Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Using the EVF on the Sony Alpha A55v and A33

I was invited by Sony USA to try out their latest lenses, cameras and video cameras. They brought us to Jackson WY for a few days of rodeo and landscape shooting.

Today Sony launches it's new A33 and A55v Alpha cameras.

I did a set of rodeo cowboy portraits while testing the cameras. You just can't find a better subject than cowboys, young and old, for testing camera gear.... and Jackson is ground zero for cowboys.

The two cameras are very similar although the A55v is 16mg while the A33 is 14mg. The A55v has built in GPS and a maximum frame rate of 10 frames per second. The A33 maxes out at 7 F/S.

Both of these camera are packed with features that should prove to be both useful and popular.

The first thing you'll notice while using the new camera is Live View and an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF). I haven't been a fan of EVF in the past but found these cameras easy to use and I was up-to-speed with the viewfinder quickly.

The normal operation of the camera is with Live View but as soon as you put your eye to the Sony Tru-Finder it switches away from Live View and to the viewfinder.

There are a few advantages to this.... the image in the Tru-finder is much larger than the viewfinder in a conventional LV camera..... you can use the special features such as "Face Detection", grids or the built in level.... and you can easily review both your stills and video through the Tru-finder, even in the sun.

I had both the A33 and A55v and used either the Zeiss 24-70mm or the Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 lens. I used the "Face Detection" for these photos and ended up with nicely focused images even though the lens was near wide open.
Using the Alpha A33 with the Zeiss 135mm F1.8 lens.... shot at F2. You can't go wrong with a subject like this old rodeo cowboy.

People love the look of this lens. I do shoot with it wide open and it works great but the lens is outstanding when you take the time to stop down to F5.6 for portrait work. The lens has a great bokeh as you can see on the out-of-focus area around this cowboy. I think the lens is more suited to a full-frame camera though. It's a bit long with the APS sized sensor which makes it about a 200mm. I felt I was too far from the subject with this lens on.

A better choice for the APS sensor might be the Carl Zeiss 85mm F1.4 lens. With the cropped sensor this works out to about 127mm, very similar to the lens I do own when I use it on the full-frame A850 body.

Using the Alpha A55v with the Zeiss 24-70mm.

The Alpha A55v with the Zeiss 24-70mm.

The Alpha A33 with the Zeiss 135mm F1.8 lens.... shot at F5.6. This is the perfect working aperture for this lens, and the file is very sharp.

The Alpha A55 with the Zeiss 24-70mm.

You'll notice that I moved most of the cowboys out of the full sun and shot them in the open shade behind a building. Doing this kept the contrast of the scene down and removed any harsh shadows, especially under the hat. It also gave me a bit more time with the subject since they weren't standing in the 90 degree sun all day. I ended up using the auto bracketing feature on the camera, giving me three exposures of each shot and I picked the best one back at the computer. Cameras have offered Auto-bracketing for a while and it works great on the A55v and A33.

Using the face detection on the Alpha A33 with the Zeiss 135mm F1.8 lens.... at F4.

Rob Skeoch


  1. hi, the last photo, the face being so bright, is that because u had a reflector or its the job of the DRO?

  2. With the last shot I had lightened it slightly in photoshop but then when I up-loaded it to blogger it seemed to go lighter yet. I didn't have a reflector and the DRO is always off.

    I think I just lightened it too much on the notebook screen.


  3. How is the focus motor of the A55 with the CZ135? Does it seem to be as powerful as the A850? I have the CZ135 and am wondering if the wee A55 can shift that heavy glass as fast as the A700 and other beefier bodies. It may well have the same motor in a tiny package. Here's hoping.

  4. Hi Rick,

    That's a good question. I didn't notice any problem's but I also was not racking the focus all that much, plus my subject wasn't moving so I didn't notice if there was any lack of speed.

    I'll have to keep trying it and let you know.

  5. Thanks. Look forward to reading about the results!