Sony Alpha SLT-A35 digital SLR camera

A compact, simple entry-level digital SLR that's OK but not great

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Sony Alpha SLT-A35
  • Sony Alpha SLT-A35
  • Sony Alpha SLT-A35

Pros

  • Compact
  • Excellent live view
  • Built-in IS

Cons

  • Poor button ergonomics, no flip-out LCD
  • Kit lens feels plasticky and cheap

Bottom Line

The Sony Alpha A35 is a viable alternative for its entry-level Canon EOS 600D and Nikon D3100 competitors. It doesn’t have any special surprises in picture quality or usability, although we think the build quality of the bundled lens isn’t great and the buttons could be easier to press. The A35 is very compact and has effective built-in image stabilisation and excellent Live View.

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Sony Alpha A35: Image quality, video and performance

The Sony Alpha SLT-A35 has image quality that’s comparable to other entry-level and mid-range consumer digital SLR cameras — it’s in the league of the Olympus E-P3, Samsung NX11, Canon EOS 600D, Olympus E-5, Nikon D3100, [artnid:376753|Panasonic LUMIX GH2]] and LUMIX GF2 and so on. We thought its JPEG images suffered from a little too much noise reduction, robbing sharpness and making captured photos a little smudged when viewed at full size on a computer monitor.

The Alpha A35 has an ISO range of 100 to 12800, so it’s versatile enough to use in low light situations (although we’d match it up with a lens better than the kit 18-55). ISO 100 is as clean as you’d expect, and ISO 200-400 is similarly well handled. Heavy-handed noise reduction starts to rob detail at ISO 1600 and things get progressively worse towards the only-useful-for-photographing-Bigfoot ISO 12800. The A35’s high-ISO images are still usable enough if you’re just going to be putting them on Facebook or Twitter or viewing them on your mobile phone screen, but full size viewing on a computer monitor shows a heady combination of graininess, colour noise, noise reduction and JPEG compression. We’d shoot the Alpha A35 in RAW mode if possible and process the images ourselves, but at the time of writing only Sony’s proprietary software supports the Alpha A35’s RAW files — we expect this will change within the month.

The built-in image stabilisation, which floats the camera’s sensor to eliminate any hand shake or vibration from pressing the shutter button, works effectively. We were consistently capturing clean images at the 55mm focal length at 1/8 seconds, and 1/4 was usable around 30 per cent of the time. This is a very good result. We think the inbuilt image stabilisation is a good selling point for the Alpha A35, as it means any lens you use is stabilised.

The Sony Alpha SLT-A35 is able to record video at the full 1080p 25fps rate. It takes up a fair amount of space, so you’ll need to buy a large SD card if you’re going to be recording for more than a few minutes, but the video quality is generally good with clean and clear frames and reasonably good low-light performance. The in-built image stabilisation also means video is generally shake-free.

The Alpha A35 is reasonably quick to start as cameras in general go (it’s much quicker to start and use than a compact camera, for example), but it lags slightly behind its peers on start-up speed. It takes 0.9 seconds from flicking the switch before the camera is ready to take a photo, which is around twice the time of the Canon EOS 600D. There is neglible shutter lag though, and the A35 is able to capture 5.5 frames per second in continuous shooting mode — around as fast as the semi-pro Nikon D7000.

Sony Alpha SLT-A35: Conclusion

The Sony Alpha SLT-A35 is a small and feature-packed camera. We wish the kit lens was better built and the buttons were more finger-friendly, because those differences would have made the Sony Alpha A35 superior to its competitors. As it stands, it’s merely on par.

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