Sony Alpha A500 Review
The DSLR A500, released in 2009 offers perhaps the best live view experience. Let's go over some of the highlight features of this camera.
First, Sony developed a brand new sensor for the DSLR A500. This is a 12.3 megapixel Exmor CMOS censor. What are some of the improvements? We saw better noise control, and ISO sensitivity. The A500 adds an extra level of ISO sensitivity over the older models. Now you can go as high as 12,800.
The 230K LCD screen is lovely, and is bigger than the old LCD screen in the Sony Alpha A300 and A330. At 3 inches, it offers great contrast and adjustment range. We had no problems looking at it in bright sunlight too. It doesn't have as high a resolution as the A550, but having used both, we noticed no difference in quality between them.
The live view, as mentioned is perhaps the best live view amongst all DSLRs in the market. There's the regular live view mode, and the QUFLV - quick auto focus live view mode. In this mode, it uses the main sensor, and you use manual focus.
The DSLR A500 also incorporates face detection technology. We all know what this does, but for those not familiar it identifies on any human being and focuses on them. It's amazingly fast, and another one of the more impressive features SONY has added to this camera.
In terms of control layout, we think that this camera has very few buttons, but it still seems rather crowded. Some quirks we noticed: the smart teleconverter shouldn't be in this camera, and the D-Range Optimizer doesn't require a dedicated single button. We got a bit frustrated at times when distinguishing between several buttons. Again, this type of stuff is subjective. We recommend trying it out for a hour or 2, and see if you like the layout.
The viewfinder... we like it, and consider it one of the best in class. It has good magnification, and is quite similar to the A100 and A200's viewfinder.
In terms of lenses, we think the kit lens is a good bargain and offers solid image quality. It also weighs considerably less than better lenses. But if you want better focal distances, we recommend upgrading to the Sony 16-105 or 16-80 Zeiss lenses. The Sony 18-250mm lenses is also another great lens and has more telephoto range. Since the A500 is not an expensive camera by any means, we think this is probably the best way to go: just buy the body, and buy an expensive lens.
The image quality of the A500 is solid. All of our prints turned out nice in prints of 8 X 10, even when using a high ISO of 12800. Granted, there's some noise in higher ISO levels, but the photos are definitely more than respectable.
The A500 does have an aggressive noise reduction algorithm though and there's no way to turn it off. As a result, even at normal ISO settings, you'll see that your photos are not nearly as sharp as they could be. We recommend using an image editor such as Photoshop and applying a smart sharpen filter. We also find turning off super steady shot increases the sharpness as well.
In short, if you don't want to play around with the in-camera settings or image editing, you may be a tad disappointed at the sharpness. But if you're willing to play around with settings, and editing, the A500 is more then capable of producing excellent photos.
The performance is pretty solid, though certainly not best of its class. Power on to first shot for the A500 is .3 seconds. Focus and shoot takes .3 seconds in good lighting, and .6 seconds in dim. Shot to shot is .9 seconds, and 1 second with the flash. So far, average to below average numbers. But the burst time is the best amongst its class. It takes the cake at 4.8 frames per second.
If you do get the A500, we recommend playing with the smile shutter... it's a LOT of fun. As the name suggests, it focuses and fires whenever it sees a human smiling. It works not just on humans, but on TV characters.
When we tested this on a TV show, the results were hilarious to say the least. The camera seemed to ignore certain actors even if they were smiling... and it seemed to be find other interesting things to capture other than people smiling. Just try it for yourself - it's the most fun you'll have with this camera.
One of our staff members here uses the A500 to shoot at parties. What you can do is set it up in a tripod in remote mode, so you can press the remote button. Put it up in the corner of a room, and the A500 will identify faces to capture shots of. Pretty neat.
The A500, in general is flexible and offers both a good viewfinder shooting experience and live view experience. Try both and see which one suits you.
The battery life, though we have not tested it rigorously is excellent. Most buyers remark that it has one of the best battery life amongst all DSLRs.
- 12.3 megapixels
- ISO from 200 to 1600 (no 100)
- 18 -55 mm kit lens
- 3.0 inch LCD screen with 230,400 pixels
- Optical viewfinder
- Live view
- No video
- Excellent live view
- Good image quality
- Good bang for buck features
- Fast auto focus
- Good optical viewfinder
- Excellent battery life
- No video
- ISO 100 is missing
- No preview of depth of field
- Layout may be confusing to some
Overall the A500 is a fun camera that will deliver good image quality if you're willing to play with settings, and do some image editing. It has several cool features most DSLRs don't have such as face detection, and smile shutter. The live view is also one of the best you'll find in its class.
Rating: 4.4 out of 5
Where to Buy It:
Lowest Price: Amazon for $484.95.
Note: This is a 24% off Amazon coupon and one of the best deals for the Sony Alpha A500.
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|Amazon||$484.95 (Cheapest Price)|
Prices last updated on: Thu, 15 Apr 2021 18:41:18 PDT