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In this final Part 3, I’ll show you additional examples of some of the innovative and easy-to-use features that make the Sony Alpha A55 my recent favorite camera.

You can read about the “standard” features of the Sony Alpha A55 in Part 1 of my review. And in Part 2, I describe my experience using several of the A55’s unique features.


D-Range Optimization

When shooting a scene that has high contrast, you may notice that the shadow areas are likely to lack detail and/or the highlight areas are overexposed.

To counter this tricky lighting, the A55 offers D-Range Optimization that compresses tones to preserve detail in both shadows and highlights.

This feature is not unique to the A55; Canon offers a similar feature which it calls Auto Lighting Optimizer and Nikon uses the moniker Active D-Lighting.
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A New Breed of Camera

I first laid my hands on the Sony Alpha A55 (and the smaller, less expensive Alpha 33) at the PhotoPlus Expo in New York City last September.

What interested me in this new camera was its fixed translucent mirror. In a conventional DSLR, the reflex mirror reflects the image into the viewfinder and then swings out of the way when you press the shutter to send the image to the “film” light sensor. In the Alpha 55, the translucent mirror sends a small portion of the incoming image to the viewfinder and the remainder to the “film” light sensor. This stationary mirror gives the camera several unique features that I’ll describe shortly. This technology isn’t new. In the early 1960′s Canon made a model called the Pellix using a similar scheme with a pellicle mirror. My uncle bought this camera back then, one of the first to have Through The Lens metering (TTL) and it served him well for many years.

The A55’s translucent mirror eliminates the reflex mechanism providing a space, weight and cost savings. Removing this mechanical assembly also allows for a higher frame rate. Next, the electronics measuring the auto exposure remain uninterrupted from frame to frame giving instant responses to varying changes in lighting. Similarly, the auto focus system stays 100% available – a very important consideration for high speed continuous shooting.

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Upcoming Reviews

29th January 2011

I made it a point to attend several trade shows recently – Photokina in Cologne (September), PhotoPlus in NYC (October) and CES in Las Vegas (January). I spent a lot of time walking up and down the aisles at the shows and was able to get hands-on demos of many new pieces of photo equipment and accessories.

Several readers have asked about our plans for reviews of some of these items, so I thought I’d drop a few lines to let you know that we’ve already started reviewing the following items and are putting them through the paces. Additionally, we’ve added another tablet computer to our inventory and are just now logging a few dozen hours studying how it might come in handy for photographers.
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