Full Text of Review
I have here the Sony A65 with a 35mm f/1.8 and the Canon T4i with the 40mm f/2.8 and I have spent the past week comparing these and I am going to talk about what I found but mostly I want this to be a review/my thoughts on the Sony A65.
When the Canon T4i was announced the big new feature was continuous auto focus during video well the truth is Nikon has had this for over a year now and so has Sony, in fact sony is on it’s second generation of continuous AF and does it different from the Canon and Nikon folks. Where as Canon and Nikon have this mirror that flips out of the way Sonys approach is to make the mirror translucent which lets bounces some light up to the big focusing brain and lets some light onto the sensor -the result is some of the best continuous focus during video – lets look at what else you get with the Sony
- A very good 24 MP sensor
- Digital View Finder
- 1080P Video with stereo
- Steady Shot or Image Stabilization built into the camera for photo and video
- 10 FPS
- In camera HDR and best frame selection for noise reduction
- and a couple of more features I will mention in a minute
For the most part I really enjoyed using this camera, it has a solid feature set and for folks moving up from a Point and Shoot looking for point and shoot like ease of use with excellent results this is something to seriously consider. Focus during live view is excellent – And actually with the A65 it doesn’t matter if you are looking through the viewfinder or the LCD, the focus method it uses is the same and it is fast, in good light just as fast as looking through the optical viewfinder of the Canon but as the light begins to drop it does have a little more trouble compared to the phase detection on the Canon. But when you compare live focusing on the Canon there really is no comparison, Canon often struggles to get focus and keep it in any light and rarely does the Sony have this issue. Another benefit of the digital viewfinder is seeing exactly what your photo will look like when you press the shutter and because it is digital you can overlay much more information than you can on an optical, this is all good until the light drops and then that digital viewfinder starts to show some serious weakness. You get lots of noise and it can be very difficult to compose accurately when you can’t see anything, an optical viewfinder like you find on the Canon doesn’t have this issue. The digital viewfinder on the Sony reviews the images as well and this is something I found annoying, directly after you take a photo you are looking at the photo and until you half press the shutter you aren’t seeing a live view – if you turn off image review you are turning it off for both LCD and then you can’t review images unless you press the play button. There are other little odd items that bugged me as I used this camera – Startup time is slow, write speed to the SD card can be slow, switching modes has a little lag, At times the camera can think your eye is up to the viewfinder so it turns that on and then switches back to LCD. Certain modes don’t allow certain features like Auto ISO during manual shooting or multi frame noise removal while shooting RAW and a couple of other instances where I set something and the camera would give me a big NOT ALLOWED message. When shooting in auto mode it made some very interesting white balance choices that gave the photos a much warmer – yellow look- than was true to life- this is something you could correct in post or even in camera but it is worth a mention. I haven’t seen this happen on the Canon side. Oh and no way I can find to manually set exposure information and manual focus during a video- I don’t run into this on the Canon side – the camera lets you do what you want. One more picky point, with the LCD hinge on the bottom it is hard to put it on a tripod and take self portraits , T4i has its hinge on the side and can still be faced front when on a tripod. See What I did there – Was speaking highly of this camera and then got sidetracked by all these little issues that for me add up, that is exactly how I felt using this camera-
but lets finish this on the positives because for some I think this would be an excellent camera- The autofocus is great, the ease with which you can get excellent photos out of this camera is impressive and most of Sony’s lenses are a good bit cheaper than on the Canon side, then again they aren’t quite as good and Sony doesn’t have some of the high end lenses Canon or Nikon offers. The map nerd in me loves the GPS and the fact that the images are tagged with the location as soon as I import to lightroom, the panorama stitching works great and offers vertical and horizontal choices and of course the continuous AF during video is excellent and way ahead of Canon and Nikon’s continuous AF.
This is how I would like to summarize my thoughts- if you want a Point and Shoot like camera with 95% of the power of a DSLR the a65 is a great choice – However I don’t believe it is a great choice if you think this is a stepping stone on the way to serious photographic endeavors – currently there is little room for upward movement within the Sony line and it is a bit of an unknown what Sony will offer in the coming years and with the market share being as small as it is you have fewer choices for things like remotes, flashes and general accessories. This isn’t a deal breaker but it may feel limiting to some.
Another major hesitancy of giving this camera a stamp for approval for all is the electronic viewfinder and how it performs in low light. If you think you might get into night photography or low light photography this is not the camera for you.
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