A Picture Perfect Gift
Looking for a perfect gift?
I know just the thing for a Picture Perfect Gift ~ a Sony® Alpha DSLR camera! It will be a gift that will truly keep giving and will give back thousands of times.
Whether for professional use, amateur, hobby, or for family preservation and fun, the ease of the Sony® camera will quickly captivate and intrigue and convince you that professional results on an amateur level can be easily achieved.
Just to outline a few fun facts: The Sony® is very friendly to use; you will quickly learn the features and functions and the settings are very easy to change. The on-screen light meter gives an instant reading that you can follow and adjust very quickly, as are the ISO and aperture settings. Even zoom on playback is easy and the LCD screen affords a quick study of your capture. It even has horizontal and vertical level gauges on both the LCD screen and the electronic eyepiece, which is really neat and effective in composing your shots.
The LCD screen on this camera can tilt and swivel 180 degrees. What is this good for? When you want to either check out the composition of a picture from all angles, this is a perfect way of doing that, without getting all bent out of shape to see. And of course, taking the picture at odd angles is a breeze when your camera is handling the odd angle for you. You will also appreciate that the light meter and settings are easy to see and adjust if you're in manual mode ~ or just let it rip if you are in auto mode. How cool is this?! Take a self-portrait with the LCD tilt ~ I guess I really do need to update that profile pict ~ thank goodness for digital! But I'd hate to risk breaking this really nice camera! Just kidding! It really is pretty indestructible, so no worries!
With 16.2 megapixal resolution, the Sony® produces images with incredible detail, and gorgeous enlargements. But why tell you, when I can show you?!
Unwrap Quick! - Shutter with No Shudder
Surprise! Quick, open! Set the Sony® SLT-A55V to Sports action and start taking picts of all the Christmas fun! With a shutter speed of 4,000, down to 35 seconds, you will be ready for any action ~ and have the proof even for a photo finish! And just think! As a gift for Christmas, this camera may even catch ole St. Nick!
Now, I am not qualified as a know it all, so I can only tell you that as a beginner, this has been a really cool camera to learn with. How do you like this hummingbird shot? Oh, I suppose the 10-frames-per second feature had something to do with capturing several picts of this summer hummer in action, taken nano seconds apart from the intro pict ~ what do you think?! With this camera it's easy to capture multi-frames, frozen action, if you will. And finetuning, finding what works better than another, time, place, light, are all part of the fun of learning. I got these two hummer shots after many tries. Most of them are pretty good learning curve shots that I can get excited about, not perfect, but I still see the beauty. At 16.2 megapixals, this camera gives me the opportunities ~ and like I said, it's a gift that keeps giving. Being able to grab my camera and spend an hour looking for picts, learning by doing, is a gift all year through. And sometimes, you are very fortunate to be able to share back with your family and friends ~ sometimes these are priceless gifts to them, especially if it happens to have been taken at their wedding or of their children!
Part of the accuracy, as I understand a bit more about this camera, is the amazing Tru-finder™ Electronic Viewfinder (EVF). Sony® put some oomph into this quick, perfectly accurate viewfinder. The fact that they stuffed 1.44 million dots into it means they kept many, many little elves busy! Of course, the LCD screen is prettty cool, too, but the eyepiece viewfinder may help you be less conspicuious when trying to capture a skittish subject.
How does all this fancy, fast stuff work? Well, technically speaking ~ No shudder for the shutter when you have a high tech combination that involves the world's first of its kind, Sony® Translucent Mirror Technology, three cross sensors, 15-point auto focus, and something about a Phase Detection AF with Live View images. This state of the art technology performs and produces with speed and precision. Simply put, Sony® didn't hesitate to get it right. And neither does the A-55. When it can shoot at 10 to 12 picts a second ~ the only shuddering going on is from the wannabees!
The Right Angle
Sometimes the subject is just not at eye level, in conjunction with the sun, or in a place where you can get the right light or the right composition ~ it happens all the time! Getting the pict of this Japanese Maple leaf with the fall sunlight coming through was pretty easy, even though it was below knee level and would have required a bit of a stretch to be able to see the screen on the back of the camera. But since the Sony® Alpha 55 has a 3" LCD screen that can tilt 180Â°, I was able to hold the camera steady, read the built-in light meter and check my other settings. Of course my photography is not perfect ~ and neither is the leaf ~ I see a small hole in it ~ great camera! Angles are not a problem with the smoothness of this handy, very efficient, and very smart, camera!
Another few words about the Sony® LCD screen: Sony's® Xtra Fine LCD™ TruBlack™ screen has 921K dots, it's made with a "special resin layer," which increases the contrasting as opposed to other LCD screens, and it magnifies 1.1 times, so no wonder the resolution is astounding! Along with being super clear, it is amazing how sensitive this screen is, adjusting to different lighting conditions, changing if you step into a shadow or out into the sun. The super quick change will definitely give you the valuable nano seconds you just may need to compose and get the shot.
The camera settings are in easy layout, the icons are quick to identify and remember. The settings can be shown at a maximum level, meaning most everything the camera is set on is shown, down to minimally, to off, except in cases of manual settings, the light meter is shown. And I will tell you that having a built-in light meter on your screen is truly one of the strongest features of the Alpha, to me ~ I mean, how cool is that?! To show my ignorance, I don't even know if other cameras offer it or not, I just know how helpful it is to me.
To be honest, I am still learning some of the functions and displays. I've recently discovered the handy trick that on playback, you can get any kind of info about that pict. So if you want to experiment, improve your shot, you can see what settings you've just used. Very handy for those of us on a learning curve! And that's another great thing about this camera ~ if help is needed, a one or two second pause on a setting will bring up a very helpful, concise prompt. That is so smart! It sure makes it easier to learn the tricks of the camera and to experiment a bit when a prompt is given to help you along.
Hdr ~ Really!
It also has a really neat HDR function that is beyond cool. And it's auto (called Auto +), making it the coolest thing you can hold on a strap. As a newbie with the camera, and brand new to the concept of HDR, I just went into the Brookgreen Garden's butterfly house and had a blast. Granted, if I wasn't such an amateur, I would have known that there was a reason for all the slots being taken at the brightest hour of the day ~ that's the best time for picture taking for an outdoor screened-in arrangement ~ but I still came out with some cool shots. How do you like this one, compliments of Sony® A-55's Auto HDR setting? And I didn't even know what I was doing ~ but that's the beauty of it: You don't have to!
Technically speaking, Sony's® state of the art intelligence, and in a nano second, recognizes the scene, whether it be macro, landscape, twilight, or sports, appropiates the settings, and combines up to six shots into one great picture. Believe it or not, it takes the best highlight detail from one shot, the best mid-tones from a second, and the best shadow detail from a third one ~ all in a split second ~ and with less noise. The HDR is recommended for still shots, something my butterfly didn't know, either!
How Dynamic! - Dynamic Range Optimizer
Sony® added this little something-something, surely as a sweet trick to spoil ~ "DRO" ~ Dynamic Range Optimizer. Okay ~ great! Exactly what does that do? To put it simply, it will eeekkk out the details of a backlit subject, that is, a silhouette can actually have a face! Not only that, but Sony has sweetly put five operating levels, plus auto and off as a choice for the DRO ~ when would you want to do that?! Oh! For a true silhouette, like this picture!
I have an example of the DRO on, showing wonderful details in the slide show coming up. But here I wanted to show this silhouette of a butterfly, something I had been trying to catch all summer. Not perfect, but, hey, next summer's coming!
Contrast! Saturation! Sharpness!
Experimenting is cool! Only with this one, I was experimenting with the creative function, increasing the saturation, contrast, and the sharpness, not really expecting a hummer, when ~ oh, NO! Yes, here one comes! Hey, I might not have had time to switch it back to the "normal" settings, but I will still keep this one ~ at least for this amature ~ no complaints!
The creative mode is available for standard, vivid, portrait, landscape, sunset, with increases and decreases in saturation, contrast, and sharpness. Black and white is also a creative mode, with choices of increasing or decreasing contrast and sharpness. I am definitely still learning about what works best for what subject. That's the beauty and fun of this Sony® camera: You can learn and have fun ~ and more than likely catch some lovely keepsake shots along the way.
Catch a Frozen Falls....
As for that very S-l-o-w shutter speed, well, I am definitely still learning about that. We happened upon Looking Glass Falls, in North Carolina, and I had my chance to try to catch some frozen water ~ effect that is! I've not had much experience ~ I mean, you need a lot of really fast moving water. And what luck to come upon this gorgeous 60-foot drop waterfall. A perfect place to practice! And you can see, I still need practice! For one thing, a tripod would have helped out a great deal! The Sony® does have a built in steady-Eddie, my terms, not theirs! to the camera body. So no matter that I used the regular lense and then switched out to the telescopic lense, I was covered, with my trusty camera body. I had a hard time going up and down the steps ~ that was enough for me to worry about!
Technically speaking, with 16.2 megapixes, the APS-C sensor size and Sony® Exmor™ APS HD CMOS technology, you get amazing detail and perfect over-the-couch-in-the-living room enlargements ~ high resolution, even in low-light settings, with less noise and no arguments ~ even at an ISO of 12800! WOW! As I understand it, this is one aspect of the brains of Sony's® BIONZ® image processor technology. This picture was taken on a very overcast day ~ Shuh, you can hear a pin drop!
Sony DSLR Camera Awards!
50 BEST INVENTIONS OF 2010 Sony A-55
POPULAR PHOTOGRAPHY CAMERA OF THE YEAR 2010
DOREVIEW.com gold award
It even has software:
Image Data Converter SR, &
Picture Motion Browser ~
Not sure what they are, but hey, that's cool!
Fly me to the Moon!
My Sony® DSC-H7 can take some knockout moon shots, but could my Sony® A-55 shoot the moon with ease? Well, I am still working on that (above is my effort), but with my A-55 taking six images in a fraction of a second, and some complicated things the camera senses and does, minimizing noise (yes, even those annoying coyotes) to present outstanding detail, all by the light of the moon and without a tripod! Now that's worth howling about! The really neat moon shots are the one with clouds wafting in front of a bright moon, leaves silhouetted, and an eerie glow is cast about, I believe I do hear a coyote or two! EEeekkk!!
Technically speaking, the same incredible Sony® State of the Art (as in artistry) low light, low noise technology that enables us to freeze 60-foot waterfalls enables low light, low noise without touching the details. It's that BIONZ® and Exmor™ thing again...even at 12800 ISO! Another WOW, for sure! Okay, Sony®...thank you for taking care of the brain power and sending us to the moon!
What a thrill!
A built-in GPS that knows exactly where you took that fantastic moon shot ~ really?! You will have proof you were there ~ sure enough, next to that great big crator, over there by the Man in the Moon's ear! You never know!
In doing research for this lense, I found out a few things I didn't even know my Sony had, such as the ability to make 1080P quality videos, professional "rack focus" style/method of moviemaking is used ~ and much, MUCH more!
It's a Wrap! - Just think, this Christmas...Is that Santa?!
Pop some popcorn, and trim the tree, and when it comes time to take the tree down, pop some more popcorn and watch your Christmas memories straight from your Sony® Alpha-55 to your HDTV; that's right, this baby includes a HDMI output, presenting stunning images of the family memories. Gather around cats, and I'll tell you a story....well, no need to tell, when you can watch! And live action videos will have you laughing and reliving touching memories for years to come.
Remember all those 16.2 mega megapixels ~ and all that other fancy technology stuff, like Exmor™ APS HD CMOS sensor? How about the beyond-belief rich pictures, composed of perfect gradiations, highlights, and shadows, and the BIONZ™ image processing engine that supports continuous high-speed shooting and advanced digital compositing? Oh, yeah! Well, that same technology will let you take full Heavy Duty, as in HD ~ yep, that's right ~ HD family movies. While most cameras take a while to focus in movie mode (well, picture mode, too, for that matter), the Phase Detection auto focus (AF) produces quick, precise, revolutionary, cutting edge movies of fast moving subjects ~ all thanks to the Translucent Mirror Technology. That's right, not only does it work for picts, it works for videos as well. Action!
I would love to try this, you can venture out of the fully automatic moving making mode and experiment with controlling the aperture (in A mode w/MF only), white balance, metering mode and exposure compensation. Not only that, but you can use the Creative style and experiment with shooting using the Standard, Vivid, Portrait, Landscape, Sunset, and Black & White modes. How cool is that?! That should be very intresting and intriguing to experiment with. I will have to do that. When I am successful, I will put one on!
While out hoping for some good bird picts, with my Sony A-55, I thought I would push the movie button, just to see what would happen. To my delight and utter surprise, along came...
I must say I am surprised by the noise picked up by the camera focusing! At this juncture, being new to using the movie mode, I don't know a cure for it. It was a warm day and I had been in the sun for quite awhile, and the camera's thermometer prompted me that it was getting hot several times. Maybe the noise is normal for all cameras.
I'm sorry about the long lead in time on this. Fast forward to about 32 seconds if you can't wait! There is a little bit after 1:45, at 2:20, for a few seocnds, nothing after that, except some bird songs and a rather noisy fellow! The start/stop edits didn't carry through to YouTube, I will try again! Thank you or your patience on this!
It's a Wrap Part Ii
As I understand it, the Sony® is spectacular in another regard when it comes to shooting HD movies: The SLT-A55V finder won't go dark whenever you need the added stability of holding the camera up to your face to frame a scene and to focus. I do know that from personal experience, if you use the Xtra Fine LCD™ TruBlack™ screen and switch to the Tru-Finder™ Electronic Viewfinder, the screen will "switch," that is, "come on," as well! And they will continue to switch, depending on the viewer you're using. That certainly helps to conserve battery life.
Sony's® Exmor™ sensor provides more than 4,000 column-parallel Analog-to-digital (A/D) converters. The others must surely have to use converter boxes ~ just kidding! Seriously, this out-races the conventional imaging sensors, which use only a handful of A/D converters. What does this do? Well, at 10 frames per second shooting, you could probably catch Santa in action, no mater how quick his wink was!
Another factoid: "APS-C size HD CMOS image sensor ~ With 19.5 times the area of the typical camcorder image sensor, APS-C makes the difference between amateur and professional-looking video, delivering an exceptional combination of high resolution, high sensitivity and gorgeous, blurred backgrounds." Santa will have a hard time putting all that in his bag, for sure!
It's a Wrap Part Iii
Wow, this is impressive: Sony's® DSLRs are among the lonely that have 1080/60i Full HD. Why is this impressive? 1080/60i is magically exactly the same resolution and frame rate as most broadcast and cable HDTV channels ~ can you imagine that? Better yet, no need to imagine it, take it for real! Now, I have to simply imagine this: "Records in 1080/60i AVCHD™ format, 1080/30p high definition in PC-friendly MP4 format and standard definition 480/30p in MP4 format" ~ dreams must be made of this ~ or at least I know I'm dreaming!
An extra gift ~ if you have a Bravia® HDTV, your TV remote works with Sony's compatible Bravia® Sync system ~ no, not lip sync, for beautiful, compatible display of digital picts!
I will tell you, this Christmas, you may even succeed at capturing Santa or the elves ~ or the little ones scurrying about ~ be sure to set your alarm early ~ or just stay up! With Sony's® Stamina™ battery power, a single charge has an extraordinary 330-shot battery life, hey, you can take pictures night and day! And in case you take a LOT of pictures, Sony's® InfoLITHIUM® battery system will tell you exactly how much battery power is left, just in case you want to do a quick charge. Incidentally, another cool feature is that you don't have to wait until the battery is fully charged before you can use it ~ just in case you hear Santa's reindeer a little earlier than expected!
Wait! - That's Not All!
Believe it or not, what you've seen so far is simply not all this camera has to offer! Though I have covered a lot, I see my list of things still has several things not even mentioned yet! I know that's very hard to believe, but let me just briefly mention them for now, but check back and find some more goodies under the tree ~ well, at least in this lense!
I haven't even mentioned all the portrait friendly gadgets and widgets the Sony® Alpha-55 DSLR camera has, such as Sony's® Smile Shutter™ technology. This technology will capture a smile the moment it hears you say "cheese"! Well, not really, but it does capture the ensuing smiles! Simply select the Smile Shutter™ mode, adjust the sensitivity, even prioritizing for adults or children, and say "cheese"! Seriously, just point to a smiling face and watch it go! This feature can even be turned off when the cheese is all eaten ~ just kidding!
Not only will it detect a smile, but this Sony will automatically detect up to eight individual faces and adjust the focus, exposure, white balance and flash. You can imagine that the lighting reflects differently for different folks ~ well, just leave that high tech stuff to the expert camera folks to figure out how to do it ~ all you have to focus on is the finished beautiful family portrait! Being able to prioritize kids or adults will surely add to the perfect exposure ~ not sure if it takes into account the wiggle factor, but either way, count on perfect smiles and Sony's® reliability ~ and less takes!
Wait Part Ii
Talk about technology, Sony's® 3D Sweep Panorama™ is just simply cutting edge. With on-screen prompts, and preferably using a tripod, you simply hold the shutter down and gently pan the camera, horizontally or vertically. Capture scenic landscapes and 16:9 shots in spectacular normal or 3D sweep, up to 23 megapixel size. Yes, I can tell you, that is huge! The camera records right- and left-eye images and stitches everything together to produce a picture that will come alive on 3D television. Records both JPEG and MPO file formats. I told you it was technology ~ make that technology at its finest! Sony™ probably outdid themselves with this!
Another important accomplishment, Sony® made this amazing camera lighter and more compact than others, another advantage of the Translucent Mirror Technology.
This Sony® saves images as "compact JPEG files or ultra-high quality RAW files or both. RAW files save images prior to de-mosaicing, white balance, sharpness and color enhancement. This retains maximum latitude for enhancing the image on your PC." The RAW files I haven't tried, but I understand it is pretty intense and very helpful. Something for me to learn, for sure!
Wait Part Iii
No, seven was not enough, Sony's® A-55 offers eight different Scene Selection Modes: Portrait, Sports Action, Macro, Landscape, Sunset, Night View, Night Portrait and Handheld Twilight Shot modes. I'm sorry I can't talk about all of them! Maybe visiting some of my other lenses (see featured lenses, below or the Flickr slide show) may give you some idea of how this Sony's pictures look).
As if Eight wasn't enough, Sony® offers specific exposure modes: P/A/S/M: Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual. Don't forget the Auto+, allows automatic scene detection, auto HDR, continuious shooting, and image saving; movie making mode, Sweep Panorama™, Continuous Priority AE for capuring images continuiously at maximum speed, flash off mode; Auto, for shooting and letting the Sony® worry about the settings;
Well, I'll be! With Sony's® convenient index and slide show display options, you can review your pics quickly, on either a 6- or 12-frame index, or as a slide show, even with a fade-in/fade-out effect. Just to let you know, the slide show is new to me ~ I will have to try it out!
Is this cool or what?! Sony® even does housekeeping! That's right, the A-55 has "Anti-Dust Technology to help keep the CMOS sensor clean, resulting in consistently clear pictures." Yikes! I haven't done this yet! I understand it is very intense technology ~ and it comes free with the camera!
Looking for some more goodies?
Just take a look, and WOW, what cool stuff this is!
Let's start with memory sticks. The neat thing about Sony® Alpha cameras is you can use the old type stick, or as a really nice upgrade, the new sticks. That's right, the Sony® has a slot for two different size sticks! Of course the newer type sticks will hold more and add a steadier punch, especially the higher the class, which makes a super gift! To make great memories, you will need either Memory Stick PRO Duo/Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo and SD/SDHC/SDXC media (Class 4 or higher is recommended) . Memory cards are sold separately.
The second most important thing to acquire for your new camera is a very functional, steady tripod. Now be prepared to look beyond the beginner level, as you will not regret one that is sturdy enough for your camera plus a telescopic lense, which can add some weight. Sturdy legs and a good solid base are very important. And a lock type base is essential. Who would want the camera to go flying off the tripod ~ eeekkk! Now being able to pan left/right, up and down quickly and with ease and security ~ that is, if you loosen one knob to make a turn, and then you take your hand away and ~ well, the camera is snapping forward, banging, trust me you will regret cheap. I do have a smaller one that I carry around with the legs up, giving me about a foot of base. I can prop this against my leg or waist if need be, and it affords me a bit steadier hold. One thing I would love to invest in is a monopod. I have seen these in action, and I think they must be very handy for the job. I don't think these offer the pan left/right or tilt, but it surely must offer quick convenient steadiness in a lot of situations. Here are some I recommend:
Keep your lenses clean! Use a blower for any dust or debris before using the spray ~ just a drop or two on the lens cloth, and then wipe it dry with a dry spot on the cloth. Use it often!
When it comes to filters, I'm a bit weak, as this is an area I'm learning in, to be honest. I have used a filter on another well-known camera, which was borrowed ~ not mine! and the results were pretty cool. I think the sky was bluer and the glare was down ~ of course, if I had borrowed a Sony®, glare wouldn't have been an issue! Maybe that's why I don't have to bother with filters ~ Just a thought!. I do have a star filter that fits my macro lense. So I have had fun experimenting with that, after rain. It was in a clearance bin, so keep your eye out, or here are some I have found:
The macro lense is a good trick for many things. use it when you want to explore the great outdoors, and can sneak up on bugs in clover, or ants on flowers, or want to see the intricacies of the flower, itself. The macro setting is made to give you a wonderful blurred background, terrifically setting off your subject. You will enjoy the challenges of macro photography and the outcome. It will indeed add to your treasure chest of favorites!
A 75-300mm lense will be a very nice addition for your Sony® family, for sure. With my telescopic lense and camera securely on a tripod, I can have a lot of fun chasing the birds and other creatures. On vacations, capturing mountains and shorelines and distant vistas will be very rewarding and add to your growing stack of family memories!
Suffice it to say Zeiss it!
This should speak for itself! A Zeiss® lense says it all ~ as in a picture! If you really want to surprise your Sony friend, this would be the ultimate. Otherwise, it doesn't hurt to Dream on ~ in vivid, precise, utter detail!
Please note this disclaimer:
I am an amateur photographer, still learning a lot about photography and my Sony® digital cameras. I have written from my own personal experiences and research. I hope you would perhaps use the information found here to get you started thinking about a Sony, hopefully discover what makes it so unique and what great qualities it has that make it stand out from the other brands. I hope you have a chance to check out the information found on Sony's® website ~ what a wealth of information there! Feel free to leave a comment ~ I would love to know your thoughts or if you have any questions I might could help with. Bev Lemley
I hope you have gained some insight to just how fun a Sony® camera can be, and how precious memories are of times together and fun out in the world, capturing things that no one else may ever see, something rare, something beautiful, or something precious. What's your memory made of?
© 2011 Beverly Lemley