Shooting with the New Sony Alpha A55 DSLR at the Alvin Ailey Dance Studio

August 25, 2010

By Chris Gampat

(This story first appeared in the Phoblographer.)

Sony announced the new A55, A560 digital SLRs and a new 24mm F2 lens yesterday morning. I got to play with the products at a private Sony event at the Alvin Ailey Dance Studio in NYC. Impressions, findings and images are below.

Please do note that I handled pre-production units and all photos were shot in JPEG mode.

Hands-On Impressions
The Sony A55 is an extremely small DSLR. I don’t have big hands, but when my fingers cuff the grip, my pinky finger ended up not touching the camera. It truly is the smallest DSLR I’ve ever held and feels even smaller than the Panasonic GH-1 (a camera without a mirror at all.)

To be honest, while sitting through the Sony presentation I couldn’t help but think to myself, “What professional photographer needs to shoot that many frames and uses an APS-C sized sensor camera?” The answer: it’s not meant for pros. Shooting the dancers reminded me of that. And the average person loves to shoot cameras like they’re machine guns. Granted so do some sports photographers, but they’re only in short bursts.

The A560 was a camera that felt more like the type of camera that I would use despite the fact that I found its image performance to not be on par with the A55 but its processing speed to be faster. Once again though, these were pre-production units.

Something that needs to be kept in mind is that the A560 cannot autofocus in video mode at all, according to the Sony PR reps. If you’re a photographer or prefer to manually focus anyway the most cinematographers do, then you’ll have no problem.

The buttons aren’t as close together on the back since the camera body is considerably larger. Whether or not those are your preferences for a DSLR that shoots video is really up to the user.

My only critique would be that I wish they would have incorporated a back dial to change the aperture.

(To read the rest of Chris’ post on these new Sony products, click this link.)