Better stills, better video, same smokin' speed
As has become typical in Sony’s compact cameras, including its NEX line of ILCs, the A35 also includes an array of impressive features outside the norm. The Handheld Twilight scene mode, for example, takes six frames with one press of the shutter button and combines them to reduce noise. (Since noise is random, it shows up in different places in each shot and can be reduced drastically this way—without compromising resolution.)
Sweep Panorama mode also combines multiple shots, in this case while you pan holding down the shutter button. The camera splices together the resulting images for a remarkably seamless panoramic shot. The picture height is limited to 2160 pixels in this mode, but it remains the easiest way to make a panorama that we’ve encountered. Plus, if you have a 3D TV or computer system, you can make 3D Sweep Panoramas just as easily.
The A35 can also blend three exposures for an HDR (high dynamic range) image. You can adjust the level of the effect, and since the camera aligns the shots, you don’t have to use a tripod, although the shutter speeds needed for night scenes might still demand one. We got great results shooting very bright scenes with deep shadows.
Video captured with the A35 looks very nice in HD playback. We saw few artifacts, and colors were well saturated. Again, continuous AF is available while shooting video, making the experience much more like shooting with a camcorder. AF noise may leak into the sound recorded by the built-in mics, so an external mic would be a good idea. But—and this is a big but—the A35 lacks its predecessor’s articulated LCD screen, making video shooting less convenient than it is when using the A33 and A55.
The Bottom Line
The A35 continues to show the benefits of a semitransparent mirror in a DSLR. For the average shooter, the speedy and solid continuous AF delivers what most people look for when they step up to a DSLR. Shutter lag is not a part of this camera’s vocabulary, and if only the EVF could provide an uninterrupted image, this would be an amazing sports-shooting body. Some photographers won’t be able to cozy up to the EVF, but if you’re among the crowd that doesn’t mind composing images in an LCD, and you’re shopping in this price range, the A35 deserves your consideration.
Imaging: 16.2MP effective, APS-C-sized, Exmor CMOS sensor captures images at 4912x3264 pixels with 12 bits/color in RAW mode.
Storage: SD, SDHC, SDXC, or Memory Stick PRO Duo/Pro-HG Duo. Stores JPEG, ARW RAW, or RAW + JPEG files.
Video: Records up to 1920x1080 pixels at 60i fps in AVCHD format with 17 Mbps average bit rate, or up to 1440x1080 pixels at 30p fps in MP4 format with 12 Mbps average bit rate; built-in stereo microphone; stereo minijack input.
Burst rate: Full-sized JPEGs (Fine mode), up to 14 shots at 5.5 fps; RAW, up to 6 shots at 5.5 fps (12 bit).
AF system: TTL phase detection with 15 illuminated focus points (3 cross-type); single-shot, continuous AF, and auto selectable; tested sensitivity down to EV –2 (at ISO 100, f/1.4), though Sony rates sensitivity to EV –1.
Live view: Same TTL phase detection as listed above.
Shutter speeds: 1/4000 to 30 sec, plus B (1/3-EV increments); shutter life not rated.
Metering: TTL metering using 1200-zone evaluative, centerweighted, and spotmetering; range, –2 to 17 EV (at ISO 100).
ISO range: ISO 100–12,800 (in 1-EV increments).
Flash: Built-in pop-up with TTL autoflash and wireless control of optional flash units, GN 33 (ISO 100, feet), covers 18mm lens field of view. Flash sync to 1/160 sec; dedicated Sony/Minolta hot-shoe.
EVF: Fixed eye-level LCD with 1.44 million-dot resolution; 100% accuracy; 1.1X magnification.
LCD: 3-in. TFT with 921,00-dot resolution.
Output: Hi-Speed USB 2.0 and mini HDMI video.
Battery: Rechargeable NP-FW50 Li-ion, CIPA rating, 440 shots with EVF, 420 shots with LCD screen.
Size/weight: 4.8x3.6x3.6 in., 1.44 lb with a card and battery.
Street price: $600, body only; $700 with DT 18–55mm f/3.5–5.6 SAM zoom lens.