Monthly Archives: September 2010

Sizing Up

Left: White Sony NEX-3 with Sony E 16mm F2.8 pancake lens and Sony VCL-ECF1 diagonal fisheye converter; right: Sony SLT-A33 with Sony 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 DT SAM.

The A33 is decently small enough that if you were to use the NEX-3 or NEX-5 with LA-EA1 lens adapter (to mount A-mount lenses on the NEX-3/NEX-5/NEX-VG10) you’d probably not gain much in compactness!

Left: Sony Handycam NEX-VG10 with Sony E 16mm F2.8 pancake lens; right: I think this is the Sony Handycam CX-550.

You can change aperture, shutter speed etc. while recording video… though I am not sure how often I would quickly rack through (Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority would be far more convenient, as when you’re recording video, you don’t want to see your exposure suddenly dip while you change aperture and then shutter speed.)

The VG10 is obviously missing a button on its handlebar to activate recording.

Nice to see other brands being mentioned and acknowledged in a Sony Style shop!

So I tried the A33 in more detail, and found that:

If you want to record video with AF, the aperture stays at F3.5 (even if you have a F1.4 lens on – of course if you put a F5.6 lens, it will go to F5.6) but if you switch to manual focus, you can change aperture before recording.

However, manual focus is not that bad, as I just discovered – when in manual focus with a lens that has a chip (any standard AF lens) you get focus confirm during video recording! That means the green dot in the bottom-left corner, and the AF point selected lights up with a green box.

Thankfully, the focus confirm does not come with a beep when recording video!

This works until an aperture of F6.3 (thanks Clive Ngu for checking with his unit, after I forgot to test this.) That means if you set it to F8 and manual focus, you won’t get the focus confirm dot and AF point light up.

Manual focus with unchipped lenses unfortunately, do not get focus confirmation.

You can magnify your view when focusing with an unchipped lens using the Delete button (but the option must be enabled in menu.)

Focusing with the traditionally problematic Minolta 50mm F1.4 was great even at long distances. Thank goodness for that since nobody knows how to fix backfocus if it happens on these new A33/A55 cameras!

And here’s a video of the A33 with a Sony Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-70mm F2.8 SSM ZA, following a salesman around Sony Style at what I would call ‘rapid walkthrough’ speed. It is faster than what normal documentary work and proper videography would allow, but also a simulation of how an entry-level customer would shoot video. SteadyShot was turned on for this.

Photo Keen Ah!

The NEX-3/NEX-5 will get a firmware update, v.03, in the middle of October 2010, to enable;

– setting aperture when starting video recording (but you cannot change it while recording)
– autofocus with SAM and SSM A-mount lenses using the Sony LA-EA1 A-to-E lens adapter
– customizable keys (apparently, the center button and the bottom button, with at least being able to change Auto HDR, ISO, White Balance.)

I’ve enhanced this screengrab from Engadget so you can see it clearly.

The NEX-VG10 will get a firmware update as well in the middle of November 2010. Both the camera and lens adapter need to be updated.

Image taken and brightened from DPReview’s Photokina 2010 pictures.

Of course, I am also looking forward to the new tiny flash, with bounce mode! There are also a variety of new colors that the NEX cameras may come in. Go Pentax! Er, I mean, Sony…

There will also be new lenses!

I’ve enhanced this screengrab from Engadget so you can see it clearly.

This is the 2011 Sony E-mount lineup.
Telephoto Zoom – knowing Sony it sounds like a classic 55-200mm F4-5.6.
Portrait – again, I don’t think they’d be very creative with this – a 50mm F1.4 probably. The F1.8 would have a much more recessed, smaller front glass.
Macro – sounds and like a 30mm F2.8 Macro.
Carl Zeiss Wide-Angle Fixed Focal Length – wide-angle can be anywhere from 11mm to 24mm but I’d guess 24mm F2.0 to avoid overlap with the 16mm F2.8.

I’ve enhanced this screengrab from Engadget so you can see it clearly.

This is the 2012 Sony E-mount lineup.
High Performance Standard Zoom (G) – they didn’t mention large aperture so it could be a F3.5-4.5 or F4.0 zoom. I’d be hoping for a 16-105mm F3.5-4.5!
Middle Telephoto – they didn’t call it a zoom, and 85mm or 90mm is right in the middle. 85mm F2.8, I’d guess.
Wide Angle Zoom – no large aperture, I’d guess 11-18mm F4.5-5.6. I like the size though!

I’ve also enhanced this screengrab from Engadget. Shown is a new flash, using the same fantastic swivel action as the Sony HVL-F58AM, but you can tell it is different from the front light. Also seen is the A700 replacement, which is stated to be using translucent mirror technology, like the A33 and A55.

Which kinda makes it an A77.

It has what looks like the classic VG-C70AM, which is good news, as it would probably support the NP-FM500H battery. Otherwise, the mock looks the same.

Also seen is a new lens – from patents announced, it could be a Carl Zeiss 16-80mm F2.8-3.5 DT SAM. (It is SAM, not SSM, from the cheapo AF/MF switch.) We can only hope!

Image taken and brightened from DPReview’s Photokina 2010 pictures.

This is the Sony 500mm F4G SSM. It really just transforms into classic Megatron.

24 to the 50

Okay, so I broke my resolution to buy only one A-mount lens this year. Technically, this is the only A-mount lens I have bought this year, but I originally intended to buy another lens.

This is the Minolta 24-50mm F4 Original! What does it mean by Original?

These are the original Minolta AF lenses. From left to right: Minolta 24-50mm F4, Minolta 50mm F1.4, Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan.

They all look alike, with diagonal ribbed zoom rings, and tiny ribbed focus rings.

Left to right: Vivitar 24mm F2.0 OM mount (modded to A-mount), Minolta 24-50mm F4 Original, Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5(D).

If you notice, the later Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5(D) has a new styling, with a thicker focus ring and different zoom ring rubber design. The Minolta 24-50mm F4 Original was an external, extending focusing design while the Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5(D) was an internal focusing design.

The Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5(D) also has a focus clutch, and a very geary manual focus action of which I am not fond of.

You might ask, why have two lenses in a redundant focal range? Simply – the Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5(D) had a minimum focusing distance of 50cm, while the Minolta 24-50mm F4 Original had a minimum focusing distance of 35cm. This was the [b]shortest MFD of any Minolta standard zoom at that time![/b]

The Carl Zeiss 24-70mm F2.8 SSM focuses to 34cm close, just 1cm better. The Konica Minolta 28-75mm F2.8 beat that at 33cm.

Everything else back then, like the Minolta 20-35mm F3.5-4.5, 24-85mm F3.5-4.5, 28-85mm F3.5-4.5, 28-105mm F3.5-4.5, 35-70mm F3.5-4.5, 28-135mm F4-4.5, 35-70mm F4, 35-105mm F3.5-4.5 – none of them focused to anything closer than 50cm (and the 28-135mm was a 150cm distant champion.) Some of them had a Macro switch which allowed them to focus closer, but in manual focus only! (I did not count the F3.5-5.6 zoom lenses because I was not looking for darker aperture lenses. I also did not consider F2.8 zooms because of the size and weight.)

At maximum extension.

My first outdoor shot with the 24-50mm on the A900! The vignetting is pretty spectacular, and an effect I’d like to leave in. The classic Minolta color is all there in all its glory.

35cm is showing its benefits.

24mm F10.

Another 24mm F4.0 close range shot.

This lens supposedly has better bokeh than the Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5(D). I am just seeing a fair bit of barrel distortion, which always happens on the wide end of a zoom especially at close focus.

50mm F4, at MFD, giving a maximum magnification of 1:5.55x. While the Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5(D) does slightly better, at 1:5.49x maximum magnification, I I would rather have the close focus capability at 24mm, than the magnification at 105mm. The 24-50mm is already very versatile when shooting at close range, like stuff on your table, or food on your plate – I don’t have to lean back excessively in order to focus anymore!

The lens has a decent amount of contrast, but not too much to kill it for the sensor. Then again, the A900 has always had excellent dynamic range.

And here’s a street shot.

Oh and of course, the shots of the Sony SLT-A33 and Sony E 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 Active OSS were all taken with this lens!

H for Superzoom

A few days ago, I came across the NEX-5H package – the NEX-5 with Sony E 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 Active OSS!

The FA-EX1S flash extender comes with the NEX-5H package.

It is meant to extend the flash forward and above the large 18-200mm, like so.

From the front, not raised (above) and raised (below).

It does look funny with the Sony E 16mm F2.8 pancake…

The FA-EX1S flash extender has two nubs next to the screw hole. This prevents the ECM-SST1 external microphone (above) and FDA-SV1 optical viewfinder (below) from being mounted on the FA-EX1S.

Left-to=right: Sony A850 with Sony 70-200mm F2.8G SSM, Sony NEX-5 with FA-EX1S flash extender and HVL-F7S flash and Sony E 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 Active OSS in its shortest 18mm position with lens hood stored backwards.

Left-to=right: Sony A850 with Sony 70-200mm F2.8G SSM, Sony NEX-5 with FA-EX1S flash extender and HVL-F7S flash and Sony E 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 Active OSS in its longest 200mm position with lens hood stored forwards.

So how does the flash extender work?

Top-left: 18mm without FA-EX1S flash extender; top-right: 200mm without FA-EX1S flash extender; bottom-left: 18mm with FA-EX1S flash extender; bottom-right: 200mm with FA-EX1S flash extender.

If you are going to use the HVL-F7S on the NEX with the Sony E 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 Active OSS, the FA-EX1S flash extender is a must!

The FDA-SV1 optical viewfinder.

It matches the field of view of the Sony E 16mm F2.8 pancake only, without the VCL-ECU1 ultra-wide converter or VCL-ECF1 fisheye converter.

Since there is no way to turn off the NEX-3/NEX-5 LCD screen, you will have to get close to the viewfinder to avoid glare from the screen!

Honestly though, I thought the FDA-SV1 was optically crap. It had massive smearing away from the center, and only if you placed your eye exactly in the middle, with the 3 dashes getting illuminated, then you’d be in perfect alignment. Even then there was parallax error and there is no way to see depth of field in the viewfinder.

The rare NEX body cap makes an appearance in the NEX-5H package!

The Sony E 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 Active OSS is Made in China. Nevertheless, it is a very solid lens.

18mm F3.5 ISO1600 yielded 1/30s with EV +1. Obviously, this is no indoor lens!

200mm F6.3 ISO3200 1/25s with EV +1. Still a bit too slow for indoors!

Remember that the average camcorder that cannot change lenses has a F1.8 zoom lens even on the telephoto end! So before buying this, make sure you know what you are getting into.

I also tried the Sony Cybershot WX-5, a proper replacement for the WX-1 (which I have.) F2.4 at 24mm (35mm equivalent) with Exmor-R backlit sensor means it is the low-light champion of the Cybershot series!

One new feature that it adds is Background Defocus, which takes two shots and blends them.

This is the same shot in P mode (which chose F2.4).

It is not perfect though, as you can see it didn’t work so well on the wire and the lens on the right.

What if there are many subjects in the picture? It states that it cannot perform Background Defocus, but takes a picture anyway.

I tested the A33 with Sony 50mm F1.4, while looking at it from the front. In video, when looking from the front, it appeared to be wide open, but the moment I started recording, it stopped down to F3.5 as expected whenever AF was on. When MF was used, it could record videos at F1.4.

Yes, ISO and menus can be accessed from the viewfinder, exactly as you would from the rear LCD screen.

This is the optional AC-PW20 AC Adapter (for NEX cameras) dummy battery. The battery cover has a flap just to allow the cable in.

Hmmm the NEX-3/NEX-5 doesn’t have this flap! However, interestingly, the NEX-3/NEX-5 can operate just fine with the battery cover open, as I’ve just tried.

The A560 is delayed to 2011, while the A580 would only come to Malaysia in October 2010 (but if other places are only getting it in November 2010, I can’t be too optimistic.)

According to this:

The A560/A580, which has contrast detect AF in Focus Check Live View, will not be able to use contrast detect on screw-drive lenses. This limits contrast detect to SAM/SSM lenses. However, you can still use phase detect AF in Quick AF Live View with screw drive lenses.

Also, video is strictly manual focus only on the A560/A580.

In other news:

What the heck man, the Samyang 35mm F1.4 UMC in A-mount is 111mm long!

Fortunately the MFD is 30cm like all other 35mm F1.4 lenses.

Minolta/Sony 35mm F1.4G – 55mm filter thread, 510 grams, 30cm MFD, 1:5x maximum magnification, 76mm long
Canon 35mm F1.4L USM – 72mm filter thread, 580 grams, 30cm MFD, 1:5.5x maximum magnification, 86mm long
Nikkor AF-S 35mm F1.4G SWM – 67mm filter thread, 600 grams, 30cm MFD, 1:5x maximum magnification, 89.5mm long
Samyang 35mm F1.4 UMC – 77mm filter thread, weight N/A, 30cm MFD, maximum magnification N/A, 111mm long (Alpha mount)

To give you an idea of how long 111mm is – the Carl Zeiss 24-70mm F2.8 SSM is 111mm long, and the Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 is 115mm long!

Finally, here’s a picture from a roadshow:

The Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM is starkly a lot higher in price than I expected. 🙁 I was hoping it would be around RM3000 street price, even taking into account that these are retail prices!

More reading here:
Tracking with the A55
More Than Meets D.I.

Hair Hair

Greetings, earthlings!

I got myself a hairdo which I have always wanted to get ever since I kept my hair long. Guess what it is!

Nope it’s not Mr. T versus a midget lawnmower. I pity the fool who thought that!

Well you could call it a double mohawk. What does this mean?

The above shots were shot by KJ with Azrul’s Canon 1D MkIII and Canon 70-200mm F2.8L USM. Pictures were taken at the fantastic 807 Studio.

We also took some shots with a Hasselblad H4D-50 (50 megapixels!) and a Hasselblad HC 80mm F2.8. I have to say though that the H4D is quite a different experience, with the HC 80mm F2.8 having loud focusing and the H4D having only one AF point in the center. Still, it brings amazing detail and tonality (KJ converted the files in Phocus to 16-bit TIFF.)

A large softbox was above and behind me, with a mirror in front to reflect the light.

Oddly, the 1D MkIII picked up a lot more of the reflection so we tried a honeycomb-snooted light (none of these shots used that.)

Alright, now for the answer – where did I get my inspiration from?

Racing stripes!

When I’m having my mid-life crisis I will buy a sports car and I will deck it out with racing stripes!

I have always wanted to have racing stripes as a hairstyle. Interestingly, I could not find anybody else with this exact hair. I remember telling people I’d want to go through the following phases:

1) Colored hair (bleached highlights and dyed them blue, but it ended up being blue-green and I turned into a peacock.)
2) Long hair (had that for 5 years 5 months)
3) Dreadlocks (but that was shelved because people kept saying that it would stink and they wouldn’t let me in their car and so…)
4) Cornrows (had that for 2 weeks)
5) Bald (did it for charity – plus it’s the only hairstyle you can get after having cornrows!)
6) Flat top (I knew I wanted racing stripes, but I might as well get this first, and then end up with stripes.)
7) Racing stripes

The initial plan was dreadlocks-bald-racing-stripes but it got diverted a fair bit. Man I cannot wait to go to a gig and rock out!

So how much did I pay for this?


Sounds cheap, but I went to a barber shop in Dato Keramat village to do this! I asked if they could do it, a special hairstyle, and there were two guys working on it. (The first guy didn’t know how to make the narrow lane in the middle.) So by the time they had finished this accomplishment, I let the guy figure out how much to charge.

To which I am glad that he figured his work was worth it – a regular flat top, which I got there, and a bald cut, which I got there also, was usually about RM10! (This also comes to a recent realization that Malaysians do not know how much their work can be worth.)

Tracking with the A55

Here are my findings with the Sony A55V in 10 FPS, and the Sony A33 in 7 FPS mode. Note that due to the inability to repeat the test consistently, you cannot take these results as fact. The subjects were mostly waterskiers, with varying speed, and the camera operator (me) is not a experienced sports shooter. Hence, when I framed too tight, it caused the subject to be out of frame and out of focus.

A proper scientific test would use a subject with fixed speed and fixed path, e.g. a toy train on a fixed track with fixed tungsten light.

In 10 FPS mode, the camera will:

1) set the aperture as close as possible to F3.5, due to the phase-detect AF sensors having a virtual aperture of F3.5. This means a 50mm F1.4 will be set to F3.5… but a 70-400mm F4-5.6G SSM will be at 5.6 if the lens is at 400mm. No matter how bright the lighting is, it will never choose F8 if the brightest aperture of the lens is F5.6.
2) set the shutter speed to the reciprocal of the focal length (multiplied by crop factor) or faster. For 400mm it would be 1/400*1.5 = 1/600s. However since the A55V does not have 1/600s as a shutter speed, it goes to the next fastest shutter speed – 1/640s.
3) set the ISO sufficient to give exposure now that the aperture and shutter speed have been determined. In bright daylight, it would end up being ISO100.
4) if the shutter speed is too slow, speed it up to avoid overexposure (mostly on shorter focal lengths.)

This means that in bright sunlight, the Zeiss 24mm F2.0 will be shooting at 24mm F3.5 ISO100 1/500s (or however the meter reads.) Meanwhile, the Sony 70-400mm F4-5.6G SSM does 400mm F5.6 ISO100 1/640s. Of course if you point at the sun it would probably do 1/4000s!

I did not get to test either lens or combo indoors though. I imagine that using 10 FPS mode in low light without flash and a 50mm F1.4 will be bad since it will be at F3.5 all the time.

My findings with the A55V in 10 FPS mode are as follows:

It helps tracking greatly if the subject is not too big in the frame, around this size.

Don’t let the subject travel near the edges of the frame! The frame before this was in focus and the subject was in the same area.

Once the subject is out of frame, when it reenters, it may take 3-4 frames to reestablish focus. If anything, I would say it has to do with my technique (I am not a sports shooter.)

Avoid zooming in too much as there is a large risk of losing the subject totally. Better to zoom out a bit, to allow yourself room to follow the subject. This also makes for sharp, in-focus shots!

This is as tight a framing I could get without losing the subject.

This is too tight!

Does the EVF, showing the last picture shot when doing 10 FPS, cause me to lose the subject? No – I’ve been missing the subject previously whenever I zoomed in too much.

I shot a few 10 FPS sequences. I could put each picture in one of three categories – good focus, so-so focus, and out of focus.

This is good focus.

100% crop from the above.

This is so-so focus – not tack sharp, but not totally out of focus either.

100% crop from the above. Note that you could still get away with the above picture, but not the 100% crop!

This is out of focus – 100% crop.

Series 1 – waterskier shot with A55V and 70-400mm F4-5.6G SSM at 400mm.
Good focus: 19/34
So-so focus: 8/34
Out of focus: 7/34

50% crop from the A55V with 70-400mm F4-5.6G SSM at 400mm F5.6 ISO100 1/640s. From Series 1.

Likewise, from a few frames later.

Series 2 – waterskier shot with A55V and 70-400mm F4-5.6G SSM at 400mm.
Good focus: 15/30
So-so focus: 7/30
Out of focus: 8/30

Series 3 – people with A55V and Zeiss 24mm F2.0 SSM.
Good focus: 14/30
So-so focus: 6/30
Out of focus: 10/30

Series 4 – panning far away person with A55V and Zeiss 135mm F1.8.
Good focus: 5/6
So-so focus: 0/6
Out of focus: 1/6 (only the first shot – the other 5 shots look similiar)

Series 5 – panning much nearer person with A55V and Zeiss 135mm F1.8.

Once your subject is this close and near the edge of the frame, you might just lose focus. It is nearly outside the comfort zone of the A55’s AF!

Series 6 – waterskier shot with A33 and 70-400mm F4-5.6G SSM at 400mm and 7 FPS.
Good focus: 31/40
So-so focus: 0/40
Out of focus: 9/40

50% crop from DSC09505.JPG.


I don’t remember how much this was cropped.

All of the shots of the waterskier were in good focus! Strangely, the out-of-focus shots were attributed to some of the boat frames.

Series 7 – people shot with A55V and Zeiss 24mm F2.0.
Good focus: 22/28
So-so focus: 3/28
Out of focus: 3/28

The gains from the translucent mirror technology are more apparent with moderate to slow subjects – I definitely would feel the performance when shooting events, gigs and weddings, for example. However I am not sure how much a sports shooter will benefit from this. While some would say the A55V equals the Canon EOS 7D in AF, and some would say it does not – I have tried the Canon EOS 7D myself and found the AF to be not that great (but this is probably due to operator error – first time I picked up a Nikon D3 with AF-S 300mm F2.8 VR I just got a bunch of back-focused faces.)

It would be best to wait for the birders and sports shooters to get the A55 to see how it performs in their trained hands.

I also shot a video using the Zeiss 24mm F2.0, tracking behind someone walking at a moderately fast pace (think street documentary) and it was able to keep focus on the subject while not having visible motion blur. However, when tracking behind someone running, the video started rolling (tilting left and right) due to running motion. The difference is like the old Handycams with SteadyShot but without 3-way shake cancelling. Unfortunately though, those videos were not in my Memory Stick…

Edited in 10:41 PM 12th September 2010 +0800 GMT::

Pros of A33/A55 over A560/A580:
– A55 has 10 FPS
– video recording has phase-detect AF (A560/A580 is manual focus video)
– no loud mirror slap sound
– no mirror shake
– the swivel LCD is arguably more practical and can be folded to protect the screen
– you can change all your settings in the EVF (ISO is missing from the A450/A500/A550; don’t know if it came back in the A560/A580)
– you can use the EVF in bright sunlight
– you can playback pictures in the EVF (useful for chimping in low light conditions and places where you don’t want the LCD to be glaring)
– you don’t get the ghosting from the side LEDs in the viewfinder that the A450/A500/A550 suffered from (I don’t know if they’ve fixed this on the A560/A580)
– A55V has built-in GPS unit
– A33/A55 has much bigger viewfinder
– A33/A55 always has phase detect AF in Live View; A560/A580 has phase detect AF in Quick AF LV, and contrast detect AF in main-sensor-based Focus Check LV (since CDAF is introduced, they cannot call it MF Check LV anymore.)
– you don’t get inconsistent WB from MF Check LV compared to Quick AF LV (my experience on the A550)

Cons of A33/A55 versus A560/A580:
– EVF exhibits RGB tearing in bright contrasty light
– weaker battery life
– 10 FPS mode shows last picture taken, not live feed
– smaller
– does not support battery grip
– supposedly less light and thus more sensor amplification (have to wait for DxO to get the official numbers)
– the shutter has to go down first and then open and then go down again and then open again (like the NEX-3 and NEX-5, or the A550 in MF Check LV)
– mirror absolutely must not be touched as there is no way to clean it
– if there is any backfocus you cannot tune it as easily as you can on a body where the AF unit is on the bottom of the camera
– in 10 FPS mode, the aperture is fixed to as close as F3.5 as possible (meaning a F1.4 lens will shoot at F3.5, and a F5.6 lens will shoot at F5.6)
– in video with AF, the aperture is fixed to as close as F3.5 as possible (meaning for videos in low light needing F1.4, you should switch to MF to allow the aperture to be at F1.4)
– EVF means you cannot manually focus the lens or check framing when the camera is off

Both the A33/A55 and A560/A580 have magnified view when focusing.

More Than Meets D.I.

I went for the Sony Power of Digital Imaging launch at Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside Hotel on the 2nd of September 2010, where they launched a few products simultaneously. Of course, I really was there for the A55. And the NEX-VG10. And the Zeiss 24mm F2.0.

None of these shots were with the A55 – some of them will have EXIF data. I’ll post the A55 shots in the next round.

Sony NEX-VG10 with Sony E 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 Active OSS.

With the Sony E 16mm F2.8 pancake, it looks like a regular Handycam with an undetachable mike.

I have to say, I am not sure exactly which market this is for – the Handycam market, or the pro market? Videographers were gushing over the quad spatial mikes, but I’m not too sure they are excited about the video spec.

And yes, you can control aperture, shutter and gain (in steps of 3 decibels) in video.

The Sony E 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 Active OSS is fantastic! The Active OSS makes it much like the Handycams. The Sony NEX-VG10, because it has the same sensor as the NEX-5, also exhibits very little rolling shutter.

Here’s the SLT-A55V with Sony Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24mm F2.0 ZA SSM. This is the exact combination I want to get! The 24mm is light and balances well, and the A55 grip is good in my hands.

The A55, however, had very obvious rolling shutter. Also, the RGB tearing is obvious in the EVF when you’re pointing at a high contrast scene (people standing against pier) and you’re panning.

A55 with Zeiss 24mm F2.0 with the Sony A900 with Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5(D) on the right.

In sunny Putrajaya, the event organizers were chilling in front of the fan.

Malaysia notably did not launch the A560 and A580. I was looking forward to seeing it do contrast detect AF!

The A560/A580 bring back the depth of field preview button, mirror lock up with 2-second timer and shutter release without lens. Oh and video, which the A550 does not have, and 3D Sweep Panorama, Sweep Panorama, 6 EV Auto HDR, Multi-frame NR, Hand-held Twilight, 15 AF points (with 3 cross-type), losing only the Smart Teleconverter button.

The lakeside was chosen to show the A55’s AF tracking capabilities with sports. A55 and A33 bodies were chained to a table, equipped with the 70-200mm F2.8G SSM, 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G SSM and 70-400mm F4-5.6G SSM.

However, this was shot with the A900 and screw-driven Zeiss 135mm F1.8, which was more than able to track with the center point. It is not even a 100% crop!

The Sony Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24mm F2.0 ZA SSM is everything I ever wanted – an extremely close-range focusing wide-angle lens with Zeiss sharpness and contrast, wide open! This was shot with the A900 and the subject is an A55 with Zeiss 135mm F1.8.

The A55 does have Release w/o Lens so you can use your unchipped adapted lenses (e.g. M42 mount) in Aperture Priority mode. Thank you Sony for reintroducing this in the NEX-3/NEX-5/NEX-VG10/A33/A55/A560/A580!

A cutaway of the A55 (or was it the A33, since there was no GPS label on the left?) How does the mirror look like?

Let’s enhance!

What happens to translucent mirrors that get touched? They get donated to science. Yep, it does appear to be a thin membrane.

Another shot. It does not appear to be completely flat (but it could have lost tension or could be a prototype.)

Now I have no idea how you’d fix backfocus/frontfocus if it happens…

The electronic viewfinder. Note that the flash pops up in front of the hotshoe.

The TX9 with 3D Sweep Multi Angle, which works as advertised! You do a normal 3D Sweep Panorama – but when you view the picture you can tilt the camera to simulate you moving around the subject.

However your sweep should not be at a complex angle or it will have a warped tilt. I totally forgot to try Background Defocus mode, though!

Yes, people at Sony do read DPReview!

Later, at the media question-and-answer session, I asked:

Will the future advanced models have translucent technology?

Naoi Sudo, Managing Director of Sony Malaysia, said:

Once it is well accepted in the market, why not, we will definitely continue. This is a first step for us. But we cannot promise all the models will be like this in the future.

We are expecting that this will be one of the most important technology in the future.

The S-Frame launched that day also plays AVCHD videos! So it’s like… an iPad without the apps and phone. It uses batteries instead of being connected to a wall socket all the time.

Of course, Sony also makes bigger wall-socketed photo frames…

In the distance, I spotted something not many paid attention to.

The Sony 35mm F1.8 DT SAM! This was shot on the A33 at F1.8, which was on -2 EV ISO200 JPG only and I forgot to check. So I brought it back up in Photoshop.

100% crop. Effectively, bringing up the -2 EV shot made it ISO800. This was a JPG. Go easy, pixel-peepers!

The 35mm at close focus.

There was also the Sony 85mm F2.8 SAM, but unfortunately they had locked it in the glass display case so I didn’t get to try it.

I tried to record a video with the 35mm F1.8 DT SAM but the A33 wouldn’t let me – probably because I was running out of space. So I couldn’t find out if the SAM motor is quieter, and whether the SAM mechanism in manual focus makes a gear-ish sound. (My friend wants a 50mm F1.4 because manual focusing a Sony 50mm F1.8 DT SAM is audible on the NEX.)

On the A55, I tried the 10 FPS mode with my Zeiss 135mm F1.8 – no problems tracking a walking subject and no dropped frames. However it loses steam after 28 frames and starts writing. If you burst just 5 frames and stop, it will start writing also. So it is critical that you know when to start.

I don’t remember setting Focus Priority or Release Priority, but it seems that 10 FPS works in Release Priority. Then again I was testing it on a wakeboarder and 70-400mm F4-5.6G SSM – so the waves will register as ‘in focus’ and the camera will fire anyway.

More to be posted soon!