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Sony Alpha SLT-A33 Gordon Laing, February 2011


Sony Alpha SLT-A33 video samples

Here are four sample videos filmed with the Sony Alpha SLT-A33 and SAL1855 SAM 18-55mm kit lens using its best-quality 1920x1080 AVCHD mode. Our review sample was from a PAL region, so the clips are in the 50i format. Registered members of Vimeo can download the original files by clicking the links below each window; these take you to the Vimeo page where the video is hosted and the link to download the actual file can be found under the 'About this video' section in the lower right. We used VLC Player to watch the MTS clips under Windows.

This review is a work-in-progress. When it is complete, we'll have full details about the SLT-A33's movie mode in the Features section.

All of the clips below were filmed with the camera set to Program mode. As such the movie mode operated at the maximum aperture of the kit lens to allow its phase change AF system to operate. Since AF was enabled on the lens, the movie mode used continuous autofocusing for all these clips. Listen carefully and you'll hear the lens adjusting its focus.

 

Sony Alpha SLT-A33 sample video 1: outdoors, sunny conditions, handheld panning with zoom
Download the original file (Registered members of Vimeo only)

In our first clip above, we filmed with the A33 handheld and panned it slowly around before zooming the kit lens in and back out again. The first thing to notice is the CMOS sensor avoids the vertical streaking on saturated highlights which plagues CCD-based compacts. Towards the end of the clip you'll see the lens being zoomed-in and out again, and like all DSLRs with manual zoom rings, this is neither a smooth or pleasant result. It's impossible not to twist the body wile zooming handheld, and the basic construction of the kit lens also means a smooth zoom is nigh-on impossible throughout its range. This wobbling brings up the problem of a rolling shutter with the infamous jello effect. The bottom line? Until motorised zooms arrive for DSLRs, it's best to keep the focal length fixed or only make minor adjustments from a tripod.


Sony Alpha SLT-A33 sample video 2: outdoors, sunny conditions, tripod mounted
Download the original file (Registered members of Vimeo only)

In our second clip, above, we've mounted the A33 on a tripod, disabled stabilisation and smoothly panned from left to right. This delivers a much preferable result, and we paused at the start in case you'd like to take a video grab to check out the quality.


Sony Alpha SLT-A33 sample video 3: indoors, low light, handheld panning
Download the original file (Registered members of Vimeo only)

For our third clip we moved indoors to a dimly lit bar, where we handheld the camera for a pan. There's no control over the sensitivity in the movie mode, but the large sensor in the A33 has delivered a fairly low noise result, even with the modest aperture of the kit lens.


Sony Alpha SLT-A33 sample video 4: indoors, handheld, continuous AF and shallow DOF
Download the original file (Registered members of Vimeo only)

In our fourth clip we've put the A33's continuous AF system to the test. This is the default mode if AF is enabled, and for predictable results we'd recommend fixing the AF point. Here we fixed it to the centre, forcing the camera to only autofocus on that point. As we approach the coffee cup and pull back again with the lens zoomed-in, you can see the camera adjust its focusing to keep the subject respectably sharp. Then when we point the camera at a bottle, you can see the system pause before refocusing. As we move the camera between the bottle and the rear of the cafe, you can see its response time, along with the AF speed of the SAM 1855 kit lens. It's not the fastest or quietest lens in the range, but the gentle refocusing is actually quite satisfying, rather than having it almost instantly readjust on a pricier lens. Either way, the impressive thing here is the fact the camera is focusing at all during its movie mode. Matching this with, say, Canon's DSLRs, would have required constant focus-pulling and been virtually impossible to achieve. It's a very impressive capability on the A33.


Sony Alpha SLT-A33 sample video 5: outside, handheld, continuous AF tracking at 55mm with kit lens
Download the original file (Registered members of Vimeo only)

Our final clip puts the AF system to the test by tracking a subject that steadily approaches. We zoomed the kit lens in on the approaching cable car, fixed the focus point to the centre, and kept it aimed at the Skyline logo. As the cable car approaches, the camera successfully adjusts its focusing to keep the subject sharp even when it's only a couple of meters away. This is another very impressive demonstration of the A33's autofocusing during its movie mode, and a key advantage it has over rival DSLRs.

 

 

All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2014 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

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