Sony Alpha DSLR-A550

Released August, 2009
  • 14 MP
  • APS-C 23.4 x 15.6 mm CMOS
  • 3" LCD
While not as flexible a design as a flip-and-twist articulated LCD, Sony's tiltable displays are nice for shooting at odd angles.
by c|net (Feb, 2010)
8.8 Out of 10

Camera Rocket Review Our evaluation of the Sony Alpha DSLR-A550

Image Quality

RAW image quality independent of lens

Alpha DSLR-A550
8.6
EOS 1100D
8.5
D5200
9.8
DxOMark Low light, DxOMark Color depth and DxOMark Dynamic range

Focusing

How fast and easily does the camera nail focus

Alpha DSLR-A550
8.0
EOS 1100D
10.0
D5200
6.8
Focus lag

Responsiveness

How much delay is there between you and your photo?

Alpha DSLR-A550
8.6
EOS 1100D
10.0
D5200
8.1
Focus lag, continuous shooting and Startup delay

Reviews

What do the experts think?

Alpha DSLR-A550
9.2
EOS 1100D
9.0
D5200
9.2
Reviews from sonyalpharumors.com, photographyblog.com and reviews.cnet.com

8.8

Camera Rocket Score

Image Quality, Focusing, Responsiveness and Reviews

Alpha DSLR-A550
8.8
EOS 1100D
9.1
D5200
9.0

Benchmarks Real world tests of the Sony Alpha DSLR-A550

Low light image quality Highest ISO setting that still achieves great image quality

Alpha DSLR-A550
807 ISO
D5200
1,284 ISO
D5100
1,183 ISO

Focus lag Delay between fully pressing shutter to image capture

Alpha DSLR-A550
184 ms
SLT A58
326 ms
D5200
302 ms

Shutter lag Delay to take a photo when prefocused

Alpha DSLR-A550
74 ms
D5100
114 ms
EOS 1100D
113 ms

Startup delay Delay from power on to first photo

Alpha DSLR-A550
500 ms
SLT A58
1,900 ms
EOS 600D
1,500 ms

Continuous shooting Delay between fully pressing shutter to image capture

Alpha DSLR-A550
7 fps
Alpha DSLR-A330
2.5 fps
EOS 1100D
3 fps

Battery life How many photos per battery charge (CIPA)

Alpha DSLR-A550
950 photos
SLT A55
330 photos
EOS 600D
440 photos

Photo Gallery Wallpaper quality closeups of the camera

Reviews Word on the street for the Sony Alpha DSLR-A550


9.0
Sony's Creative Styles are akin to Canon's Picture Controls in being preset combinations of different sharpness, contrast, saturation and brightness settings.

7.1
With the A380, at least, the raw versions were more accurate, but the A550's raw files look as bad as the JPEGs.

Overall

8.3 Out of 10

What People Are Saying Give it to me straight

Lens

One big improvement to Sony's Live View mode is the new ability to magnify into the live image for accurate manual focusing in macro and tripod shooting.
by Photography Blog (Aug, 2010)
These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m. Off - Wide Angle (28mm).
by Photography Blog (Aug, 2010)
These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m. Off - Wide Angle (28mm).
by Photography Blog (Aug, 2010)

Sensor

Equally excellent is the A550's image quality, with the 14.2 megapixel CMOS sensor and improved BIONZ processor combining to produce great looking images all the way up to ISO 3200, equalling the A500's performance.
by Photography Blog (Aug, 2010)
The A550 has a slightly different and less-expensive sibling, the A500; in addition to the sensor resolution differential between the two, the A550 has a higher resolution LCD-the same one used on the A700 and A900-and a faster burst option.
by c|net (Feb, 2010)
ISO 200-800 is noise-free, whilst ISO 1600 and 3200 produce more than acceptable results, and even ISO 6400 is OK for emergency use (though we'd avoid the headline grabbing ISO 12800 setting).
by Photography Blog (Aug, 2010)

Screen

Our main criticisms of the Sony A550 are what it doesn't offer, namely a large and bright optical viewfinder and any form of video recording.
by Photography Blog (Aug, 2010)
The Sony A550 is the highest model in the A5- series of Sony DSLR cameras, with the cheaper 12 megapixel A500 sitting below it, which offers slower 5fps continuous shooting, a lower-resolution LCD screen but slighty better 1,000 shot battery life.
by Photography Blog (Aug, 2010)
The LCD on which Live View is delivered has also been improved on the A550, now featuring a 3-inch, high-resolution 921,600-dot affair that tilts up and down.
by Photography Blog (Aug, 2010)

Focus

Face Detection and Smile Shutter may be squarely aimed at beginners, but they are useful technologies for the uninitiated, while the new Manual Focus Check Live View is a real boon to accurate focusing for macro shooting.
by Photography Blog (Aug, 2010)
If you use Live View a lot then you'll appreciate the A550's fast Live View autofocus, as well as the MF Check LV mode, which not only magnifies the focus area but also adjusts the displayed exposure so that you can actually see what you're doing.
by c|net (Feb, 2010)
Start-up was nearly instant, autofocus with the kit lens was fairly speedy if not quite as quiet as with an SSM lens.
by Photography Blog (Aug, 2010)

Live view

Live View mode is an area where we didn't expect too many improvements, but Sony have made several advances that puts their system even further ahead of their main rivals.
by Photography Blog (Aug, 2010)
The latter value is actually much better than anything the competition's DSLRs can produce in Live View.
by Photography Blog (Aug, 2010)
While the solution is not new - secondary-sensor Live View debuted in the Olympus E-330 of 2006, where it was called Live View Mode A - Sony took a fresh look at it and came up with their own version.
by Photography Blog (Aug, 2010)

Specifications Full list of technical specs

sensor

Type CMOS
Megapixels 14 MP
Resolution 4592 x 3056
Size APS-C
Area 23.4 x 15.6 mm
Crop factor 1.5x
Pixel size 26.0 microns
Light sensitivity 200 ISO to 12,800 ISO
Codecs
  1. RAW
  2. JPEG

display

Type LCD
Size 3"
Resolution 921 k dots
Has a touch screen No
Has a flip out screen Yes
Supports live view Yes

shutter

Min 30 s
Max 1/4000 s

performance

Max continuous shooting 7 fps
Battery life 950 photos
Continuous shooting 7 fps, JPEG
Focus lag 184 ms
Shutter lag 74 ms
Startup delay 500 ms

video

Video None

focus system

Type Contrast detection

viewfinder

Viewfinder mirror Opaque
Viewfinder Viewfinder
Type Pentamirror
Coverage 95%
Magnification 0.8x
Viewfinder size 0.52x

form factor

Size 137 x 104 x 84 mm
Thickness 84 mm
Weight 632 g
Is weather sealed No

features

Is a smart camera No
Includes a GPS No
Supports HDR Yes
Automatic panorama No
Create realistic 3D images No
Image stabilization Sensor shift
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