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Sony’s new alpha SLT-A65V looks remarkably similar to Sony’s first-generation fixed translucent mirror cameras, the SLT-A33 and SLT-A55, but in addition to a number of small and not-so-small improvements found on the new camera (including tougher construction and a heftier power supply) is the very same all-new 24.5MP APS-C CMOS sensor found in Sony’s flagship SLT-A77, making it (like the SLT-A77 in its price class) the highest resolution, 35mm-based DSLR money can buy.
We had an opportunity to spend a few “touchy-feely” hours with a pre-production sample of the new camera with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 SAM kit zoom the day before its official release. Though we agreed not to publish any images captured during our time with the new camera until we get a bug-free production sample, what we can say is that after quickly reviewing a few dozen image files captured while we have the camera, we’re not at all disappointed with our initial results. Nonetheless, there’s still a great deal to talk about.
The Sony alpha SLT-A65V is aimed at serious prosumer and amateur shooters who don’t necessarily require the heavy-duty construction, 12 frame-per-second burst rates and other pro features found on the A77, especially when it’s expected to sell for about $500 more than the A65V. For these folks, the polycarbonate-clad SLT-A65V, which can “only” capture 10 frames per second, should prove to be a rather heady imaging tool.
In addition to the new 24.5MP APS-C CMOS sensor, the SLT-A65V features the same incredibly clear 2,359,000-dot OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF) and swivel-mounted 921,000-dot LCD found on the SLT-A77, each of which offers 100% viewing of the lens coverage; and with the exception of a degree of blur, which was only visible in the camera’s EVF but not on the LCD when panning left or right, offer extremely clear image reproduction. According to Sony, the blur is a pre-production bug, and will not be noticeable in final production cameras.
In the imaging department, the SLT-A65V captures JPEG, RAW and JPEG+RAW stills as well as 1080/60p, standard 60i, and a more cinematic 24p video capture with full stereo sound and full manual control over focus and exposure. As for audio recording, the A65V’s built-in audio recorder doesn’t allow for manual overrides, but if you’re serious about sound quality you’re most likely going to plug in a higher-fidelity shotgun mic anyway, so it’s pretty much a moot point.
In addition to full compatibility with all Sony accessory compact and digital flashes, the SLT-A65V has a built-in flash that swings upward, ninja-like, from its resting place in the camera’s “pentaprism” housing when called to action.
For those interested in pushing their creative horizons, the SLT-A65V features a Handheld Twilight mode; a six-layer HDR process that combines a half-dozen rapidly-captured, bracketed exposures and merges the best portions of each into a single, optimized (noise-suppressed) image file; 3-shot HDR; Multi-Frame NR; a 5-range (plus Auto) Dynamic Range Optimizer; and Sweep Panorama mode for in-camera capture of ultra-wide panoramic scenes with AOVs up to 226°. The SLT-A65V can also capture 3D Sweep Panorama images that can be played back in 3D on compatible HDTVs. The camera’s native ISO 100 can be boosted as high as ISO 16,000 and expanded to ISO 25,600 if you find yourself shooting in moonlight. There’s an Auto ISO mode that allows you to set high and low parameters, and an AUTO+ mode that allows you to snap pictures like a tourist.
From an operational standpoint, the Sony SLT-A65V, which will be available as body only or with an 18-55mm kit zoom, will seem quite familiar looking to anyone who has spent time with Sony’s SLT-A33 or A55. Along with a choice of dual viewing options—the EVF or swivel-based LCD—the SLT-A65V features side-panel connections for a remote-control port, DC Power, a 3.5mm stereo mic, a GPS (built in), and an HDMI port for playing back stills and video on compatible HDTVs.
Other SLT-A65V operational features include a responsive 15-point / 3 cross-sensor autofocusing system; a 1200-Zone exposure metering system; Advanced Anti-Dust technologies; SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilization; a built-in flash (GN12); an upgraded BIONZ image processor; 11 picture modes; dual memory card slots (Memory Stick PRO Duo/PRO-HG Duo and SD/SDHC/SDXC, Class 4 recommended); and up to 560 shots per battery charge.