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Thread: a55 first impressions

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    Super Duper
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    a55 first impressions

    Picked up a A55 with 18-80 CZ yesterday to see if it works for me.

    Here are my first impressions:

    -Much smaller than lets say my D700 and 24-70 (which is of course faster lens and 24-120 would be better comparison) - I really like the compact size of the A55 and the CZ lens; still much bigger than m4/3

    -the EVF is better than I thought. If the light gets a little dimmer the EVF is brighter than the OVF of the D700. Also the size of the EVF is totally fine IMO

    -The A55 feels very responsive and fast. nice

    -user interface: The A55 works fine here. To me the UI is more logic and intuitive than that of Pana and Oly M4/3

    -IQ: I am not sure yet. for fun I took some coparison images between the A55 and the D700. (maybe not a fair comparison-but thats what I have) I stopped the 24-70 one step further down (5.6) to get comparable DOF and cranked ISO 1 step up in D700 (ISO 800), A55 ISO400 to get same exposure time.
    1) not having f2.8 means even during daytime you can sometimes not shoot bas ISO. Here I had to use ISO 400 with the A55.
    2) when doing manual WB and looking at raws in LR3 the colors look very similar between those 2 cameras. I could not see any advantage in the "Zeiss" color
    3) AF for stills - the D700 seemed more accurate than the A55 - still the A55 did ok
    4) sharpness and micro detail: with the d700-24-70 nearly each shot was spot on focused and popped; with the A55 all shots were fine, no one was better than the D700 shot, some did not pop like the D700 shots. I need to do the same at base ISO

    Overall first impression:
    I find the A55 with the CZ zoom for its price a very appealing combo with a very nice handling. Suddenly the D700 appears very big (it appeared small when I came from the D3 back to D700).
    The EVF I get along better than I thought. The CZ 18-80 is IMO a very good compromize between range/speed/size/price.
    I see this camera as a very nice camera for travel/parties/family etc. with the ability to shoot both still and video. ( I have not checked out the video yet)
    It feels like a real camera to me, not too small still nice small size and weight.
    First impression look like it is still no match for cameras like a D700 or comparable regarding AF reliability, noise behaviour etc. The D700 just remains for me the camera which meters/focuses/flash meters just works allways for everything (but the pro-lenses are heavy)
    Would be interesting to see how the Nikon 24-120 compares to the 18-80CZ IMO.
    For sure the A55 is a nice new techno toy...Do I need or do I just want it? Havent found out yet.
    I dont know yet if I shall keep it (since I allready have so many systems)

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    Re: a55 first impressions

    HI Thomas
    Well - I think I can agree with almost all of that . . . although I have found the AF to be pretty accurate so far (even tracking bonkers puppies); but my D700 is behind me.

    Like you I shall be interested to see how I end up feeling, but perhaps it's more exciting for me in that I moved from the D700 to the A900 a couple of years ago, and the A55 perhaps shows a way forward to the next iteration of the A900.

    I think we can all agree that for the price this little camera / lens combo has a lot going for it

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    Re: a55 first impressions

    Fully agree with what you all say here - only exception that I did not like the A55 EVF - maybe I have to try it again.

    The D700 is just the camera which does almost everything perfect for meanwhile a very interesting price. And the latest generation Nikkors are hard to beat, maybe sometimes in IQ, but for sure not in robustness and handling by the Zeiss Alpha lenses.

    I had tried the A900 and besides all its nice features like built in IS and many others I could not get friend with it. And as a Zeiss user from former years (Contax RTS and 645) I only can say that the Alpha Zeiss lenses do not come close to the Zeiss glass I owned in those times - again nothing scientific and no MTF chart comparisons, but just how IQ feels to me. The Nikkors latest generation are at least on par with Zeiss Alpha lenses.

    Now the interesting part of the A55 is what it will bring to the table for the next high end FF version from Sony. Can very well be that Sony is just trying out the market and reactions with the A55/A33 to see where they should finally direct the last development steps of the high end model. Assuming this then I would estimate such a high end A900 successor is maybe out another 12-18 months.

    Peter, I would not buy into another system as you are happy with the D700 as it is. Just too much trouble keeping up to date in all these areas - I know what I am talking about.

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    Re: a55 first impressions

    I will find out how accurate the focus works. Comparisons are also sometimes difficult because of different oof behaviour of lenses.
    Today I want to shoot some images at bas ISO and see how they look.

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    Re: a55 first impressions

    Good initial impressions. I'm getting used to the finder, and with each use am discovering other charms that endears the camera to me. It may be weeks before I pass it off to my wife ...

    I'm on the fence about adding a ZA 16-80. I have an old Minolta 24-120/3.5-4.5 which isn't bad for snapshots and is really, really compact ... but the slow max aperture is an issue for me ... so I assume it would be so with the Zeiss zoom lens.

    I don't share Peter's opinion of the A900 and ZA lenses ... I had the advantage of shooting Nikon's side-by-side in the same conditions (D700 and D3X) before shifting 100% to A900s for my wedding photography. I had all the new Nikon AFS nano coated glass available at the time. When dropping all files from all cameras into one file and opening in LR3, the A900/ZA stuff was obvious to my eye ... as soon as I was sure the A900 was tough enough for continual 500 to 1000 image weddings week-after-week, I put all Nikon gear behind me and never looked back.

    That said, while the A55 is very nice it isn't a D700. But then it is really, really small even next to a D700 ... which I couldn't pass off to the wifey once I got bored with it 'cause it's to big ... I tried

    -Marc

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    Re: a55 first impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Good initial impressions. I'm getting used to the finder, and with each use am discovering other charms that endears the camera to me. It may be weeks before I pass it off to my wife ...

    I'm on the fence about adding a ZA 16-80. I have an old Minolta 24-120/3.5-4.5 which isn't bad for snapshots and is really, really compact ... but the slow max aperture is an issue for me ... so I assume it would be so with the Zeiss zoom lens.

    I don't share Peter's opinion of the A900 and ZA lenses ... I had the advantage of shooting Nikon's side-by-side in the same conditions (D700 and D3X) before shifting 100% to A900s for my wedding photography. I had all the new Nikon AFS nano coated glass available at the time. When dropping all files from all cameras into one file and opening in LR3, the A900/ZA stuff was obvious to my eye ... as soon as I was sure the A900 was tough enough for continual 500 to 1000 image weddings week-after-week, I put all Nikon gear behind me and never looked back.

    That said, while the A55 is very nice it isn't a D700. But then it is really, really small even next to a D700 ... which I couldn't pass off to the wifey once I got bored with it 'cause it's to big ... I tried

    -Marc
    Marc,
    its funny when I once wanted an gh1 and could justify another camera I bought one for my wife (and she really likes it).
    Now she refuse to need and own more than one camera herself ;(

    The interesting thing is that I sometimes feel I miss the last little bit of pop (micro detail) and color (skin tones) when using Nikon but when I shoot it side by side the D700 images stand out very good.

    The 3.5-4.5 of the 18-80 is at least better than the speed of the kit lens (which by the way seems to do not bad at all vs the CZ)
    But agreed - as someone used to primes and fast zooms this is one of the things of compromise. But we cant have all-small sized lens and fast aparture.
    If I will keep the A55 I will probably just stay with3 lenses - the 18-80, one faster primes (either 35 or 50) and a telezoom.
    There is a great little flash from Sony with ability to bounce.
    But then there is the 135/1.8 .... just kidding

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    Re: a55 first impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by t_streng View Post
    But then there is the 135/1.8 .... just kidding
    Don't joke about such things . . I can tell you that this lens is wonderful on the A55 - and when Marc has got around to trying it out, I'm sure he'll agree (it does require a different handling technique though )

    Marc - I absolutely agree about the relative merits of Nikon and Zeiss/Sony glass. I owned all basic Nikon nano zooms (12-24, 24-70, 27-200 + 105) together with a D3 and a D700. I ran them alongside the A900 for a little while, and then they all went.

    I've been doing two wedding books over the last week - one shot with the D700 and Nikon glass (don't ask why it took so long . . I learned the rule, just do it, don't involve the couple!), the other with the A900 - it reinforced my feelings, despite the fact that the Nikon wedding was shot in good light in Spain, and the A900 shots were on a dreek rainy October afternoon in the UK.

    I have the 24-120 Sony zoom, and also the Zeiss - 16-80, the little Sony is a nice lens, but for me it makes a not very useful zoom range, which was the reason for the Zeiss. I can live with a 24-120 focal length for most things, but not a 36-180.

    Incidentally, the 35 1.5 SAM cheapo lens arrived today - first impressions are that although the body is plasticky, the bokeh is really rather good, it focuses really close, and does a good job (especially for the price)

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    now A55 vs EP2

    OK, this morning I shot more around in my garden but included the EP2 with the Pana 14-45mm lens.
    I shot the EP2 and the A55 (wuth cz18-80) at base ISO, and the lenses "wide open" and at f5.6.

    Sorry I a too lazy to post images but the results were pretty much clear to me:

    At 90mm fov / long end the CZ seems to have the edge in microdetail/sharpness but the Pana lens on the EP2 does pretty good.

    Now at the wider end (14mm Pana and 18mm Sony CZ) The center image is about the same but everything around the center and specially the corners the CZ lens seems to really suck while the Pana lens (which I bought used for 99 Euro some time ago) on the EP2 just clearly beats the Zeiss zoom on the A55 which I find disappointing.

    I also compared the viewfinders again and they both seem fine to me. due to the different format (4:3 vs 2:3) the A55 seems to be a little wider and the EP2 image a little higher.

    When working with EVF the A55 ergonomics are better for me but then the Ep2 is still much smaller (specially the lens).

    sensors: From initial review the main and only? deficit of m4/3 sensors I see is dynamic range/highlight handling (which can be quite important) - but no matter if I compare it to the x1 or now to the A55 the m4/3 seems to hold up pretty well.

    Now the bad corners of the cz16-80 in the wide angle range doesnt make my decision easier.
    Right now I feel a bit disappointed about the Zeiss lens.

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    Re: a55 first impressions

    I now compared the Sony kit lens with the Zeiss CZ at 18,35 and 55mm, wide open and at f5.6.
    My cheapo kit lens is as good as the cz at 18 and 35mm in the center, but considerably better in the corners than the cz, wide open and at f5.6

    At 55mm the Zeiss is vivibly better/sharper than the kit (dont know though if this is focus or the glass).

    Could anybody who owns the cz check the corners in the 16-35mm range and let me know what you think? The center is sharp so its not a focusing issue. The corners are as bad as it can get IMO. If this is normal than it would mean buy buy for me.

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    Re: a55 first impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by t_streng View Post
    I

    Could anybody who owns the cz check the corners in the 16-35mm range and let me know what you think? The center is sharp so its not a focusing issue. The corners are as bad as it can get IMO. If this is normal than it would mean buy buy for me.
    Hmm - I've been looking at shots I've taken over the last few weeks.
    Seems to me that at a sensible range (10-20 metres) I quite agree - dreadfully soft!
    The reason I hadn't noticed before, is that it seems to be okay at infinity.

    I wonder if it's a curvature of field issue?
    At any rate, it's not good enough - perhaps this is why Sony talked of another 'premium' kit lens at photokina!

    I think I'll be keeping the lens though, as, for my use it's likely that I'll either be shooting people etc. in which case soft corners don't matter so much, or else landscapes, where it seems to be okay.

    Definitely more testing required though.

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    Re: a55 first impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Hmm - I've been looking at shots I've taken over the last few weeks.
    Seems to me that at a sensible range (10-20 metres) I quite agree - dreadfully soft!
    The reason I hadn't noticed before, is that it seems to be okay at infinity.

    I wonder if it's a curvature of field issue?
    At any rate, it's not good enough - perhaps this is why Sony talked of another 'premium' kit lens at photokina!

    I think I'll be keeping the lens though, as, for my use it's likely that I'll either be shooting people etc. in which case soft corners don't matter so much, or else landscapes, where it seems to be okay.

    Definitely more testing required though.
    Thank you Jono for checking,
    in my case even at infinity its not great in the corners.
    I aso though if it might me a curvature of field problem.
    I think I will return the lens. It is not acceptable for me.

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    Re: a55 first impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by t_streng View Post
    Thank you Jono for checking,
    in my case even at infinity its not great in the corners.
    I aso though if it might me a curvature of field problem.
    I think I will return the lens. It is not acceptable for me.
    Thanks, you guys just made my mind up.

    We'll have to find another solution for a wide lens.

    BTW, see my studio test I just posted on the A55, ZA 24/2 and 24-105.

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    Re: a55 first impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Thanks, you guys just made my mind up.

    We'll have to find another solution for a wide lens.

    BTW, see my studio test I just posted on the A55, ZA 24/2 and 24-105.
    We just dont know if it is sample variation or a general problem

    by the way the included kit lens (18-55) didnt do too bad in the wide range - just at the longer end where the Zeiss gets better.

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