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Sony Alpha A65 SLT Digital SLR Review

Sony Alpha A65 SLT Digital SLR Review - Joshua Waller reviews the new Sony Alpha A65. Is this the bargain Digital SLR of the year?

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Category : Digital SLRs
Product : Sony Alpha SLT-A65
Price : £500
Rating :
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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification
Sony Alpha SLT-A65

The new Sony Alpha A65 is the "little brother" to the Sony Alpha A77. The cameras feature built-in GPS and as per usual with the Sony Alpha range of Digital SLR / SLTs all feature built in "anti-shake" / Super steady shot sensors, as a continuation of the Konica Minolta DSLR heritage.

The Sony Alpha A65 features a 24.3 megapixel APS-C sized sensor that is shared with the Sony Alpha A77 and Sony NEX-7. Full HD video with continuous auto focus is also available. 10fps shooting is possible at the full 24.3 megapixel resolution with continuous auto focus, while 12fps shooting is possible with the A77.

Sony Alpha A65 Features

Sony Alpha SLT-A65

The A65 sits under the top of the Alpha SLT range A77, with the A65 above the A55, and the recently new A35 the entry level model.

Sony Alpha SLT-A65

Both the A65 and A77 share a lot of features such as the high resolution 24.3 megapixel sensor, high speed shooting, high resolution OLED viewfinder, and lens shading and aberration compensation but they also differ in a number of ways. Here's a table showing the main differences between the two new models:

Sony Alpha A65 Sony Alpha A77
24.3mp 24.3mp
10fps 12fps
Durable Polycarbonate body Magnesium Alloys Body
No Dust and Moisture protection Dust and Moisture Protection
ISO100 - ISO16000 ISO50 (Lo) - ISO16000
15 AF Points, 3 cross (same as A55) 19 AF points, 11 Cross
1/4000 Max shutter speed 1/8000 Max shutter speed
100,000 shutter actuations 150,000 shutter actuations
+/- 3 Exposure Compensation +/- 5 Exposure Compensation
1/3 EV / 2/3 EV increments, 3 frames 1/3EV, 1/2EV, 2/3EV, 2.0EV, 3.0EV increments, 3 / 5frames (2.0EV, 3.0EV : only 3frames) selectable
1/160 flash sync speed 1/250 flash sync speed, wireless (IR transmitter),
Front Dial Front / Rear dials / AF dial, rear joypad, and other buttons
Not vertical grip compatible Vertical grip compatible
No top LCD Top LCD (illuminated)
Tilting / rotating rear screen Tilting / Rotating / Floating rear screen
510 Battery Rating 470 Battery Rating
18-55 SAM Kit lens 16-50mm SSM Kit lens
Size 132.1 x 97.5 x 80.7mm Size 142.6 x 104 x 80.9mm
Weight 543g Weight 653g
Price: £799 Body Only Price: £1149 Body Only

Sony Alpha SLT-A65
Sony Alpha SLT-A65 Mirror

Sony Alpha A65 Handling


Build Quality: With a rubber hand grip that is contoured to the shape of your hand and a large thumb grip on the back, the A65 feels good to hold and it's possible to get a firm one or two handed grip of the camera. The A65 feels solidly built but without the magnesium alloy body isn't as reassuringly solid as the A77.

Electronic viewfinder Menu system
Electronic viewfinder (electronic level) Menu system

The new OLED EVF: The A77, A65, NEX-7 and NEX-5N EVF all use a new OLED electronic viewfinder developed by Sony, with a 2.359 million DOT resolution. The new OLED technology, compared to traditional LCD EVFs, does not show chromatic aberrations at the pixel level, as the pixel level does not have to show RGB at each level, while traditional EVF do (for example, the Sony OLED can leave red and green off, if it only needs to show blue). The camera has an eye-sensor that will automatically switch to the EVF when your eye is near it, however it is quite sensitive and switches quite often.

Sony Alpha SLT-A65
Sony Alpha SLT-A65

Menu System: The menu system is well laid out with the menus starting with photo options and then spread over a number of pages are the playback, setup and more advanced options. As the camera has a number of external controls you rarely needed to access the menus, but when you do it is easy to find the settings you want.

Sony Alpha SLT-A65

Controls: The A65 provides good access to the majority of controls, making it easy to set ISO, exposure and other settings, with the Fn button providing access to a large number of controls on the back live view screen.

Sony Alpha SLT-A65
Sony Alpha SLT-A65 Battery

Battery Life: With 510 shots per battery charge (CIPA rating, viewfinder, 560, LCD), we were able to take over 500 shots before the battery went flat.

Speed - We tested each camera's performance at focusing, shutter response, shot to shot time, continuous shooting etc and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average, so that consistent results were produced, we also made sure to test all the cameras at the same time to ensure the cameras were being tested under the same conditions.


Samsung NX200 Sony A65
Sony NEX-5N
Shutter Reponse <0.05 <0.05
<0.05
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response
0.3 0.1 0.2
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.3 0.15 0.2
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 1.2 1.3 0.9
Shot to Shot (without flash) 1.0 0.5 0.6
Shot to Shot with Flash 1.2 0.8 0.7
Continuous Shooting (JPEG) 7fps (11 shots) 7.5fps (17 shots)
10fps* (17 shots)
10fps (10 shots)
Continuous Shooting (with Flash) 2fps (11 shots) 0.7 2fps
Continuous Shooting (RAW) 7fps (8 shots) 7.5fps (14 shots)
10fps* (14 shots)
10fps (7 shots)

*10fps mode dial. The camera has extremely fast focusing and shutter response and combined with the extremely quick continuous shooting mode this camera is extremely rapid in operation, only slowing down when you want to use the flash.

Sony Alpha A65 Performance

Click to view larger or click "Hi-Res" to view full size sample photos. Additional photos and product shots can be found in the Equipment Database for the Sony Alpha A65 - where you can add your own review and photos.

Sony Alpha SLT-A65 Sample Photos


Despite using a standard kit lens, the telephoto end of the lens lets you get close to the subject and can produce good macro results. In combination with the 24.3 megapixel sensor the camera resolves a lot of detail in the photo of the wasp above. This can then be cropped showing impressive levels of detail.

Sony Alpha SLT-A65 Lens test images


There is some purple fringing visible in the photo of the trees. The lens gives good wide-angle performance, with slight softening in the far corners and noticeable barrel distortion (distortion correction can be switched on in the camera). The lens performs well at the telephoto end and is free from pincushion distortion. The lens gives good macro performance for a kit lens.

Sony Alpha SLT-A65 ISO test images


ISO Noise Performance - ISO100 to ISO400 show low noise from JPEG images. At ISO800 noise starts to become more apparent. At ISO1600 noise grain appears to be very similar, but chroma noise increases. ISO3200 noise grain increases, but still produces usable images. ISO6400, shows a strong increase in noise with noticeable degradation in detail. ISO12800 and ISO16000 show stronger noise again with areas of colour becoming blurred and losing edge detail, particularly in darker colours and these two last ISO settings would be best used resized. Long exposure NR can be switched off, and there are three settings for High ISO NR: High, Normal, Low.

Sony Alpha SLT-A65 White-balance test images


White Balance Performance - Warm under tungsten / incandescent lighting, better results using the preset. The auto white balance does a better job under fluorescent lighting, although the image is still warm. The fluorescent preset gives a better image, but is a little too cool.

Panoramic - 1/200 sec | f/9.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100
Panoramic - 1/200 sec | f/9.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100 - The camera will automatically stitch together panoramic photos and has a 3D panoramic mode for viewing on a compatible 3DTV.

Sony Alpha SLT-A65 Digital filters


Digital Filters - The camera offers a wide range of picture effects and creative styles, a number of the picture effects are shown above. The creative styles let you setup and customise contrast, saturation, sharpness.

Video Sample - The camera records Full HD video, with continuous auto focus available while recording. Wind noise reduction and optical steady shot is available as well as a number of compression options, including AVCHD, MP4, 50i, 50p, 25p. ISO can be set to a maximum of ISO1600 for video recording.



Value For Money: The Sony Alpha A65 is available for £775 with 18-55mm kit lens, while the A77 is £1650 with 16-50mm lens (or £1099 body only), alternatives available include the 21.1 megapixel Canon EOS 5D Mk II, £1500 body only, 21.9 megapixel Canon EOS 1DS Mark III, 24.5 megapixel Nikon D3x, other alternatives from the compact system camera family with high resolution include the 20.3 megapixel Samsung NX200 £499 and 24.3 megapixel Sony NEX-7 £1200.

Sony Alpha A65 Verdict

For a similar price to mid-entry level cameras from Nikon, Canon, Pentax, instead of a 16-18 megapixel camera and 7fps shooting, you can get a 24.3 megapixel camera with 10fps shooting, built in anti-shake sensor, GPS and electronic level. What you also get with the Sony Alpha A65 with the translucent mirror is extremely quick live view and focusing.

I started this review by asking whether this camera could be the bargain Digital SLR of the year, and in many ways the camera out performs every other SLR available at this price, and for this reason I think it is in fact the case that this camera is the Digital SLR bargain of the year. It will be difficult for other companies to offer this level of features and performance at a similar price point.

The camera has good battery life, and although there is no optical viewfinder with SLT cameras, the new OLED EVF is simply stunning and makes the view through the camera look excellent. Although it is difficult to show on the web, it would be well worth viewing for yourself if you still have doubts about switching from an optical viewfinder to an electronic viewfinder. Highly Recommended.

The Sony Alpha A65 is an excellent camera with impressive speed and image quality at a great price.

Sony Alpha A65 Pros:

Built in GPS
Extremely fast performance
Stunning OLED EVF (has to be seen to be believed)
Excellent image quality
Excellent colour
Info-lithium battery lets you know exactly how much battery life is left
Continuous focus during videos
Electronic level

Sony Alpha A65 Cons:

Some JPEG artefacts visible when shooting JPEG
Can not upgrade to a battery grip with the A65

FEATURES  
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE FOR MONEY  
OVERALL

Sony Alpha SLT-A65 Specifications

ManufacturerSony
Lens
Effective Magnification1.5x
Image Sensor
CCD pixels24.7Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)6000
Pixels (H)4000
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor SizeAPS-C
Sensor Size (width)23.5mm
Sensor Size (height)15.6mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution921,600 dots
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Multi
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
Metering
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity100 - 16000
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Bracket
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-3
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting10fps
Video
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080
Video FPS50p, 50i, 25p
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Interface
HDMIYes
USBUSB 2
Storage
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • Memory Stick
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeNP-FM500H
CIPA Rating510
Box Contents
Box ContentsBattery charger, rechargeable battery pack, USB cable, CD-ROM, shoulder strap, standard zoom lens. 94 page printed manual.
Dimensions
Weight543g
Width132.1mm
Height97.5mm
Depth80.7mm

View Full Product Details

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Photographs taken using the Sony Alpha SLT-A65

Hypericum Calycinum ( ROSE OF SHARON )Cuckoo Pint ( Arum maculatum )Amazing tiny seedlings ?TIARA OF BUBBLESAgapanthus BudRocks and Water IIRide back in to timeOSTEOSPERMUMStorm brewing on the woldsFemale Common Blue.WaterfallBass Rock WavesMemorial GardenProud LadsOn your bike
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Comments


davey_griffo 5 213 165 England
23 Nov 2011 12:40PM
I keep asking this question when an SLT is reviewed. What's it like for manual focus?
I had a Fuji bridge camera years ago with an EVF that zoomed in the centre portion. It popped forward in a most disconcerting way, & zoomed out just as quickly as soon as you stopped turning the focus ring, not really giving you chance to check focus. Essentially it was useless.
I just wondered how Sony had tackled the problem.

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joshwa e2
3 595 United Kingdom
23 Nov 2011 1:32PM
The lens has a physical focus ring at the front of the lens that helps, but to zoom into manual focus, you press the AEL button on the back it switches to 5.9x zoom into the centre of the image (the position can be changed), and press it again and it goes to 11.7x zoom, press it again (or half press the shutter) and it goes back to the normal view. Seems to work very well.
Niknut e2
4 481 60 United Kingdom
23 Nov 2011 4:39PM
A superb camera, that seems to handle high ISO's very well, with gorgeous image
quality.....& at a more sensible price compared to the A77 !

The only thing that puts me off both these cameras, is the problem of dust....not just
on the sensor, but on the mirror too !!!!!....so dust on that would degrade the image,
particularly in 'contre-jour' or high contrast images....so keeping the mirror clean is both
essential & fraught with problems....the surface coating could so easily be scratched, so
with the image having to pass through it, I foresee long term problems ??

If Sony ever produce this camera as a 'mirror-less' version, as per the NEX 7 !!!!, then I
would be seriously tempted.............I think the 'in' phrase is..."Bring it on " !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
drayl002 4 34 4 United Kingdom
23 Nov 2011 8:30PM
Nice camera, this or alpha 55?
heidfirst 4 1 Scotland
23 Nov 2011 8:36PM
"The new Sony Alpha A65 is the "little brother" to the Sony Alpha A77. Both cameras are the first Digital SLRs to feature built-in GPS "
Nope, Alpha A55V has GPS & was the first Tongue (on Sonys the V indicates built-in GPS)

& re. manual focusing not sure about A65 but A77 also has peaking as well as being able to zoom in.
joshwa e2
3 595 United Kingdom
24 Nov 2011 8:54AM

Quote: "The new Sony Alpha A65 is the "little brother" to the Sony Alpha A77. Both cameras are the first Digital SLRs to feature built-in GPS "
Nope, Alpha A55V has GPS & was the first Tongue (on Sonys the V indicates built-in GPS)

& re. manual focusing not sure about A65 but A77 also has peaking as well as being able to zoom in.

Yes, the A65 has peaking as well. Corrected the error about GPS. Thanks Smile
davey_griffo 5 213 165 England
24 Nov 2011 12:42PM
Sounds much more useful than the system I'd used, thanks Josh. But what's the "peaking" part about?

Incidentally, I'd have been disappointed if it hadn't had a manual focus ring. How else are you going to manually focus? Smile
joshwa e2
3 595 United Kingdom
25 Nov 2011 9:11AM
Smile I mean it's in physical control of the focus, rather than a fly-by-wire electonically controlled focusing system found on a lot of the kit lenses these days.
26 Nov 2011 4:55PM
With SLT you loose 0.3 of a stop so an f2.8 lens would be a better, also with the next high level lens being the 70-200 f2.8 it leaves a large gap between the two. I have an alpha 100 and have waited nearly two years to up grade and because of the lack of lens cover I may just move to Nikon instead of waiting even longer.
28 Nov 2011 6:14PM

Quote: ... because of the lack of lens cover ....

???? what do you mean? Fyi
Sony has the same F2.8 coverage as Nikon: 16-50mm F2.8, 28-75mm F2.8 (and the CZ 24-70mm) and the 70-200mm F2.8. thereafter there is the excellent 70-400mm (although not f2.8)
Nikon actually does not have a lens similar to the 16-50mm, just the 17-35mm.
Scottelly 1 35 United States
26 Aug 2012 3:37PM
I have a Sony A55. Yesterday I looked at the A65 and A57, because I want to get a camera that does not overheat. My A55 overheats not only after shooting less than 7 minutes of continuous video, but even while I am doing photo shoots with models (but not when I shoot landscapes). I liked the A65. It is just like the A55, but a little bigger, with a bigger battery (not that it is necessary, because I somehow get more than 1,000 shots from the battery in my A55 . . . every time I do a big shoot), more megapixels, a better viewfinder (but only slightly better - I find the A55 viewfinder quite sufficient), and 60p video vs. the 60i of my A55. I like the idea of being able to shoot 60p, but that is not why I am seriously considering the upgrade. I don't like the overheating problem. I don't like being stopped, while shooting a model, and this has happened to me multiple times and various shoots. I live in Florida, and I have been shooting outdoors during the summer time. I will be traveling to Arizona, where I hear it is even hotter. I also plan to travel south, into the Amazon. I do not want overheating problems while shooting monkeys in the trees or something.

For me, now that I am used to the A55 having GPS, the A57 is really not an option, because it doesn't have GPS for some reason. I can't even guess why. Oh, and some people say the A57 cures the problem of the camera not focusing while shooting in high-speed mode. This is wrong. The A65 was focusing fine, while shooting in high-speed mode for me yesterday. I was testing both cameras in their high-speed shooting modes, specifically because I had heard there was a problem. There is no problem. The A65 was focusing from far and as I quickly walked toward something, it was changing focus, while I was shooting at 10 fps. The A57 may do it a little better or something, but the A65 does indeed do it, unlike what some people have stated.
Scottelly 1 35 United States
26 Aug 2012 3:41PM
BTW, I see little to no difference in the ISO 1600 shots from the A57 and A65 that I was shooting in the Sony store yesterday. They both seem to produce about the same amount of noise at ISO 1600, which helped me make my decision to go for the A65. Now I have to save some money!

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