Ten frames per second with continuously active AF is no mean feat, especially in a camera costing £700. Whether it is worth the loss of the optical viewfinder is another matter

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Sony Alpha 55

Metering:
Noise/resolution:
Autofocus:
Features:
AWB Colour:
LCD viewfinder:
Dynamic Range:
Build/Handling:

Product:

Sony Alpha 55 review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£669.00
TAGS:

Autofocus

Image: Even in low light using ISO 12,800, the ten frames per second with AF shooting rate performs well 

A new 15-point AF system is featured in the Alpha 55, of which three of the AF points are of the more sensitive cross type. Combined with the phase-detection AF system, this camera offers some of the fastest AF speeds I have come across in the Alpha range.

When used in Live View and video modes, phase-detection AF is particularly impressive. I photographed single-subject tracking scenes, such as my brother running on the beach or sitting on a merry-go-round, and found that the AF is responsive to lock on the subject and then maintain focus. For slightly faster-moving subjects, such as dogs, it can lag behind by a fraction of a second.

For the most part the subject was in focus in around eight out of ten frames. I also took the camera to a floodlit football training session. At times the continuous AF struggled when groups of people were moving within the frame, with an undesired subject in focus. I found that the AF system favours the subject in the centre of the frame, so placing it in this position really helped. There is a slight decrease in the number of in-focus frames when shooting in low light, but the Alpha 55 performs well nonetheless.

There is a catch to using continuous AF in the 10fps mode: it is only available in auto exposure (AE) and therefore you lose control over aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance. You can regain these controls by selecting single-frame AF, but in this mode the AF and exposure values from the first frame are kept throughout the sequence.

Losing the constant focusing is a disadvantage when shooting a burst of images, but if the subject is unlikely to move in and out of focus and the lighting in the scene is consistent, then single-AF offers more flexible controls for consistent results. That said, to have constant AF at 10fps is very impressive, especially considering the Alpha 55’s price.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Features
  3. 3. Build and handling
  4. 4. Noise, resolution and sensitivity
  5. 5. Metering
  6. 6. Autofocus
  7. 7. Viewfinder, Live View, LCD and video
  8. 8. Dynamic range
  9. 9. White balance and colour
  10. 10. GPS
  11. 11. Our verdict
  12. 12. The competition
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