Mirror-less cameras are getting popular and Sony seems to be one of the brands pushing it. There have been micro four-third format cameras in the market for some time now, but the need for even better quality translates to the need for larger sensors. As we saw with the Sony Alpha A55 we last reviewed, DSLRs with the similar mirror-less designs have entered the market. Now it’s time to see whether the A33 clicks well in the entry-level DSLR segment.
Sleek for a DSLR
Since DSLRs use a mirror to reflect light away from the shutter, they are slightly bulkier and have a tad more complicated setup. The translucent mirror system means that the optical viewfinder is replaced by an electronic viewfinder. One of the nifty features of the A33 is that it allows you to preview a scene without the blur even before shooting it - all by a press of a button located near the lens. The panaroma shooting feature which we liked with the previous A55 camera is also present on the A33. Apart from the usual shooting modes which include the shutter priority mode and the aperture priority mode present on the camera, there’s also an Auto+ mode that automatically selects one of the scene shooting modes for you.
Sony’s user interface for the camera is not as rigid as say a Nikon or Canon’s DSLR. It’s more colourful and more suited towards newcomers. A similar colour scheme and design can be found on some of Sony’s prosumer point and shoot cameras as well. If you’ve been used to Canon and Nikon’s cameras, you’ll need some time to get the hang of the A33’s interface. An autofocus button placed in between the directional keys helps in quickly focusing on objects.
Ports and buttons are placed well
LCD screen is better than the viewfinder
The A33 uses a 14.2 Megapixel sensor and has an ISO sensitivity range that spans from 100 to 12,800. There’s also 1080p video recording support.The camera uses the Minolta-inherited A-mount, however, the availability and the choice might be an issue if compared to the lens of Nikon or Canon cameras. Unfortunately, the same goes for the flash mount as well. Sony bundles an 18-55mm SAM (smooth autofocus motor) lens with the A33.
Design and Build Quality
The buttons are built well, soft and easy to press and the good thing is most of them are quite easy to reach. There are separate flaps for the remote control port and the microphone port. The flaps also have been built well and can take abuse. There is a built-in LCD screen that swivels but movement of the hinge is a little sluggish. The screen quality itself is pretty good and the two dials on the left and right side are built well and operate quite smoothly.
Macro images come out well
The focal ring and zoom ring are also built well, but are a little stubborn when you rotate them. We’ve seen better and smoother controls on other cameras. The zoom ring in particular, gets sluggish about half way through the zoom range.
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