Sony Alpha 550 Review / Test Report - Verdict
DSLR Reviews - DSLRs

Verdict

The Alpha 550 did quite convince during our lab and field tests but it's not a camera without flaws. On the positive side the camera delivers the fastest Live View autofocus so far. The AF speed is exemplary in this class and 7 fps is a new benchmark here. The 14.2 megapixel Exmor™ CMOS sensor is capable of producing superb high-resolution images. Furthermore the good ISO performance and the proven "Steady-Shot" mechanism, a body-side image stabilization with up to 4 stops anti-shake performance, supports your creativity even in low light situations. If you are on a long tour, thanks to the excellent battery life with up to 950 shots, you don't have to worry about a power supply.The all in all well designed body and the tilt-able 3-inch LCD screen with almost 922k dots resolution are rounding the system.

Nevertheless, there is one severe and some minor drawbacks we have to talk about. The most significant flaw is for sure the build-in anti-dust system which is one of the most insufficient ones out there - "dust bunnies" in images were a frequent problem during our tests so it's advisable to take extra precautions here (e.g. the "Arctic Butterfly"). And the minor drawbacks? The articulating screen can only be adjusted on one axis - some competitors offer more flexibility here. The tunnel-like viewfinder is certainly below average and a real problem for spectacle wearers. It's also odd to see that Sony skipped the currently popular movie mode functionality (although you can argue about this feature in general).

Summing up the Sony A550 represents an very good package not only for beginners but also for enthusiasts. The camera is on par with the Canon EOS 500D and the Nikon D5000. From a personal perspective I'd like to add that I didn't regret my decision to take the Sony with me on my outdoor trip to Australia - apart from the sensor dust problems maybe. Nevertheless, it's also about the system and not just about the body and this is where Sony has still some work to do to catch up with Canon and Nikon. All in all - recommended!

Finally our major pros and cons in one table

Pros and Cons
ProsCons
Very good resolution in RAW modeInsufficient anti-dust system
Fastest AF in Live-View mode so farOnly vertical tiltable LCD screen
Excellent battery lifeNo DOF button
SteadyShot - effective build-in imagestabilizerOnly rudimentary noise reduction settings
Superb display with high resolutionSmall viewfinder - especially for spectacle wearers
No movie mode
No composing lines in viewfinder mode and disappearing AF boxes after focus
Only marginal customisation possibilities
A bit too much plastic all around





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