Feeds
75%
Sony Alpha A550

Sony Alpha A550

Less is more?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

Review The positioning of the Sony’s Alpha A550 in its DSLR line-up is a bold move. At this price point the company has left off some features that most manufacturers are offering as must-haves, namely, HD Video and customisation of picture profiles. What the A550 has instead are features more suited to still photography, with a continuous shooting at a much higher than average capture rate and shadow detail adjustment by two different means.

Sony Alpha A550

Stills only: Sony's Alpha A550

On the face of it, the Alpha A550 is a camera for people wanting interchangeable lenses on a simple DSLR, and many of these interested buyers know, deep down, that they are never likely to delve into the intricacies of operating a complex modern camera. In fact, they might never change the lens, which in this instance is a very capable DT 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 Smooth Autofocus Motor (SAM) zoom. It covers a very useful range from decent wide-angle shots to a reasonable tele-photo.

Actually the term 'simple DSLR’ might be a little harsh. After all, this camera utilises a 23.4 x 15.6mm, 14.2Mp CMOS Exmor sensor, which gives you all the preset programs for different situations (sport, portrait, mountains etc), as well as Program-Aperture-Shutter and Manual. Shutter speeds span from 1/4000th – 30secs and the A550 has a decent ISO range of 200-6400, with a stretch to 12800 through an option in the menu. However, just like with any other camera, don’t expect good results at that far end of the scale.

There is also a No Flash setting on the top dial, which is ideal for a no-nonsense, second chance at a shot having taken one full auto flash. It’s easy to find next to full auto, just one click away. Metering is good even with tough backlit subjects, though it helps knowing when to switch to the Spot Metering mode, or when to use the Auto Exposure Lock (AEL).

The images themselves are on the punchy side - a little more saturated, very good and clear with a tendency to be overexposed on darker subjects. Yet, like most systems, you can simply bracket with the Exposure Compensation and make the camera yield.

Sony Alpha A550

With no LCD display on top, there's room for useful dedicated function buttons

With Speed Priority Mode you you can capture seven frames a second. That is fast, and to be honest, unexpected and almost seems out of place on here. While both focus and exposure are set on the first frame of the sequence – and remain for the subsequent frames – this is fine at this level. After all, this is a camera for people dabbling, not making money from motor sport. You can also opt to capture at 3fps and 5fps. The A550’s image buffer can handle taking 14 RAW frames before it has a pause.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Report: Apple seeking to raise iPhone 6 price by a HUNDRED BUCKS
'Well, that 5c experiment didn't go so well – let's try the other direction'
Video games make you NASTY AND VIOLENT
Especially if you are bad at them and keep losing
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Nvidia gamers hit trifecta with driver, optimizer, and mobile upgrades
Li'l Shield moves up to Android 4.4.2 KitKat, GameStream comes to notebooks
Gimme a high S5: Samsung Galaxy S5 puts substance over style
Biometrics and kid-friendly mode in back-to-basics blockbuster
AMD unveils Godzilla's graphics card – 'the world's fastest, period'
The Radeon R9 295X2: Water-cooled, 5,632 stream processors, 11.5TFLOPS
Sony battery recall as VAIO goes out with a bang, not a whimper
The perils of having Panasonic as a partner
NORKS' own smartmobe pegged as Chinese landfill Android
Fake kit in the hermit kingdom? That's just Kim Jong-un-believable!
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.