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Sony Alpha 35 review

Lightweight Sony SLT camera packed with innovative features

As advertised in Sony's literature about the SLT-A35's responsiveness, this camera is very quick to start-up, being ready to shoot near-instantaneously. Half-press the shutter release and whichever of the 15 AF points you have selected almost immediately glows green, indicating a positive lock on your subject. Select the continuous AF option and there's some operational noise from the kit lens as it refocuses, but new locks are acquired at speed as you move around and recompose your shots.

Taking a shot is a similarly speedy process. With no discernible shutter lag to slow you down, shooting moments as they unfold with the SLT-A35 is as effortless as it is enjoyable. Whether you're snapping still life subjects on a table top, capturing landscapes out in the field, shooting a high-speed sports event or chasing around after your kids, this camera takes it all in its stride.

The same can be said for shooting movies, with fast one-touch recording available via the dedicated movie button, the camera is ready to start filming at a moment's notice. Once you've finished capturing your scene, there's a short delay while the file is written to the memory card, the duration of which depends on the length of your clip. Video quality is very good, with plenty of detail and smooth panning. Sound quality is good, but the stereo microphones will pick up some operational noise from the lens as it refocuses.

We shot RAW files in conjunction with JPEGs at the SLT-A35's top quality setting, and can happily report that -generally - results live up to the rest of this camera's impressive performance. JPEGs straight out of the camera exhibit a touch of softness when viewed at 100%, but nothing that a bit of post-shoot sharpening can't fix. Set to Standard mode, colours are faithful, with enough punch to bring images to life.

Creative style

Delve into the Creative Style menu and the additional Vivid, Portrait, Landscape, Sunset and Black & White options provide some scope to adjust the look of your images in-camera, with decent results across the board. You can take things a step further with a new set of Picture Effects, accessed via the scene mode slot on the exposure mode dial. Like the popular effects that were pioneered by the Olympus PEN range, the SLT-A35 offers fun options like Toy Camera, Pop Color, Retro and Selective Coloring. Some of these aren't quite to our taste, but for the most part results are effective.

By default, dynamic range is slightly better than some of its closest competitors, although the metering system does occasionally blow out the highlights when shooting particularly high-contrast scenes. More experienced users will be able to quickly correct this with a touch of exposure compensation, or the SLT-A35 also offers Sony's effective D-Range Optimizer feature, which broadens the range of tones captured in your shots automatically by combining several differently-exposed frames.

There's also an in-camera HDR feature, which takes a succession of photos at different exposures and quickly combines them to produce a shot with an extended dynamic range. Each feature can be quickly accessed using the interactive on-screen menu (activated by pressing the Fn button on the back of the camera), although the HDR function is only available if you're shooting JPEGs alone (no RAW option).

Sony alpha 35

RAW files processed with the bundled software are detailed and contain enough information to really make the most of the SLT-A35's sensor, with scope to rescue highlight and shadow detail, sharpen up your shots and remove any unwanted noise, as well as adjusting the colour output to precisely suit your taste.

The auto white balance system is pretty accurate, with even indoor mixed lighting situations proving to be relatively unproblematic, save for a touch of extra warmth in the occasional image taken under tungsten lighting. There's a comprehensive array of presets available for you to select manually should this happen however - each of which can be individually tweaked - as well as the facility to take your own custom reading where accuracy is of the utmost importance. Alternatively, shoot RAW and adjust your colours to suit post-shoot.

Noise

Noise is well controlled throughout the SLT-A35's native sensitivity range, with a good level of detail being maintained across the board. Everything looks clean up to ISO 400, where noise remains unobtrusive. At ISO 800, noise is visible, but retention of detail prevents it from becoming much of an issue. Images shot at ISO 1600-3200 are perfectly usable; ISO 6400 is best reserved for emergencies however. The top expandable setting - ISO 12800 - is noisy and image quality suffers, as you'd expect.

The kit lens is lightweight, but feels well balanced on the camera body. It offers a rubberised zoom ring to set the focal length, which we found to be a little notchy - not a huge issue for stills but it can produce some juddering if you're recomposing while filming. Barrel distortion at the wide end of its 18-55mm focal range is quite strong, with pincushion distortion taking over at maximum extension, however neither of these traits is out of the ordinary for a bundled lens at this price point.

A maximum aperture range of f3.5-5.6 means that it's reasonably fast when shooting wide-angle images, but performance at 55mm and in low light isn't so impressive. Thankfully, the camera's in-camera sensor shift image stabilisation feature comes in handy to combat camera shake.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDigital SLT Camera
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Green CompliantYes
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Effective Camera Resolution16.2 Megapixel
USBYes
Wide AngleNo
PictBridgeNo
Product Familyalpha
Image StabilizationOptical
ColourBlack
Optical Zoom3.1x
Digital ZoomNo
Brand NameSony
FeaturesLive View, Smile Detection, External Flash Shoe, Continuous Shooting Mode, Self-timer, Face Detection
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsMPEG-4
Viewfinder TypeElectronic
Weight (Approximate)415 g
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityWEEE
Minimum Focus Distance250 mm
Maximum Image Resolution4912 x 3264
Maximum Frame Rate25 fps
Number of Batteries Supported1
Battery Built-inNo
Battery RechargeableYes
Battery IncludedYes
Display Screen TypeLCD
Image Sensor TypeCMOS
Total Camera Resolution16.5 Megapixel
HDMIYes
Camera AssemblyBody with Lens Kit
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedMemory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, Secure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC)
Height92 mm
Width124.4 mm
Depth84.7 mm
Autofocus Points15
Focal Length18 mm to 55 mm (Lens 1)
Image FormatsJPEG, RAW
Audio FormatsAAC
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product ModelSLT-A35
Product Namealpha SLT-A35 Digital SLT Camera
Product Linealpha
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberSLTA35L.CEH
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.sony.co.uk
Marketing Information

Never miss another moment, however fleeting. Explore an exciting world of high-speed shooting responses and smooth, accurate auto focus tracking - even with moving objects. Capture beautiful videos in detail-packed Full HD. All in a light, compact camera that's easy to carry.

Battery Life480 Shot
Package Contents
  • alpha SLT-A35 Digital SLT Camera
  • DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM Lens
  • BC-VW1 Battery Charger
  • Power Cord
  • Rechargeable Battery Pack NP-FW50
  • USB Cable
  • Shoulder Strap
  • Body Cap
  • Eyecup
  • Software CD-ROM
  • Instruction Manual
  • Front Lens Cap
  • Packaging lid
Display Resolution921600 Pixel
Limited Warranty1 Year
Built-in DevicesMicrophone, Speaker