Sony A35 Review

4.5
August 31, 2011 | Matt Grayson |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 16.2 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5Mb.

The Sony Alpha A35 takes great photographs. It's one of the few cameras that we've been comfortable raising the sensitivity above ISO 400 knowing that we'll still get good results. All sample images were taken in RAW/JPEG mode except the file quality test for lower settings. The average RAW file comes out at around 16Mb. A large size JPEG records at about 4.6Mb while a normal size file records at around 3.1Mb with no noticeable loss in image quality.

Noise performance on the A35 is very good. At ISO 100, the lowest setting, there's absolutely no indication of noise whatsoever. Edge definition is excellent and this trend continues through the stages to around ISO 1600 where salt and pepper noise is starting to become distracting. However, this is a type of noise that is tolerable at normal viewing distances and certainly on the A35. Colour noise starts to seep into the pictures at ISO 3200 and while edges are starting to get a bit fuzzy, it's very mild. By the end setting of ISO 12800, the image quality takes a drastic downward turn and while colour noise has taken over the darker areas of the picture, the camera still garners decent results. To compare with a digital compact camera, the results at ISO 12800 are similar to what we'd expect at ISO 800. Obviously there's a big difference in sensor size, but it still bodes well.

Colours are recorded nicely on the Sony A35. Primary colours are punchy while darker, earth colours are rich. The camera saturates JPEG images satisfactorily and the adjustment options in the picture styles helps quite a bit. Some of our samples have been adjusted: for example, the black & white image of the bench had a contrast value of 3 and a sharpness value of 1 while the sensitivity was raised to ISO 1600 so that the noise would resemble grain.

The standard kit lens produces some decent results for what it is. Kit lenses are pretty much seen as a stop gap before purchasing better glass. That's important with DSLR style cameras where the lenses are interchangeable. However, we only used the kit lens to test how they collaborated together and we're happy with the results. It suffers from chroma and has a poor build quality but it's good enough to start with if you're new to the Sony system.

We tried a few shots with the lens on backwards. Without an adapter, we had to hold the lens to the body and the example is the extra close up shot of the small pine cone on the next page. It was around the same size as a 10p piece. The normal macro capability of the 18-55mm lens wouldn't manage it. We got a little light leaking through but it's to be expected and we think it adds to the appeal of that type of photography. The advantage of having a zoom lens means that operating the zoom while holding the lens backwards to the camera body increases and reduces depth of field.

Noise

Below are the noise results for the Sony Alpha A35. Noise results are great on the A35 and we're comfortable using it up to and including ISO1600.

JPEG RAW  

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

 
 
     

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

 
 
     

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

 
 
     

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

 
 
     

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

 
 
     

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

 
 
     

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

 
 
     

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

 
 

Sharpening

While the pictures produced from the A35 are sharp, we found that a bit of sharpening in Adobe Photoshop CS4 proved to improve the edge definition to a more pleasing result.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

File Quality

The Sony A33 has 2 different image quality settings available, with Fine being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

14M Fine (4.62Mb) (100% Crop) 14M Standard (3.15Mb) (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations

The lens is only a standard kit lens so does suffer from chromatic aberration. Upgrading the lens will help to avoid the problem although it can still occur from the microlenses found on the sensor.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Macro

The macro mode of the kit lens isn't all that good. We managed to get in to a reasonable degree but for proper macro photography you need to invest in a macro lens. However, taking the lens off the body and turning it round gives near point blank macro with very shallow focal planes. Adapters can be bought from Ebay but we simply held the lens up to the mount. You need to program the camera to take a picture without a lens attached which is done in the main menu. It's a lot of fun and the more abstract sample images are done with this technique.

Macro

Macro (100% Crop)

Flash

The built-in flash on the Sony Alpha A35 gives very good portrait results. At wide-angle there is a distinct amount of light fall off towards the edges but this doesn't happen at the full telephoto of the kit lens. Red-eye isn't a problem for the flash but a pre-flash can be set up if you want to be safe. However, this adds a delay of around a second from pressing the shutter button and the camera taking a picture.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (27mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (27mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (82.5mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (82.5mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are a couple of portrait shots. Neither the Auto setting or the Red-eye reduction mode caused any amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
   

Red-eye reduction

Red-eye reduction (100% Crop)

Night

We found that taking pictures in the night scene mode still used a relatively high ISO 1600 but using the manual modes obviated the noise issue because we controlled the ISO levels. The A35 has a long exposure noise reduction facility because heat from long exposed pixels can add a type of noise to neighbouring pixels.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Dynamic Range Optimizer

D-Range Optimiser (DRO) is Sony's solution to improve shadow detail in photos taken in contrasty light. There are 4 different levels and an Auto option.

Off

Level 1
   
Level 2 Level 3
   
Level 4 Level 5

Creative Styles

There are 5 Creative Style preset effects that you can use to change the look of your images.

Standard

Vivid

   

Portrait

Sunset

   

Landscape

B/W

Entry Tags

hd video, hd, 3 inch LCD, review, 16 megapixel, hdmi, sony, DSLR, 1080i, tilting, alpha, slt, 5.5fps, slt-a35, a35, Sony A35

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