Sony SLT-A65

I just invested in the Sony SLT-A65 – at $1000 it is more of a long term investment than a camera you will throw away in a couple of years.

Since my last SLR was about ten years ago, I’ve forgotten how heavy these camera are compared to your standard point and shoot.

Item #1 on the agenda was to buy a lens cap holder – why they don’t come with one is a mystery – only $1.33 on Amazon.

2. A camera case is next on the list – I bought the Sony LCS-AMA/B – BHPhotoVideo.com – $45/free shipping.

3. I like to use a UV filter to protect the lens, although Leo LaPorte say not to.

4. It uses a standard USB mini to computer USB cable. It’s and easy way to transfer files. Unfortunately pictures, mp4 files and AVCHD files are all in separate folders.

FEATURES

Auto HDR – works in P mode – look at the difference in the picture – both of these are without flash. Set with the Fn button. If you try to set the camera on “Auto + – it will do the same thing, but you can’t turn off the flash.

Panoramic Picture – amazing – just point click and rotate. You can also set the Panoramic mode so that you can rotate the camera and get a taller picture.

Video

At a maximum of 1080p and AVCHD format, this camera can potentially take great video. The problem then becomes – how I am I going to be able to use this video on my computer. I wish the camera would shoot 720p video, but it doesn’t, so you need a solution for the .MTS files which it uses. You can set the video mode to MP4 and a resolution of 1420 x 1080 – it results in smaller files which are also more compatible.

– Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 – Version 15.4 will import the MTS files, but takes quite a while to create the preview you can work with. A one minute video took four minutes before I could use it. It handles MP4 files just fine. Also QuickTime does a great job with MP4.

– AVS Media Converter does hand these files and can convert them to many more compatible formats.

– PMB is software that comes on disc with the camera that will handle the mts files, but is very basic.

MYSTERY ON MP4 – while MP4 files are supposed to be only 1440×1080, it turns out that in actuality they are 1920×1080 at 30fps. It turns out this is great – a smaller size file, better compatibility and still large hd recording.  From what others have told me, the 1440 x 1080 uses round pixels instead of square and when converted into video, they show up as 1920 x 1080. All the other formats use square pixels.  A bit weird, but it seems to work.

RAW
Shooting in Raw format – ARW files – is fine except that those files are hard to edit. You can download free Adobe DNG Converter 6.6 to convert your files to a more standard DNG file. After downloading and installing it, the 24mb raw file became a 30mb DNG file. It does open in Camera Raw when I open it with Photoshop CS3.

DISK SOFTWARE

Sony includes Image Data Converter version 4 and PMB. After you install PMB you have to connect the camera to the computer via USB to get all the features of PMB.

Firmware Updates:

http://www.sony.co.uk/support/en/product/SLT-A65/downloads/FW_A65_V105_WIN

http://www.sony.co.uk/support/en/product/SLT-A65/downloads/FW_A65_V106_WIN

PMB notes – this is a VERY BASIC editing program – there are a lot of things you can’t do, but you can create a standard DVD. You’re probably better off using Movie Maker 2011. I also noticed that you are limited to making 640×480 videos for YouTube (stupid)

Lenses – go to lenshawk.com to find compatible lenses – also note that old Minolta lenses should fit this camera – but you will need an adapter – I found a Minolta MD to Sony alpha adapter for $40.

The Book – There is now a book for the 65 at this time, and should be available soon.
“David Busch’s Sony Alpha SLT-A65 Guide to Digital Photography”

DP Review of SLT-65

 

Things I’ve Learned

  • To use an old Minolta MD lens, you will need an adapter – about $40. I bought the Fotodiox adapter and it seems to work well.
  • Tip – I couldn’t take pictures with this new lens until I went to the Menu under Gears 1 and “Enabled” the Release w/o Lens option.
  • M – manual mode – hold down the AEL button and turn with the control dial to adjust the F stop
  • If you want to take good Macro pictures, you can turn on a feature called Focus magnifier. Use the Menu button and set the AEL button to Focus Magnifier. Then when you want to check focus, press the button once and it zoom in 7X and a 2nd time it goes to 15X. SWEET!

Here’s a Drosera – taken with the 50mm Minolta lens about 18″ away. ISO 100, F11?

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About Tom Terrific

Interested in MANY things.
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