Sony A550 Reviews and Resources

by on May 25, 2009

in Sony

Sony A550

The Sony A550 is a 14.2-megapixel DSLR, which offers live view functionality and a new Auto HDR mode. The A550 was released simultaneously with the Sony A500.  These new cameras sit in Sony’s DSLR lineup between the A380 (as the top-end consumer model) and the A700 as a mid-range prosumer model.

The Sony A550 should be available in October 2009 at an initial retail price of $950.  Check availability on Amazon.com.

Read Photography Bay’s Sony A550 Review.

Sony A550 Reviews

Adorama Learning Center

Digital Camera Info

Photoclub Alpha

Photocrati

Imaging Resource (hands-on review)

Sony A550 Press Release

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 27, 2009 – Sony today introduced two α (alpha) DSLR cameras with a new generation of Exmor™ CMOS sensors and BIONZ™ image processors, which make it easy for active shooters to get the best shot and capture clearer images—without missing their favorite moments.

The α550 (14.2 megapixels) and α500 (12.3 megapixels) cameras provide excellent picture quality, particularly in low-light scenarios. A new generation of Sony® Exmor CMOS image sensors employ new low-noise processing for high-quality pictures. The BIONZ image processor has color-noise reduction that helps achieve low noise up to ISO 12800, without sacrificing fine detail.

“We are bringing performance of a higher class of cameras within the reach of a broader group of consumers,” said Mark Weir, senior manager of the Digital Imaging business at Sony Electronics. “Not only do these cameras provide great value, but they also bring faster shooting speeds and new technologies like in-camera High Dynamic Range and new Live View features to mainstream photo enthusiasts.”

Fast Shooting Speeds

With its unique sensor-processor combination, the α550 camera is the first DSLR in its class with seven frames per second shooting speed for under $1,000. Using the optical viewfinder on both models, you can shoot up to five frames per second and up to four frames per second with Quick Auto Focus Live View. This helps you capture the decisive moment when shooting fast moving subjects like in sports.

In-Camera High Dynamic Range

These are Sony’s first DSLR cameras that offer an in-camera High Dynamic Range (HDR) feature for capturing highlights and shadows, which processes the image within two seconds. Unlike HDR features in other DSLR cameras, Sony’s unique positional interpolation technology can overcome slight changes in camera position and align individual shots so that a tripod is not required.

The feature handles severe backlighting and other high-contrast scenes like looking out a window into bright daylight. The in-camera auto HDR technology combines the highlight and shadow detail of two separate captures into one remarkably natural looking image.

Improved Live View

Because composing shots on the LCD monitor is becoming increasingly important to DSLR users, Sony has equipped these cameras with two Live View functions and a 3-inch (measured diagonally) LCD screen that tilts 90 degrees up or down. The α500 has a 230,000 pixel Clear Photo LCD Plus™ screen, and the α550 has a 921,000 pixel Xtra Fine LCD™ display.

Sony’s Quick AF Live View uses two sensors to maintain the same focusing speed as with the optical viewfinder. While the speed of Quick AF Live View is ideal for every day shooting, Manual Focus Check Live View enables critical framing and magnification for setting precise manual focus in macro and tripod shooting. Temporary 7x and 14x zoom views enable you to focus on extremely fine detail while the 1x view shows 100 percent framing in the LCD.

The Quick Auto Focus Live View has been developed with Face Detection technology to help you get the best shot by recognizing and adjusting for faces. It is the world’s first Face Detection system to work with fast, high-precision “phase detection” Auto Focus. By tracking up to eight faces, this system can prioritize auto focus points on a face, and optimize exposure and white balance for beautiful portraits.

These are Sony’s first DSLR cameras that include Smile ShutterTM technology in Live View, which takes the shot when your subject smiles. It works with Quick Auto Focus Live View to capture spontaneous moments.

Image stabilization helps take blur-free shots by compensating for camera shake. Typical DSLR systems build image stabilization into selected lenses only. SteadyShot INSIDE™ image stabilization is built into the camera body itself. Blur will also be reduced with every A-mount lens, including macro and wide aperture standard zoom lenses, with an effect equivalent to shutter speeds faster by 2.5 to 4 stops

To make the benefits of macro photography easier and more accessible, Sony is making available at retail the DT 30mm F/2.8 (model SAL30M28) macro lens. It captures intricate close-ups, which is difficult to achieve with standard lenses and is only compatible with APS-C format DSLRs.

Memory Cards

For higher capacity storage with greater connectivity and faster transfer speeds, the new DSLRs are compatible with Sony’s newest 32GB Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo™ HX media. The HX series card is designed to deliver optimal read and write speeds for a growing number of products that require high-bandwidth memory in order to capture and store large data files.

Using the HX series media, Sony α (alpha) DSLR users can confidently enjoy advanced features such as continuous-shooting photography and realize higher transfer rates of large capacity files to their compatible PC (via supplied USB adapter). For example with the α550 model, approximately 1500 14-megapixel photos shot in the JPEG+RAW mode can be transferred to a compatible PC in approximately 26 minutes (HX series media sold separately).

The new cameras include dedicated slots for high-capacity Memory Stick PRO Duo™, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo™, HX series and SD/SDHC media (all sold separately).

Pricing and Availability

The α550 (model DSLR-A550) and α500 (model DSLR-A500), which come with the camera body only, will cost about $950 and $750 respectively. The α550L and α500L, which come with the camera body and 18-55 kit lens, will cost about $1050 and $850, respectively. The SAL30M28 macro lens will be available for about $200.

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{ 8 comments }

1 Jaxon S May 25, 2009 at 8:27 pm

Just a wild guess, how about a “pan-and-stitch” feature similar to the one seen in the HX1?

2 Eric May 25, 2009 at 8:56 pm

@Jaxon – That would be pretty cool. I love the feature on the HX1 and it would certainly do something that other DSLRs don’t if it appeared in the A500/A550.

3 Ameer Hamza May 26, 2009 at 9:46 am

I just hope they dont follow this new design strategy. A230 A330 and A380 look absolute horried. Sony is turing them into toys,
I hope sony does something nice with these models.
Atleast CMOS sensors

4 Henry Gardner May 26, 2009 at 11:46 pm

I stuggled with my pruchase decision as the new D5000 Nikon came out righ as I was making up my mind. The price scared me so I bought the A350. However, I really liked the versatile LCD and video features of the D5000. Has Sony addressed these two features in the new 500 series? Time will tell.

5 Chris November 20, 2009 at 11:38 am

I have been unable to pull the trigger on buying an A550 because I am not sure this is a cost-effective upgrade from my A100. My lingering resistance comes from the categorization of the A550 as being appropriate for “novices” moving up from P/S or digicams. This makes me think that the A550 is not really any kind of upgrade from my A100.

The A850 and A900 would require re-tooling because all my glass is optimized for the A100 APS sensor, meaning a very large budget hit. So, thinking about retooling and spending a large chunk of cash to upgrade, I am no seriously thinking about taking my money and going over to Nikon or Canon instead of staying with SONY.

I have had Canon (film) and several of my family members presently have Nikons, and I am very impressed with the Nikon line.

I have decided to wait a few months before making my final decision.

6 techguru November 20, 2009 at 7:38 pm

Sony A550 DSLR Camera is a very good camera it has Quick Auto Focus Live View has been developed with Face Detection technology to help you get the best shot by recognizing and adjusting for faces. It establishes the priority of the auto focus on faces and provides fine adjustments of exposure for portraits net, with tones natural skin. It also supports Up to 7 frames per second (with optical viewfinder in Speed Priority mode) can capture the decisive moment in sports or get the ideal baby photo. You can also shoot at up to 4 fps with Quick Auto Focus Live View. For more information check here http://www.techarena.in/review/16688-sony-a550-dslr-camera.htm

7 Chris November 23, 2009 at 11:24 am

I noted the following “cons” posted on teh techarena.in website:

(Quoting)

Cons:

The camera gives less performance.
Low performance in bad light condition
The camera is not capable of taking moving shots properly. The flash has a slow loading time.
Night mode support is not good.
Image delay time is long
There is no support for manaual shutter speed/aperture

(End of quote)

The last item, “no support for manual shutter speed/aperture” would be a deal-breaker for me. But, the camera specs indicate a “Manual” mode, so what is the case…can the camera be operated in the manual (shutter speed/aperture) mode, or not?

8 Chris Wendt November 27, 2009 at 9:12 am

I have decided that for $1,000 the Sony A550 does not represent a real upgrade from my Sony A100.

Still wanting to upgrade from the low 10.2 MP resolution and high noise of the Sony A100, I have reached a gut-wrenching decision to trade-in my Sony A100, several lenses and high-end flash and upgrade to Nikon. This will allow me to make a significant step-up in image quality and take advantage of Holiday pricing deals on the Nikon.

My brother and my son each have a Nikon gear, and their image quality is almost incredible compared to either Sony A100 or A550. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Chris W.

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