I have had the Sony A65 with 35 f/1.8 SAM lens in my hands for about 2 hours.  As a direct competitor to the Canon T4i and a DSLR with technology you don’t currently see from Canon and Nikon e.g. a translucent mirror, I was very curious to see how it compared to the T4i and the D5100.

First thoughts and some sample photos

  • You need to read the manual, you need to take the time to explore the options offered by this camera to get the best shot possible -that said, it seems to be capable of gorgeous shots (see broccoli below) I also have some shots that seem to have loads of noise at low ISOs and I can’t figure out why yet.
  • The viewfinder is completely digital and can be used to navigate the menus, review shots and of course compose your image – you have various helpful overlays and information that can be displayed over your composition
  • I am not crazy about the ergonomics, the placement of the wheel on the front of the grip feels awkward and the finger bump in the grip is more annoying than helpful
  • At times the camera almost seems buggy, I think this is partially me not know what all the options are but I haven’t ever experienced anything like that on Canon or Nikon.
  • Auto focus for stills seems a tiny bit slower than Canon T4i. Auto focus during video is faster and more accurate than on the Canon T4i but still doesn’t match camcorder like focus – truthfully I have only played with this for a few minutes, this is a very early impression.
  • The SAM (smooth Auto Focus) is not nearly as quiet as Canon’s 40 STM or 18-135 STM and can be heard focusing during filming
  • I am not crazy about the LCD hinge placement – if you have a tripod it will be blocked from viewing at the front of the camera. T4i lcd swings out from the side and is not blocked
  • I feel like I am being a bit picky a bit early on in my assessment of this camera but the number of times I have pushed a button and been told NO NOT AVAILABLE in this mode is making me frustrated but then I look at that Broccoli photo again and am blown away, the details is stunning AND that was a JPEG shot in all AUTO mode.
Thoughts from Day 2 –
I headed out on a neighborhood woods walk with the Sony A65 with 35mm SAM lens in one hand and the Canon T4i with 40mm STM in the other.  I put both on Auto everything and shot in P mode.
SONY a65 35mm 1/200 sec at f/7.1 ISO100 - Nice detail on far hill.
SONY a65 35mm 1/200 sec at f/7.1 ISO100 – Nice detail on far hill. And I got stung twice here and didn’t even leave a camera behind as I sprinted away from the previously unseen hornet nest!
Comparing the two I noticed that the live view focusing with the Sony a65 is MUCH faster than the live view focusing with the Canon T4i, Sony was almost always brrrt BING – that is the sound of the focus motor and bing is the beep it makes when it gets focus 🙂  Canon, in live view was often Brrrt, brrrt, brrt BING.  In good light it is less noticeable but in the dimmer corners of the woods it was very apparent.  Some shots I took through the viewfinder where the Canon is much snappier focusing but surprising to me, the Sony was right there too.  Also, since the viewfinder is a screen you get a better sense of how the image is going to look before you push the button.  But I can’t see how you could use this for any real night photography, you are going to be blinded every time you look into the viewfinder, it is bright and will destroy your night vision.   You can also up the brightness of the viewfinder and if you don’t remember you did this you will get very different photos from what you see.   GPS chugged along nicely and I can see all my photos I took on a map.  It also drained the battery.
Lightroom Map Sony A65 GPS
Lightroom Map module displaying a few of my geotagged photos from the Sony a65
 About 1/2 way through the walk I started getting really different images from the two cameras  – the white balance on the Sony really seemed to get confused and gave everything a yellowish cast.
White Balance issues on the Sony a65 Left and Canon T4i on the Right (more true to life)
 As the sun was setting it seemed fitting but it was not what my eyes saw nor what the Canon T4i captured. But, that is easily corrected in Lightroom and as the sun started dipping the T4i selected a shutter speed slow enough to introduce possible camera shake, 40mm STM has no IS, and when I compare those shots to the Sony a65 it is clear that the built in IS on the Sony kept those images much sharper and that softness is not something that can be fixed in Lightroom.
So where does that leave me?  I like the Sony, a lot.  But it is a camera that I will not recommend to all folks looking for a DSLR.  My reasons for that will have to wait till tomorrow night 🙂
So crisp – Shot with the Sony A65 35mm f/4.0 at 1/60sec ISO 400 – Steady Shot On.
Loads more to come.  Please let me know if you have any specific questions about either camera or would like to see certain comparisons, I am happy to oblige.  I will have more thoughts up by Friday and a complete review before the end of the weekend.


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 Box Canyon Tunnel on the descent from Paradise, Mt Ranier National Park Captured with the #GH5 and 12-35 f/2.8
 My niece giving me that look. From early morning family adventures in Saguaro National Park, Arizona
 Friday we head to Glacier National Park for a week of photography - I am excited to teach in this beautiful park. The park is packed with towering peaks, glacial carved valleys, and loads of gorgeous streams and waterfalls. I will be using this travel to test some gear. What in the box are you most interested in? What piece of gear would you love to see reviewed at Photorec.tv?

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  1. My husband and I purchased this camera and wanted to be able to record family events with audio. The few vidreos we’ve tried you cant really hear the audio when playing it back. The video audio settings in the camera are on the higest settings? Help!! Really hoping we didn’t make the wrong choice with this purchase!

    • Hi Krista, This doesn’t sound like normal behavior. Is the audio low when you playback the video on the camera or on your computer? Have you done a test video where you hold the camera and speak directly into the mic? Let me know the answers and we can trouble shoot from there.

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