Sony A550

Last updated (22 December’11):
- Review & Sample Photos @ PhotographyBlog

Sony A550 is a 14.2 Megapixel DSLR camera features ISO 100-12800, Quick Auto Focus Live View, Smile Shutter™ technology, Auto HDR built into camera, 9-Point AF Sensor, Anti-Dust Technology, Dual Media Slots, PhotoTV HD compatibility, Eye-Start Autofocus, SteadyShot INSIDE™ stabilization, Up to 7 fps of continuous shooting, and a Tiltable 3.0″ LCD features 921,600 pixels and Sony’s Clear Photo LCD™ display technology.

sony-a550
Overall Rating: ★★★★½ | Latest Price Info


Expert Reviews

Sony A550 Reviews

PhotographyBlog reviews the Sony A550 and writes;
“…there’s no denying that the A550 is another user-friendly DSLR camera from Sony that delivers excellent results for both beginners and shutterbugs alike, and is still easily worthy of our Highly Recommended award.”
Rating: ★★★★☆

Adorama reviews the Sony A550 and writes;
“Overall, the Sony a550 had the fourth highest high-ISO image quality rating for cameras with APS-sized sensors, an impressive performance…. the Sony a550 is a very worthwhile camera that’s capable of bringing home the goods for serious photographers.”
Rating: N/A

PCMag reviews the Sony A550 and writes;
“I’m impressed by the speedy A550, with its top-notch, user-friendly interface and versatile 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. And it takes beautiful pictures, even in low light. You could save a few bucks and go for the less-expensive Nikon D5000 or Canon T2i, which offer comparable image quality and add HD video capture, but these cameras lack the snappy autofocus and 7 fps burst mode you get with the A550.”
Rating: ★★★★☆

Photozone reviews the Sony A550 and writes;
“Summing up the Sony A550 represents an very good package not only for beginners but also for enthusiasts. The camera is on par with the Canon EOS 500D and the Nikon D5000…All in all – recommended! “
Rating: ★★★★☆

Steve’sDigicams reviews the Sony A550 and writes;
“The A550′s focus system worked nicely, easily tracking moving subjects, performing better than expected. The only minor complaint was that the frame rate was not quite as fast as advertised when using Continuous Autofocus (the camera slows down just a bit when shooting rapidly moving subjects, apparently to help insure greater accuracy). Overall, we found that it was a fast and reliable system, giving a high percentage of in focus images in tougher conditions..”
Rating: N/A

DCR reviews the Sony A550 and writes;
“All things considered, the Sony Alpha DSLR-A550 is a competent but not spectacular digital SLR. It takes nice-looking photos (especially if you shoot RAW), performs well, and offers features that will be familiar to point-and-shoot users.”
Rating: N/A

RegHardware reviews the Sony A550 and writes;
“There is much to like with the Sony Alpha A550. It has great autofocus, image stabilisation, quirky but effective HDR and a nice big sensor… Overall, it’s an extremely capable point and shoot camera with appeal for advanced users who want the functions that set it apart and for people setting off on the DSLR route, who don’t want anything too daunting.”
Rating: ★★★★☆

DCR reviews the Sony A550 and writes;
“Image and color quality is good, and if shooting in the manual or semi-automatic modes there are substantial user established settings available to tailor output to virtually any taste. Noise performance is about par for the class, the plastic on the body might look a bit cheap for the price point and the battery charging cycle is odd, but these are really minor gripes for a camera that goes about its business in a very capable manner.”
Rating: N/A

CameraLabs reviews the Sony A550 and writes;
“So long as you’re happy to trade video and the features mentioned above for speed and fuss-free operation, the A550 easily comes Recommended. But like the A380 before it, the cheaper sibling – in this case the A500 – could end up being the preferred choice.

Rating: ★★★★☆

PhotographyBay reviews the Sony A550 and writes;
“The A550 covers ISO 200-12800, which is pretty impressive for a consumer-oriented camera. I never expected the A550 to really do that great with noise control at higher ISOs, and I wasn’t really surprised. “
Rating: N/A

AlphaMountWorld reviews the Sony A550 and writes;
“In every day usage the difference is basically invisible. Make no mistake about it, the A5xx cameras are terrific high ISO cameras. If some one is coming from a Sony A2xx or A3xx the improvement in high ISO results will be very gratifying.”
Rating: N/A

DCI reviews the Sony A550 and writes;
“The A550 has a very comfortable, rubberized grip and thumb rest, making it easy to hold securely even when moving quickly. The buttons and dials are well positioned, though the four-way controller is a bit too compact for our tastes. “
Rating: N/A

PhotoclubAlpha reviews the Sony A550 and writes;
“ISO 6400 is great. Fantastic colour saturation – not like most recent super-6400 DSLRs – and it matches even a Nikon D300S for noise and detail at this setting..”
Rating: N/A

AlphaMountWorld reviews the Sony A550 and writes;
“In short ,I have a pass/fail (love/hate) relationship with the A550, with very little inbetween. On one hand the Alpha A550 totally impressed me with its ability to create very good quality images overall, its superior AUTO HDR feature, excellent live view tools and options, comfortable grip, and its spirited performance.”
Rating: N/A

PhotoReview.au reviews the Sony A550 and writes;
“Image noise was negligible up to ISO 400, although by ISO 3200, pattern and colour noise had become obvious in long exposures with the in-camera noise-reduction processing turned off. “
Rating: ★★★★½

PhotoCracti reviews the Sony A550 and writes;
“Low ISO quality is excellent; after a bit of sharpening, I made 13×19-inch (33×48cm) prints suitable for framing. Some digital noise is visible at ISO 400, but this level is still fine for all-purpose use. At high ISO levels, it is important to avoid underexposure. My best ISO 800 images are suitable for making nice letter size prints while my ISO 3200 photos made for decent 5×7-inch (13×18cm) glossies.”
Rating: N/A

Sony A550 preview video by WDC;

User Opinions

Sony A550 User Reviews

Excellent upgrade from A300 | Rating: ★★★★★
“..Overall I am enjoying my camera immensely. The LCD and Built in Stabilization make differentiate this camera from Nikon and Canon and make this a great choice for me….” – by Jeffrey

More user opinions | Write your opinion

Samples

Sony A550 Sample Photos

- Sony A550 Sample Photos @ PhotographyBlog
- Sony A550 Sample Photos @ Photozone
- Sony A550 Sample Photos @ DCWatch
- Sony A550 Sample Photos @ DCRP
- Sony A550 Sample Photos @ RegHardware
- Sony A550 Sample Photos @ CameraLabs
- Sony A550 Sample Photos @ PhotographyBay
- Sony A550 Sample Photos @ DCI

Manual

Sony A550 User Manual (PDF)

Click to view or right click and select Save Target As..(Firefox) or Save link as.. (IE) to download

- Download Sony A550 User Manual (PDF – 7.9MB)

Specs

Sony A550 Specifications

Body material Plastic exterior
Sensor * • 23.4 x 15.6 mm APS-C Type CMOS Exmor Sensor

• RGB Color Filter Array
• Built-in fixed low-pass filter
• 14.6 million total pixels
• 14.2 million effective pixels

Image sizes *

3:2
• 4592 x 3056 (L)
• 3344 x 2224 (M)

• 2288 x 1520 (S)
16:9
• 4592 x 2576 (L)
• 3344 x 1872 (M)
• 2288 x 1280 (S)

File qualities / formats • RAW (.ARW)
• RAW + JPEG Fine

• RAW + JPEG Standard
• JPEG Fine
• JPEG Standard

Dust reduction • Charge protection coating on low-pass filter
• Sensor-shift dust reduction mechanism
Lenses • Sony Alpha lenses

(also compatible with Minolta and Konica -Minolta AF lenses)

FOV crop 1.5x
SteadyShot INSIDE • CCD-Shift ‘SteadyShot INSIDE’ system
• Claimed equivalent to 2.5 – 3.5 steps in shutter speed
Auto Focus • TTL CCD line sensors (9-points,with center cross sensor)
• EV 0 to 18 (ISO 100) detection range
• Predictive focus, Focus Lock
AF area selection

• Wide AF area
• Spot AF area (center)
• Focus area selection (any of 9)

Focus modes • Single-shot AF
• Continuous AF
• Automatic AF

• Manual focus

AF assist
illuminator

• Yes (using built in flash)

• Range approx 1m – 5m

Eye-start AF Yes, selectable from menu
Shooting modes

• Programmed AE (Auto, Flash off, P)
• Aperture priority AE
• Shutter priority AE
• Manual

• Scene Selection

Scene modes • Portrait

• Landscape
• Macro
• Sports
• Sunset
• Night view/portrait

Sensitivity

• Auto (ISO 200-1600)
• Manual ISO 200- ISO 12800 in 1 EV steps

Metering modes • Multi-segment (40 segment Honeycomb pattern)
• Center-weighted
• Spot
Metering range • TTL metering
• 40-segment honeycomb-pattern SPC
• EV 2 to 20 (Multi-segment / Center-weighted) *

• EV 4 to 20 (Spot metering) *
(at ISO 100 with F1.4 lens)

AE Lock • AEL button (customizable, hold or single-press)

• Half-press shutter release

AE Bracketing • Single or continuous bracketing
• 3 frames

• 0.3 or 0.7 EV steps

Exposure compen. • -2.0 to +2.0 EV
• 0.3 EV steps
Shutter Electronically-controlled, vertical-traverse, focal-plane Shutter
Shutter Speed • 30 to 1/4000 sec
• Bulb
Flash X-sync • 1/160 sec
Aperture values Depends on lens, 0.3 EV steps
DOF preview No
White balance

• Auto
• Daylight

• Shade
• Cloudy
• Incandescent
• Fluorescent
• Flash

• Color temperature/filter (2500 – 9900 K)
• Manual (Custom)

White balance fine tuning

• Auto (none)

• Preset WB: -3 to +3
• Fluorescent WB: -1 to +2
• Color temperature WB: G9 to M9
(Magenta to Green)

White balance bracketing • 3 exposures

• Hi / Lo level selectable

Dynamic range optimizer

• Off
• D-Range Optimizer (Auto, manually select level 1-5)

• Auto HDR (Auto, Adjustable between 1.0-3.0 EV in 0.5 EV steps)

Color space • sRGB
• Adobe RGB
Color modes • Standard
• Vivid
• Portrait

• Landscape
• Sunset
• B&W

Image parameters • Contrast (-3 to +3)
• Sharpness (-3 to +3))
• Saturation (-3 to +3)
Noise reduction • Long exposure for exposures longer than 1 second
• High ISO NR at ISO 1600 or higher
• User controllable: On / Off
Viewfinder *

• Eye-level fixed optical glass pentamirror
• Spherical Acute Matte focusing screen
• Magnification approx. 0.80x *

• 95% frame coverage
• Dioptric adjustment (-3.0 to +1.0)
• Eye-relief 19 mm from eyepiece, 15 mm from frame*
• Eyepiece cup removable

• Viewfinder info bar

Live view (Quick AF Live View) *

• Dedicated live view sensor (pentamirror tilt system)

• 1200 zone evaluative metering
• Sensitivity 1-17 EV*
• 90% frame coverage
• Exposure and white balance simulation

• Face Detection and Smile Shutter*
• Smart Teleconverter (x1.4 / x2.0 slectable)*
• Display: Histogram, eal-time image adjustment display (White balance, Sunset/ B&W of Creative Style, Exposure Compensation)

Live view (MF Check Live View) * • Live View with CMOS Exmor sensor
• Metering varies according to shooting mode
• 100% frame coverage

• Display: Real-time image adjustment display (White balance, Sunset/ B&W of Creative Style, Exposure Compensation)
• Zoom (x7.0/x14.0), Grid line display

LCD monitor * • 3.0 TFT Xtra Fine LCD
• 921,600 dots
• Auto Brightness Control (auto setting in 2 steps)
• Manual settting in 5 steps
Flash * • Built-in pop-up flash (manual release)
• Metering: ADI, Pre-flash TTL, Manual flash control
• Guide number 12 (ISO 100/m)

• Angle of coverage 18 mm (35 mm equiv.)*
• Flash sync 1/160 sec

Flash modes

• Off

• Auto
• Fill Flash
• Rear Sync
• Slow sync
• Wireless/High Speed Sync.

Flash Bracketing 3 exposures in 0.3 and 0.7 EV steps
Flash compensation -2.0 to +2.0 EV in 0.3 EV steps
External flash (optional) • Sony HVL-F58AM
• Sony HVL-F56AM

• Sony HVL-F42AM
• Sony HVL-F36AM

Drive modes • Single-frame

• Continuous
• Speed-Priority (shoots with focus and exposure locked)*
• Self-timer (10 or 2 sec)

Continuous
shooting
• Approx 5 fps max (4 fpsin Live view)
• Speed- Priority: 7 fps max
• RAW: Up to 14 frames

• RAW+JPEG: Up to 7 frames
• JPEG (Fine): 32 frames
• JPEG (Standard): 116 frames

Self-timer

• 10 sec
• 2 sec

Orientation sensor Yes, for shooting, playback and control panel display
Connectivity • USB 2.0 Hi-Speed (mass storage, Multi-LUN or PTP)
• DC-IN
• Remote terminal
Remote control • Wired: with optional RM-S1AM or RM-L1AM
Video out • AV (Selectable NTSC or PAL)
• HDMI
• ‘PhotoTV’ HD settings applied with BRAVIA.
Storage • SD/ SDHC
• Memory Stick Pro Duo / Pro HG Duo
• Supports FAT12 / FAT16 / FAT32
Power • NP-FM500H Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery (1650 mAh)
• Battery charger included
• Optional AC adapter
• Batter life Approx 950 shots with viewfinder, 480 in Live view mode (CIPA standard)
Vertical grip • Yes (model tbc)
Dimensions 137 x 104 x 84mm (5.5 x 4.2 x 3.9 in)
Weight (body) No battery: 599 g (1.5lb)
Price (body only)
(With 18-55mm lens)

• $950
• $1050

Also Consider

Sony A560

sony-a560
Overall Rating: N/A | Check Availability

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canon-7d
Overall Rating: N/A | Latest Price Info

Nikon D300

nikon-d300
Overall Rating: ★★★★½ | Latest Price Info

Sony A900

sony-a900
Overall Rating: ★★★★½| Latest Price Info

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

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Overall Rating: ★★★★½ | Latest Price Info


See also: Digital Camera | Digital SLR Cameras | Sony





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16 Comments »

2009-10-17 15:38:52

its perfect

i love sony a100-a900

 
Comment by Rob Brydon
2009-11-22 19:35:08

Bitter sweet camera but mainly sweeeet. After a month of use I am disapointed with having to clean the LCD as I have to push my nose and face onto it if I want to use the OVF. I feel Sony have pitched this more for the live view shooter than the OVF shooter and have made the OVF level with the LCD. The OVF needed to be more proud to stop my nose continually rubbing on the LCD,and I do not have a big nose.
It is full of bells and whistles that the “snappers” will be used to and love in a DSLR and don’t get me wrong, are features the enthusiast, like myself, can make use of. Noise is reduced considerably and I find I can use iso1600 in most situations comfortably but only if I don’t want to crop too much. Speed is no longer a problem.
I enjoy the “Smart Teleconverter” and with my 18-250 lense at 250 means I won’t be saving up to by the 500mm AF after all. So I only get a 3 mpix image at 2x250mm, thats quite enough for computer/net images.
It is a comfortable camera to use and it takes no time at all to get around the buttons. I came from an A100 and while it’s a bit different to this, the new settings are intuitive.
I don’t mind that it’s all hard plastic and I can live with the smudges on the LCD as I am using “Live View” more..and speaking of “Live View”, what a vista it is. That feature alone takes this camera and it’s abilities to a whole new ball park I have never before been able to visit until now.
The photography I hankered to do with my old A100 has arrived. The A550 is a weapon and in the right hands can wreak hell. You’ll love it.

 
Comment by Steve Subscribed to comments via email
2010-02-07 08:39:47

I have been shooting with slr all my life with Minlota and have several decent(I think)lenses. I currently use a Panasonic digital point and shoot, and recently have got the bug to pick up the slr again. However due to the cost of film, I have been considering getting adecent dslr, and in trying to determine what type of dslr to buy I have heard that the minolta lens fit and work well with the sony alpha digital slrs. Would someone let me know if this is true and how well they cross over, or if I should just consider starting from scratch?

Comment by Dunderwood Subscribed to comments via email
2010-02-09 09:19:34

Yes the Minolta lenses do work with the Sony Alpha line. These would be all Autofocus lenses for the Minolta Maxum series.

They work great and I chose the Alpha series for this reason as well since I already had an investment in lenses from my film days. Nice thing is you don’t have to worry about the Image stabilization/Vibration control lens choices that you have to with Canon/Nikon. All lenses are stabilized if you choose.

Comment by Steve Subscribed to comments via email
2010-02-09 11:19:05

DO the older lenses work as well, I have some from pre 1980 and I don’t think they are AF lenses. I would assume you would just use manual focus, am I right?

The second part of this is do they perform as well as the newer lenses, I was told that the newer lenses are better due to newer technology etc.
Any comment on this?

Comment by Dunderwood Subscribed to comments via email
2010-02-09 13:37:29

You can use older MC/MD lenses but only in the Camera’s manual mode. Manual focus, aperture, ISO and shutter speed. It requires a $20 adapter on EBay.

I have a 100mm Macro bellows that is from the 70′s and it works great. Getting used to working in Manual mode is quite an adjustment in this auto world. Since there is no cost to take a shot I quickly adjust my settings via the LCD preview.

They don’t perform as well as a good quality newer lens. There have been a lot of advances in Zooms, telephoto, macro etc. Prime lenses might be as good but in general good quality newer lenses are better.

I use my older Minolta lens to fill the focal range gap and reduce costs. Also where manual focus makes sense like Macros.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
 
 
Comment by mark davies Subscribed to comments via email
2010-04-04 19:15:33

The Sony A550 is my first DSLR and I love it! I have had several 35-mm SLRs and found the move across to digital easier than I expected. Thanks to the price of the A550 I was also able to buy a selection of lenses and really start playing with all the cameras features, I agree the screen needs cleaning frequently but as I only use this to view the shots it’s not a major problem as I find the screen is a little small to really see the photo anyway. I have also bought the twin battery carrier as I wanted the extra time for usage while I use it as I do a lot of sports photography, although the battery only actually ran flat on me once without me noticing the warning indicator and changing it in time.
My only critical comment would be the autofocus is a little jumpy for my liking in certain circumstances, it seems to refocus at the wrong point just as you shoot on occasions but I guess I will work around that or maybe it’s something I’m doing wrong!
In general this camera has given me so much pleasure over the past months I have regained my enthusiasm in photography as a whole and have just enrolled in a course of photo-imaging to broaden my knowledge and ability to use the camera more fully!
I would recommend this model to anyone entering or upgrading in the digital field

Comment by marc Subscribed to comments via email
2010-04-25 14:08:54

Hi Mark

The camera has the function to automatic focusing when you are looking thruw the viewer. this is the fabric setting maybe thats wrong. see page 71 off the manual (eye start AF). try to selct the off setting and give it a try.

grtz marc

 
Comment by marc Subscribed to comments via email
2010-04-25 14:13:08

Hi Mark

Check the manual on page 71to deselect the eye start AF. When you are looking thruw the viewer the camera automatcally is focusing.

maybe it works grtz marc

Comment by mark davies Subscribed to comments via email
2010-04-25 23:15:08

Hi grtz marc,

thanks for that you have solved the problem for me! Superb!

It would have taken me ages to see what that did!!
I am enjoying the camera even more now thats sorted.

While Im on can you recommend a reasonably priced flash? Mainly for portrait work.

Again , thanks

Mark

 
 
Comment by Elena Subscribed to comments via email
2010-07-29 20:49:25

am new to Dslr. A salesman convinced me to get ‘ the Sony 550 since I wanted a faster camera for kids’ sports and better indoor shots for new baby.The indoor shots are great, but the lens don’t give me as much zoom as my granddaughter’s Nikon Coolpix 5x zoom. What lens do you use for zooming in on soccer games or track and field from the stands, for example.

Comment by mark davies Subscribed to comments via email
2010-07-31 20:15:39

hi Elena,
I do a lot of sports stuff with my a550 and occasional work for the local rag,
at the swimming i use a Sigma DG 70-300mm f:4-5.6, this gets easily to lane 4 and useable shots from lane 8.
at the skate park i use a Sigma EX 10-20mm f:4-5.6 DC, this gives great coverage when the guys get close,
For the soccer i use a Sigma 500mm f/4.5 EX DG APO HSM (this was quite expensive but i needed the speed for the action!)
my generally most used lens is a Sony DT 4-5.6 55-200 SAM, I find this a great little lens and apart from close stuff it’s great for most sports and other stuff ( I was shooting a play for the local acting group with it last night, just had to vary shutter and apertures for various lighting but got some fantastic shots!)
I would suggest you set your picture mode to fine and or raw (if you can work with raw files ) and for sport stuff I work in the aperture priority mode and set it to the highest I can ie f:4 and a film speed of 400 – 1600 iso depending on the light ect and just have a play with it, You’l get to love it as much as I have! And because you’re recording at around 13.5 M you can really get in with the crops if you need to. just remember the higher you set your iso the more ‘noise’ you will get in the picture,but just play and enjoy there is so much more to this camera that you can use as you progress and get more familiar with it, the salesman did you a favour I recon.
Cheers
Mark.

 
 
 
Comment by Emmanuel O Subscribed to comments via email
2010-04-05 09:09:35

Am on my way to acquiring a Sony A550. I have in stock Tamron lenses like the Tamron AF28-300mm F/3.5-6.3, SP AF 10-24MM, etc. Can these lenses work with this camera?

Comment by Dunderwood Subscribed to comments via email
2010-04-05 13:47:12

Yes as long as they are branded for Minolta/Sony AF and not for Nikon or Canon.

 
 
Comment by mark davies Subscribed to comments via email
2010-08-02 00:30:07

Hi Guys, I have just bought the hvl-f58am flash unit for my a550 and just have to say what a superb addition it is!! I tried cheaper generic brands and while they were ‘useable’ (just) they are not a patch on what this can do! I would strongly advise anyone in the market for a flash to go that little further and buy one of these it’s worth the investment!
I was going to put a couple of pictures on that I have been playing with but don’t seem to be able to, is there a way to do this?
cheers
Mark.

 
Comment by JoAnn Null Subscribed to comments via email
2011-01-02 07:22:37

Finally moved up to a DSLR after LOVING my Sony H-9. Chose the a300 a couple of years ago; with it I bought 2 lenses, and a Sony flash. This year, after reading about it, I purchased the a550 – I really love this camera! I have been using the MF Check LV feature, and I am getting really, really sharp pictures. Bought the H-9 for a concert because I could hold the camera over my head – worked great, and I wanted that feature again, thus the 550. Just purchased a very good camera for movies, so I was not interested in a DSLR that shoots video. Overall, VERY happy with this camera and would recommend it!

 

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