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The Sony Alpha SLT-A55VL: simple operation, great pictures

I was excited to try out the Sony Alpha SLT-A55VL camera. The fall foliage has been amazing, and I had a few photo projects I wanted to do that required a more advanced camera than my little point-and-shoot. The A55 came with is own 18-55mm lens, but I also borrowed a Sony SAL-35F18 lens for some shots I wanted to try.

At first I was a little intimidated. I had never used a Sony camera before, and I wasn't sure how comfortable I would be with its menus. My initial impression was that the camera seemed to have a lot of dials and buttons. But in the end I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the camera actually was to use. In a short time, I could turn the various features on and off with no problem and without consulting the manual.

The first thing I did with the A55 was to take a self-portrait for a blog post. I placed the camera on a table and aimed it at the couch. Then I set the 10-second timer. Ten seconds gave me just enough time to sprint across the living room and sit down and smile without being photographed as a blur. After a few tries, I took an acceptable photo and was well satisfied with my project.

I was intrigued by the fact that the camera has the ability to take ten frames per second. This seemed perfect for a project I had tried to do with my son. He wanted me to take a picture of him leaping in mid-air. My point-and-shoot kept missing the moment. So we went out on a frosty morning to the playground to try again. Using the A55 on the 10/frame mode, I was able to capture him leaping with no problem. In fact, I had it in the can on the first try.(See above. Click on images to enlarge)

It was time to use the extra lens. We've been having a beautiful autumn here, so I put the Sony 35mm f/1.8 lens on the camera to take some shots of the leaves. It was a bit past the peak weekend for most of the trees, but I thought they still looked beautiful. At first it seemed odd not to be able to zoom, but I quickly got used to it. Using manual focus, I played around with having different parts of the photo in focus, and letting the rest stay soft. It was a lot of fun. The screen was a bit hard to see on such a bright fall day, but I was able to either turn it down to shade it or look through the viewfinder for other shots. It was great to have some options.

A nice feature of this camera is panorama sweep mode. The feature was easy to use. I had to simply pan in the direction of the arrow on the screen. It quickly stitched the individual images together and gave me a final photo. I tried a couple of shots with varying degrees of sucess, but when I panned up a tree, I really liked the result. The only downside: the resulting file is huge, so you'll have to work with it in order to make it small enough to use in a blog post or send in an email.

If you're photographing sports, or need a great all-around camera at the ready, the Sony A55 would be a great choice for you. The ten frames per second feature could help you capture those elusive and fleeting moments. It's not as light as a point-and-shoot, but it also didn't make me tired carrying it in my shoulder bag. And carrying that extra bit of weight was well worth it for a camera with so many extra features. That's what I thought when I examined all the photos I took with the Sony Alpha SLT-A55VL camera.

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