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Sony Alpha SLT-A33 and SLT-A55

A pair of new cameras change the whole DSLR paradigm
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This Article Features Photo Zoom

We’ve had DSLRs for some time, and more recently the compact mirrorless interchangeable-lens digital cameras. Now, Sony gives us a new class of camera: the SLT, an interchangeable-lens camera with a translucent nonmoving mirror and a high-res eye-level EVF to complement its external live-view LCD monitor.

The new SLT-A33 and SLT-A55 look like DSLRs, and can be held like DSLRs, but they offer a number of advantages. One is quick phase-detection AF for both still and video shooting. Another is the ability to use the LCD monitor or the EVF in both still and video modes. Still another is the ability to display a wide selection of data options on the monitor or EVF. Yet another is quick operation overall.

Special Sony Features
The A33 and A55 incorporate a host of versatile Sony features, including Sweep Panorama, Handheld Twilight Mode, Dynamic Range Optimizer, Face Detection and Smile Shutter Technology and more.

Sensor-Shift Anti-Dust And Stabilization
A charge-protection coating on the low-pass filter and sensor-shift mechanism help keep the sensor free of dust, while Sony’s SteadyShot INSIDE sensor-shift image stabilization works with all lenses.

New AF Sensor
The A33 and A55 feature a new AF sensor with 15 AF points, including three cross-types. The cameras’ translucent pellicle mirror technology allows quick phase-detection AF to be used with full-time live-view, for both still and video shooting.

Speed Priority
The A33 and A55 can shoot up to 20 RAW images or 39 standard JPEG images at up to 6 fps. In Speed Priority mode, with focus locked, the A33 can do 7 fps, the A55 10 fps—especially remarkable considering the latter’s big 16.2-megapixel images.
Sony A Lens Mount
Both models are compatible with all Sony A-mount lenses, as well as legacy Konica Minolta Maxxum lenses. These currently range from 16mm full-frame fisheye to 70-400mm tele-zoom, including five Carl Zeiss lenses, plus 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverters. The sensor’s 1.5x focal-length factor makes that 70-400mm zoom equivalent to a 105-600mm on a 35mm camera.
The A33 and A55 feature Sony’s new 14.2-megapixel and 16.2-megapixel (respectively) Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor. The first Sony still-camera sensor capable of full HD video, the APS-C-size unit has a focal-length factor of 1.5x and is capable of ISOs up to 12,800.

This Article Features Photo Zoom

High-Res Viewing Options
The A33 and A55 feature full-time live-viewing on their 3.0-inch, 921,000-dot LCD monitors. The monitors tilt 180° and swivel 270° for easy odd-angle shooting, and the tilt feature can be used with the camera on a tripod. There’s also a 1,440,000-dot, eye-level electronic viewfinder—and it’s usable for video as well as still shooting. Both viewfinders offer a wide range of data overlays, selectable by the user.

Full HD Video With Phase-Detection AF
Video capabilities include 1920×1080 AVCHD (recorded at 60i, output at 30p), plus 1440×1080/30p and 640×480/30p MP4. Stereo Dolby Digital sound can be recorded via a built-in stereo microphone, and there’s also a jack for an external mic. But the big news here is that the A33 and A55 can autofocus continuously—via quick phase-detect AF, no slow contrast-based AF—during video as well as still shooting.

Because the translucent mirror doesn’t have to move out of the way when making an exposure, the AF system remains engaged during shooting. It’s not a predictive mode. It’s full AF.

Media Choice
The A33 and A55 each have a slot that accepts Sony Memory Stick PRO Duo/PRO-HG Duo/PRO-HG Duo HX media and SD/SDHC/SDXC cards.


Image Sensor: 14.2 MP Exmor APS HD CMOS (A33), 16.2 MP Exmor APS HD CMOS (A55)
Max. Resolution:
4592×3056 pixels (A33), 4912×3264 pixels (A55)
Sensor Size:
23.5×15.6mm (1.5x)
1920×1080/60i AVCHD, 1440×1080/30p and 640×480/30p MP4
AF System:
Shutter Speeds:
30 sec. to 1/4000, B
ISO Settings:
Continuous Firing Mode:
6 fps (7/10 fps in Speed Priority mode, A33/A55)
Recording Format:
1,200-segment evaluative, CW, spot
Storage Media:
Memory Stick PRO Duo/PRO-HG Duo/PRO-HG Duo HX and SD/SDHC/SDXC
4.9×3.6×3.3 inches
17.4 ounces
Power Source:
Rechargeable NP-FW50 InfoLithium battery
Estimated Street Price:
$649 (A33); $749 (A55)
Sony, (877) 865-7669,