Sony SLT-A65V 24.3 MP Translucent Mirror Digital SLR With 18-55mm Lens facts, interesting information with costumer opinions who previously purchased and also best price with very great discount.
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Sony SLT-A65V 24.3 MP Translucent Mirror Digital SLR With 18-55mm Lens Details and Reviews
284 of 291 people found the following review helpful.
Simply the best 2011-2012 midrange DSLR (that isn’t even a DSLR)
By D. F. Watt
This is a serially (and extensively) revised review, as I have had a chance to spend over a year with this camera. It has stood the test of time. With only very few limitations (outlined below), it takes superb stills and very good video. JPEGs print out sharply at 30 by 20 print sizes (as long as I stay under ISO 800). RAW images at low ISO will print tack sharp to 36×24. When paired with the new Sony 16-50mm 2.8 lens (see separate review for this terrific lens), takes some of the best pictures this side of a FF pro camera – if you stay to ISO 800 and under. The one Achilles heel of this camera is low light noise, but I mostly avoid shooting at anything over ISO 1600, so this weakness is mostly rendered a moot point, and is also mitigated by the excellent sensor-based image stabilization (which gives a 2 stop advantage and works with ANY lens). This means that the A65 has low light capability of a camera that can shoot at ISO 6400 but has no IS. For those shooting in the virtual dark, see body text for comments (and confessions).
And for those curious about the cryptic header (that this isn’t a DSLR), it is a DSLT – meaning that a fixed translucent mirror that doesn’t move replaces the standard SLR mirror that has to flop in and out of position in front of the sensor. That design difference is the key to the camera’s unique strengths (and its weaknesses in the minds of many purists). However, that single design difference allows the much faster and more accurate phase detection autofocus system to be working all the time, including while shooting movies (something no other DSLR can do), and thus gives you full time live view, much faster hi-speed shooting, and a lighter body, but also requires an electronic (non-optical) viewfinder, and with a modest (~30%) loss of light to the sensor (with some attendant noise penalty of roughly ½ F stop). The key issue is whether that balance of pluses and minuses works for you . . . . but for most people looking for the best possible still photography and video, this is, at least in IMHO, a truly brilliant stroke that in one fell swoop removes some of the chronic limitations of the classic DSLR environs. There are a few downsides, but with HUGE upsides. Whether its mix of features works for you might depend on what and where you shoot . . . .
1) Best viewfinder in the sub-frame world (2.4 million dot OLED), as bright as any full frame viewfinder, and with far more useful information. Once you’ve used it, you may not be able to go back, and optical viewfinders seem frankly primitive and confining.
2) Class leading 24 megapixel resolution (at low to medium ISO, yields remarkably detailed images, esp in RAW). Good dynamic range and color from this sensor (but see last update).
3) Many useful shooting modes including panorama and high dynamic range modes (but see cons on panorama mode). Intuitive and yet deep & customizable operating system. But can be put in simple AUTO and AUTO+ modes for the less technical.
4) Full-time live view system and full time phase detection AF for both stills and movies – FAR better than the clunky live view systems `tacked on’ in traditional DSLRs, and the contrast detection DLSRs have to use with mirror-lockup during movie shooting.
5) Class-leading video resolution (1080 at 60p) with as good video capabilities as most camcorders. Typically excellent video if shooting in 60p, and with option to use either viewfinder or LCD for framing video – something no other DSLR can do.
6) Intuitive and well thought-out ergonomics.
7) Fast and responsive operation. Fastest continuous shooting in class (10 frames per second). Fast focusing, decent menu speed (improved w/new firmware)
8) Excellent image stabilization system in both stills and video (and no more rapid sensor overheating from the IS being engaged during video shooting that plagued the Sony A55).
9) In-camera GPS (can be defeated).
10) Decent battery life (significant battery upgrade from the Alpha 55) given that EVF sucks down a lot of battery.
11) Perhaps as good features/price ratio in the middle to high-end consumer/prosumer group as any model.
12) Easy access to any Minolta lens and a decent selection of Sony lenses for reasonable money, particularly a superb new 16-50 mm 2.8 lens (see separate review).
13) Ability to remove virtually all CA, distortion, and vignetting in increasing number of Sony lens (firmware-based). When used with new 16-50mm 2.8 lens, produces very sharp images, w/out any visible classic optical distortions (CA, vignetting, barrel distortion, etc).
Firmware correction of classic lens optical aberrations has to be one of most under-appreciated but valuable features of this new camera’s operating system. These corrections work with many popular Sony lenses (now available for virtually all the Sony kit and telephoto zooms and most Sony primes), w/ more included in future firmware. Software correction makes a VERY discernible difference in large prints, and means that these classic distortions are basically a non-issue for corrected lenses (see DP Reviews treatment of this).
1) Some increase in noise at higher ISO, particularly in RAW images without NR (noise reduction). Not surprising in view of increased pixel density (see #9 below). But this is clearly the camera’s one major weakness, and no sense in glossing over it.
2) Despite six firmware updates, several which were supposed to address this, both built-in flash and external flash (Sony’s HVL-F42) still yield consistently overexposed pictures. Can be easily fixed with exposure control but this shouldn’t be happening.
3) As great as the EVF is, sometimes the view is too contrasty, yielding either blown highlights or `blackout’ regions – needs contrast adjustment function.
4) Not as svelte as the Alpha 55 (but for those with big hands, the extra heft and size work). Quite hefty with the 16-50 2.8.
5) Limited control options in high-speed shooting modes and in movie modes.
6) Screen blacks out once you fill up the buffer in high-speed shooting and you have to wait until all the images are dumped onto your card with poor buffer depth (common problem across Sonys – even the new A99). Why can’t Sony get this fixed????
7) Resulting loss of live view in high-speed shooting modes can make aiming the camera a bit tricky.
8) Switching between viewing photos vs. videos is still a bit cumbersome and awkward.
9) Default JPEG settings are both too smooth (need sharpening), and at the same time rather noisy at higher ISO – requires users understand menu options and make adjustments to get best possible JPEGs (set NR to high on high ISO, and sharpening to 3+ gives you the best JPEGs without discernible artifacts in JPEGs).
10) Sweep panorama modes often poor in resolution (because of having to remove panning effects and image smear with very high shutter speeds and high ISO?) compared to stitching together your own panorama images from discrete images (i.e. using Microsoft ICE). Sony should fix this as it limits a very useful mode – should be an option to use lower ISO and hold the camera still and move through field of view instead of rapid panning.
11) Although the EVF is generally excellent, view becomes noisy in low light.
12) Video in low light can be under-exposed, and camera will not go above ISO 1600 for video shooting.
BEST IN CLASS SPECIFICATIONS?
Although the Sony Alpha 65 might have flown under the radar in the context of the simultaneous release of Sony’s flagship Alpha 77, I believe it’s actually the better deal for everyone who’s not interested in a pro-style body. It contains most of the high technology of the flagship model Alpha 77, minus the top LCD panel and the 12 frame per second shooting rate (you’ll have to suffer along with a measly 10 frames per second), a less complex AF system, and a few other minor `downgrades’. But the sensor and the EVF (in my judgment, the most important innovations of the A77) are intact. All this for a significant reduction in Price ($949 for body only versus $1449 for the Alpha 77). (NOTE: both prices have come down).
If you’re interested in video, there are few cameras that equal the video specification of this camera, as most DSLRs will only shoot in 60i (often times interpolated from 30p), whereas this camera will shoot a true 60 frames a second in progressive scan. Still pictures are spectacular, with more resolution than virtually anything outside of the full frame 24 megapixel Nikon D3X. A large 19×13 printout of a standard test image from DP Reviews studio scene shows the A65 very, very close in resolving fine detail to the Nikon D3x (the previous resolution king in 35mm photography prior to the Nikon D800 and able to resolve detail comparable to 35mm Kodachrome 64).
LOW LIGHT PROBLEMS?
Although the recent Digital Photography Review (the closest thing to a definitive reference source on digital cameras on the web) slammed the Alpha 77 (same sensor and basic image engine as the A65) for its high noise particularly in RAW, and its somewhat `mushy’ JPEG rendering, while I generally agree, some clarifications are called for. First of all, the default JPEGs can be significantly sharpened. I run the camera in the `standard mode’ (one of several `creative modes’) but with sharpening at 2+-3+. You wouldn’t want to do this with a Canon (they are already a bit `crunchy’ in terms of their default JPEG settings), but there is no artifact effect that I have been able to find (due to excessive smoothing in the default JPEG definitions?) and this adjustment gets much closer to the maximum detail out of the 24MP sensor. Also, one can also set the HIGH ISO NR (noise reduction) to high, instead of its default. This combination gets much more out of the sensor than its default settings without extra noise above ISO 800. Someone at Sony seems just a bit too enamored of the `smooth’ look – almost all of their cameras are set up with default JPEG definitions that could benefit from modest sharpening. Again Canon goes the other way.
Furthermore, DP Review’s own images show that even at those soft and somewhat noisy default settings, the camera does pretty well compared to the competition – and really quite well indeed given the high pixel count/small pixel size. If you look on the DP reviews website, and use their revealing and useful studio scene comparator tool, and pull up images from several full frame cameras such as the Sony 900, the Nikon D3X, and even the pro-Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, the Sony A65 holds its own at low ISO, with frankly more detail than any 2011 35mm camera (outside of the Nikon D3x and the NEX 7), only giving ground a bit as ISO gets above 1600 (with its much higher pixel density as a major disadvantage). Even there, in low light, I believe that the camera does a credible job, and begins trading off some of its resolution advantage for more noise reduction. Even in head-to-head comparisons with the A900 (FF 24MP sensor), the A65 does a very credible job as ISO rises – and with the disadvantage of a smaller APS-C sensor. Admittedly, any FF model (and esp. the newer FF models like Canon EOS 1Dx and Nikon D4 – both low-light phenoms) are going to trounce it at 3200 and 6400 in terms of noise, but realistically, this is not a camera for low light, and if you shoot mostly in the virtual dark I would not recommend it. On the other hand, I certainly don’t shoot at light levels where I need ISO 3200 and up, and I am not adverse to using a flash. Full frame cameras are going to be significantly better in low light – but they cost anywhere from three times to 10 times as much, are much bigger and heavier, and have bigger, heavier and much more costly lens systems.
More telling are the comparisons on a level playing field. A recent comparison of this camera with the Canon EOS 7D and its cheaper cousin, the Canon Rebel T3i/T4i (at the same price point as the A65 and also w/an APS-C sensor) showed that the although the Canon 7D kept a somewhat higher percentage of its ISO 100 resolution at 1600, the Sony was still handily out-resolving it at ISO 1600. So do take the “low-light noise” knock on this camera with a grain of salt. If you need convincing, check out DP Reviews JPEG image comparator for yourself. Pixel peepers only.
BOTTOM LINE – SONY AND THE BIG TWO?
It’s all about which tradeoffs you want to make. Sony made a clear decision to trade low light ability for speed, resolution and detail in better light. For me, that’s a good-to-great tradeoff, but for some others, perhaps not so much. Obviously, it’s just a matter of priorities and personal preferences. You really can’t have everything. In bright light, the A65 is going to slightly out-resolve both the new Canon EOS 1Dx and the Nikon D4 for lots less money, and some Canon devotees are upset about potentially spending seven grand or so when this new pro camera comes out, and getting only 18 MP worth of detail. On the other hand, that camera (and the new Nikon D4) will take good to great pictures in the virtual dark. If you love to shoot in very low light, get one of the new Nikon or Canon full frame cameras (Update – or the new Sony Alpha 99). Just remember bring a truckload of money for the camera and lens systems! If you are willing to trade some of the low light ability for: 1) a more compact lenses/body; 2) much less money than a full frame system; 3) some of the better video one can get from a DSLR camera, then this system is for you . . . and is a very good deal. If you believe (like some purists) that HD video is a modern corruption of the original function of SLRs, you probably aren’t someone who is going to like Sony’s somewhat iconoclastic approach anyway.
Bottom line – there isn’t another camera for $800 (body only) that comes close to this feature set, and with impressive speed of operation and ergonomics. This is a shot across the bow that both Nikon and Canon are very concerned about. Anyone who compares this to the Nikon 7000 or the Canon EOS 60D (two other prosumer models – with the A65 slightly cheaper than either) has to walk away thinking that the Sony is the better deal – and simply a more capable camera – again except in very low light. If you’re interested in live view, the live view on this is so much better than the clunky live view on both the Canon and Nikon it’s not even funny. It’s far more responsive and much faster. And one look through their dim optical subframe viewfinders, after you’ve used the amazing EVF on the Sony Alpha 65, and you won’t be able to go back to Canikon. The EVF alone is a paradigm-shifting experience – once you’ve used it, optical viewfinders in traditional sub-frame DSLRs seem primitive and confining.
If you look at Digital Photography Reviews over the last 18 months (the closest thing to a definitive reference on the Internet about digital photography), they have given four APS-C Sony cameras highly coveted Gold Awards in the last year and a half (the Alpha 65, Alpha 55 (its predecessor which also won Camera of the Year from Popular Photography in 2010), the NEX 5N, and just recently, the NEX 7. They have also given four Silver Awards to Sony (the NEX 3C, the Alpha 77 and Alpha 35, another silver to the more traditional DSLR Alpha A580). Four Silver and four Gold Awards in 18 months. NO OTHER CAMERA MANUFACTURER HAS EVEN BEEN WITHIN SPITTING DISTANCE OF THIS PERFORMANCE ON THE PODIUM IN THE LAST YEAR OR TWO. If you put all of Nikon’s and Canon’s awards in the FF DSLR and APS-C classes together during the same period, they aren’t even close to this medal haul. (UPDATE – the new Sony A57, the Sony A99, and the RX-1 all secured Gold Awards from DP Reviews – meaning that since August 2010 Sony has received 7 Gold Awards from the best reviewers in the business. In that interval, Nikon, Olympus and Canon TOGETHER have secured FIVE Gold Awards in the combined FF and APS-C camera groups (not counting the D800/D800E as two models).
This suggests that a subtle but real shift of power is taking place in digital photography. Although professionals still clearly gravitate toward the Big Two (where Sony has been seen as an interesting distraction and lightweight), there is increasing reason now to seriously consider Sony, and not just in the APS-C segment. Most believe that Sony is now making some of the best compact ILC cameras (the NEX series), and starting to challenge Canon and Nikon in areas of their traditional dominance. In the space of just over two years, Sony has made traditional DSLRs look clunky, limiting and . . . . well, dated. Unless you are ideologically married to an optical viewfinder – or shoot in the virtual dark – you’ll love the A65 and its big brother the A77. There is nothing better in the APS-C segment right now. As far as the high-end full frame pro market is concerned, let’s see how the upcoming full frame Sony A99 stacks up against the full frame Canon 5D Mark III and cheaper Canon 6D and the new Nikon D800 and cheaper Nikon D 600 (all in the pricy 2-grand-and-up range with several of these over $3000 just for the body). Although Canikon have completely dominated that market, they may finally have some serious competition, even in the pricey pro camera territory.
April 2012 UPDATE
Several interesting new developments. First of all, the new Nikon D800/800E has blown away the competition in terms of resolution, and with surprisingly good low light abilities too – might be the best sensor residing in any camera including medium format (and it’s clearly a Sony sensor). Then again, it’s 3 grand to get the Nikon D800 body (and $3400 for the Canon 5D Mark III), making the A65 still a great deal for almost the same level of detail as the D800. These two new cameras are about 1.5 (Nikon) to 2 stops (Canon) better in terms of low light noise than the A65/77, but it will be really interesting to see what the new full frame Sony A99 brings to this heated up pro camera territory – sometime this summer or fall. You will see a full review of both the Canon 5D MkIII and Nikon D800 on Digital Photography Reviews website soon. I expect them both to easily secure Gold Awards. Pressure will be on Sony to hold serve. The problem is, historically, Sony is not into competing in the high-end pro FF arena – two cameras there over the last 5-6 years compared to 10-12 FF Canikons? Sony has its work cut out given the excellent performance of these two new FF models from Canikon.
On the home front, the new Sony firmware 1.05 (for both the A65/77) is a big improvement in several areas – it (sometimes) resolves the overexposure problem in ADI flash mode (still not quite right however), speeds up picture preview (it’s now virtually instantaneous), provides correction profiles for some additional Sony lenses (distortion, chromatic aberration, and vignetting corrections) including the 70-300 mm G (pro) telephoto (good news for me simply because I own that lens), and fixes a few other items. The speed of preview is really impressive. As soon as you finish the shot, it is available for review on the LCD. Shutdown is MUCH quicker. Nice job Sony. Now if you could just get the flash exposure spot on all the time.
June 2012 UPDATE
Not surprisingly, both the new Canon 5D Mark III and the Nikon D800 easily secured Gold awards on DP Reviews. I think just to avoid controversy and bickering between the two camps, they gave them both the identical score (82). Sony’s full frame A99 however appears delayed and probably is not going to be out this summer. I continue to be impressed overall with the A65 and have now taken at least 6000 pictures. Clearly the one Achilles’ heel of the Sony A65/77 is low light noise, particularly above ISO 1600. However, with the current 16-50 2.8 lens (with F4/5.6 being sharpest edge to edge), I get a full two stop advantage, relative to a typical kit lens which has to be stopped down to f8 get really sharp, which pretty much balances out the two stop noise disadvantage that this camera has relative to a full frame camera like the Nikon D800 or Canon 5D Mark III (shooting at F8). There are times when I wish the camera had somewhat better performance at ISO 3200, and certainly the RAW files have significant noise at that setting, but Sony’s RAW editing software can potentially do a pretty good job with even those somewhat noisy files in terms of cleaning up the noise without losing all the fine detail. I think if you want to put the extra time into shoot RAW, and use IS, you can mitigate the low light disadvantage of this sensor, although still this is its one weakness. Again if you are shooting in bright conditions, or using flash, this really never is an issue.
September 2012 Update:
So where do things stand now that several new competing cameras have been released – including the new Nikon 3200, and the Olympus OMD5? The Nikon 3200 at $699 looks like a very good deal and is slightly better at high ISO (about a half f-stop) in terms of noise than the Sony A 65/77, with the same 24 megapixel resolution (and basic sensor) as the Sony. The Olympus OMD 5 has fantastic high ISO performance for a micro 4/3 sensor (better than either the Nikon 3200 or the Sony A65 frankly) and also offers better JPEG definition than either Sony or Nikon (to the point where RAW post processing typically yields little). The much improved high ISO performance of the OMD 5 also underscores how sensor manufacturers are continually moving the goalposts in terms of improving both high ISO performance and resolution at the same time. The Sony A65 still looks like a great deal as it undercuts the Olympus in price, and although it’s somewhat more expensive than the Nikon 3200, it has a significantly better viewfinder, much better high-speed shooting, and better movie modes. So . . . the short form of the story is while the competition is getting better, the Sony is still a very solid choice in the mid-range DSLR segment.
October 2012 Update:
Sony just released its new firmware version – 1.06. It does a number of things, including – most significantly – improving ADI and TTL flash over-exposure. Flash exposure is still not perfect, but it’s better than earlier versions of the firmware and less variable. I’m using one of Sony’s dedicated flash units (the now discontinued HVL 42 flashgun) and was troubled when bounce flash consistently overexposed. It’s now better but I still have an occasional over-exposure (on both flash direct illumination and on bounce flash), and baseline exposure appears about a 1/2 EV overexposed, suggesting that there is still something modestly amiss from time to time with flash computation. This was never an issue on the A55 so there is something about this camera’s firmware or control system that is still not quite optimized on this point. In any case, it’s good that Sony has acknowledged the problem because initially it looked like they were refusing to admit it. In addition, 1.06 increases the number of Sony lenses that have built-in firmware correction profiles (correcting the three primary optical distortions of chromatic aberration, vignetting, and pin/barrel distortion issues). Virtually any lens that you can buy on the Sony website with this camera now has software correction for these classic optical distortions. Advantage Sony.
Some interesting new options in the mid-range DSLR segment. Pentax just released the K-30 at roughly the same price point as the A65. Best high ISO performance outside of a FF sensor (and full weather sealing – unheard of at this price point), but limited movie mode support (no options for external mic, no dedicated movie button, no still shooting during movies) – Pentax was really thinking about stills when they made this camera, and although its low light abilities are clearly better than the A65’s – and anything else in the sub-frame world – if you are not shooting in low light much of the time, the Sony is the more `balanced’ choice. Pentax uses the 16 MP sensor that Sony supplies to Nikon and also uses in their own A33/35/55/57 APS-C product lines, which is the best current 16 MP subframe sensor in my opinion. Nice job overall by Pentax, so if you find the A65’s Achilles heel of low light noise a real hindrance, you will likely love the Pentax K-30, unless you are a serious videographer. Casual video on the other hand will be fine on the K-30. So there are many attractive options in the subframe semi-pro or `prosumer’ segment. Still think that for most people the EVF, great movie ability and support, superb 16-50 2.8 lens option (really a G- or Zeiss quality lens for just over kit lens money), great resolution, etc. of the Sony A65 outweighs its one big deficit of high ISO noise, but if you disagree with that, by all means, get a K-30. Very close to FF noise performance with fully usable ISO 3200/6400. Credit to Pentax (and to Sony’s great mid-res APS-C sensor).
November 24th Update
I have had a chance to spend almost two weeks shooting with the Sony A99. Very fine camera, wanted to keep it but after much vacillation, decided against that and just returned it. Here’s why – it’s just not $2000 better than the A65 for my purposes, although if I was a pro shooter, or shooting mostly in low light, I would have kept it. Here is how I think it stacked up against the A65 – and Sony is competing not just with Canikon, but with themselves now too – the clearest indication that Sony’s SLT environs has really altered the mid to high end DSLR scene.
Pros of the A99 vs the A65:
1) Superb low light performance, almost as good or as good as the new Nikon D600 and competitive with any FF camera. Credit Sony’s fine development work on the FF sensor for this. Two full F stops better in terms of noise than the A77/65.
2) Somewhat better autofocus performance than even the A77, but only if using AF-D lenses – and not many of them.
3) Weather sealed (advantage vis a vis A65 but toss up with A77).
4) Better video support and better low light video with much less noise (but see cons).
5) Amazing front control dial that really aids on the fly adjustments.
Cons of the A99 vs the A65:
1) $2000 more – pretty big ticket item that requires you love at least something in the PRO: column a LOT!!
2) Weight – with comparable lenses, (15-50 vs 24-70) the A65 is almost a full pound lighter (1200 grams for the A65w/lens vs. 1720 for A99w/CZ lens). That extra pound really makes a difference. It’s frankly tough just toting around the Sony A 65 with the 16-50 2.8 lens, but the Sony A 99 with the Zeiss 24-70 2.8 is really a monster.
3) Lens (and other ecosystem) costs – the 16-50 2.8 (see my Amazon review of this amazing lens) is every bit the equal of the CZ 24-70 for $1000 less – one of the great values in walk around lenses anywhere.
4) Speed – high speed shooting on the A65 is up to 10FPS while the A99 can only do 6FPS – both are stuck with seriously undersized buffers – a really stupid mistake that was repeated on the A99 for unfathomable reasons.
5) No built in flash on the A99.
6) No substantive differences that I can see, even at 100% view in RAW if ISO is 100-200. Barely (and I do mean barely) noticeable by ISO 400 in terms of noise, but cameras really start to separate only at 1600 and up.
7) In view of recent reviews, overall, poorer video of A99 vs. A65 (see Tim Naff’s superb review of the A99 on Amazon, and discussion of the video issues facing the A99 – something of a shock given Sony’s hype about pro videography support for the A99).
Most of this looks like a predictable summary of tradeoffs of full frame cameras (weight and cost vs. better high ISO) compared to their subframe cousins. It is a real testimony to the A65 that most of the time I couldn’t take a better picture with the A99, except when it got dark. So if you shoot a lot in low light, and have the funds, the A99 looks pretty attractive. If funds are more limited, the A65 is still a real deal and offers a lot for the money. The clincher is that the A65 takes good to great video and the A99 pretty average (at best) video.
Update February 12th, 2013
Some stunning developments that could rock the APS-C world and that have sailed mostly under everyone’s radar. Nikon released the 5200 – an upgrade over the 3200 which used basically the same Sony sensor as the A77/65. But this new camera has a Toshiba sensor, and one that comfortably outperforms the competing Sony chip. It shows more dynamic range (one full EV), an extra full bit of color depth, and not surprisingly, about a 500 ISO advantage in low light in DXO testing (some of that emerging from the loss of light to the translucent mirror). However, even without the mirror, testing this against the sensor of the NEX-7, this new Toshiba sensor is better (minimally in relationship to ISO, but with still 1/2 EV advantage in dynamic range). Technical details aside, it’s simply a better sensor, and the first time that someone has made a sensor for APS-C that outperformed the Sony equivalent in years. But does this mean that the Nikon 5200 is a better camera? Well if you are shooting in low light, yes, it probably is, although I still prefer the great Sony EVF over the dark `tunnel’ viewfinder experience on subframe DSLRs like all the Nikon DX cameras. But still, this sensor and its low light performance is a major shot over the bow for Sony, the first time in a long time that someone has produced a better APS-C sensor than Sony. Will this translate into erosion of their market dominance in sensor technology? It’s really kind of a shock given the Toshiba is not known for their sensor technology prowess but it raises some intriguing questions. Will Toshiba be able to produce a FF sensor that also outperforms Sony’s amazing 24 MP FF chip? (powering the Nikon D600, Sony A99 and the amazing Sony RX-1) (see my Amazon review of this quite pocketable wonder camera).
In any case, the release of the Nikon 5200 and the pending release of the D7100 (same impressive Toshiba sensor and a pro-grade autofocus system and without an optical low pass filter) suggest clearly that Nikon is doing a `full court press’ on the high-end sub-frame market. The lack of a low pass filter on the D7100 means that it will probably out-resolve virtually any other 24MP sensor, perhaps with the downside of more vulnerability to moiré. This Toshiba sensor is a full f stop better than the Sony chip on noise (meaning that is only one f-stop poorer in terms of noise than a bunch of full frame models, seriously closing the gap with pro FF equipment), and has somewhat better dynamic range than Sony’s chip also. This suggests that the Nikon D5200/D7100 will offer a very serious challenge to the A65/77, esp. with the great Nikon ecosystem support.
153 of 162 people found the following review helpful.
Phenomenal Game Changer
I have only had this A65 for a couple of days so let’s call this a “first impression”. I think one of the early magazine reviews called the A65 and A77 “game changers”. I have to agree and think that the engineers at Canon and Nikon are really looking at this camera. I also have a Nikon 5100 and Canon G12 in which to compare. Neither of those cameras are slouches. The G12 is my “go to” and I love it dearly (buy one). Of course it is a high end P&S, but a P&S none the less. So I will base my comparison on the Nikon 5100.
Most of my comparisons have been indoor flash shots and a night shots outside. Pixels comparisons aside (16m for the 5100 and 24 for the A65), I am astounded by how much better the Sony photos are. And I thought the 5100 was good-and it is, of course. One of reasons I bought the 5100 was to replace a Nikon D80. I love having a flip out screen, which it and the Sony have. I NEED flip out screens, the G12 has one too. I take a lot of my shots from a position other than up to my eye. Anyway, more about the A65.
The OLED viewfinder is amazing. For a real thorough review of the viewfinder alone check out a review of the A77 here on Amazon. The A65 and A77 share the same viewfinder. First off, is shows the entire image which you don’t get with the 5100. You have to move up to, what the D7000 to get that? I have to tell you the ability to level the camera in the viewfinder in two axis is REALLY handy. No more wonky horizons. I hike a lot in our local PA mountains. The ability to sight across from one hill side to the other and use the viewfinder as a sighting level is a real cool, but admittedly esoteric use of the view finder. Once you have the viewfinder tilt and yaw indicator you will be spoiled forever trust me on that!
With the push of a button you can zoom in the view finder very easily. You can turn on and off the information you see in the finder.
Here’s another advantage in bright daylight: You can review the photos in the finder with your eye through the finder. That is another of MANY pluses of the EVF. I understand Sony has broken some new ground with this new EVF vs. the older iterations of EVFs. They are here to stay. My guess is the optical viewfinder will fade (no flames please). This a very big deal. Using it is a “wow” moment as it is a better mousetrap.
If you put the 5100 on Live View and compare it to the Sony A65 there is NO comparison. If you take a photo in Live View you need to wait until the darn mirror flips up and down. Slooooooow. A P&S camera such as the G12 is MUCH faster shot to shot since it does not have to operate a mirror. The Sony just zooms along merrily, click, click, click, click. Then if you want to mimic a chain gun on a Apache helicopter put it on a continuous 10 shots a second mode. I had no way to measure it, but I put the 5100 on continuous shooting (of course, NOT with Live View) and it was quite a bit slower with that darn ‘ole mirror getting a workout. Don’t forget, though, to minimize your SD card choking on all that data you need to use one of “Extreme” SD cards. I assume you would want that type of SD card for videos anyway (I don’t do much video). A cheapy SD card will work fine unless you want to play machine gun with the shutter. No matter what, it will not keep up with 10fps for very long. I am not sure how the other DSLRs fair in that regard. I did use it an action pistol match my son and competed in. I was able to capture his flying brass and the Glock in full recoil which was pretty cool.
I recently shot some video and played it back on my Sony Bravia 50″ TV (I am NOT, in general, a Sony fanboy, as I currently own Nikon, Canon and Lumix cameras) via the mini HDMI port on the camera. It was truly excellent. Another review here on Amazon from an obvious video enthusiast called it “amazing”. I won’t dispute that. The quality of the audio seem pretty darn good. the microphone sits on top of what would be the pentaprism in an arc. Previously, my videos from the Canon G12 have been on my computer monitor. I am not doing a pixel peeping comparison. Based on my experience and web site reviews the video capabilities are probably best in class.
Shot to shot comparison is: A65 is sharper, but with better color rendition. The only thing the 5100 MAY have over the A65 is perhaps a slightly stronger flash, but not by much. a November 11th review on a German camera web site came out and declared the best camera under 1000 euros. I think the camera has maybe two weakness (or maybe two characteristics that are not better than a Canon or Nikon): the first is that the flash is good but the Nikon may be a bit better. But no one matches Nikon on that. The second is that at high ISOs the quality MAY fall off a little more quickly than comparable Nikon or Canon offerings. That MAY be a tradeoff from having 24m pixels. I say that ONLY from the reviews I have read. I have not had any real world comparisons for high ISOs. My comparisons using a flash in a room with a lot of detail shows the A65 pretty much blowing the 5100 into weeds. I think some have also questioned that the Sony .jpg engine and advised shooting in RAW until Sony refines the firmware. That may be, but the photos, to this amateurs and non-technogeek, look awfully good. It is a heck of a camera and a joy to uses.
I like how the A65 has a dedicated ISO button for quick changes. You can modify one of the 5100’s buttons to do the same thing, but I don’t think it is as intuitive. In fact, none of the command structure in the 5100 is as intuitive as the Sony’s. I have to hunt for options on the Nikon that seem easier to find on the Sony. I have had the 5100 for 7 months and only two days for the Sony…
Here is a bonus to the Sony that I was ignorant of until last week. Legacy AF Minolta and Konica-Minolta lenses work just fine on all the Alphas. Shame on me for not knowing. When Sony bought Minolta in 2005 they wisely retained the old A-mount. Why is that important? You are not stuck buying new Sony lenses. You can buy good used Minoltas that are HIGHLY rated Japanese made lenses. I got my A65 with the 18-55 kit lens. I just received a used Minolta 70-210mm f3.5-4.5 off eBay for $120. It is MINT and works PERFECTLY. If you do a quick search there are web sites devoted to rating Minolta lenses that work with Sony Alphas. Did I say BARGAIN? The lens I bought I think sold for $350 when it was new. On site showed it at $625 in today’s money (based on the old purchase price) if I recall. Even if the Nikon, Canon and Sony were equivalent at the same price point (and they are not) being able to use the legacy Minolta lens is a real plus. (I almost forgot-I had a Canon Rebel XTi. Had buyers remorse right away. The photos from it just did not look good, but that is dam water long gone soured me on Canon DSLRs. I love my G12 though! I realize Canons DSLR are fantastic cameras with lots of happy campers. A semipro I know that shoots wildlife switched to high-end Canons from Nikon simply because comparable lenses from Canon are much cheaper than Nikon, but that is a story for another day).
If you check out eBay lenses. I cannot recommend one seller too highly; ddrfam1439. Dennis deals only with Minolta lenses and is the best seller of ANYTHING I have bought from eBay. There are other reliable lenses dealers on there, but if Dennis has it I would buy with 110% confidence.
I considered the A77 too, BUT here is the problem: a big price hit over the A65. Yes it does have a magnesium body and is weather sealed. If I go hiking in bad weather I will take my weather proof Lumix TS2. It is quite a bit larger and heavier though than the A65. They share the same EVF – that is important. Yeah, I guess it has a couple more focus points, but in real world I don’t think that matters. Sometimes technical reviews focus (to steal a phrase) on pixel peeking and theoreticals rather than real world use. Maybe a pro needs the A77, but $999 vs. $1999? I can find other uses for $1000 – more lenses and filters maybe with lots left over for 18-year old Scotch.
I have always had Nikons and Canons, but until now, never gave Sony a look. The buzz about the A77 caused me to check out the line and I am glad I did. This Sony A65 is like jumping into an Audi S4 from a VW Golf from my Nikon. I think for $999 there is nothing better-at the moment anyway.
I will try to update this review over time.
November 11, 2011 UPDATE. Remember the scene in “Something About Mary” when the greasy P.I. Healy (played to a “T” by Matt Dillon), was lurking around Mary’s apartment? Through his binoculars, he got a glimpse of the body of her prune-like neighbor, but not seeing the face he thought it was Mary. To his fellow buffoon and voyeur he muttered “oooof, first chink in the armor, Teddy”. Well, the A65 has a problem. Sometimes it will not shut or or start up. Taking the battery out and putting it back in solves it for a while. It is acting flaky. I did check on-line and I am running the latest firmware (1.03). So I called Sony…they are emailing me a FedEx label to ship to the Laredo TX service center. The camera is working, but I don’t trust it to hold the charge as something drained the battery even though the switch was ‘OFF’ when I was not using it. I will report how Sony does on service. It is working so I will use it some, but ship it out on Monday.
November 14, 2011 UPDATE: I updated and edited some of the text above. AND the camera seems to be working just fine. I may not sent it back just yet. I took quite a few shots and video yesterday. Likely, my 5100 is going on eBay; don’t need both.
Late November 14 UPDATE: Although it does seem to be working fine now, I think since I have the FedEx (ground) label I may as well send it back to have it gone over. By the way, when I was talking to Sony over the weekend they gave me the address to send it to. I then said it would be nice to get a prepaid label. The rep said, “we will email you one”. I am not sure if she just forgot or that is something you have to ask for. With Sony losing money it may be the latter.
Update November 24, 2011: camera was shipped to Sony in Laredo, TX on 11/16 and arrived 11/21. I received an email from Sony that evening indicating it was received. I just got a phone call this morning (Thanksgiving!) from a fellow at the service center asking me questions on the on-off/battery issue. He said it will ship next Tuesday and arrive to me on Thursday. I have to give Sony high marks to Sony for customer service at this point. I did feel bad, though, for the fellow working on Thanksgiving. That was pretty unexpected.
Update March 18, 2012: I have had the A65 for some time now and can reflect further. It is a fantastic camera with a ton of best in class benefits with only one Achilles heel (very high ISO performance-beyond 1600-is not as good as Canikon). OK, so what I have been up to? Buying lots of Minolta legacy lenses (50/1.7; MACRO 50/2.8; 35-105; 35-80; 700210/f3.5-4.5) and a Sony Carl Zeiss 16-80. Here would be a killer deal: buy the A65 body and the Carl Zeiss 16-80. Then add maybe the Minolta 70-210 (a good one if you can find it. Get the Minolta MACRO 50/2.8 too if you dig closeup work-which I do). I have run comparison tests on all my lens as accurately as I can…the CZ is fantastic from center to edge. The Minolta 50 MACRO 2.8 is just about as good, but the 50/1.7 falls on its ass in the corners-at least my example does. I also compared these lens to the kit lens…the kit lens is no POS. It is quite decent. I got my CZ lens off eBay in as new condition for $625. New it is $800, so it is not cheap. Some have complained that it has a plastic (well made though) body and not metal (the mount is metal). Well, a metal CZ lens cost about double this one, plus it is LIGHTER – always good.
At the risk of repeating myself…the ability to use those legacy Minolta lens is HUGE. For example, the MACRO 50 I got in super shape off eBay for $220 (and gulped at that). The Sony version of that lens now sells for over $500! I paid only $120 for that 70-210/f3.5-4.5 and it is fantastic. I don’t know what you would have to pay for a new lens with comparable optics and range.
I have also picked up a couple of flashes. You can get a Minolta 3600HS for a good price on eBay. It DOES have its limitations (head flips up but does not swivel and cannot cut the power). A MUCH better choice, albeit more expensive is the Sony HVL-F56AM. It is a rebadged Minolta 5600. It has far more capabilities than the 3600. Check them out.
If you REALLY want very high ISO performance, buy a Pentax DSLR and not the Canon or Nikon. Pentax blows everyone into the weeds-and they are an excellent value. As for really low light stuff, such as street shooting, I am fortunate to have a Fuji X100 which does that so well (among other things very well, but with more than a few quirks).
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful.
Review of the Sony A65 DSLR Camera
By Eric Tessmer
Review of the Sony A65 DSLR Camera
by Eric Tessmer, Honolulu Hawaii
I’m writing this with the hope it might save time for others, since I just invested many hours doing camera comparisons before buying my own new camera. I have been a biomed technician for 35+ years, so my experience evaluating equipment and its features may be useful to others.
Before I purchased this camera, my experience had always been with Nikon or Canon cameras. I have been using Canon cameras for over 15 years and have been happy with all of the models I owned. I had no interest in Sony originally, but a friend of mine, who has considerable photography experience, suggested comparing the three top cameras in this DSLR class before buying.
I compared the Sony A65 vs. Nikon D5100 vs. Canon T3i. I also spent a fair amount of time looking over photos, specs, and reading what professional and “average Joe” photographers think and feel about Sony and specifically the A65.
I started out biased towards Nikon and Canon, not even liking Sony cameras, based on the ones I had seen a few years back. But some of the reviews and comments about the new Sony DSLR were from nationally known professional photographers whom I respect. Also, I saw that Trey Ratcliff, the HDR guru, stated that the newest Sony cameras will be real game changers in the DSLR world. With all of this, I took a closer look at what all the buzz was about.
I am a member of DP Review and have posted numerous questions about this camera there. I have also spent time in camera shops holding, inspecting, and taking photos using the Canon T3i, Nikon D5100 and Sony A65. I poured over a lot of reviews, professional opinions, specs, and technology, learned a lot, and ended up really liking the approach Sony was taking – not trying to copy, but to truly innovate. Sony is obviously investing very heavily in their camera division.
Look, Fit and Feel:
Although the Canon and Nikon have a good feel to them (Nikon getting the definite edge), I liked the Sony quite a bit better because the body felt better balanced, was slightly lighter and smaller, and the button layout was intuitive and had a real solid feel. Also, the hand grip side was sculpted and deeper with a larger thumb pad which gave a surer, more confident grip to my hands than either the Canon or Nikon.
View Finder (VF):
Both Nikon and Canon use optical VF and Sony has an Electronic VF. Both the Nikon and Canon VF were quite small, but were also fairly clear. The Sony looked very good and I took several pictures which were very easy, especially with the useful overlays (similar to what you would see on the monitor). Here are the specs:
* Eye-level fixed XGA OLED, 1.3 cm (0.5 type) electronic viewfinder
* 2,359,296 dots resolution
* Magnification approx.1.09x
* 100% frame coverage
From Image Resource Website: “In a class of cameras that tend to be fitted with comparatively small pentamirror viewfinders, the large, bright and high-resolution EVF of the Sony A65 stands apart. Unlike optical viewfinders, the size of an EVF doesn’t have to be constrained by the size of the camera’s sensor, which means it’s possible to offer a finder much closer to the size photographers enjoyed when they shot film SLRs. In terms of size, clarity and utility, the finder in the A65 at least rivals, but in some respects surpasses some of those found in much more expensive conventional DSLRs. Compared to its direct APS-C format DSLR peers, there is simply no contest. The A65’s EVF is close enough to the quality of a high-end optical viewfinder that it has advantages (the ability to preview exposure and white balance, or to gain-up for working in low light). The OLED Trufinder that Sony is now using over older EF technology is a very different beast – its 2.4M dots are able to provide a 1024 x 768 pixel display and do so with a progressive update. As a result, the viewfinder not only gives a more detailed view but also one that’s free from tearing. After extended use, we’re confident in saying that it is the best EVF we’ve ever used.
Low refresh rates were often a bugaboo of early EVFs, but the problem seems pretty completely banished with the combination of the Sony A65’s sensor, fast processor, and OLED EVF technology. The area where EVFs completely crush optical viewfinders is, of course, in on-screen information display. With the whole viewfinder area a full-color high-resolution image display, readout, status and other information can be displayed anywhere you please. Not only that, but full menu displays are a button-press away, so your eye never need leave the viewfinder while operating the camera.”
I particularly liked the 3-axis level indicator which you can turn on in the VF.
Shooting and Controls:
Shooting: all three cameras were pretty much the same, but with a slight edge to the Sony, since with Sony, there seemed to be zero lag when the exposure button was pressed and the control layout seemed better.
Controls: all were very good, but the exposure control being on the left side of the Sony made it much easier to control your settings while looking through the VF.
Photo Reviews and other photographers comments:
Of the numerous comments from owners of this camera, the only major negative I read was that it does not do as well in low light situations. If you do a lot of action shots over ISO 1600 in low light, then the Nikon and Canon will outperform the Sony. This is due to the fact that Sony has 24MP vs. Canon at 18MP and Nikon at 16MP in about the same size APS-C sensor. The Sony also uses a pellicle (transparent) mirror. There’s no reflex mirror to raise, but there is a 20% light loss to the sensor.
I have the same issue with my current Canon at 15MP with a CCD sensor, which is worse because I cannot shoot anything over ISO 400 without seeing some noise and over 400 it is really noticeable. I have managed with ISO 400 or less for my quality shots for over three years, so I can deal with 1600 or less. Thus I still feel the other advantages of the Sony A65 outweigh this disadvantage. Plus, as one user pointed out, there is a noise-reduction multi-frame mode which allows you to take six shots in less than 1 second and it combines these into one low-noise image for low light photos. The sample photos look very good.
The pellicle (transparent) mirror in the A65 uses the same technology as on Sony’s high-end semi-professional A77 model.
Another edge Nikon has over the Sony was that several reviewers felt that the JPEG algorithm was slightly better in the Nikon at higher ISOs and recommended shooting the Sony RAW at over 400 to get the best image quality. In the RAW format, the Sony image quality was judged to be significantly better than either Nikon or Canon up to 1600 and was comparable to full frame DSLR sensors.
A bit more information on the pellicle mirror from Imaging Resource: “The defining feature of the Sony SLT-series cameras, the translucent (or pellicle) mirror allows most light to pass through to the imaging sensor beneath, while a small portion is reflected for use by the camera’s phase-detect autofocus sensor. This unusual design brings three main advantages over a traditional SLR: full-time phase detection autofocusing (even during video capture), improved burst shooting performance, and a modest reduction in camera body size. This, combined with use of an electronic first curtain, allows the Sony A65 to capture 10 frames per second with less noise and vibration.”
One reviewer, Michael Reichmann of the Luminous-Landscape.com, summed up his perspective on Sony and their position well: “Never underestimate Sony. They are the new kid on the block when it comes to mid-to-high-end digital photography, but they are an 800 pound gorilla in the electronics industry, and the digital cameras industry is now the electronics industry.
When Sony purchased Konica/Minolta in 2006 they acquired substantial SLR, DSLR, and optical lens technology along with staff and expertise. They also added a licensing / manufacturing relationship with Carl Zeiss, so that they could use that company’s lens technology for both digicams and DSLRs. Not to be discounted is the fact that Sony is one of the few camera makers that designs, engineers, and fabricates their own sensors and other semiconductors. Indeed competitors such as Nikon and Pentax reportedly have Sony fabricate their sensors for them, sometimes based on Sony designs as well.
It’s now five years on, and Sony has had decent success with their Alpha cameras, and during the past 12 months with their NEX series of CSC (Compact Systems Cameras). Their A900 and A850 cameras have been the least expensive full-frame 24MP cameras on the market, and last year the A35 and A55 introduced Sony’s unique “Translucent Mirror” technology – a pellicle mirror that allows extremely high speed shooting, and continuous autofocus in video mode.
The NEX cameras have offered up the smallest and lightest weight APS-C sensor cameras available, and have been very successful in some markets. Now, in late August 2011, Sony has announced four new cameras, three of them with 24 Megapixel APS-C sensors, along with a new NEX model with a 16MP sensor, and a number of lenses and accessories. This isn’t just a large number of new products all at once – it’s a full-court-press on the rest of the industry.”
DP Review gave the A65 it’s Gold Award, meaning it was rated the best in its class.
From various websites, I looked at hundreds of side-by-side photographs of the same image using the A65 vs. D5100 vs. T3i and I have definitely come to prefer the Nikon images over Canon. But I also believe Sony has a big edge over both. Even with high ISO limitation, I still prefer the Sony A65 image quality over the Nikon D5100 & D7000 even at ISO 1600.
At 3200 both Nikon and Sony images are compromised, but the Nikon is definitely better.
I did a direct comparison with the D5100 and here were the main A65’s advantages:
* Much larger viewfinder – more than 90% larger
* Built-in image stabilization vs. none
* Faster continuous shooting – 10 fps vs. 4 fps
* Much higher sensor resolution 24 MP vs. 16 MP
* Built-in panoramic creation vs. none
* 3D photo capable vs. none
* GPS vs. none
* Better light sensitivity 12,800 ISO vs. 64,000 ISO
* Faster autofocus phase vs. contrast detection
* Much better viewfinder coverage 100% vs. 95%
* Built-in focus motor vs. none
* More focus points 15 vs. 11
* More cross-type focus points 3 vs. 1
The main A65 disadvantage to the D5100:
* Noisier image at high ISO (over 1600)
* Fewer lens selections
* Slightly larger and heavier (by a few mm and grams)
* $200 more expensive than the Nikon D5100
While I initially took a skeptical approach about the Sony camera, I gradually became convinced that the Sony A65 was my best choice. I made the purchase through Amazon and it is interesting to note that from the dozens of stores and websites I checked, no one was discounting the camera. They all were the same price – a very good sign of the quality and value of this camera.
Now I have had this camera for a month, have taken over 1,000 pictures of various types and settings, and absolutely love this camera. It both lives up to the hype, and has also exceeded all my expectations. I have had ZERO issues with this camera and here are some of my favorite features:
* Built-in panoramic stitching – fabulous job stitching together a bunch of photos into one seamless photo in a few seconds – all without having to use a tripod – it really works amazingly well.
* Noise reduction Auto-ISO – multi-frame merged shots for great low-light shots
* Several choices of built-in High Dynamic Range (HDR) shooting modes – with stunning results
* Built-in help and explanation menus
* Intuitive menu selections and controls
* Incredible detail and full shooting information in electronic viewfinder
* Easy to use and flexible HD video mode
* Very sharp high resolution photos
Eric Tessmer, CBET, Biomed Technician
To view some of my photos visit:[…]
Features of this product
- 2nd Generation Translucent Mirror Technology camera
- 24.3 MP for superb detail and amazing enlargements
- Ultra-fast up to 10 fps continuous shooting with Auto Focus
- Built-in GPS chip for geotagging your pictures and video
- World’s first HD Movie mode with AVCHD 60p/60i/24p
Digital slrs are usually larger than Prosumer cameras. However, DSLRs tend to be equipped with a convenient hand grip which makes it possible and easier that you should hold your camera when using a heavy lens. DSLRs include bigger sensor hence helping you to capture larger objects. The sensor also uses a low-noise sensor technology so the images produced are better. Due to the large sensor size, the cost is generally expensive.
All that we have shared above is all you need to know about this product. At this point, you can decide whether it be a right product that you just really need or not. Still, the decision remains to be on your hand since we only can give you to information and recommendation for ones best choice. For the main thing for you, price would not be an issue especially if the product is absolutely suitable for your require. We also have a lot more articles or reviews regarding to similar products that is suitable for you to generate a comparison. You can explore and ensure what your right selection is. We hope which is to be fruitful for you. Have a wonderful day all and lots of thanks for stopping by means of and reading our content.