The Sony Alpha A33 and A55 are a pair of compact, entry level DSLRs, that pack a stack of quick sharp capabilities, and clock in lighter and smaller than their predecessors. The A55 we tested is 23 per cent smaller and 26 per cent lighter than the Sony Alpha A550. But how did it stand up in our first hands-on preview?


The Alpha A33 and A55 are two different cameras in the same chassis, with the A55 squeezing in some marginally higher specs, in sensor size and maximum frames per second when shooting with continuous autofocus.

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Impressively, Sony claims that the quick autofocus on the Alpha A55 and A33 can track and adjust objects moving up to 50km per hour – the only other camera that can perform as well is the high end EOS Mark IV.

The added muscle in the Sony Alpha A33 and Alpha A55 to push more frames through comes from the translucent mirror, as there’s no mirror movement inside the camera body. The translucent mirrors means that the sensor receives 30 per cent less light, but Sony has accounted for this, and the sensor adjusts for what it’s receiving by increasing the ISO by one third.

Also beefed up is performance in low light. Sony says the Alpha A33 and A55 are 20 per cent more sensitive in low light. The Sony Alpha A55 certainly performs well – it brought out all the detail in the carpet under a chair in a hotel, with no problems in the bad light.

The articulated screen on the Alpha A55 and A33 is an unusual thing to see in a dinky DSLR like the Alpha A33/A55, it’s an added bit of functionality, that put it above other cameras in its class.

Shooting a 3D panorama also shoots a 2D panorama at the same time. Focus your shot, and pan from left to right, and the camera puts a panorama together. The finished 3D image is impressive, with more depth than we expected.

The movie capture gives good control over focus, the 15 point autofocus means you can choose a point to focus on, and while filming, the camera will adjust for whatever is at that point. It’s simple to use, and doesn’t require too much fiddling in the menus.

Sony is shipping the A33 in a week, and the Sony Alpha A55 will follow through soon after. It’s compatible with Sony Alpha mount lenses.

The standard Sony Alpha A33 kit will set you back between £600 and £700, with a £100 premium on the extra specs that the A55 is carrying. Sony can’t be more specific than this at the moment, and retailers get to set their own prices. It is compatible with existing Sony Alpha lenses, and will be coming in a body only, single lens kit, and dual lens kit.

So far, the Sony Alpha A33 and A55 have delivered on Sony’s big promises, but we’ll be giving the cameras a full on test later this afternoon, so stay tuned for video samples and more in depth reviews.

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  • Sahaja

    “the translucent mirrors means that the sensor receives 70 per cent less light”

    Shouldn't that be something like
    “the translucent mirror means that the sensor receives only 70 per cent of the light”

    I think only 30% or less gets reflected off for the auto focus which amounts to less than half an f stop.

    • bensillis

      Hi Sahaja – thanks for the spot! It was indeed a typo and has now been amended.

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