Quickie With The A35

While at the Mall in Columbia this evening dealing with my new glasses -- again -- I had some time to kill. So after a dinner of Thai-ish chicken, I stopped in to Ritz to see if they had gotten an A35 back in stock. As luck would have it, they did, and I got to spend five or ten minutes with it. I've said that these cameras had the potential to be what the old Minolta DiMage A2 really wanted to be. Well, even more than the original SLT-A55, the A35 truly manages to live up to it. Like the old DiMage, it's comfortable despite its diminutive size and also like the DiMage, it feels solid despite its feather weight.

In operation, the camera feels very responsive, and the EVF (electronic view finder) is bright and crisp -- far better than the old DiMage, and I think even slightly improved over the A55. The large rear display is also quite impressive, even if it doesn't have a tilting or swiveling capability -- I haven't had that since the A2, which also had an EVF that tilted.

Auto-focusing with the A35 was very fast and appeared quite accurate, as was the exposure. Navigating menus and contols was quite intuitive, just as they are on the WX9 point-and-shoot I already have. And, both the menus and controls are laid out very similarly to the Canons.

One complaint that I've read about the A55 and A33 pertains to the "burst" mode, and the appearance that the viewfinder displays the last image taken briefly, making it difficult to track a moving subject. I didn't get that impression with the A35, in either burst mode, but I wasn't able to try to track any really fast-moving subjects.

Another complaint that I've read is that the 18-55mm "kit" lens seems "cheap." To me, it actually feels better than Canon's kit lens. Again, relying on web images, it fairs at least as well as the Canon. I'm actually considering buying the kit lens with the camera -- something I've shied away from since we switched from Nikon to Canon when we bought the XTi's.

Since I was shooting in the store in the Mall, I wasn't able to take away any images. There are many photos and videos posted on the internet, as well as a few well-written reviews. One of the more complete reviews can be found at Imaging Resource. Another review can be found at PopPhoto.com. Sony's own page for the SLT-A35 is here.

Sony: Back Into my System...

Sony Cyber Shot DSC-WX9 Back in January, I wrote that I thought I had finally gotten that whole Sony thing out of my system. Boy, was I wrong.

I recently purchased a new little point-and-shoot digital camera, the Sony Cyber Shot DSC-WX9. I bought it primarily for one purpose -- the sweep panorama mode, which automagically takes 15 image and stitches them together, producing an amazingly high-quality image. The idea was to be able to record panos to use as backgrounds for my model railroading efforts.

Amazingly, the image quality of the little WX9 can sometimes trump my Canons with their APS-C-sized sensors, and the feature set is nothing short of astounding.

Since then, I've found that I really, really like the "Sony way" -- at least as much as I liked the "Minolta way" back when we had the DiMage A1 and A2 cameras.

Decision Made -- I'm Making the Jump

Back in January, the object of my desire had been the then-new Sony A55, a D-SLR with a fixed, "pellicle" (semi-transparent) mirror. Since then, Sony have released a second-generation model, the A35, and "semi-pro" third generation models, the A65 and A77, are due to ship from Sony very soon.

For the vast majority of my use, the SLT-A35 looks to be a perfect choice -- both for stills and the limited amount of video that I do these days. There are a couple of "missing" features that would be nice (built-in GPS and a tilting, swiveling display), but that I've never had before. And, since I've never had them before, I seriously doubt that I'll actually miss them. (The alternative is the larger, heavier, traditional A580 D-SLR for about $200 more. I'll have to spend a little time with both before making a final decision)

Over the next few days, I'll be making an inventory of photo, video and audio gear that I've been holding on to, but have not used in the past six months or so. Those items will be listed for sale soon, and once the needed amount is raised (and a couple other things taken care of), I'll see about making a purchase.