Sony gave DCR a chance to test the new a55 last week in Jackson Hole, and we grabbed the opportunity by the horns. From fast-paced shooting at the rodeo to panorama sweeps in Yellowstone, we gave the a55 a trial run in some of the country's most spectacular scenery.
There's some interesting new technology going on inside the a55, but from the outside it looks very similar to any other alpha DSLR. The mode dial sits on one shoulder with the shutter button angled slightly forward on the other. There's a dedicated LCD/EVF button behind it and a D-Range button for quick access to the camera's Auto HDR shooting options.
The control layout on the back panel is simple and very intuitive. Pressing the Fn button calls up an array of exposure options on screen. Using the directional pad, changes can be made to ISO, white balance, Creative Style, and a number of other controls depending on which shooting mode you're in. I found it easy to use.
The a55 is noticeably compact, though it doesn't rival the size of the Samsung NX10 and doesn't come close to touching the diminutive NEX cameras. If it's a small interchangeable lens camera you want, Sony already has that covered. The a55 seems to hold the middle ground between a CILC (Compact Interchangeable Lens Camera) and your typical alpha DSLR.
The weight of the camera body has also been reduced, though the Sony G series lenses I used with the camera are by no means light. With a smaller prime lens, I noticed that the whole system was a bit lighter than a DSLR, but with a 70-300mm lens attached, it handled much like a full-sized DSLR to me. Take a look at our hands on preview video below.
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