good above 1600 or 3200 ISO but I've noticed it in all images. I think the A55 is better in this respect. It is most noticeable in lower light situations. I'm happy with the overall image quality but this forces me to think about ISO and make adjustments to compensate. Not good. This is the reason I rated the camera 4 stars instead of 5 stars. In the end I keep the A65 set to ISO 100 about 99% of the time which provides the minimum noise. The two lenses I use the most are both f2.8 zooms across their whole zoom range so they capture light well enough to keep the camera at ISO 100. Noise isn't an issue and images are astounding.

15) Being able to reprogram/reassign some buttons to other functions is very nice. I can customize the camera to my liking.

16) Improved battery life on the A65 is already noticeable and appreciated. However I never felt the battery life of the A55 was hindering me. I rarely had to change batteries during a single day and I'm often likely to take several hundred photos in a day.

17) Programmable buttons. I really appreciate that the AEL and ISO buttons can be assigned to one of many other functions. I only wish that capability would be extended to the Control Button (4 way rocker). I'm okay with WB, Display, and Drive mode but the bottom of the rocker is assigned to Picture Effect which I will never use. It sure would be nice to assign that button to something I would use.

Overall I'm pleased with the A65.

Update April 23, 2013.
I've now had the camera for almost two weeks. I've taken perhaps 2,000 photos and I am very pleased with it. Not only is the image quality very good but I also find that photo processing algorithms work better on my computer with these high pixel count images. The photos are quite sharp to begin with but when I use a sharpen feature on the computer it does a better job than when I did it with the A55 images.

I posted three images on this Amazon web page. One of my grandson playing soccer, another of a black vintage car, and a third of the inside of a vintage restored car.

April 26, 2013 update
I now wish I had done a bit more research on the A77 before I made this purchase. It is $200 more than the A65 but there are some things I'd like to have. I watched quite a few A77 reviews on youtube and learned some things. First the A77 can save images to the SD card almost twice fast as the A65 with the right SD card. Second the A77 body is sealed so it isn't likely to be damaged by water or dust which would complement my sealed Sony 16-50 f2.8 lens. Third it has more focus points which I now understand makes it focus faster. There is more but these differences will remain out of my reach because I'm unlikely to buy another camera for about 5 years. I'm still very happy with the A65.

May 31, 3012 update
I've just received my A55 back from Sony repair today and it is fixed and working as new again. So I'm able to make just a few more observations now that I have both the A55 and A65 in hand.

1) Indeed it is true that when reviewing still photos and wanting to zoom in the A55 buttons will automatically step through zoom in and zoom out levels just by holding the buttons. With the A65 I have to successively push the zoom buttons manually. This is a disappointment as I use this feature often. I'm concerned about wearing the button action out.

2) The A55 LCD screen is a 16:9 format while the A65 is a 3:2 format. I don't know why Sony decided to make that design change but I do prefer the A55 16:9 format. I posted a photo on this A65 page so you could see the difference. Sorry I only had my iPod Touch camera to take the photo so it isn't the best.

3) The OLED viewfinder of the A65 is indeed superior. It is brighter and the text showing camera setup is outside the frame whereas the A55 lays the text on top of the image being viewed. Still unless I have both cameras in hand the better A65 viewfinder didn't jump out at me.

I sure do like the grip (one of my few real complaints about the A55)on the A65.

In the A65 I finally own a camera that takes the kind of photos I always wished I could. My talent is lacking but the camera isn't.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 26, 2013 5:35:29 AM PDT
Mathew J says:
Excellent review--Could you tell us what lens you have been using? How good is the kit 18 - 55mm lens? Can it produce sharp 13 x 19 prints?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 26, 2013 9:29:01 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Apr 26, 2013 9:55:13 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 26, 2013 9:56:57 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 19, 2013 5:54:42 PM PDT
J. Donaldson says:
Mathew I purchased the body only, as I already had 3 lenses, so I can't comment on the kit lens.

My favorite lens is the Sony 16-50 f2.8. It is very sharp and the auto focus is very quiet which is a big advantage when capturing video.

I also have the Sony 18-250 which is a fine lens but it is slower so not as good in low light. I used this lens for almost 2 years exclusively. I do like having that zoom range. This lens is small and light for what it does. It has a rather noisy auto focus which is heard on videos.

The third lens I have is the large and heavy Sigma 70-200 f2.8. This lens weighs 3 pounds and dwarfs the body. It is very sharp, has a fast and quiet focus. I use this lens for sports (see the soccer photo I posted of my grandson). As the A65 has an APS-C sensor it multiples the focal range of the lenses by 1.5x. That means the effective focal range of this lens is 105-300mm. The downside of this lens is the minimum zoom of 105mm is restrictive. It is also obnoxious and heavy to carry. But it is also wonderful in the right situation.

So my favorite lens, one that people would call my walk around lens, is the 16-50. The lack of zoom range can be compensated for by cropping images on the computer. The 24MP sensor of the A65 allows for a goodly amount of cropping before you start to lose detail, especially with this wonderful lens. The effective short end of this lens is 24mm which is a nice wide angle. If I could only have one lens it would be the Sony 16-50.

Posted on Oct 19, 2013 2:05:48 PM PDT
pfgreens says:
Great review for someone getting back into photography. It's been a battle on deciding which camera to purchase. This helps!
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