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Old December 3rd, 2010, 08:35 PM   #1
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Anyone use a Siny a55 for weddings

I've been checking this camera out online. Apart from some cosmetic stuff, it seems to have some cool features. I like the idea of auto focus form when I'm using my Merlin or my jib. It also has a mic input which is nice. What do you guys think of this camera?
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Old December 3rd, 2010, 09:19 PM   #2
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Hi Evan,

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Originally Posted by Evan Lloyd View Post
I've been checking this camera out online. Apart from some cosmetic stuff, it seems to have some cool features. I like the idea of auto focus form when I'm using my Merlin or my jib. It also has a mic input which is nice. What do you guys think of this camera?
The frame rate (lack of 24p) is a deal-killer for some.

Video Mode:

AVCHD: 1920 x 1080/ 60i (59.94i Interlace recording, 29.97 progressive image sensor output) Approx. 17Mbps (Average bit-rate)

MP4 HD: 1440 x 1080/ 30p (29.97 Progressive) Approx. 12Mbps (Average bit-rate)

MP4 VGA: 640 x 480/ 30p (29.97 Progressive) Approx. 3Mbps (Average bit-rate)
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Old December 3rd, 2010, 10:29 PM   #3
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Excuse my rookie question, but why is 24p so important? Does it look better? Is it significantly better then the other options? Can customers tell a difference?

Thanks
Evan
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Old December 3rd, 2010, 11:27 PM   #4
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Evan I would look into lenses and ability of using those from other manufacturers on this camera. I used to love Sony products, until they began to take everything propriatory (sp).

I sold my DVXs and bought GH1s and sold those to order GH2s. The first thing I figured out going to a DSLR, the body is the cheap part, they kill you when it comes time to buy the various lenses.

24p, it's the "look" of being "filmlike". On the way coolest stuff you have seen online, I'll bet almost all if not all has been shot 24p. In those cases I don't think the 24p made it, as much as the skill of the one behind the cam that did.
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Old December 4th, 2010, 02:54 PM   #5
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Evan -
Since this will be my next camera purchase (right now they're out of stock everywhere until around mid month), I think I can comment - been watching this cam since it was just a rumor.

24p is one of those things that is a "holy grail" for "film look", personally I render out to 24p after editing, but I'm not entirely convinced that the stutter introduced by lower frame rates is a "good" thing - I believe this camera is going to be similar to the NEX cameras, and effectively produce a 30p in a 60i wrapper for compatibility, but it is possible it's 60i... My personal opinion is that color grading and DoF has more to do with the surreal "film look" than the temporal motion signature... the point Chip makes about operator skill is well taken!

The 17Mbps is equivalent to their consumer AVCHD cameras, which result in an excellent picture, the samples I've seen from this camera look pretty good, I'm willing to take a chance on it.

Lens wise, I've already got some nice Alpha (old Minolta A mount actually) glass, looking forward to see what it can do. ANY camera body/lens/mount you go with will present the challenge of compatibility. Sony is no more proprietary that Canon or Nikon... (the SLT's can use good old SDHC cards now, as well as MS Duos). As noted, when you invest in a interchangeable lens camera, you invest in a SYSTEM, and need to consider the package - for me I collected nice old Minolta glass on the cheap, the SLT- a55 will be the 4th body they will attach to...

While I quivered when the E mount was introduced, it appears Sony will continue to support the A mount for at least a while longer - they still have a dedicated community of users, and to kill the A mount would not go over well - the sucess of the a55 so far (it's rating VERY highly in all the reviews I've seen, and selling rediculously fast) probably ensures that an a77 "pro" camera will appear in the near future, and the A mount will be around for a while longer.

I've considered the new NEX/VG cameras with the E mount (A mount adapter available from Sony, many other adapters becoming available), but like the SLT concept since I don't want to invest in E lenses just yet, and am willing to accept the compromises since my primary target is a better still camera, with video capability, which the a55 and perhaps the a580 (traditional DSLR) "fit" better.

I wouldn't go with the a55 for a "main" camera, any more than my shooting style wouldn't allow me to use most of the other DSLR wl/video hybrid cameras...but for the DoF and "glamour" shots, looks like it might be the ticket.


Upsides are the image quality seems to be excellent on both stills and video, you can use lots of A mount lenses, SDHC cards, and it's pretty compact... auto focus is excellent and very fast. I expect to be quite happy with the camera based on everything I know of it, and already am willing to accept the limitations... and there are a few...

Downsides are:
you're going to need a stack of batteries - the FW50 does not appear to be a particularly stout battery, and is smaller compared to the old FM55H's (a580 uses the older larger battery, but you lose the super fast AF...) - genuine ones are tough to find and staying pricey, and Chinese knockoffs abound...

Onboard audio is not that great from samples I've heard, and you get lens/focus motor noise because the A mount is designed for STILLS, not video, whereas the E mount is virtually silent and was designed for video from the ground up. This was one reason Sony refused to enter the video market - they did not think "consumers" would accept manual focus and noisy audio....From what I've seen the same problem is present with most hybrid cameras, and dual audio is a solution. Sony does have some small external mics for this cam series specifically, but I'm not betting that they will reduce the noise OR improve the audio quality...

Heat... The a55 is a very compact camera (nowhere for heat to go!), and with the onboard image stabilizer on (stabilizer produces additional heat on top of the sensor), the recording time looks to be VERY short - they've published a chart of record times at various ambient temps, and I'm looking at 5-6 minute record times in my desert environment, if that... I've seriously considered the a33 which runs just a tad cooler, but since stills are the primary motivation, the a55 comes out on top for my purposes, where short, shallow DoF clips to intersperse with longer clips from my other "regular" video cameras is the main expected use.


I'll make one observation on running this on the Merlin... keep in mind that the AF will likely shift the CG of the entire rig, at least slightly - I know with the Alpha cameras I've used, you definitely "feel" the focus mech working, this may or may not apply to the a55 and lens combo you choose, but since you mentioned it...

I'm hoping to luck onto one, but it'll probably be early next year, til them my Minolta lenses are sitting nekkid and cold...
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Old December 4th, 2010, 10:03 PM   #6
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Thanks Dave

I bought one through B&H and had it sent to the house yesterday. It is a really sweet little camera. Very little camera. It would be great for candid shots and non-intrusive situations. The image quality is good but not great. I did a side by side comparison with a 5D Mark II and the A55 got blown out of the water. Not an apples to apples comparison, but alarming non the less.

I think the A55 does what it is designed to do. It offers a lot of cool features at a nice price to consumer customers. Pros will want more flexibility and quality, but if you understand what you are getting, it's a great camera.

That said, I'm going to return the camera and instead hope the Panasonic GH2 fulfills my needs better. It's supposed to come out this month. I hope it does.
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Old December 4th, 2010, 11:39 PM   #7
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Interesting that you say the 5DII was that significantly better - was that for stills, video, both... ? What lenses, as that can make a significant difference? I haven't seen the kit lens for the a55, but I know the earlier Sony kit lenses were less than stellar IMO, thus why old Minolta glass is helpful.

I'm sure that the price points can't help but leave the a55 at a disadvantage - a 5DII is about 3x the price of an a55 IIRC? Was there really that huge a disparity in image quality? I know I shot some stills side by side a couple years ago, an a350 against a Canon (might have been the earlier 5D?), and the Sony shots were much more consistent and usable.

I know it takes a while to get the hang of Sony cameras - I don't leave anything Sony in the "out of box" settings on a regular basis, but I've always gotten the results from the equipment. I'm a little nervous about the small size, but had an HX1 that was almost the same size and it was fine for us. Now I'm wondering if the image quality will come up short - haven't seen any review yet that indicates there's anything drastically lacking in that department, so I'm interested in a "real world" experience that the a55 fell short and in what way. I know it would feel like a "toy camera" in comparison to the Canon, but where else was it lacking performance wise?
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Old December 5th, 2010, 01:46 AM   #8
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I created a little video to show you the two cameras. Both are set to full auto. We didn't tinker with exposer or any of the other parameters. It's all stock settings. Both lenses were relatively similar. It would be cool to use the same lens on both cameras but that was not really possible for us. Anyway, take it for what it is, a quick experiment under less then scientific conditions.

I do like this A55. It's super sweet and compact. The burst rate and panorama features are cool. The picture quality is pretty good. If I spent more time with it, I'm sure I'm like it even more. I think it would be a great camera for tight spots, intimate settings, and candid shots.

The Mark II is not a fair comparison, but it was all we had to compare.

Evan

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Old December 5th, 2010, 03:55 PM   #9
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Thanks so much for the comparison video, a video is worth several thousand words <wink>!

I think it was actually a pretty fair comparison, and very much points up the differences between Sony and Canon design philosophies... I don't see THAT much difference in the detail qualities in the two images, mainly the things I'll note below. My one concern with ANY still camera shooting video is aliasing, but both samples looked good.

If you haven't sent the a55 back yet, may I suggest a couple things from a long time Sony user?

I've noticed over the years that Canon products tend to "push" the reds, which makes the resulting picture look more warm and healthy most of the time. You might want to try a WB compensation or one of the "warmer" presets on the a55 - should help the Sony to look warmer and less "cold", which is a BIG part of what jumps out to me. Should make the golds and red of the drapes "pop", more comparable to the 5DII.

The other thing I've noticed is that Canon tends to "crush" the blacks, which makes for a stronger contrast, and Sony is well known for running their exposure a little to the overexposed side, which again makes apparent contrast suffer, another thing that really jumps off my screen. Not sure the exact controls on the a55, but if there's an AE shift, set it to -2 to -4, or if it's an EV compensation, adjust it accordingly - I think the still cameras use EV shift, at least the Sony ones I have do that.

Just a couple suggestions you might want to try, and they aren't obvious unless you've used Sony cameras for a while. Sony does tend to "cool" and blue tones, while Canon goes towards "warm" and red, and well, people don't like cold and blue as well as warm and red! So too, I think Sony does a pretty good job with details/dynamic range in the image, but it comes at a cost of contrast - generally people "like" a bold contrasty image. I either adjust my settings or boost to taste in post, where I feel Sony gives me just a tad more to work with.

Again, thanks for the video! I'm looking forard to mounting a 24-105 Minolta lens on this body - there's a phenomenon that seems to go with old Minolta lenses - very much akin to what I mention above with Canon - there's a 'look" or "Minolta color" that adds a pleasing warmth to stills, I'm hoping it translates to video! My newer Sony branded glass is "nice", but there's a magic to some of the older lenses, so that's mainly what I've got, and it does make the Sony bodies "look" better.
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Old December 12th, 2010, 03:39 AM   #10
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Sony is no more proprietary that Canon or Nikon...
It's not that they are more propriety, it's that they used a lens mount which is not adaptable to many other lenses.

They are not technically proprietry, meaning you can get lenses for the alpha mount from third party manufacturers such as Sigma, Tamron, etc. But as you said, owning a DSLR is as much about the System as it is about the body. And for somebody migrating from say the Nikon system, buying a Sony means they might have 1000's of dollars worth of lenses which will be completely unusable on their new camera - which is not the case if they decided to switch to Canon, for example. Likewise if they buy a Sony, their choice of legacy lenses is much less (partly due to the historically less popular system and partly because they cannot adapt to other systems) meaning they can't simply buy lots of older glass as a cheap introduction to the system.

Rest assured though, that the Sony system still has available all the excellent, and often cheaper lenses that are available to Canon and Nikon users via 3rd party manuafacturers.
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Old December 13th, 2010, 11:42 PM   #11
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Hi Dave,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
I'm looking forard to mounting a 24-105 Minolta lens on this body - there's a phenomenon that seems to go with old Minolta lenses - very much akin to what I mention above with Canon - there's a 'look" or "Minolta color" that adds a pleasing warmth to stills, I'm hoping it translates to video! My newer Sony branded glass is "nice", but there's a magic to some of the older lenses, so that's mainly what I've got, and it does make the Sony bodies "look" better.
Agreed about Minolta lenses - their pre-AF image quality is distinct. I have a Minolta 58mm f1.4 adapted for EOS I just started playing with. (Its being dissected at the moment getting its heliocoid cleaned and lubed.) Interesting reading for classic lens nerds:

Historical Perspective On Minolta Lens Design Philosophy by Richard Avedon (Richard Avedon) on Myspace
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