Sony’s Alpha A500 enters the market with the worlds best overall DSLR live view experience (two kinds of live view), a new 12.3mp CMOS imaging sensor, ISO 12,800 capability, class leading 5 frames per second capture (only bested by the A550), hand held HDR imaging, Advanced Dynamic Range Optimizer, dual media card slots, smile shutter technology and face detection technology (only DSLR (less A550) to use phase detect autofocus for this feature), and much more.
The DSLR-A500 (12.3 megapixels) is packed with advanced Sony technology that combine the spontaneity and freedom of Live View shooting with generous possibilities to realise your creative vision.
At the heart of the camera is a new Exmor CMOS sensor that ensures crisp low-noise images, packed with fine detail and vibrant colours. Dramatically reduced picture noise now allows super-sensitive shooting at up to ISO12800, allowing attractive results when shooting handheld in challenging situations like candlelit interiors.
The A500 offers a crisp, high-contrast 3.0 type Clear Photo LCD Plus screen with the same tilt range for clear, comfortable composition and reviewing shots.
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The Alpha A500 (and A550 ignoring the price) strike me as fun to use DSLRS that are generally easy to operate in live view mode, that are capable of impressive results in certain image quality categories (raw is best but raw shooting doesn’t appeal to the majority of shooters in the world). These cameras are not a stand alone recommendation for enthusiast shooters who for the most part desire much more control over the photography process as possible, and, that demand a well heeled list of advanced (and traditional) DSLR features to boot. This opinion is of course dependent on whether or not you are adding the A500 as a secondary body to your system.
I can’t help but wonder though how well this camera would have done on the market given it had some additional features that appealed to enthusiasts, a bit better button and control wheel layout/placement, and a higher quality plastic that gave it a more quality feel overall. As is though the A500 should do well on the market, and my hope is that it is considered first between it and the A550 because I feel it targets its intended audience better. Throw some nicer glass on the front of it and have a ball.
One of the most surprising functions available on the Sony A500 is its Auto HDR mode. High Dynamic Range photos are created by combining two shots of varying exposure, allowing a greater dynamic range than can be captured in a single exposure.
The LCD on the A550 is noticeably better than the Sony A500’s. It’s easy to see why 921,600 dots would resolve better than 230,400. The Sony A500’s screen is by no means unusable, just not as gorgeous, and it’s a lot easier to judge focus on the A550’s VGA screen. Both LCDs are reasonably usable in bright sunlight; good enough for composing images.
Overall, the Sony A500 and A550 look like good camera designs with some interesting innovations that take advantage of the serious CPU power of Sony’s processing chips. Stay tuned for further comments once we’ve had a chance to test their image quality!
The A500 or the A550 would be a fine choice for DSLR novices thanks to the many digicam-style features, but the great versatility and advanced functions make it just as suitable for photo enthusiasts. The A550 would be my first choice because of its superior LCD screen. A few years ago, the early Alpha cameras appealed primarily to those who already owned some compatible Minolta Maxxum/Dynax lenses. Today, the system is succeeding on its own merits. Regardless of budget or needs, you should be able to find at least one Sony Alpha camera that’s just right in terms of feature set, performance and value.