Features & Controls
Here you can see the lens mount. The DSLR-A550 is compatible with all Sony Alpha series lenses, Sony wide- aperture zoom lenses, Sony "G" Series lenses, Carl Zeiss coated lenses, and a plethora of Minolta a-mount lenses. Sony lists 36 lenses on their site, including 2 teleconverters that are available as optional accessories for the A550.
Like past models, the A550 features Sony's Anti-Dust Technology - Changing lenses can allow dust to enter the camera -- so to keep the CCD imager clean for better pictures, the A550 camera utilizes both an indium tin oxide coating on the CCD filter and anti-dust vibration that automatically shakes the CCD to dislodge dust. Whenever the camera is turned on or off, the anti-dust feature is activated.
Specifically designed to match the performance requirements of the camera's high resolution 14.2-megapixel APS
size CCD sensor, the built-in Super SteadyShot technology instantly and precisely shifts the CCD to
compensate for camera motion. It's so effective that Sony claims photographers can shoot at shutter speeds up
to 2.5 to 3.5 stops slower than what they could use without it. And because the mechanism is integrated
directly into the camera body, it works with virtually any compatible lens, a major advantage for
photographers when compared to bulky and expensive lens-based optical stabilization systems and software-based
"digital correction systems" that can degrade image quality.
The high profile pop-up flash features ADI and Pre-flash TTL
control. It offers Auto pop-up functionality in All exposure
modes. The flash guide number is 12 (in meters at ISO 100). It has
coverage sufficient for 18mm lenses
with a recycling time of approximately 4 seconds. Available flash modes
are: Auto, Fill-flash, Rear sync, Slow sync and
Wireless. Flash output
compensation is ± 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments
ADI - Advanced Distance Integration is available with any Sony or Konica Minolta
MAXXUM D-Series lens. By comparing information obtained from the lens, built-in distance
encoder with pre-flash metering data, ADI calculates the optimum exposure settings and flash
brightness needed to obtain a proper exposure, even if the subject is standing in front of
a very dark, light, or reflective background.
The DSLR-A550 supports full-featured flash photography with the built-in flash and external flash units
such as the new Sony HVL-F20AM (as well as the HVL-F42AM, HVL-F56AM, HVL-F36AM, and Minolta MAXXUM 5600HS and 3600HS),
allowing you to take advantage of wireless high-speed and TTL flash, rear-curtain flash synchronization,
bounce flash and advanced off-camera setups for pro-level flash shooting.
Off-camera flash is possible with the FA-CS1AM Off-camera Shoe and FA-EC1AM extension,
FA-MC1AM multi flash and FA-CC1AM Off-camera cables.
The Sony HVL-RLAM ringlight (above) and HVL-MT24AM macro twin flash units are for perfectly illuminated close-up photography.
The eye-level optical viewfinder uses a penta-Dach-mirror with a field of view of approximately 95%. It has a 19 mm eye-relief from the eyepiece, along with a very comfortable eyepiece cup that is removable. If the Eye Start option is enabled the AF system is activated whenever you bring the camera up to your eye. The Eye Start also automatically blanks the LCD display.
The camera comes with a non-interchangeable Spherical Acute Matte focusing screen. The viewfinder magnification is 0.80x (with 50mm lens focused on infinity) and has a -2.5 to + 1.0 m-1 dioptric adjustment.
Optional viewfinder accessories include the FDA-A1AM Angle Finder and FDA-ME1AM magnified eyepiece.
The A550 employs the same Live View system we saw on the A330 and A350 models. This function allows you to use the LCD to frame your
pictures; much like you would with a consumer
point-n-shoot. Unlike most Live View setups, Sony's system uses a
separate image sensor for the Live View image. The main advantage of
of setup is increased AF performance when using Live View. On other
cameras, you have to wait for the mirror to move twice or more, then
camera can capture the image. This increases shutter lag quite a bit.
However, with Sony's clever system, this is not an issue. (note: above
image is of the A350)
Along the bottom is a digital status line that displays flash compensation, flash charging, wireless flash, high-speed sync, manual focus, focus, shutter speed, aperture, EV scale, "shooting unavailable" warning, camera shake warning, super steadyshot scale (five indicator bars that show graphically the amount of action being taken by the supers steadyshot system to counteract camera movement), and aspect ratio 16:9 (when enabled).
Conveniently positioned for easy operation with your thumb, the AF/MF button allows you to instantly toggle between auto focusing and manual focusing - without interrupting the flow of distance information to the camera's metering, Super SteadyShot, and ADI flash systems.
Three focusing modes assure optimum performance in a wide range of situations. There's AF-S mode for single-shot AF, an AF-C mode for continuous AF, and an AF-A mode that automatically switches from single-shot to continuous AF when it detects that your subject is moving.
The high-performance AF system offers exceptional accuracy, with
9 separate AF sensors for wide-area
coverage that gives you great flexibility in how you frame your
subject. To exercise even more control, you
can choose the Local AF area mode via the Fn (Function) menu, and then
use the "left" and "right" buttons on the 4-way controller to choose
any of the nine sensors as a spot-focusing target.
Here you can see an illustration of the three possible AF area modes.
High-speed AF data processing and lens drive systems assure instantaneous focus response, allowing you to capture those "spontaneous moments" that SLR photography is all about. In addition, the AF system offers multi-dimensional predictive autofocus with auto- tracking focus-point display. It uses powerful processing algorithms to calculate the speed and direction of moving subjects in four directions, and significantly improves focusing accuracy during high-speed action photography.
Exposure MeteringA high precision 40-segment honeycomb pattern metering system provides optimum exposure control for various lighting conditions. User selectable metering modes: Multi-pattern, Center-weighted averaging or Spot metering. Metering range: 2 - 20 EV (4 - 20 with spot metering or 2 to 17 EV in Live View mode) at ISO 100 with f/1.4 lens.
Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.