Sony Alpha 33
Price as Reviewed:£569.99
With its use of translucent mirror technology in the Alpha 33, Sony has evolved the way that its digital cameras focus. But how much does the new system really improve on the SLR? We put the Sony Alpha 33 to the test
With so much attention focused on the new autofocus system and HD video capture, it is all too easy to forget about the Alpha 33’s other features. The camera has all that you would usually expect from a Sony Alpha – and more.
At the heart of the Alpha 33 is a 14.2-million-pixel, APS-C-size CMOS sensor, which is the same as that used in the Sony NEX micro-system cameras. Like the Alpha DSLR cameras, the Alpha 33 SLT has sensor-based stabilisation to reduce the effects of camera shake. Also helping to prevent camera shake is the fact that a maximum sensitivity of ISO 12,800, enabling photographers to shoot handheld with a fast shutter speed.
This high-sensitivity setting can be pushed to ISO 25,600 in multi-frame NR mode. Accepting that images will be noisy at this extended sensitivity setting, the multi-frame NR takes a series of pictures, which it aligns and merges to reduce the level of noise.
Multi-frame NR is helped by the high 7fps shooting rate. This makes it easier for the camera to align the multiple images, as they can be taken in very quick succession without camera shake causing too much movement between frames. Similarly, the handheld twilight mode allows images to be taken in low light by shooting six shots and merging them into a single photo, picking just the sharpest elements of each frame. Again, this is aided by the high shooting rate.
There is a whole new AF system to complement the Alpha 33’s new focusing capabilities. This features 15 points, of which three are the more sensitive cross-type sensors. Also new is the impressively specified 1,200-zone evaluative metering system.One of the major new features is video capture. Full 1920x1080i HD video capture is possible, but more on this later.
The electronic viewfinder has also paved the way for another new feature – a digital level gauge. This gauge works on three axes, so it can help ensure that not only are horizons level, but also that the camera isn’t leaning backwards or forwards.
Given the intended market for the Alpha 33, I have tested the camera as if it were a DSLR. Despite it having an EVF, its shape, Alpha lens mount and 14.2-million-pixel APS-C sensor mean it has far more in common with DSLRs than micro-system cameras. Where it fits within Sony’s Alpha range is open to debate. With a suggested retail price of £569.99, 7fps shooting rate, AVCHD video capture and a sensitivity range of up to ISO 12,800, the Alpha 33 has many of the features you would expect from an enthusiast camera. However, its diminutive size, plastic body and button placement have more in common with an entry-level camera. In reality, the Alpha 33 sits somewhere between the two, either at the top end of the entry-level or the lower end of the enthusiast-level market.
- Shutter Type: Electronically controlled focal plane
- Built-in Flash: Yes GN 10m @ ISO 100
- Dioptre Adjustment: ±4
- Memory Card: SD/SDHC/SDXC/Memory Stick Pro Duo
- Output Size: 4592x3056 pixels
- Viewfinder Type: EVF with 1.15 million dots (equivalent)
- LCD: 3in widescreen TFT LCD screen with 921,600 dots
- Field of View: 100%
- White Balance Bracket: 3 Frames over 2 steps
- AF Points: 15 automatically selectable points with 3 cross-type sensors
- Focal Length Mag: 1.5x
- Max Flash Sync: 1/160sec
- Sensor: APS-C-size CMOS sensor with 14.2 million effective pixels
- Exposure Modes: PASM, auto+, 8 scene modes
- Weight: 433g (without battery or card/s)
- Power: Rechargeable Li-Ion battery NP-FW50 (supplied)
- File Format: Raw, JPEG, raw + JPEG simultaneously
- Shutter Speeds: 30-1/4000sec in 1⁄3 steps plus B
- Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB
- Drive Mode: 7fps for 16 JPEG or 7 raw images in Continuous Advance Priority Mode
- DoF Preview: Yes
- Dimensions: 124.4x92x84.7mm
- Metering System: 1,200-zone multi, centreweighted, spot
- Connectivity / Interface: USB 2.0 Hi-Speed/HDMI
- Compression: 2-stage JPEG
- Exposure Comp: ±2EV in 1⁄3EV steps
- RRP: £569.99 (body only)
- Lens Mount: Sony Alpha mount
- ISO: ISO 100-12,800 in 1/3EVEV steps
- Focusing Modes: Auto, manual, wide , face detection
- Tested as: Enthusiast DSLR
- White Balance: Auto, 6 presets, plus custom and Kelvin settings