Sony Alpha SLT-A65

      Photo Review 8.5

      In summary

      Most of the features of Sony’s new SLT-A77 in a smaller, lighter and more affordable body.The SLT-A65 is the second of two SLR-style interchangeable-lens cameras announced by Sony on 24 August, 2011. Like the SLT-A77, which was unveiled at the same time, it features Translucent (pellicle) Mirror Technology, a 24.3-megapixel APS-C-sized sensor and new BIONZ image processor. Many other features of the A65 are the same as in the higher-featured A77, including the superior XGA OLED Tru-Finder and movie recording capabilities. . . [more]

      Full review


      The SLT-A65 is the second of two SLR-style interchangeable-lens cameras announced by Sony on 24 August, 2011. Like the SLT-A77, which was unveiled at the same time, it features Translucent (pellicle) Mirror Technology, a 24.3-megapixel APS-C-sized sensor and new BIONZ image processor. Many other features of the A65 are the same as in the higher-featured A77, including the superior XGA OLED Tru-Finder and movie recording capabilities.

      The $600 difference in price between the A65 and the A77 is largely accounted for in the construction of the camera body. Whereas the A77 has a weatherproof magnesium alloy chassis, the A65 is made from polycarbonate resin (plastic). This makes it considerably lighter than the flagship model as well as a bit smaller. The other key differences are outlined in the table below.





      Weatherproof magnesium alloy

      Polycarbonate resin (plastic)

      Joystick control



      Control dials



      Image Quality Modes

      JPEG Extra Fine, JPEG Fine, JPEG Standard, RAW, RAW+JPEG

      JPEG Fine, JPEG Standard, RAW, RAW+JPEG

      Max. burst speed

      12 fps

      10 fps

      Buffer capacity

      13 Extra Fine JPEG; 13 ARW.RAW

      17 Extra Fine JPEG; 13 ARW.RAW

      AF system

      TTL 19-point phase detection AF system with 11 cross sensors

      TTL 15-point phase detection AF system with 3 cross sensors

      Shutter speeds

      30 to 1/8000 sec.

      30 to 1/4000 sec.

      Shutter rating

      150,000 cycles

      100,000 cycles

      Exposure bracketing

      1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 2.0 or 3.0 EV steps for 3 or 5 frames (3 frames for 2.0 and 3.0 EV)

      1/3, 2/3 EV for 3 frames

      ISO range

      100-16000 (exp to 50 and 25600)


      (exp to 25600)

      Built-in Flash

      Auto pop-up, GN12 (in metres at ISO 100), FOV coverage up to 16mm

      Auto pop-up, GN10 (in metres at ISO 100), FOV coverage up to 18mm

      PC flash socket



      Flash synch.

      up to 1/250 sec.

      1/160 sec.

      Creative Style Settings

      Standard, Vivid, Neutral, Clear, Deep, Light, Portrait, Landscape, Sunset, Night Scene, Autumn leaves, Black & White, Sepia


      Standard, Vivid, Portrait , Landscape, Sunset, Black & White


      Custom functions




      3-way articulated

      Tilt and twist

      Data LCD



      Flash PC socket



      Compliant with UHS-1 cards



      Battery capacity

      Approx. 470 shots with EVF; Approx. 530 shots with LCD

      Approx. 510 shots with EVF; Approx. 560 shots with LCD

      Body dimensions (wxhxd)

      142.6 x 104.0 x 80.9 mm

      132.1 x 97.5 x 80.7 mm

      Weight – body only
      with battery and card

      Approx. 653 grams

      Approx. 732 grams

      Approx. 543 grams

      Approx. 622 grams

      RRP (body only)



      Build and Ergonomics
      Physically, the SLT-A65 looks a lot like last year’s SLT-A55, although it’s slightly larger but more smoothly rounded-off. The body dimensions tell the story, as you can see in the table below.




      Body dimensions (wxhxd)

      132.1 x 97.5 x 80.7 mm

      124.4 x 92 x 84.7 mm

      Body weight

      Approx. 543 grams

      Approx. 441 grams

      When it comes to the distribution of controls and indicators, the front panels of both cameras are very similar, as shown in the comparison photos below.


      The front panels of the SLT-A65 (left) and SLT-A55 (right) fitted with the 18-55mm kit lens. (Source: Sony.)


      The front panel of the SLT-A65 with its pop-up flash raised. (Source: Sony.)

      Although slightly larger and heavier than the A55, the A65 should feel comfortable for most potential users. The grip is nicely moulded with comfortable dips for the middle and ring fingers.

      An infrared sensor is located in the upper recess. You can’t quite reach the depth-of-field preview button on the side of the lens mounting without releasing your grip on the camera but the front (and only) dial and shutter button are well positioned just below your index finger.

      The rear panel has the same control layout as the A55 and although the monitor has a 4:3 aspect ratio instead of 16:9, it has the same resolution and adjustability. The entire panel is more squared-off, bringing the three button controls around to face the user. The Movie button is in the same place as on the A55, while the A55’s AV button is replaced by an AEL/AV button and a zoom button (1.4x or 2x) replaces the AEL button on the A55.


      The rear panels of the SLT-A65 (left) and SLT-A55 (right)showing the adjustable monitor. (Source: Sony.)


      The rear panel of the SLT-A65 showing the control layout. (Source: Sony.)

      More changes have been made to the top panel. A 3D mode has been added to the mode dial, the Finder/LCD toggle has been shifted back and closer to the viewfinder housing, exposure compensation and ISO buttons replace the D-Range optimiser button and the microphone is now located on top of the flash housing, instead of on the camera body.

      For some odd reason, the power on/off switch around the shutter button operates in the reverse direction to the switch on the A55. It’s just as easy to operate so the change is hard to account for.


      The top panels of the SLT-A65 (left) and SLT-A55 (right)showing the changed control layout. (Source: Sony.)


      The top panel of the SLT-A65. (Source: Sony.)

      Unlike the A55, the battery and memory card have separate compartments, the former in the base of the camera and the latter in the panel. The opposite (left hand) side panel has four compartments, each with soft rubber covers. Ports are provided for a microphone, remote control and DC-in as well as the mandatory USB and HDMI connections. The GPS receiver is also located here.

      The plastic body puts the SLT-A65 squarely in the consumer DSLR category, whereas the SLT-A77 is ‘pro-sumer’ grade. If you’re careful with your equipment and rarely subject it to tough outdoor conditions, there’s no reason not to choose the cheaper camera, particularly if you shoot fewer than about 150 exposures per week, on average.

      However, outdoor photographers who shoot higher volumes can benefit from the more rugged camera body of the A77, and the 150,000-cycle shutter will ensure a longer life for the camera. The faster frame rate of the A77 could also be beneficial to sports and wildlife photographers, although the difference between 12 and 10 frames/second may be too small to be a major advantage.

      The lighter body of the A65 will be advantageous if you want a DSLR for travel photography or if you’re a keen bushwalker. Although a 110 gram difference may seem relatively small, it can represent a handicap when you need to travel light.

      Menu Differences
      Although the layout of the A65’s menu system is similar to the A77’s, the number of adjustable functions has been pruned. This presumably reflects the different requirements of potential buyers of each camera.

      The Shooting menu in the A65 has only two pages. Missing are settings for adjusting flash output, exposure steps, AF-A settings, AF/shutter linkage and memory selection. The Movie menus are the same in both models but the Custom menu is pruned to four pages in the A65.

      Missing are adjustments for setting up the control dials (the A65 has only one), flash exposure compensation linkage, bracketing order and AF drive speed. The A65 has limited face registration options and the setup menu lacks delete confirm and AF micro adjust settings.

      Sensor etc.
      The sensor and image processor are the same as in the SLT-A77 and covered in our review of that camera. Like the A77, the A65 supports two aspect ratios, 4:3 and 16:9 and the panorama formats of both cameras are the same. The software disk is identical to the disk provided with the A77.

      With its pared-down controls, the A65’s user interface is slightly disadvantaged when compared with the A77’s. There’s only one control dial and no joystick so you have more toggling to do to adjust certain functions. Otherwise, there isn’t much to choose between them and potential purchasers who don’t require the A77’s weatherproofing and more durable shutter mechanism will find the A65’s lighter weight and cheaper price very appealing.

      Some performance differences between the SLT-A65 and the SLT-A77 were revealed in our Imatest and response time tests. For the former, the drop in resolution with the A65 can be largely attributed to the kit lens.

      Had we used the 16-50mm lens that was used for testing the A77, the resolution figures would probably have been much closer. The graph below shows the results of Imatest testing across the camera’s sensitivity range using both JPEGs and ARW.RAW files converted to TIFF format with the supplied Image Data Converter SR.


      Long exposures at night contained plenty of detail up to ISO 6400, where image noise began to be visible. Slight colour shifts had occurred by ISO 12800 and slight softening was evident at ISO 16000.

      Flash exposures were evenly exposed across the review camera’s ISO range. The anticipated slight softening was found in flash shots at ISO 12800 and ISO 16000.

      Auto white balance performance was similar to the SLT-A77 for shots taken under incandescent lighting. However, the A65 we tested delivered closer to neutral colours with fluorescent light. For both lighting types, the pre-sets over-corrected colours slightly but the manual measurement system delivered a neutral colour balance and plenty of in-camera adjustments are provided for tweaking images as you shoot.

      Video quality was similar to the A77’s and unless you select the movie mode on the mode dial, the frame is cropped by roughly 15% for widescreen video clips and even more for VGA movies. Interestingly, when you set the camera to the16:9 aspect ratio for shooting stills, only the top and bottom of the frame are cropped, whereas some cropping also occurs along the sides of the frame for HD video shooting.

      Soundtrack recordings were handled as competently as we found on the A77, although the focusing and zooming sounds made by 18-55mm kit lens were sometimes detectable. The wind cut filter suppressed wind noise, without totally eliminating it.

      Autofocusing appeared to be almost as fast as we found with the A77 and the review camera was able to track moving subjects during high-speed bursts of shots. Low-light autofocusing was just as quick and precise.

      The review camera powered almost instantaneously. Capture lag remained consistently under 0.1 seconds, regardless of whether the monitor or EVF was used for shot composition. Pre-focusing totally eliminated it. Shot-to-shot times averaged 0.7 seconds without flash and 3.9 seconds with.

      Processing times were similar to the A77’s, as expected for the same-sized files. It took 2.5 seconds, on average, to process a JPEG file, 3.0 seconds for each ARW.RAW file and 3.3 seconds for each RAW+JPEG pair.

      For our burst capture timing tests we used a 16GB Kingston UltimateXX 233x SDHC UHS-I card, which is designed to support video streaming. In the Hi-speed burst mode, we recorded a burst of 10 Large/Fine JPEG frames in 1.5 seconds, which is in line with specifications. It took 5.6 seconds to process this burst.

      The same capture times applied to bursts of ARW.RAW files and RAW+JPEG pairs. It took 13.2 seconds to process a burst of 10 raw files and 18.1 seconds for a burst of 10 RAW+JPEG pairs.

      Regardless of the resolution/quality setting, the Lo-speed burst mode recorded 10 frames in 4.4 seconds, which equates to around 2.3 frames/second. Burst processing times for high-resolution JPEGs were 7.8 seconds, while ARW.RAW files took 11.1 seconds. RAW+JPEG pairs took 15.6 seconds to process.

      Buy this camera if:
      – You’re looking for a capable, high-resolution DSLR that is exciting to use and can shoot stills and Full HD video clips.
      – You want relatively noise-free high ISO settings.
      – You’re prepared to shoot and edit both JPEG and ARW.RAW images.
      – You could utilise some of the multi-frame and high-speed shooting modes.
      – You want body-integrated image stabilisation that works with all lenses.

      Don’t buy this camera if:
      – You’re a point-and press photographer who isn’t prepared to explore the camera’s full capabilities.
      – You don’t like electronic viewfinders.

      JPEG images


      AWR.RAW images converted with Image Data Converter SR.




      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.


      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.


      30-second exposure at ISO 100; 28mm focal length, f/4.


      15-second exposure at ISO 800; 28mm focal length, f/6.3.


      6-second exposure at ISO 6400; 28mm focal length, f/11.


      4-second exposure at ISO 16,000; 28mm focal length, f/16.


      Flash exposure; 55mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/5.6; ISO 100.


      Flash exposure; 55mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/5.6; ISO 800.


      Flash exposure; 55mm focal length, 1/80 second at f/7.1; ISO 6400.


      Flash exposure; 55mm focal length, 1/125 second at f/11; ISO 16,000.


      Twelve frames taken with the high-speed burst mode; 50mm focal length, ISO 640, 1/1000 second at f/3.2.


      Hand-held shot; 18mm focal length, 1/25 second at f/4, ISO 1600.


      Hand-held shot; 18mm focal length, 1/160 second at f/6.3, ISO 1600.


      18mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/4, ISO 250.


      Backlit close-up; 26mm focal length, 1/250 second at f/4, ISO 100.


      55mm focal length, 1/320 second at f/9, ISO 100.


      55mm focal length, 1/125 second at f/6.3, ISO 100.


      Still frame from AVCHD video clip recorded with the 50i setting.


      Still frame from AVCHD video clip recorded with the 25p setting.


      Still frame from MP4 video clip recorded at 1440 x 1080 pixels.


      Still frame from MP4 video clip recorded with VGA resolution.




      Image sensor: 23.5 x 15.6 mm Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor with 24.7 million photosites (24.3 megapixels effective)
      Image processor: BIONZ
      Lens mount: Sony A-mount lenses
      Focal length crop factor: 1.5x
      Image formats: Stills – ARW.RAW, JPEG (Exif 2.3), RAW+JPEG; Movies – AVCHD 2.0, MPEG-4 AVC (H.264); Audio: Dolby Digital (AC-3) / MPEG-4 AAC-LC
      Image Sizes: Stills – 3:2 aspect: 6000 x 4000, 4240 x 2832, 3008 x 2000; 16:9 aspect: 6000 x 3376, 4240 x 2400, 3008 x 1688; Sweep Panorama: Wide: horizontal 12416 x 1856, vertical 5536 x 2160, standard: horizontal 8192 x 1856, vertical 3872 x 2160; 3D Sweep Panorama: Wide: 7152 x 1080, Standard: 4912 x 1080, 1920 x 1080; Movies: AVCHD: 1980 x 1080 (50p / 28Mbps, 50i / 24Mbps, 50i /17Mbps, 25p 24Mbps, 25p / 17Mbps), MP4: 1440 x 1080 (25fps / 12Mbps), VGA: 640 x 480 (25fps / 3Mbps)
      Image Stabilisation: Body-integrated SteadyShot INSIDE
      Dust removal: Charge protection coating on low-pass filter and image-sensor shift mechanism
      Shutter speed range: 30 seconds to 1/4000 second plus Bulb; flash synch up to 1/160 second
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 5EV in 0.3EV steps
      Exposure bracketing: 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 2/3 EV, 2.0 EV, 3.0 EV increments, 3 or 5 frames (2.0 EV, 3.0 EV: only 3 frames)
      Self-timer: 2 or 10 seconds delay; 3 or 5 frames after 10 seconds
      Focus system: TTL 15-point phase detection AF system with 3 cross sensors
      Focus modes: Single-shot AF, Automatic AF, Continuous AF; AF/MF selectable
      Exposure metering: 1200-zone evaluative metering with Multi-segment, Centre-weighted and Spot modes
      Shooting modes: Auto, AUTO+, Scene Selection (Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Sports Action, Sunset, Night Portrait, Night View, Handheld Twilight), Sweep Panorama, 3D Sweep Panorama, Continuous Advance Priority AE, Movie, Programmed AE (P), Aperture priority (A), Shutter-speed priority (S), Manual (M)
      Picture Effect settings: 11 modes (15 effects): Posterisation (Colour, B/W), Pop Colour, Retro Photo, Partial Colour (R,G,B,Y), High Contrast Monochrome, Toy Camera, Soft High-key, Soft Focus, HDR Painting, Rich-tone Monochrome, Miniature
      Creative Style settings: Standard, Vivid, Portrait , Landscape, Sunset, Black & White with +/- 3 steps of contrast, saturation and sharpness adjustments
      Colour space options: sRGB, Adobe RGB
      Custom Functions: 18
      ISO range: AUTO (ISO 100-1600), ISO 100 to 16000 selectable, Multi Frame NR (extendable up to ISO 25600)
      White balance: Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent (Warm white/Cool White/Day white/Daylight), Flash, C. Temp 2500 to 9900K, C Filter G7 to M7 A7 to B7, 15-step, Custom, AWB micro adjustment
      Flash: Auto pop-up, GN12 (in metres at ISO 100), FOV coverage up to 16mm
      Flash modes: Flash off, Autoflash, Fill-flash, Slow Sync., Rear Sync., Red-eye reduction (on/off selectable for Autoflash and Fill-flash mode), Wireless, Hi-Speed Sync
      Flash exposure adjustment: +/- 2EV in 0.3EV steps
      Sequence shooting: Continuous Advance Priority AE: Max. 10 images/second for 13 ARW.RAW, 11 RAW+JPEG or 17 Extra Fine JPEGs
      Storage Media: Memory Stick PRO Duo/PRO-HG Duo; SD/SDHC/SDXC/UHS-I (single slot)
      Viewfinder: 1.3 cm (0.5 type) XGA OLED electronic viewfinder with 2,359,296 dots, 100% frame coverage, five display modes and three grid line display modes
      LCD monitor: Tilt and twist 7.5 cm (3.0-type) type TFT, Xtra Fine LCD with TruBlack technology and 921,600 dot resolution
      Data LCD: No
      Playback functions: Single-frame, Index (4 or 9 frames), Enlarge (7.2x to 14x), Slideshow, Picture rotation (auto mode available), Histogram (independent luminance/RGB available), Shooting information
      Interface terminals: USO 2.0, HDMI (Type C Mini for BRAVIA Sync, PhotoTV HD), external stereo microphone terminal, remote controller
      Power supply: NP-FM500H rechargeable lithium-ion battery; CIPA rated for approx. 510 shots with Tru-Finder; approx. 560 shots with LCD monitor
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 132.1 x 97.5 x 80.7 mm
      Weight: Approx. 543 grams (body only)





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      RRP: $1299 (body only); $1499 (as reviewed with 18-55mm kit lens)

      Rating (out of 10):

      • Build: 8.5
      • Ease of use: 8.5
      • Autofocusing: 8.5
      • Image quality: JPEG 8.8; ORF.RAW 9.0
      • Video quality: AVCHD – 8.8; MPEG4 – 8.5
      • OVERALL: 8.5